Ten Reasons Why Vans are Making a Comeback


The van has been the preferred vehicle for artisans since the 1950s. Plumbers, electricians, and the like use vans to transport their tools and goods, and when families move home they call “The Man with a Van”.

Africa’s vast distances and rough roads demand durability and toughness. In South Africa, if you need something moved you would generally ask a friend with a van or bakkie. And because bakkies are the best selling vehicles in the country, one was generally at hand.  But is the humble van gaining in popularity? The Ford Transit, one of the best-selling vans in the world, has been in constant production since 1965 and is now available in SA in several new and exciting configurations with added features. If you are looking for space, The Ford Transit Van has 15.1 cubic meters of cargo space in the back. That’s 15,100 litres or the space to pack in 629 grocery shopping bags.

There is also the Ford Transit Custom Sport, which is available with all the same driving technology found in a luxury sedan. From Ford’s hands-free SYNC®2 entertainment centre, lane-keeping alert, parking sensors, cruise control, rear-view camera, and electronic stability control, the Ford Transit Custom Sport could be the new ride for your family.  Not convinced? To show what can be done with these vans, we found 10 of the best Ford Transits in the world:

1.    The Limo

Stretch limousines are out of date. So Chicago-based Windy City Limousines converted their Ford Transit into a plush ride equipped to carry 13 passengers in luxury and style – with a wooden floor, black leather couch-style seating and two flat-screen televisions.

2.    The Snowboarder

This shred-ready Ford Transit is modified with a custom boot dryer, snowboard rack, tuning bench and portable DJ booth to make snowboarding even more fun for its riders. “It’s an absolute dream of a creative hub that we can do anything out of,” says So-Gnar CEO Pat Milbery.

3.    The Artist

The first Ford Transit buyer in the United States, ZL Feng, is an art professor and skilled artist who uses his van to transport his art to museums, galleries, art shows and art buyers’ homes.

4.    The Coffee Shop

What better way to bring the people coffee than with a stylish mobile coffee shop. The Grateful Grail mobile coffee shop cruises around Baltimore, visiting local music festivals and events. Brothers and Grateful Grail owners Brian and David Seward customized the van themselves.

5.    The Surfer Dude

Champion surfer Izzy Paskowitz and his Surfers Healing team use a Ford Transit to transport surfboards, beach gear and life jackets as they introduce kids with autism to surfing.

6.    The Caterer

Catering and vans go hand in hand. The jumbo Ford Transit van, used by Park Place Caterers in Ford HQ’s back yard, is customised with a liftgate and inverter to power a refrigerator and hotbox – delivering deliciousness to the local community.

7.    The Animal Rescuer

Shultz’s Guest House uses its Ford Transit to transport orphaned dogs – sometimes from several states away – to a private farm in Dedham, USA, where they are safe from being euthanised until permanent homes are found for them.

8.    The Food Truck

Everyone’s favourite kind of van. The Spread’s Ford Transit is a mobile deli – serving breakfast and lunch sandwiches, wraps and fresh-baked bagels.

9.    The Pet Stylist

Wag ’n Tails Mobile Conversions in Granger, USA, converts Ford Transit vans into fully self-contained mobile pet grooming studios, complete with full-size tubs, hydro-massage shampoo systems, grooming tables, blow dryers, vacuums and fridges.

10.  The Mobility Van

Eighty-six-year-old Forrest Baker explores the Pacific Northwest with the help of his specially modified Ford Transit, which includes a lift for his off-road wheelchair, high-visibility lights and bull guard. “Without a doubt, this is the finest purpose-built vehicle I have ever had the pleasure of owning,” Baker wrote to his Ford dealership where he has been a loyal customer for more than 45 years.