A sure sign that a Transit is hauling people and not boxes must be the non-white exterior coating. I saw an orange metallic one yesterday.
Sure enough, Ford in Denmark even uses this colour in its on-line publicity material. When I saw this one parked up somewhere in Jutland I had to take a closer look. You have to admit, it’s a satisfyingly spacey-looking machine. The bright orange paint brings out the graphic quality of the other elements. Essentially this is a commercial vehicle that has no trouble looking as good as a passenger car.
Like the original Ford Ka, the bumpers in black plastic look graphically correct. I’d be prepared to bet a significant amount of money (name your currency) that designers imagined the Custom with self-coloured black plastic from the start. The rear lamps and bumpers run together in a very satisfying way.
The front end places all the emphasis on the air intake, with the rest of the lines flowing back from that. Semantically, this the level of sophistication one expects from passenger cars (and does not always get). The Custom didn’t appear from nowhere. The 2000 Ford Transit raised the bar when it came out:
I always thought the lamps and grille of the 2000 Transit to be very car-like and having driven one a few times, they are huge fun too. More than half of the cars I’ve driven in the last many years would have been much better if they had felt as pleasing as the Transit to move around in.
I haven’t had the pleasure of trying the Custom but I wouldn’t be surprised to find it laid-back, comfortable and imbued with deep-down practicality.
Most of these vehicles elude our attention because they are painted a cheap and handy white. That might be good for painting on decals but it means these vehicles vanish into the background. I wonder if there might be something in selling them in other colours as standard so that, like cars, they are endowed with a finish that does some justice to the quality of the design. If people really wanted white, they could get it as a no-cost option.
And something similar applies to the interiors. Many of these cars do work that is no filthier than any passenger car is asked to carry out, so why not provide them with some colourways apart from charcoal grey, anthracite and black.
And sure enough, Ford provides for this:
Which is a very regal interior indeed. But rather bafflingly, the Ford passenger van is not near enough to the top of the sales charts, as of 2017. That accolade goes to VW with their Transporter, which car I have never seen in a cheerful colour. Is it something to do with number of engines? Ford only offers one, a 2.2 litre diesel. Hmmm.