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Homepage. This page: Photographs of Ford's Mark 1 Transit in service during the early 1970s.

Ford Transit Mk1s.

A van that drives like a car, was the message impressed onto visitors to Ford showrooms from October 1965 following the introduction of the all-new Transit range. The outgoing 400E panel van was a worthy-enough vehicle but didn't set the van world alight, and was largely overshadowed by the super-successful Bedford CA. The Transit though changed the small-medium van market forever, and became the vehicle of choice for many small businesses, government departments, emergency services, and the odd gang of bank robbers. The basic panel van version was the big-seller of the range, but as with earlier models, Ford's light commercial could be specified with all manner of body configurations, to suit a wide variety of roles.
The following two photos were provided by Keith, his father established a plant hire business, and Transits featured in their fleet from the late 1960s. The first image sees a line-up of five shiny new Transits, used as field service vans by the Contractors Plant group. The photo dates to 1970 (a good year). Eagle-eyed readers will spot that the vans aren't all identical - three of the five 'H'-registration vans have sliding side doors (and matching door glass), while the other two have conventionally-hinged front doors.
(Please click the thumbnail to view the full-size image.)
A lineup of Mk1 Transit vans
The second of Keith's photos is a rear 3/4 view of a flatbed Mk1 Transit Custom in service with Lichfield Plant Services Ltd, itself a member of the above plant group. A chap wearing overalls is shown securing the load of gas bottles, which are wedged into place by a one-man-operated tarmac roller. Note the light board located above the cab's rear window (in which a period STP oil additive is affixed).
Ford Transit flatbed photo
Thanks for the photos Keith - there've been recent photos of preserved Transits dotted around the site for many years now, but these are the first "in period" photos to find their way onto OCC.

Preserved Mk1 Transits.

Restored examples turn up from time to time at classic vehicle shows, below are links to a few that can be found on other pages of this site:
A tired Mk1 camper version
A restored chassis/cab spotted at Donington a few years ago
Painted orange, a high-top van at Gaydon
Quite a few adverts have also been added to the Mk1 page within the parts classifieds section of the site too (link).

Supervan.

Roadgoing Transits could be purchased with either petrol or diesel engines. More exciting though was the one-off Mk1 Transit "Supervan", powered by a V8 Ford race engine and used by Ford for promotional duties. The video below dates to 1971, and demonstrates the Supervan in action at venues such as Brands Hatch, and Santa Pod - what a noise!!!! (Does it survive?)

Transit anecdotes.

Hopefully stories regarding these early Transits will filter through to OCC HQ to add in here. Forum-er '47Jag' spotted this new page and recalls the following:
"This reminds me of a story about the Southampton Transit factory. The company that I worked for as a computer engineer had a computer system there for production control. The various options for each vehicle would created on a punch card. This involved punching a hole from 0 to 9 in a vertical column for each option and the card was 80 columns wide. The cards were produced from a computer program that 'told' the card punch which holes to punch. For the colour option no hole meant white. It appears that the punch in that column failed and it was only when the manager, looking from his lofty perch, noticed that there were an awful lot of white Transits in the car park before the fault was detected."
Return to Page 20 in the motoring photographs archive, or visit the main index here.

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