The Ford Blue Oval is synonymous with Essex. The legendary Henry Ford established the motor company in 1903. The company’s home was Detroit Michigan USA, but it wasn’t long before ‘uncle’ Henry set his sights on the UK and Ford of Britain was created.
Over the next couple of years the company profile increased with the Model ‘A’ and the Model ‘N’ but there was one car that was staggeringly successful in the United States and encouraged the company to begin production here in the UK. A famous car and a famous slogan. You can have colour you like, as long as it’s black. It is of the course, the Model ‘T’.
Although the first Model ‘T’ was launched in 1908, it wasn’t until 1911 that the first British built Model ‘T’ rolled of the production line in Trafford Park, Manchester. Over the next few years sales in the UK flourished and by the time production ceased sixteen years later, two hundred and ninety five thousand cars had been produced. The model T is probably the first ‘supercar’ as it was so significant in bringing cars to the masses. Bold claims have been made about the Model T, but it wasn’t a car for everybody, it was strictly a car, then, for the middle classes. It has two forward gears and one reverse and developed about twenty horsepower. Now, unlike modern cars, the Model T of 1925 was very similar to the Model T of 1909. The same four-cylinder engine, the same straight-sided frame and the same three point leaf springs. The only difference was the way it was made. Now, with over fifteen million cars made the future for Ford was certainly bright.
Over the next forty years, Ford produced some of the most popular cars in he UK. The Anglia, Prefect, Consul and Zephyr were eclipsed by what was to follow in 1962. Originally called the Consul Classic and the Consul Cortina, the Ford Cortina went on to be the most successful line of cars that the company would ever produce. It was cheaper, faster and more economical that anything else in its class. Although produced until 1982, probably the fondest memories are of the Lotus Cortina of 1963. Underneath the car’s standard shell was a tuned 1600 Twin-cam engine and uprated suspension. Although the road-going versions were difficult to drive, on the track they remained special and ‘the’ cars to beat, with wins in the European saloon car championship and numerous rally events. To continue the success was always going to be difficult, and with every new car, and the country to continue its love affair with all things ‘Ford’ there was a chance all could come to an end.
But even the most optimistic person at Ford could not have anticipated just how successful the replacement for the Anglia was going to be. Even by 1968 standards, the Ford Escort looked a conventional, front-engined, rear-wheel car. What made it stand out was the way it was made, with a new process, developed with better fitting panels. From school runs to muddy hillsides, the Escort captured the hearts and minds of the British public. It combined good vehicle dynamics, style and affordability and Escort was ‘the’ car to be seen in. Kids who grew up in the backs of their Mum’s Escort wanted one of their own, only with a little more power. They were not to be disappointed as the Escort came in many sporting guises; RS1600, Mexico, RS Turbo and everyone’s favourite the XR3i. Over the next thirty years the Escort would go on to be Britain’s favourite hatchback, but in 1998 it retired.
It’s replacement was a car designed for the millennium; the all new Focus. Before this, in 1969 Ford introduced the Capri (a car you always promised yourself), with its long bonnet and two plus two styling it was Europe’s Mustang. Its underpinnings were shared with the Cortina, but there were a wide range of engines and it was always the high performance ones that grabbed the headlines. The pinnacle was arguably the Capri 280 Brooklands with its longer, softer styling with a 2.8-litre V6 engine producing 160bhp. This gave it a top speed of 127mph and 0-60 under 8 seconds. It was the original Essex boy racer’s car. After 1.9 million were produced, it ceased production. The following Probe and Cougar models never caught the public’s imagination in the same way.
Nowadays Ford doesn’t call itself a car company, it considers itself as a technology company.
Ford Commercial Vehicles
Think of Ford vans and you immediately think of Transit – its brand is synonymous with commercial vans and Transit has become a brand in its own right. In fact this year, 2015 sees its 50th birthday. Not bad for a van that critics thought would never catch on when it first rolled of the production line in Berkshire in 1955. Now more than 600,000 of these vans are produced every year and have become linked to the phrase "white van man" They have developed somewhat of a cult following and for decades have provided the tradesmen with a living.
Now the Transit range is bigger than ever before with the Connect, Courier, Custom, Custom DCIV (double cab) and of course Transit itself with its many customisations – Tipper, Dropside and Luton and of course its pickup truck, The Ranger. Add to this the little Ford Fiesta and it gives itself a range that can compete in any market place. In fact with so many models it has the biggest range in the market closely followed by Vauxhall and Volkswagen.
Until 2013 the Ford Transit, Ford’s commercial vehicle flagship model, was manufactured at its plant in Southampton when it was moved to Turkey for production. 2 million Transits were produced at the factory and it has always been a very British vehicle.
The Transit range just keeps winning awards as well and in 2014 the range won many awards including the Transit Custom, which was awarded What Van? 2014 van of the year along with the Ford Fiesta van, which won What Van? 2014 small van of the year. In fact in 2013/2014 it was awarded more than 25 accolades for its van range.
There is much choice with The Ford Transit range with a choice of wheel-bases, roof heights, lengths and trims you can tailor your Ford van to just about whatever you need it for. The engines are continually upgraded to provide a better fuel economy and less CO2 emissions whilst still producing enough power to carry the up 2 tonne loads that the Transit can manage.
And the good old Transit range is built with the business user in mind. Knowing how much time business users spend in their van driving long distances and stepping in and out of their van loading and unloading several times a day that they have thought of everything they can to make life easier and more comfortable for its driver and passengers. The vans are spacious with easy loading access both rear and side (on those models that are big enough for side doors) and the loading sill is low to enable easier loading and unloading especially for those who operate alone. The cabins are spacious and comfortable with adjustable seat and steering columns and there are plenty of storage solutions to allow things to be stowed conveniently and safely. The glove compartment fits a 15.6" laptop which can be securely locked away and there is a fold down tray in the central seat to allow a laptop or other documentation to rest for those that need to work on the go. Comfort is also key with the Ford van range and the seats are adjustable to provide the best driving position whatever the driver’s size so even if you are over 6 foot tall this is not a problem.
With Ford technology they further enable the driver to remain in control whilst on the go with their cruise control and speed limiter to control the speed depending on the traffic conditions ahead and Ford SYNC technology for hands free communication. This Ford SYNC technology has recently seen an upgrade to the Ford SYNC 3 and is intuitive enough to be used without the need for an instruction manual. Useful features of the system are that you can sync your phone to make and receive voice- activated calls and have your text messages read out loud. Apps can be connected from both Android and IOS so you can stream music directly from Spotify at the touch of a button. Park outside your house and the system can upgrade to your Wi-fi in the house to upgrade its system. There are so many useful apps that can be linked to the navigation that it almost does your thinking for you. All of these features are designed with the driver in mind and let the driver remain in control whilst on the go and not sat by the side of the road taking calls and loading journeys into the sat nav.