The Ford Econoline’s days are numbered. The E-Series vans we’ve all ridden in to and from the airport, on church outings or driven as a chassis cab for a motorhome are soon to be replaced. The E-Series as we know it has roots that go all the way back to 1975.
The design while refreshed here and there over the decades has changed little and most agree is well out-dated. In fact, the chassis still uses the heavy “Twin-I-Beam” front suspension that dates back to the 1965! The cockpit is still cramped and uncomfortable due to the large engine hump smack in the middle of it.
While the design has served us all well it has become a symbol of yesterday, not as efficient nor as capable as new commercial van competition from Mercedes Benz and soon from Nissan. Ford has now announced that it will bring the European Transit van to the United States, with production to begin in 2013 at Kansas City, MO. The Econoline E-Series now built at Avon Lake, OH is believed to be slated to end production soon after.
The Transit is a full sized van series that offers a full range of short and long wheel-base models. While European vehicles are typically smaller than ours, the largest Transit model dwarfs the largest Econoline. The Transit is comparable in size to the Mercedes/Dodge Sprinter vans that have been on sale in here for several years. Included is a tall roof version that allows full walk-in capability.
The Transit van is available in passenger bus versions, cargo and trade models, as well as chassis cabs for the RV and commercial truck builders. In Europe, the Transit is available in both front-wheel drive for light duty applications and rear-wheel drive for heavier duty uses.
Whether Ford will offer the front-wheel drive version in the United States is unknown, and honesly is doubtful. But we can say that they have applied for trademarks for T-250, T-450 and T-550, signaling they will be calling it the T-Series.
In Europe, the Transit is available only with one of two four-cylinder turbo-diesel engines with up to 200hp. You can even get manual transmissions. For production here it’s unlikely Ford would have the cojones to offer these engines or a manual, instead likely offering us gasoline engines such as the 3.7 liter V6 and 5.0 liter V8 we see in the F-150 paired with a 6-speed or even an 8-speed transmission. It would be really nice to see the 3.2 liter Duratorq diesel they get in Europe, but don’t count on it.
While van’s aren’t that sexy, in the UK and Europe the Transit has a strong enthusiast following. Every year there are caravans and meets for the Transit line including the smaller Transit Connect we now have on sale in the States.
Check out the Transit drifting video below to see how sexy a Transit can actually be.