The global platform…it’s an automaker’s concept of a single set of blueprints for each car they build, no matter where it’s sold. Unfortunately, their sales maps usually have a big white void where the US sits, due to our harsh safety and emissions regulations, and perhaps our picky outlook. Sometimes this can be a good thing, as in the case of the Tata Nano, which has a hobby of catching fire and looking like a joke on wheels. But often it means we miss out on some of the coolest cars in the world, like the Toyota Hilux and the Holden VZ Ute Thunder.
Global platforms, however, have begun to sneak through in greater numbers. The new Chevy Colorado, for example, will be the same one everyone else gets. And just last week, Ford announced that Kansas City will build the Transit, Ford’s global van, and Europe’s best-selling commercial vehicle, in 2013.
Now, this could be another boring slice of automotive news, fit for the countless plumbers, delivery businesses, and SWAT teams who will likely use such a van. Or, it could be the greatest announcement for van lovers since the Turbovan came out back in ’89. Because while Ford’s E-Series has been tested tough since the Napoleonic Wars it’s never quite pushed all the necessary gearhead buttons. And the Transit can.
You see, it’s hard to find a full-size van if you’re a car guy. Most are slow, boring, and inefficient, and you’d be better off with a more capable (but even less efficient) large SUV, even though you likely won’t need its off-road capabilities or high ground clearance. During our Dream Car series, we couldn’t even find one we really liked that was sold here in America.
But we did find the Transit outside our borders, and it had every option a car guy could want in a small bus. Because the Transit (first built for the rest of the world way back in 1965) is constructed on a versatile platform. It’s available with a number of engines, most small, torquey diesels. There are also a number of sizes and configurations for passengers and cargo. Like most foreign vehicles, the Transit comes standard with a stick, though automatics are available. Even the drive wheels differ in options, as internationals can get theirs with RWD, AWD, and even FWD.
Of course, this doesn’t mean we’ll get so many options. Front-wheel-drive will likely be eliminated, but we’re not crying over that. More tragically, we stand a good chance of losing the manual transmission, as you can barely find one in a new American truck these days. Diesels don’t seem too lofty a goal, especially since the Transit will be marketed as a commercial vehicle.
But we won’t be getting the T-Series (Ford’s likely American moniker for the van) until 2013, so it’s still in the planning stages. And still in the dreaming stages. Therefore, since this author wants a big family, my ideal T-Series would be a 15-passenger variant with Ford’s 3.2 liter Duratorq five-cylinder diesel (massaged with a performance tune and a dab of turbo). It would, of course, have a stick shift, all-wheel-drive, and a lift kit.
If you were buying a T-Series, how would you set it up? What options offered on the world-spec Transit do you think we’ll get here in the States? Since it’s such a versatile platform, what do you think Ford will do with it once it hits our shores?