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The Motorists' Guide
  • 10 Old-School Vans for Daily Use

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    Steve Q

    Steve takes a look at a selection of classic vans which are still suitable for daily use

    It's obvious vans are designed to carry a variety and a lot of stuff efficiently, but a van also has another crucial yet forgot role. For business owners, vans are moving billboards for their businesses. It cannot be denied that new vans are getting more complex, and thus more expensive.

    But there is a way that businesses can still get the publicity from older vans which have cult status, retro status or cool factor whilst also benefitting from simplicity and thus easier maintenance you can do yourself. This list is designed to get you noticed and I have tried to cater for all aspects of vans for varying businesses. 

    Ford Transit mk3-5

    The Ford Transit, Britain's most popular van and as such the most plentiful. For argument sake and in the essence of fairness for this list I thought I'd highlight the Mk2 Transit which was manufactured between 1986-2003. The MK2 Transit is available in short wheel base, long wheel base, hightop and dropside/flatbed. Various engines are included 3 diesel engines of 95, 100 and 115ps abd 2.0 or even 2.9 litre petrol engines. Mpg can range from 25-35mpg depending on the engine and wheelbase. 

    File:Ford Transit front 20080222.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

    Mercedes TN Transporter 

    No I haven't got this wrong, Mercedes did launch a model with the same name as Volkswagen, but they couldn't have been more different. The TN was built between 1977 - 1995 with model designations of 207, 208, 307, 308 and 410. Just like it's successor the Sprinter, the TN is available in short or long wheel basis along with a high top, minibus and flatbed/dropside. Engines arange from 2.0 to 3.0 litre in petrol or diesel forms with various outputs depending on the wheelbase chosen. Mpg usually ranges between 25-30mpg. 

    File:Mercedes T1 front 20080214.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

    Volkswagen T25 Transporter 

    Launched in 1978 and ceased production in 1992 in Europe the T25 was the last rear engined Transporter. Just like the Mercedes, the T25 is available as a van, minibus or dropside.  The last T25 rolled off the production line in South Africa in 2002. Being rear engined it means the T25 has light steering bwhich is ideal when driving or parking. Initially offered with a 1.6 or 2.0 litre air-cooled engine and then later with a 1.9-2.1 litre petrol or 1.6/1.7 diesel water cooled engines. Be prepared for poor mog though out of the petrol engines at 15-20mpg is the norm. Payloads for the van range from 885-995kg. 

    File:Vw transporter t3 luft v sst.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

    Reliant Regal/Robin 

    Don't laugh, here me out on this one. Seriously now stop laughing, the Regal/Robin vans do have their merits. For one they are fibreglass so the body won't rust, unlike a Mercedes sprinter/Vito and only having 3 wheels makes the Reliant very fuel efficient with up to 40mpg from.the 0.7 litre engine. Plus being very small makes it ideal for old city streets. As with it's inherent size, it naturally won't carry a lot of stuff but the cult status will get your business noticed far better than a large van. 

    File:Reliant Regal Supervan E3 - Flickr - sludgegulper.jpg - Wikipedia

    Fiat Ducato/Alfa AR6

    The Ducato was launched in 1981 and ran untill 1993 and came in a variety of weight capacities ranging from 1 ton to 1.8 ton. The Ducato is available with two four cylinder engines, a 2.0 petrol or 1.9 diesel. For even more exclusivity the Italians got the Ducato style van with an Alfa Romeo badge. Known as the AR6 was only available in Italy, which ceased production in 1986 and was the last Alfa Romeo commercial vehicle. Payload is 1000kg-1300kg abd mpg figures range between 20-35mpg. 

    File:AR6.14 front.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

    Bedford Rascal/Suzuki Super Carry

    The Bedford Rascal is a micro van sold between 1986-1993 and was also sold as a Vauxhall Rascal and Suzuki Super Carry all in effect the same vehicle. All were fitted with a mid mounted 1.0 litre engine. They proved very popular and are ideal for narrow city streets. The design is so successful it is available brand new as a piaggio Porter. The payload capacity between all models ranges from 560-1120kg. 

    File:1989 Bedford Rascal 1.0.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

    Talbot Express 

    The Talbot Express was the last Talbot badged vehicle and proved very popular here in the UK. Based on the Fiat Ducato  which has been previously mentioned, the Express was built between 1982 - 1994. All models are fitted with Peugeot/Citroen (PSA) transverse engines ranging from 1.8-2.5 in petrol or diesel form. The payloads for the Express range from 1000-1300kg. The MPG figures are around 23mpg for a petrol engine and 38mpg on a long run on a diesel.

    File:1989 Talbot Express 1000P van (15378321141) (cropped).jpg ...

    Brazilian Volkswagen T2 Transporter 

    It may come as a surprise to know that the infamous T2 Transporter was in production in Brazil untill 2015. This meant the T2 outlived it's next two successors the T25 and T4. It also ceased production the same year the T5 did in Europe, but the T5 is still being produced in Mexico by Dodge, but this is a side point. Just like the 1970s Transporter the Brazilian version looks almost identical. The key differences include a radiator grill in the front to accommodate for the 1.4 water-cooled petrol engine in the rear. The same engine which was in the Polo and Fox, therefore parts are readily available and it'll be fuel efficient. Also the roof line is slightly boxier and different front bumper. Believe it or not the Brazilian T2 is more common then you'd think thanks to various companies importing them. The payload is 780kg and mpg from the 1.4 petrol you can expect 30mpg. 

    File:Brazilian Kombi pair.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

    MG Express/Rover Commerce

    The MG Express/Rover Commerce is the first and only car derived van on our list. The MG Express was based on the MG ZR and as such benefitted from the MG lovely cosmetic styling but is very rare with only 317 examples made it certainly will get you noticed. The Rover Commerce was in affect just a Rover 25 and nearly just as rare. They were available with four 4 cylinder engines which include a 1.3 litre 103 or 1.8 litre 160ps k series petrol engines and 101/113ps L series diesel engines. Certainly the more stylish looking car derived vans in my opinion. 

    MG Express HSSV Concept 2003 photos (2048x1536)

    LDV Convoy/Pilot 

    The Pilot and larger version, the Convoy were the last of the infamous Sherpa vans and were made between 1996-2006. Available as a van, hightop, minibus or dropside, they proved popular with Royal Mail, motorhome conversions and schools and the low roof 17 seat minibus proved helped LDV take 60% of the minibus market share. Most models were fitted with PSA petrol or diesel engines which were either naturally aspirated or turbo charged and all engines are known for their dependability but can be sluggish. What further helped their popularity is that they were made in the UK and have a 15,000 service interval plus parts are easily obtainable, but be warned LDV built these vans from the parts bins of other manufacturers so you might have to do some searching when new parts are required. The payload of the Convoy ranges from 1,085kg - 1702kg which is good going and they're cheap to buy. 

    File:LDV Convoy 1997.jpg - Wikimedia Commons


    I hope I've inspired you to consider an old-school van for your business and to show a glimpse of the varied selection of retro vans that are out there. 


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