1981 Ford Transit MK2 LWB 2.0 L
(Featured on 5th December 2013)
Registration: AFK 318X
Sellers original description:
A once in a life time opportunity to acquire a truly mind blowing 1981 Ford Transit MK II 2.0L petrol walk through panel van. Long Wheel Base with twin rear wheels, pre-facelift.
Just 4,600 (four thousand six hundred) recorded miles.
A completely standard vehicle supplied to the Ministry of Defence in civilian specification by Ford dealers Perrys.
Put into service with the Royal Air Force. Stored under cover and used, in the main, only for the occasional movement of specialist equipment on Base.
Released from service and first registered in the UK in 2006.
Presented in stunning original unmolested condition never welded with all of its factory panels and exemplary paint finish.
The very best of the best. We doubt that you could possibly find a superior, lower mileage, un-restored example for sale anywhere – worldwide!
Already a holder of the coveted Transit Van Club 'Best of Show' trophy with very little work could be a Concours Contender.
A very rare find indeed and one almost certainly never to be repeated - truly remarkable!
Everyone has the same reaction when they first see this Transit.....
In the early sixties the panel van market was dominated by Bedford. Ford offered the Thames 400 and BMC The J4 and J2 vans all similar looking vehicles but not so favored with the fleet users as the Bedford.
Ford were fully aware of the importance of this emerging sector and needed a radically different new vehicle to conquer it.
Ford of Britain and Ford of Germany worked together to create a prototype and in October 1965 the Ford Transit was launched, and conquer the market it did!
The Transit was a departure from the European commercial vehicles of the day with its American-inspired styling allowing the engine to be forward of the cab, its broad track gave it a huge advantage in carrying capacity over comparable vehicles of the day. Most of the Transit's mechanical components were adapted from Ford's car range of the time.
The Transit became the must have panel van for fleet users, small businesses - and bank robbers like!
Drivers appreciated the elimination of the excessive noise, smell and cabin heat that resulted from placing the driver above or adjacent to the engine compartment as did the Thames 400E and other forward control light vans of the 1950s and early 1960s.
In March 1978 a face-lifted version that used the same platform as the original Transit design and widely became known as the MK II debuted with a restyled nose section, new interior, and the introduction of the Pinto engine from the Cortina in place of the Essex V4.
The Mark II was available in 6 body styles: Van, Kombi, Chassis Cab, Parcel Van, Bus and Crewbus all available in short-wheelbase (2690 mm) and long-wheelbase (3000 mm) versions. On top of this were 32 door combinations, 6 axle ratios and options for 12 - 17 interior seats. All of these were available in any combination when purchased with Ford's highly customizable custom plan. At the time this gave the business sector an unprecedented amount of flexibility, which was a major factor in the vehicles' ultimate success.
There have been four basic platforms on which the Transit van has been built. The first platform was used with the original design, the first generation and with the 1978 facelift (Mk II) of it, the second generation.
Second generation transits were subjected to a further facelift in 1984. This included a grey plastic front grille with integrated headlamp surrounds, wraparound indicators, longer bumper end caps and multifunction rear lights incorporating fog, indicator, reversing and side lights for the panel van. The original pre facelift are the most sought after and rarest of the Mk II's.
Practically no good un-restored original examples of the MK II panel van remain. Nearly thirty years since the last one was made, having mainly had hard lives as commercial vehicles of course the majority have long since disappeared having been run into the ground or fallen apart with rust, from which they suffered badly.
Today earlier Transit Vans, that used the first platform are highly desirable and sought after and are set to become even more so. Even high mileage worn out rusty ones, which as we say most are, command high prices as enthusiasts often have no choice but to spend thousands of pounds in an attempt to recreate one that looks half decent, a fortune to recreate one that looks really good.
Remarkably though you now actually do have a choice. However it will be a choice that you will almost certainly never be offered again - because it is a once in a lifetime opportunity to acquire what must be the lowest mileage best original un-restored Mk II Transit available for sale anywhere - worldwide.
AFK 318X is an example of the best looking of all the first or second generation Transit models that were available, a Long Wheel Base with twin rear wheels and flared arches to accommodate them. It is also the sought after pre 1984 Mk II facelift version with the desirable black painted metal grill panel.
Built in 1981 this van with standard civilian none military specification, was supplied through Ford Distributors Perrys to the Ministry of Defence for use by the Royal Air Force.
Apparently it was then fitted out with specialist equipment permanently fixed to the cargo area floor to be used at various R.A.F stations around the world.
It appears that when the equipment it carried was needed AFK 318X would be flown out on a Transport plane from its UK base to whichever R.A.F. Station required it. Once there the equipment on board would be put to use doing whatever it was that it did without ever being used on roads off station. When that task was complete AFK 318X would return to its UK base to be stored undercover, probably in a R.A.F hanger, until the next time it was called for duty.
Far be it for us to even begin to speculate just what the equipment might have been but we suspect it most likely that it would have been rather mundane really. Many different areas of work go on at airbases that are not necessarily defence related. Medical, catering, runway, buildings hangers, Aeroplane, vehicle and perimeter maintenance and so on. There is not even any signs of communication paraphernalia such as antenna holes in the roof or radio mounting holes on the dash. We suppose though that with a van that was never, or hardly ever, going be out on the open road 2 way communication was not essential.
As we say the vehicle was standard civilian spec (apart from stickers on the petrol tank declaring it explosion suppressed) supplied by a dealer rather than direct from Ford through MOD channels. It was not even Government specification as some Police and Ambulance Transits were. This was not a vehicle that needed camouflage markings and certainly not one that was ever destined to be a vehicle that was going to be used in any theatre of War.
In 2005 AFK 318X was released from service after the equipment that it been transporting was removed.
In 2006 it was registered for the Road for the first time, VOSA records show that it has not been submitted for MOT test since, and entered private ownership.
That same year at the Transit Van Club national annual meeting at the Heritage Motor Centre Gaydon Warwickshire it won the most prestigious of prizes 'Best of Show'.
Soon after the show AFK 318X was laid up in dry storage until we acquired it recently.
Today the recorded mileage is 4,600 and evidence that this is an exceptionally low mileage vehicle that has hardly any seen road use is everywhere.
When we first set eyes on AFK 318X we were amazed at just how rust free and straight the bodywork was, it really is remarkable.
Our initial thoughts were that all the paint work on the whole was original. On closer inspection there were one or two very hard to spot tell tale signs that some localised paint work had been carried out in the past. Just in one or two small areas. Paint on the female trim retaining clips behind the rear door internal finishing trim panels that sort of thing. Most likely done on the Pre Delivery inspection by Perrys we thought.
When we got the Transit back to our premises for a more detailed inspection we could not find any further obvious evidence of paintwork being carried out.
When we were able to carry out a more thorough inspection of the underside we were again amazed. It is as clean, original and genuine as any vehicle of the period that we have ever seen.
Here is a vehicle that has hardly ever been used on public roads, so never been subjected to the damaging salt used. In fact it is how you would expect to see the underside of a Transit that was a few months, rather than a 32 years, old.
Original factory applied paint work remains everywhere on the underside and on components etc even the leaf springs have their grey original paint finish. The factory fitted Michelin tyre remains on the spare wheel and it has never been used.
More importantly, apart from a little surface only oxidation, there is absolutely no rust and the underside has never been coated in under-seal so you can actually see what it's really like. If you where to consider entering concours shows the lack of under-seal is a must of course.
The load area sides are virtually unmarked. The floor and sides are not boarded out which of course is a must with a van of this age. New Boarding in older vans is not done to protect them as it was when they were new but often to hide a multitude of sins that is behind them. You can make a van look very good from the outside but it's the inside that will give away any poor quality work done.
The load area floor was in good condition. However, there were a few scuffs and scrapes plus a number of holes had been drilled for fixing equipment it carried. This was the only area that let the van down somewhat so we asked our body shop to tidy it up a little to improve it.
Rather than use body filler, which may have cracked after time, we have had tapered rubber bungs fitted to plug the holes which will make them more water, fume and noise proof although they do stand a couple of millimetres proud. The floor has then been repainted.
The load area, although not showroom fresh, is now much enhanced, a little light denting to the inner arches remains.
Whilst in the body shop AFK 318X attracted attention from many admirers not least of which from the staff who work there.
The staff at our body shop agreed with us that there were tell tale signs of some past paint rectification if you looked hard enough. However, like us, their initial thoughts were that it was localised rectification.
Other than the areas we have already mentioned they could find no other signs of overspray for example even in the areas that you really would expect to find it - even when the most professional of jobs had been carried out.
Despite lack of any further evidence of more paint rectification than that mentioned they have thought that the finish is so good that it is hard to believe that it is that applied by Ford to a commercial vehicle in the early eighties.
They have cast minor doubt in our minds and we think on balance that there is a chance that a top quality repaint below the roof may have been carried out some years back.
If it has been painted it as good a job that any of us have seen on a van and would have undoubtedly have been done at great expense only in order to correct minor dings and marks by an owner so fastidious that he could not bear to live with them on such an otherwise original low mileage vehicle.
Its goes without saying that AFK 318X retains all of its factory fitted panels, has never been welded and of course does not require any welding.
Bumpers and trims are excellent.
The cab floor is as new as are the door shuts and step ups.
The interior is amazing and supports the exceptionally low mileage.
The rubber matting is not split, cut or worn anywhere.
The dash is unmarked and as new with no holes cut or drilled.
The steering wheel shows no sign of wear or damage and is as new.
The Driver's seat does not sag at all and is as firm as the day it was new. There was some slight age related deterioration to a small area on the cushion and a inch long tear to the side panel we have had it tided but it's better but not perfect.
Door cards have not distorted and are excellent, it is interesting to note that when you prise them away from the doors slightly to expose the female trim retaining clips they do not show any signs of overspray.
The original jack and wheel brace are in their correct hessian bag under the twin passenger seat.
UNDER THE BONNET:
The engine bay as you may expect with 4,600 miles is exceptionally clean with original stickers still in place original factory paint to components and presenting only as an exceptionally low mileage vehicle can.
Original sound deadening still in place.
ON THE ROAD:
Six new Goodyear tyres that we should think have done less than a couple of hundred miles.
The Transit starts on the button with automatic choke.
AFK 318X drives supremely well. It will be as close to the experience that you will ever get to driving a new MK II back in the day. You just can’t help loving it -just so proper!
The engine pulls well and the gears change up and down exactly as they should.
MOT until July 2014.
As a precautionary measure our mechanic will be changing the cam belt on his pre sales check before auction end.
In the late seventies Top Gear reported that 95% of bank robberies where a vehicle was used somewhere along the line a Transit was involved.
It is also said that Police cars of the time were specially tuned to keep up with fast Transits - we don't know about that but our local Police Support officers use diesel Vauxhall Corsa's and they most certainly would have no problem whatsoever in keeping up with A318 AFK! Don't expect modern day van performance. Although top speed in excess of 60mph which was a lot better than its rivals at the time.
Of course in an ideal world every car that we offer would have a huge history file and by and large most of the time that is the case.
Every now and then though we look at a vehicle that we are certain in our own minds beyond any reasonable doubt is exactly as it appears but the supporting history, for the best of genuine reasons, is absent.
When this happens we are always faced with a bit of a dilemma. Do we walk away from what we know to be a superb low mileage example, the like of which is just so difficult for us to find. Or do we follow our instincts, acquire it and offer it without the documented paperwork that ideally we would desire. In the case of AFK 318X it was an easy choice - we took the latter option and if you saw the van you would know exactly why!
AFK 318X would have been maintained exactly as it should have been by the R.A.F. However records of that maintenance often did not accompany a vehicle on its release from service and that is the case here.
Since it left The MOD it has not been used but dry stored.
The trophy inscribed Transit VAN club BEST OF SHOW 2006.
There is a V5c current registration document, MOT until July 2014, VOSA MOT print out and that's about all!
AFK 318X is in amazing condition. We are accustomed to dealing in first rate world class vehicles but this one really did, and still does, take our breath away.
People often ask do we ever get vehicles that we just want to keep - yes of course we do, all the time but I think that we can safely say few more so than this remarkable Transit.
We have inspected AFK 318X inch by inch and we could hardly find a single mark, dent, scratch, trace of body filler, sign of rust or even a stone chip. This reason alone makes us think that it may have had more paint than we at first thought. If it has though it was carried out at least 8 or so years ago and to such a high standard that to reproduce the exemplary finish in our body shop today they estimate would be somewhere in excess of four thousand pounds.
We must not overlook the significance of the achievement in winning the award that AFK 318X has. It was not just any old prize given at a local classic car show.
This trophy was presented at the annual national gathering, at our National Heritage Motor Centre, of the Transit VAN Club. Of course present at the show would have been the absolute best of the very best of all of the models of Transit Vans since its launch in 1965 to date.
We think it's fair to say that the owners of these vans care with a passion about Transits and they know a thing or two about them. In fact at that gathering the most knowledgeable experts on Transits in the world would have been amongst the Judges.
AFK 318X took the Star prize, the holy grail of prizes 'Best of Show' - or in other words judged by world authorities on these vehicles to be the most excellent, the finest, the greatest Transit van at a show where all of the world's most outstanding examples were exhibited. So here indeed was the very best of the very best - without a doubt no mean feat - well done AFK 318X.
AFK 318X has not been shown since. If the trophy was the Holy grail of awards then AFK 318X is the holy grail when it comes to first and second generation Transit panel vans.
This ultra low mileage Van as many possibilities for future use. How good would your Mk 2 or Mk 1, RS Escort, or any other classic Ford of the period, look on a trailer behind it.
It could be the ultimate classic Ford rally barge.
Sign written in period style a remarkable marketing opportunity for your
Film or TV work - they just don't come any better.
It will undoubtedly go on to wipe the floor at more shows if entered or as we say it would take very little to make it a concours contender.
We also reckon in addition to all this that it is most likely that you could not find a more sure fire investment opportunity for this sort of money that will give you a better return in a just a few years - and certainly nowhere near as much fun!