Hooniverse Asks: What Commercially-Focused Vehicle Would You Daily Drive The Hell Out of?

So I’m going to spill a little secret, just between you and me, okay? You ready? Here it is: I’ve always had a jones for the last-gen Ford Transit Connect. I particularly like the high-roof model with the windows in the doors but not in the back panels. I don’t know what I’d do with one, but I’m always envious whenever I see a flower delivery or dry cleaner edition go by. For some reason, the similarly-sized Nissan NV200 fails to elicit the same desires, although I can’t quite point to just why.
There is a general interest in all things commercial, whether they be small vans or stainless steel appliances. It has something to do with the thought that commercial devices are more stout and long lasting I think. Then there’s the hipster ethos of just being different.
Have you ever wanted to turn a commercial vehicle into something you could call your own? If so, which one would you pick to drive on the daily?
Image: The Sports Page

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72 responses to “Hooniverse Asks: What Commercially-Focused Vehicle Would You Daily Drive The Hell Out of?”

  1. Mister Sterling Avatar
    Mister Sterling

    I have to second the Transit Connect. But of course I would have to get the wagon with seats and windows in the back, as I shuttle family members to and from JFK. But I like the configuration you describe, and it looks good above on the Ram Pro Master City Ram Van, Man.

    1. crank_case Avatar

      Driven two generations of them, absolutely great things, lots of space inside but very maneuverable in the city and you sit eye to eye with most SUVs. The RAM is essentially a Fiat Doblo, which are decent enough, but I’d stick with the Ford. Going older, always liked the 1st Gen Citroen Berlingo. Front clip from a Peugeot 306 GTI-6 goes straight in apparently, but the standard 306 underpinnings are nice enough.

    2. JayP Avatar

      The TC with an ecoboost and manual trans would make it a hoot. I’m sure there’s a european option for turbo-6 speeds.

      1. crank_case Avatar

        Theres no Euro option (well at least in my neck of Europe) for a Turbo.. it’s all diesels, and the first gen had a very diesel feeling diesel, not one of these modern things that disguise their dieselness well, but there’s a charming honesty to it, it’s a workhorse of an engine and pulls well. Wouldn’t call it a hoot, but it’s got charm.

      2. Mister Sterling Avatar
        Mister Sterling

        I was mightily impressed with the Transit Connect riding as a taxi passenger last summer in Puerto Rico. It is really tossable. Gets about 25 MPG. Offers a manual transmission. Sort of a base Focus with tons of interior space and a little body roll.

    3. Papa Van Twee Avatar
      Papa Van Twee

      I’d probably rock a Chevy City Express. Sure, it’s an NV200, but give me more seats for the kids and a manual and I’d be set.
      Signed, Prizm, Vibe owner who’s dad is pro GM and doesn’t know I drive foreign cars.

  2. 0A5599 Avatar

    My father-in-law’s neighbor drove a 59 Chevy Panel Delivery in his painting business, until around 2015. He got rid of it only because he was having knee problems and wanted something without a clutch. He sold it cheap, and I would have paid his price had I known about it when he was selling.

      1. 0A5599 Avatar

        Excellent suggestion. Keep in mind though that a panel delivery is truck based, and a sedan delivery is car based–essentially a 2-door wagon without quarter glass.

        1. Alff Avatar

          What is this? A car for ants?

  3. GTXcellent Avatar

    Oh man, ever since I was a little kid watching my very favoritest tv show about a man, his monkey, and a beautiful red and white K100 Aerodyne, I’ve LOVED Kenworths!
    I don’t think a full, Class 8 truck would work, but a T170 with a flatbed…

    1. nanoop Avatar

      Careful though, you’d become the dream answer for the question “do you know someone who could help us with [hauling rocks, furniture, car parts, garbage, and whatever needs hauling]”…

  4. Kiefmo Avatar

    In Mexico, the Hilux is sold alongside the Tacoma, and costs about 40% less. I’m guessing it’s geared towards the commercial market (it’s available as a chassis cab, after all), so I’m gonna claim it.
    Here’s what you can get for ~$19.5k in Mexico:
    – 2.7L 4-banger, 5-speed, RWD
    – Seating for 5
    – AM/FM/CD/BT stereo, 4 speakers
    – Full HVAC (manual controls)
    – 1900lb payload (no towing capacity listed, but probably not more than 2 tons with that 4-cyl)
    – Safety: dual airbags + knee airbag, ABS, child seat anchors in the second row. What more do you really need?
    – This clean, simple dash:
    – This clean, unadorned exterior:

    1. Professor Homernose Avatar
      Professor Homernose

      Oh, if only it were so easy…

      1. caltemus Avatar

        Buy tacoma in US, go to mexico, buy hilux, drive back, remove all badging and swap vin tags. If it passes emissions you’re golden. I doubt anyone that works in registration or insurance can tell that it’s not a taco

    1. Kiefmo Avatar

      Wouldn’t say cheating so much as hum-drum, as so many folks already drive these heavy-duty-yet-lighter-duty-than-medium-duty pickups as grocery-getters that never put a wheel off pavement or a clod in the bed.

      1. pj134 Avatar

        Yeah, but in duramax trim you get more torque than seems reasonable and those easy to clean vinyl floors.

    2. Professor Homernose Avatar
      Professor Homernose

      I totally want this, and not just because it’s got a bench seat and a column shifter.

  5. crank_case Avatar

    As long as I didn’t need to go near motorways much, I’d happily tootle round in this.

    1. Maymar Avatar

      There’s a landscaping business in my old neighborhood running a Kei truck – every time we saw it, my wife remarked on wanting it. I’m pretty sure I could buy one unannounced if it was a Kei van either with the faux-VW Bus front end, or painted like the Mystery Machine from Scooby Doo.

      1. crank_case Avatar

        Funnily enough, the faux VW ones are scooby-doos (Subaru Sambar).

  6. nanoop Avatar

    I’m driving the civil version of this:
    (no, it doesn’t look any better with windows in the rear)
    and am in the market for one of these:

    1. outback_ute Avatar

      They sold the Roomster in Australia twice, but in tiny numbers… It was dropped in 2010, then brought back in 2012 but dropped again after about 18 months due to poor sales. I’m not sure about the first period, but they only sold 150 in 2012-14

    2. crank_case Avatar

      You’ll appreciate this: http://petrolblog.com/2017/04/skodas-decision-kill-yeti-abominable/
      Seems Skoda is sadly slowly losing its personality to the greater VAG empire, shame as it was sort of ahead of trends, like making a crossover that was actually cool.

      1. nanoop Avatar

        The Roomie’s exterior is an aesthetic mess (rolling baseball cap at best, black A-pillars I don’t like, strange window lines).
        But unlike the Multipla, where the exterior and interior stem from similar design notions, the interior is working really well – not as an aesthetic haven, but as if it was designed by people who’d actually use it.
        Just like in a proper chauffeur car, it’s all about the three rear seats:
        Headroom there is great, and the high window line allows panoramic views on Norwegian fjords*. You can fold the seats up and/or remove them individually. The two outer ones can be adjusted forth/back (knee space vs. luggage space) and the back can be tilted back over. When the spartanic middle one is removed, you can shift the “proper” ones inside, giving you a great feeling of space. If you ever had to strap down a kid into a transportation containment (“seat”) you’ll enjoy the wide and high door openings that allow you to safely drop a toddler in there without dropping it, or bending overly over.
        The front seats are Skoda Fabia, but with a lower windshield. Good they’re heated.
        The engine (77kW 1.2L gas) is clearly optimized for no consumption under 2.2krpm (that’s where the EU tests stop(!)), has no engine braking, and always requires double downshifts when acceleration is desired. 6.8L/100km – 34MPG in 70% city.
        I own it since a year and still like it, although I hurt myself a couple of times with the pointy front door corners. Time to part for even more space, also in the front!
        *Fjords not included.

        1. theskitter Avatar

          *Commence pining.

  7. Hillman_Hunter Avatar

    If I can fit my bike into it, the make and model isn’t important.

    1. crank_case Avatar

      The Daihatsu love is strong here.

  8. mdharrell Avatar

    If I thought I could get plates for it, I would seriously consider a Kalamazoo K-45.

    1. mdharrell Avatar

      Let’s try again for that image, as the original isn’t working and another one apparently can’t be substituted via editing.

      1. Victor Avatar

        Your appreciation of the oddball is appreciated.

      2. outback_ute Avatar

        You don’t find that enclosed cargo space is sometimes useful?

        1. mdharrell Avatar

          Of course. I was envisioning this in addition to, not instead of, my International.

          1. outback_ute Avatar

            Aha, the term “daily” for me represents the main driver.
            Trouble is here there is a 3rd party personal injury cover added to vehicle registration, so having multiple vehicles becomes that much more expensive. Theoretically you could put it on drivers licences instead, but they last 10 years…

          2. mdharrell Avatar

            “Main driver” bespeaks of a greater degree of reliability than any single one of my vehicles can manage. To me “daily” refers to anything that serves for ordinary driving purposes, not just special occasions.

          3. Alff Avatar

            I choose the latter definition of DD as well, primarily so that I don’t have to admit that I don’t have one.

          4. outback_ute Avatar

            Fair enough, so more in the Sultan of Brunei daily, one for each day thing, just not colour coordinated Rolls Royce’s!

    2. crank_case Avatar

      Single driver cabin, oddball status, complete unsuitability for highways. Do Daihatsu have a tailor made car for you or what?

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        I’m not saying I wouldn’t drive a Daihatsu Midget II, because I probably would, but it falls short of the no-nonsense charm of the Kalamazoo.

        1. crank_case Avatar

          I can see where you’re coming from, but nonsense springs from context. A Midget may be cutesy but is totally practical, much like a piaggio ape. The Kalamazoo looks totally sensible in a rail yard/shipyard/warehouse/airport, but on the street a bit mad. Just like my dream of using a Tatra 813 for civilian use..
          Speaking of Piaggios, if you ever wanted to give up the day job and become a mobile Barista, it seem to be the mopevan of choice.

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      Wheels too small, what are they saying behind his back?

    1. Professor Homernose Avatar
      Professor Homernose

      I’ve often said it’s the ultimate city car.
      It can be fixed without being taken to the shop
      There’s nothing on it anyone wants to steal
      It can survive the worst pothole and curb impacts
      Parallel parking bruises don’t matter
      You always get to parallel park on the right and hop out curbside.

  9. Sjalabais Avatar
    1. theskig Avatar

      The 452… Right answer!

    2. outback_ute Avatar

      But would they only find out the hard way? It really needs to be in the sort of condition as mdharrel’s Kalamazoo to provide appropriate visual deterrent aka traffic clearing.

  10. Victor Avatar

    I have had a van just like the one pictured for 4 years now, It was purchased at a deep discount and has been a top performer.Carries the load goes through deep snow, put on the 4 ways and you can park anywhere.Not a daily driver but gets used a lot.

    1. Alan Cesar Avatar
      Alan Cesar

      Maybe these are better when they’re not somebody’s abused fleet vehicle. My experience with them is that they’re goddamn awful to drive.

      1. I_Borgward Avatar

        I find it really depends on which particular configuration it’s in. My E150 with a 4.9L six drives much like an old RWD, full-size American car, with all that would imply. It’s no paragon of handling and refinement, but it always does what you ask. I’ve spent many happy hours tootling along back roads in it while on vacation. But I also once had an E350 extendo that was an utter pig to drive, which is why it didn’t last long.

        1. Victor Avatar

          Mine has the 4.2 V/6 and like you said,it is a truck and drives like one.That is why I bought it.

      2. Victor Avatar

        Most vehicles are goddamn awful to drive after fleet use.

  11. Alff Avatar

    What commercial vehicle would I drive out of Hell? Probably something like this…

    1. Krautwursten Avatar

      I was this close to buying one a few weeks ago. Beautiful second gen European Ford Granada in BMW purple and with intact rear doors which is rare on European hearses. But I was unsure about dailying a 35 year old carbureted car with limited mechanical knowledge, and before I knew it the ad was gone. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/289c87ad4b9086902eb55274c474252ea232abb9641b1916f121bed94304abee.jpg

      1. Alff Avatar

        Ooooooh. I really like that. Looks like a stylish hauler that doesn’t scream “I carry dead people”

    2. crank_case Avatar

      From undertaking to overtaking…

  12. Professor Homernose Avatar
    Professor Homernose

    I’m always shopping around for the very last of these Impala 9C1s:
    (Why yes, the police are commercial for the purpose of this exercise)
    Tons of space up front thanks to a column shifter, overbuilt seats, rubber floors, heavy-duty suspension, heavy-duty alternator, transmission and oil cooler, vinyl rear seat, enormous trunk, 300 horsepower and 30 highway mpg…come on, it’s perfect!
    The only problem is that you’d have to get a NOT A COP bumper sticker so people will stop hovering next to you without passing…oh and also that they’re all used, and heavily used.

    1. caltemus Avatar

      I mean, I doubt the public consciousness equates the w-body impala with police cars these days. Even the crown vic has been superseded in the current zeitgeist with the new taurus and explorer based interceptors.

  13. I_Borgward Avatar

    I had a thing for the last-gen Transit Connect as well, to the point of (gasp) shopping for a loan and scouring ads for a few months. I really like the high roof design and love its sporty-yet-dorky look. Problem is, prices for them on the West Coast are really stiff, and there aren’t many for sale that aren’t clapped-out high-mileage delivery vehicles. I didn’t want one bad enough to go far afield for one and deal with getting it home, so my interest waned.
    The new TC just doesn’t do it for me, mostly because of its low roofline. The styling is okay, but not nearly as utilitarian-cool as the previous gen was. Why didn’t Ford give us a high-roof version? The TC might be back on my menu if it did.
    I’ve always kept an Econoline in my herd for camping and hauling duties, but my current one is really showing its age. The other day, I saw a full-size Transit, regular wheelbase, mid-roof… now that might be just the ticket to replace it someday.

    1. Professor Homernose Avatar
      Professor Homernose

      I’m looking at new Transit Connects (especially the rare and weird short-wheelbase version) as an alternative to one of many same ‘ol CUVs. The problem is just…it’s so expensive for what it is, and all the things it doesn’t have. And it lacks the high-roof quirk, and I hate the dashboard, and I’m scared of the transmission, etc.
      But I’m still going to have to get it, since it’ll haul a family while still fitting in a townhome garage.

      1. I_Borgward Avatar

        I salute your resistance to the car-in-a-fat-suit (CUV).

  14. I_Borgward Avatar

    Divco! I used to love seeing the milkman pull up in his every week when I was a kid (thus irrevocably dating myself).

    1. I_Borgward Avatar

      It’d be hell to park every day, but worth it.

  15. wunno sev Avatar
    wunno sev

    i would seriously consider slamming a first-gen Transit Connect if they weren’t (a) surprisingly expensive on the used market and (b) pretty uncommon with dark paint and rear seats and windows. automatic only, but imagine a totally bippu’d-out TC wagon. black paint, machined-face wheels, tints, and a static drop (nothing too serious). hack up a leather interior, no performance mods. i love it.

  16. Krautwursten Avatar

    The good thing about these is that there are plenty of off the shelf solutions for fitting newer Golf parts including the VR6. Other commercial vehicles always seem like too much of a rolling obstacle on the roads, especially the Autobahn. And being German I basically have to pick this anyway. It’s our lil’ truck.

  17. Rover 1 Avatar
    Rover 1

    Looking for one of these, the Nissan S-Cargo, there’s quite a few here in NZ. Might be fun to make a SSS-Cargo with a bigger motor-they do have Sunny/Sentra underpinnings. No I’m not a florist.

    1. I_Borgward Avatar

      I just saw my first one out in the wild last week! Olive green. Me: green with envy.

  18. bbob Avatar

    My daily driver for the last two years.
    Perfect van for the city, though not very crash worthy.
    Don’t need more then two seats most of the time, though i still wish i had some anyway.