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Thursday 25th December 2008

PH Heroes Christmas Special: Ford Transit

Roadies, brickies, rozzers and robbers all like the Transit van. So does PH...



‘It’s a rear drive, front-engined motor and you need to pick it up on a Dagenham trading estate,’ the bloke told me over the Sharon Stone. Lovely, I thought, nice little Sierra Cosworth or maybe a 2.8 Capri – should be perfect for the job.


I need to pick up the shooter (his name is Jonathan and he uses a Canon) beforehand and then go to Essex to grab the motor. Except when I get there it isn’t exactly what I'm expecting – it's a 1965 Transit Van.

You’re having a Steffi Graf, I think to myself, how are we supposed to get around in that? But I might have misjudged this tea, two and a bloater. You see, not only has the Transit been the best-selling light commercial vehicle in Europe for 40 years, in the sixties the rozzers reckoned 95% of all robberies involved a Transit.

That’s probably down to the fact that not only do they have a front-engine, rear-drive layout, but many of the parts come from Ford’s car range, meaning it had decent handling for a van. I was hoping the milk wouldn’t turn out to be sour with this one, and the Transit would live up to its reputation.

The Transit has in fact been one of Ford’s best selling vehicles ever, and Jimmy ‘The Nonce’ Malloy said that he always remembers his encounter with the Tranny. The Transit we would be driving is thought to be the oldest known original model and has been restored with a period paint job.


The corn on the cob was simple: get the van, get the snapper to get a few shots, buy a pasty, read the Sun, drive around for a bit leering at women, buy another pasty, then dump the van before the fuzz catch up with us. The 1.7-litre Essex V4 in this Transit produces just 73bhp, which is probably a good thing as there are no seatbelts, and I'm guessing the only way we are going to lose the heat is if they are on mountain bikes.


But as with all Transits any kind of progress is always fun, fuelled by the camaraderie, banter and constant wolf whistling. I’m aware this thing won’t be a rocket ship on the straights but no doubt it will come alive in the twisties, what with its sporting layout.

As I nearly slide off a roundabout at 10mph I reconsider this earlier thought. There is a distinct lack of grip from the tyres and no amounts of Alessi-style lean seems to be getting the van back on track. Floor it and the rear wheels will actually start to spin, setting you up for a 1mph drift.

It’s crazier than a bad day in Bosnia and more fun than a barrel of monkeys. But worst of all my copy of the Sun repeatedly flies off the dashboard and there are no pasty holders. Worried that the Old Bill might be on to us it’s time to get rid of the van, sharpish.


The East End is too far to go and the speedo doesn’t seem to work, which isn’t Easter bunny with all those Gatsos around. Swinging right into an old council estate the Transit understeers manically but a squeeze of the accelerator and a dab of oppo sees us through, narrowly avoiding the hoodie on a skateboard who overtook us earlier.


We jump out and swing open the back doors. All that’s left to do is grab the bottle of Cherry Coke that’s been rolling around on the floor and a half-eaten Chicken and Mushroom Slice. As we leg it through the estate I consider how I would sum up my time with the Transit? Well, it’s been emotional…

Oli S
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Author Discussion

Beyond Rational

Original Poster:

3,160 posts

103 months

[news] 
Thursday 25th December 2008 quote quote all
It's like reading sniff petrol, minus the punchlines

Accelebrate

3,378 posts

103 months

[news] 
Thursday 25th December 2008 quote quote all
Top Gear Transit review meets Sniff Petrol?








(Although I am whinging on PH on Christmas Day... paperbag)

Edited by Accelebrate on Thursday 25th December 11:10

mr_spock

1,655 posts

103 months

[news] 
Thursday 25th December 2008 quote quote all
Another peach from the Ford Heritage Collection.

Hi Ivan, happy Xmas!

elster

17,282 posts

98 months

[news] 
Thursday 25th December 2008 quote quote all
Fantastic vehicle!

Sh!t write up.

tr7v8

4,771 posts

116 months

[news] 
Thursday 25th December 2008 quote quote all
elster said:
Fantastic vehicle!

Sh!t write up.
Agreed I had a 66 which had been coneverted into a campervan.That was 1.7V4 & went well but kept blowing HG. Couldn't really afford to run it as an RAE Apprentice so chopped it for a profit for a Triumph Herald 13/60 which I hated!
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posterboy

1,144 posts

81 months

[news] 
Thursday 25th December 2008 quote quote all
mmmmm yum

Gas Man

3,505 posts

82 months

[news] 
Thursday 25th December 2008 quote quote all
Ah the memories.
My first gas van was a MK1 Transit, sliding doors and all!
That door nearly took me head off once!
Steering was all over the place but those wing mirrors were good for gauging gaps!

Mk2 Transit was better all round, but I did miss the sliding doors.

The Mk3 was the worst one I had. Diesel and so noisy and slow!.


retro_racer

22 posts

72 months

[news] 
Thursday 25th December 2008 quote quote all
I remember reading about one of these full of bullet holes after a police chase. When the cops finally caught up with the then abandoned van, it was found to have a Broadspeed turbo 3.0 essex in it.... good fun !

samuelellis

1,783 posts

89 months

[news] 
Thursday 25th December 2008 quote quote all
my friend who runs a bodyshop has one of these in at the moment for a full restore, the shell has been made practically perfect now but it still needs a full respray

dickkark

747 posts

109 months

[news] 
Thursday 25th December 2008 quote quote all
Since I started driving in 1988,there has never been a moment when I didn`t own a transit van.
My current one a 99 swb td,I have had ten years next year and at 340k miles it`s time for another.
Even though the newer ones have lost the `unbreakable` tag I still won`t consider any other van.

LHDisbest

16,811 posts

75 months

[news] 
Thursday 25th December 2008 quote quote all
I love a Transit to myself. cloud9

Edited by LHDisbest on Thursday 25th December 17:58

taldo50

1,324 posts

82 months

[news] 
Thursday 25th December 2008 quote quote all
all that needed at the end was "the 1965 Ford Transit 1.7 v4 was a bh, and i spanked it." i see the "dab of oppo" card had already been played. lol.

PATTERNPART

499 posts

89 months

[news] 
Friday 26th December 2008 quote quote all
Ford have done well to keep the Transit up there in the face of all the Continental opposition. The horrible sound of a ten year old diesel one getting caned up the hill outside my house is something rarely surpassed.

bencollins

1,744 posts

93 months

[news] 
Friday 26th December 2008 quote quote all
V4, what a cool engine arrangement. And in a van.

MrMoonyMan

2,050 posts

99 months

[news] 
Monday 29th December 2008 quote quote all
Ha Ha - good write up Oli, enjoyed that.

And anything that goes sideways that easily is okay in my book.

BlueSei

34 posts

75 months

[news] 
Monday 29th December 2008 quote quote all
I liked the write up, and agree that a V4 engine is a cool thing, especially in a van. Can't believe it's possible to clock up 340,000 miles in a Transit Van as well, that must take some doing.

bebee

3,121 posts

113 months

[news] 
Monday 29th December 2008 quote quote all
Nice write up!

I was driving on the road at 14 (1980)in a green MK1 tranny with a bulk head, I learned to drive in it, for ever smelling of petrol and hotdogs as it was one of a fleet of several my dad owned for his hotdog company. My dad never knew about my early teen driving antics. Whenever I see one of these classics I start to smell hotdogs and I'm back there on the black plastic seats and a huge speedo in front of me.

Hotdog anyone?




Edited by bebee on Monday 29th December 17:59

FestivAli

974 posts

126 months

[news] 
Monday 29th December 2008 quote quote all
... a dab of oppo and I was away. The Ford Transit is a bh and I spanked it.

(yeah yeah I saw the earlier comments). Hilarious cockney though; 'corn on the cob'. How did they invent that language?

V12Les

3,151 posts

84 months

[news] 
Monday 29th December 2008 quote quote all
Wouldnt be without one!


welshsurferdude

358 posts

93 months

[news] 
Tuesday 30th December 2008 quote quote all
no no mercedes sprinter is the way wink 370,000 on my 2004 one and never missed a beat smile
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