On this day in auto history - July 25th

Sun 25th Jul 2021

It was on this day in 1985 that the two millionth Ford Transit van rolled off a production line in Southampton and - in a high-profile publicity stunt - was handed to the famous, bearded botanist, David Bellamy who was then a huge name on British TV.

Sold primarily as a cargo van, the Ford Transit was the first product of the merged Ford of Europe and originally went on sale in 1965 with production switching from Genk in Belgium to its spiritual home of Southampton in 1972.

With its American-inspired styling and extra carrying capacity, the Transit was a huge departure from the European commercial vehicles of the day and quickly became a runaway success, shifting over one million units in just seven years. 

Though the Southampton plant closed in 2013 in favour of a switch to Turkey - finally bringing an end to Ford’s vehicle assembly operations in the UK altogether - the Ford Transit remains ingrained in British culture having appeared in all manner of TV shows and movies over the years en route to becoming the best-selling commercial van in European history.

In 2014, the Ford Transit belatedly went on sale in North America where it is already the best-selling commercial vehicle. In all, it has now sold over eight million units with almost three million of those sales coming in the UK alone.