The Ford Transit, consistently Ireland’s best-selling van, has just celebrated its 50th birthday. Since it was first launched in 1965, the Transit has sold more than seven million units worldwide.
In Ireland, some 125,000 Transits have been sold and, down the years, they have played a significant part in this country’s economic development. The coming of Transit in 1965 coincided with the implementation of economist and civil servant, T K Whittaker’s, plans for Ireland’s economic expansion. Soon Transits were a familiar sight on building sites, town centres, and burgeoning industrial estates as Ireland’s 1960s boom took off.
The Cork Ford factory played its own small part in the success of Transit. As part of a small manufacturing programme, some 1,745 Transit models were produced at the Cork Marina facility during the late 1960s. Every sizeable company in operation in Ireland that has a transport need has used Transit down through the years. From the old P&T, CIE, and ESB, through to the names we still see today.
Think eircom, Kerry Foods, UPC, An Post, Iarnróid Eireann, Bord na Mona, the Irish Army, the Health Boards, the Garda, and thousands upon thousands of smaller companies, tradesmen, and ‘one-man’ operators. They have all adopted Transit as a key team member. “In the world of medium commercial vehicles, Transit is an icon of its times – a family of vehicles that has almost as many roles as it has owners,” says Ciarán McMahon, managing director of Ford Ireland.
“Like every really great product, it has won a place in the hearts and minds of millions of people around the world, and no less so here in Ireland. It was a winner from the day it was launched, and by continuously updating and refining the vehicle we have maintained that position for 50 years.” The modern Transit range has grown to encompass four distinct models that meet the variety of needs of Ford’s diverse customer base: the small Transit Courier, the medium Transit Connect, the Transit Custom, and the largest model simply known as Transit.
“The real secret to Transit’s enduring success is that, as a manufacturer, we listen to customers,” McMahon says. “At the design stage of each new version of Transit, we consult with customers to hear their requests and to experience how they use their vans in their everyday jobs. “From that information, we are able to provide them with vehicles that continuously meet their changing needs.”