Unlike North America, we never really went a bundle on the whole dayvan thing. Rather than five captains chairs, ankle-deep carpet and a quadraphonic sound system, we were more likely to fit our panel vans out with several hundred pounds of flimsy MDF cabinetry and a Porta Potti.
Our Ford Transit wasn’t hugely different in size to the American Econoline, but were rather less well endowed under the bonnet. Even thought some camper conversions were fairly plush inside, there was no escaping their commercial roots and their engines were intended for economy and ruggedness, rather than power and refinement. However, this eBay find is one Transit camper I can get behind, without fear of getting stuck behind.
(Apols. for the bijou images, they’re the best eBay could offer)
This is about as close to textbook 1980s home-brew panel-van conversion as it’s possible to find, right down to the US-style – and none too flush-fitting – side windows. The vendor reckons it’s by “Coachman Vehicles” (not the US Coachmen, I assume), but I can’t verify whether this is truly the case for all (or any) of the work.
I like the fundamentals, though, including the mandatory bodyside graphics, the style of which would already have been somewhat outmoded by the time this Transit was built in ’85.
The pop-top roof is the finishing touch to making this the perfect fish-out-of-water addition to any contemporary campsite, the likes of which are now filling up with identikit Class A RVs and “charming” over-restored VW Transporters. If you want to look like a seasoned veteran at the art of getting away for the weekend, you need a mid-80s Transit camper.
It’s in impeccable condition, this – and it’s lovely to see the original (albeit hideous) plastic wheel trims still present and correct. The most impressive feature, though, is what lies under the bonnet.
Transits of this age were available with a 1.6-litre or 2.0-litre Ford “Pinto” OHC engine, though the 3.0-litre “Essex” V6 was available as a special order option for ambulances and police rapid-response applications. Of course, if an Essex will fit, that means a Cologne will fit. And if the good old Granada 2.9 goes in, the same must be true of the Cosworth fettled BOB 24v engine from a late-model Scorpio.
That’s what you see here – 204hp worth of creamy multi-valve goodness. No doubt the Transit’s loaf-like aerodynamic properties will significantly handicap its performance compared to the Scorpio that donated its engine, but it’s got to be a big step up from the 77hp of a flat-rated 2.0-litre Pinto.
The original ad has now ended but, here for perpetuity, are the words of its vendor:
“1984 MK2 Transit, Converted by Coachman Vehicles from brand new. This 2 berth camper van comes complete with pop up roof, three way fridge/freezer, double burner hob, sink with pumped cold water, a rock and roll double bed and front swiveling captains chairs. Interior in good condition and in fully working order. Engine 2.9 BOB V6 Cosworth and automatic gearbox conversion since the 2.0 Pinto was lacking in power on hills etc. The decision was made for a small upgrade. Having made this upgrade it doesn’t lack any more although it isn’t built for speed as it is still thirty plus year Tranny! Loads of new stuff fitted to list a few Front discs & pads, flexis, shockers, tyres, springs, fuel pumps, etc.all engine conversion bracketry and fabrications have all been powder coated. Engine compartment has had a freshen up with all new paint, all original brake pipes have been re dipped Please call for full spec.
(All image copyright belongs to eBay)