Ford Transit: Long wait worth it

2013-04-25 07:07

It’s been a long time coming – 39 years! - but Ford’s Transit is back in South Africa in two versions, one for people and one for goods.

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England is the home of the Transit van, a big and square box of a vehicle that, for whatever reason, is the favourite vehicle there of bank robbers and similar undesirables. Go figure...

Back in the 1960’s it was the definitive stuff-mover; plumbers, roofers, builders, carpenters, department stores – anything of reasonable size that needed shifting probably changed locations in a Ford Transit.


It was the original “white van” and if you didn’t see at least a half-dozen from the bus on the way to work you were probably sleeping. Since then it has gone through many changes and facelifts but, like the VW Beetle, it was always recognisable.

Tourneo puts SA back in Transit
Ford Transit Custom - big and back

It’s had 47 years as market leader in the UK, selling 60 000 year there and 250 000 across Europe, and the latest model was named 2013 Van of the Year. About 2.3-million have been sold in the UK since 1965 and an amazing 700 000 are still on the roads there, according to Ford, which adds...

“It’s the backbone of business in the UK.”

It was assembled in South Africa in Port Elizabeth from 1967-74 then quietly disappeared; perhaps VW’s Transporter took its place. For 25 years I’ve been asking Ford SA if the latest versions would come to SA and the answer was always: “No, sorry!”

Why? Apparently because Ford’s lack of export vehicles over the years didn’t generate enough credits to allow import of the Transit. Now, it seems, they do.


It’s back in two versions: the eight-seat passenger-carrying Tourneo Custom in short and long-wheelbase and the commercial Transit Custom, also in swb and lwb, but each with the same 2.2-litre Duratorq turbodiesel engine, though in several states of tune: 74kW/310Nm, 92kW/350Nm and 114kW/385kW for the Sport model. Port Elizabeth supplies the engine for units assembled in Kansas in the USA. Again, go figure; other units, including those destined for South Africa, are assembled in Turkey, and there’s another plant in Nanchang, China but no plans for SA assembly.

Two more spec levels are included, using the well-known Ford designations of Ambiente and Trend, but all models are more than five metres long.. A 230V power socket might become an optional extra.

Prices through the nine-model range go from R302 700 for the Transit Custom short-wheelbase ‘low’ van up to R414 700 for the Tourneo Trend long-wheelbase – each except the Custom Ambiente Hi with a six-speed manual transmission, its shifter sprouting from the facia. The odd man out has a six-speed auto.

There are a total of seven Tourneo and Transit options involving metallic paint, various air-con/parking sensors combinations, an entertainment pack with cruise control, and an entertainment pack with parking sensors and cruise control (see full price list below).


A high-roof model is expected in the second quarter of 2014, to join the current models as the first vans to get a five-star EuroNCAP crash protection rating.

All units are sold with a four-year or 120 000km warranty, five-year anti-rust through warranty, three years of roadside assistance and a five-year or 90 000km service plan (optional on Ambiente vans).

The Transits go up against the likes of Renault’s Trafic, Fiat’s Ducato and VW products.

Service intervals are 15 000km.


Tourneo Custom (6spd manual transmission)
2.2 TDCi Ambiente swb – R385 200
2.2 TDCi Trend swb – R407 800
2.2 TDCi Ambiente lwb – R392 200
2.2 TDCi Trend lwb – R414 700
Metallic paint – R1150
Rear aircon and parking sensors – R8420
Rear seat aircon – R5000
Entertainment pack with parking sensors and cruise control – R8470

Transit Custom (6-spd manual transmission except Ambiente Hi swb)
2.2 TDCi Ambiente Low swb – R302 700
2.2 TDCi Ambiente Hi swb CVT – R306 400
2.2 TDCi Ambiente low lwb – R309 700
2.2 TDCi Ambiente Hi lwb – R317 400
2.2 TDCi Sport swb – R364 600
Metallic paint – R1150
Audio pack with cruise control – R5050
Front passenger airbag – R1370

  • Muhammad Sheik Oumar - 2013-04-25 08:34

    Badly written article. Audi Pack with cruise control? Do you guys ever proof read before uploading?

      Les Stephenson - 2013-04-26 08:58

      Yep, we proof-read, but we also appreciate readers pointing out errors so we can correct them. Thank you for pointing out the missing 'u'. - Editor

      Muhammad Sheik Oumar - 2013-04-26 12:29

      Actually it was a missing "o" and not "u".. But now I am nitpicking. Regards ;)

      Johan Hattingh - 2013-04-28 11:31

      Try a spell-checker!

  • Nathi Olifant - 2013-04-25 09:45

    there's also a superb Hyundai H-1.. i'm also interested to find out whether the transit is front wheels drive or rear wheel drive. And oh, @Muhammad Sheik Oumar, you sure your comment was intended for this article? Just curious.

      Muhammad Sheik Oumar - 2013-04-25 12:04

      Yes. Read the options for the Transit Custom, after metallic paint...

      Nathi Olifant - 2013-04-25 21:05

      i know, but i found it funny

  • Peter H A Müller - 2013-04-25 10:12

    According a Canadian web article - it is made in South Africa (2 weeks ago)?? It will be sold in Canada with the Ranger's 5 cyl diesel engine and RWD. And it said that the EU version will be FWD and use the 2,2 engine (+SA) It will be new to Canada and the USA.

  • Luís Miguel Toscano Figueira - 2013-04-25 19:07

    Best looking commercial vehicle at good prices!

  • Tieno Bloubul - 2013-04-25 20:42

    Really excellent proposition from ford, just needs a four wheel drive option with ford's power shift double clutch box. Power wise a trip to diesel torque will up it from 114kw to at least 140 kw. Put that in your pipe and smoke it vw carravel

  • vickers.vermeulen - 2013-04-26 06:11

    Deserves to be a success here and it is good looking. Something quite difficult to achieve in this niche of the market. So what exactly is an Audi pack???

  • Kwashirai Chigodora - 2013-04-26 10:41

    missing "o" mr editor... Audio pack... missing u?

  • Kwashirai Chigodora - 2013-04-26 10:43

    When in Seychelles i got to ride in the Hyundai H1...best thing for rear passengers was the powerful aircon that had vents for the rear passengers...and i dont mean rear facing front vents. it had vents all the way in the back. hope this ford has that for its people movers!

  • James Smythe - 2013-04-26 15:12

    There's nothing like a Transit - used to have a twin rear-wheel one in the 70s in UK, loaded up with Ford replacement motors, blasting along the motorway through the night, at 90 mph cruise (3 ltr V6 engine) with Pink Floyd on the tape at full volume! Happy days!

  • Tony Halstead - 2013-05-08 17:22

    Why no crew cab (2 rows of seats and a load area) like the opposition - Transporter, H1, Vito, and kw and torque specs way lower than the competition. The 2.2 liter motor in the Ranger pushes 110 kw! Dont understand who would want a sport panelvan? Love the vehicle but silly packaging of models.

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