Here at Motor Range, we have large stocks and a high turnover of vans of various sizes. But we know through experience that lots of our customers are new to buying a van.

That’s why we’ve decided to cut through the confusion and put together some facts that’ll help to explain the main types and variations available of the best-selling Ford Transit. Size up which one will be right for your needs!

Other manufacturers also offer most, if not all, of the load and passenger-carrying configurations listed here, so if you need a van for a particular purpose, it’s always worth checking our latest stocks at Motor Range first.

It’s incredible to think that there’s been a Ford Transit van in existence for more than 60 years now, and in that time, there have been eight major revamps, all aimed at keeping the Transit’s coveted position as the vehicle most of us think of when we hear that phrase ‘white van’.

Rivals have come and gone, and very few have stayed the distance, but the Transit hit its half-century in 2015 and is still going strong. Unfortunately, it’s no longer built in the UK, the Southampton factory having closed in 2013, but that hasn’t stopped it still being the model most people think of when talking about a medium to large commercial van, many people even referring to a ‘Transit van’ when they actually mean an equivalent from one of Ford’s many rivals.

A Saga Begins

October 1965 saw the first van to carry the Transit name roll off the production line at a converted World War II aircraft factory in Berkshire. While there have been many generations of the Transit, we’ll concentrate on the versions which have been around since 2003, as of course these are the ones which you’ll still see on our roads day in, day out, and which we source to sell to you.

The second-generation Transit was the real mould-breaker, with its steeply-angled, aerodynamic front, establishing such a distinctive shape that businesses took it to their hearts.

The new millennium saw the Transit’s styling take cues from some of the manufacturer’s mainstream cars, notably the Ka and Focus. The big innovation was that, for the first time, Transit vans could be bought in front and rear-wheel drive. Load space, accessibility and driver’s view of the road were also improved, while the engine line-up, of two-litre straight-four cylinder, three-litre V6 petrol, and 2.5-litre straight-four diesel stayed the same, until the biggest petrol engine was swapped for a slightly lower capacity 2.9-litre V6 unit.

New front and rear lights, a new front end and an interior featuring the gearstick on the dashboard and Ford's new corporate radio design were the main distinguishing features of the post-2006 model.

Designed largely to meet new emissions regulations, this new version was voted ‘International Van of the Year’ straight after its release, in 2007.

Sporting Chance

For the first time, this Transit was given some sporty pretensions, with the addition of a flashier trim, racing stripes and large alloys, which helped bring it to the attention of younger drivers.

The Sportvan, as it was imaginatively called, also featured 18-inch alloy wheels. This was itself upgraded in late 2007 with the launch of the 140 PS engine for front wheel drives (replacing the 130 PS), complete with the VMT6 six-speed manual transmission.

A unique ‘stretched’ Transit also came along in 2007, as Ford celebrated winning the International Van of the Year honour. The Transit XXL was a one-off, and one of the most expensive Transits ever built.

Transit Configurations

The Transit is available in the following basic layouts: As the name implies, the cargo van is the standard format with integral load area, but it can also be supplied as a box or Luton van. It has the advantage of being able to be driven by anyone who holds a standard car driving licence.

  • Cargo van

  • Passenger van

  • Chassis cab

  • Cutaway van

The Transit passenger van is fitted with side windows, and is intended for use as a minibus. Versions are available to seat eight, 10, 12 or 15 passengers, and both cargo and passenger vans are offered in three different roof heights and body lengths. Side sliding doors are offered on medium and high-roof Transit models, while longer wheelbase models can also be specified with a twin rear axle.

A chassis cab is a model with a long, open or flat trailer immediately behind the cab. Ford offers the Transit chassis cab in five different lengths and gross weights, and with either a single or double cab for carrying up to six occupants. It’s also available with front, rear or all-wheel drive, and can haul a maximum braked trailer load of 3.5 tonnes. Transit Chassis Cabs are often converted for special uses, such as refrigerated van, wheelchair access vehicle, camper van, mobile workshop, and emergency service vehicle.

The final version, a cutaway van, is a variation of the full size van which was developed for a variety of uses by many second stage manufacturers. Such a unit generally has a van front end, and driver controls in a cab body which extends only to a point behind the driver and passenger seats, where the rest of the van body is cut off (hence the ‘cutaway’ name). From that point, usually only the chassis frame rails and running gear extend to the rear when the unit is shipped as an "incomplete vehicle". A second stage manufacturer, or bodybuilder, will complete the vehicle for uses such as recreational vehicles, small school buses, minibuses, ambulances, and delivery trucks. A large proportion of cutaway van chassis are equipped with dual rear wheels. Some second stage manufacturers also add a third weight-bearing single-wheel ‘tag axle’ for larger minibus models.

What We Look Out For When Buying A Used Ford Transit

Because of the very purpose of a Ford Transit, you can expect most to have picked up a few knocks during their working life. But we take a load of the risk out of your purchase, with our 120-point mechanical check carried out on all vehicles we sell you’ll be guaranteed peace of mind.

You shouldn’t necessarily expect any Ford Transit to come with a complete service history - but if you can get evidence of as much of the work that’s been done, all the better. If you’re unsure of any aspect, just ask us.

However you still shouldn’t be put off looking for a reliable Ford Transit if you really would benefit from the load-carrying capacity and sheer versatility of any of the different models available.

As with any vehicle the final advice is to buy the best you can afford, and make sure it’s been regularly maintained. Signs of abuse or neglect are only sure to cause you headaches in the future, and with plenty to choose from there’s no need to take the gamble.

Ford itself advertised the Transit range using the tagline ‘Backbone of Britain’. And if you’re looking to put some backbone into your business, for choice, variety and value, it still makes a strong case for itself.      

Motor Range’s fresh, innovative new showroom has the latest technology to help you find the right van for you. We have brand new company tablets, a five-star rated café and state of the art servicing equipment. Find us on Dunnings Bridge Road, close to Liverpool city centre. We always have a good choice of used Ford Transit vans available. Come down and take a look, and don’t hesitate to contact us on 0151 601 4577 with any specific requirements you have. Or check out our new vans page to see what's available.