On this day in auto history - August 6th

Fri 6th Aug 2021

It was on this day in 1965 that the very first Ford Transit van rolled off a production line in the company’s facility at Langley, Berkshire.

The Langley site - a former aircraft facility used to build Hawker Hurricane fighters during World War II - had been under Ford’s ownership since 1949 but it quickly became evident it couldn’t meet the supply demands of the Transit which exceeded sales expectations from day one.

In comparison to light commercial vehicles of the day, the Transit was seen as slick and modern due to its American-inspired styling whilst its uniquely broad track offered extra carrying capacity. Another huge draw was the sheer number of different body styles it could offer, ranging from panel vans to crew cabs.

In early 1972 Ford invested £5 million in its existing assembly plant in Southampton to enable it build the complete Transit van. After a smooth transition, vehicles were rolling off the assembly line before the end of the year and Southampton spearheaded European production until its closure in 2011, in favour of switching operations to Turkey.

In all, the Ford Transit has gone on to sell over eight million units worldwide - three million of those sales coming in the UK alone - whilst it is now also beginning to dominate the US commercial vehicle market after its belated introduction in 2014.