Mike is a big fan of the Ford Transit, and he had finally got one in the workshop. Could Elvis turn it into something special?
The show will soon be celebrating its twentieth anniversary but there was one vehicle that Mike had always wanted in the workshop. And in last night’s episode he finally got his hands on one. Welcome, then, to the legendary Ford Transit.
Our favourite Wheeler Dealer had been chasing this one for a while, and when owner, Jason, finally agreed to sell there was only going to be one outcome. Mike loved the test drive which brought back memories of his childhood, and the deal was sealed at £11,500. Once used by the German fire brigade, the brilliant commercial had covered just 10,000 miles but one issue to tackle was the fact that it was left-hand drive.
Elvis loved it, but knew that plans to convert the Transit to right-hand drive would involve plenty of work. He also had to tackle a problem with the suspension, swap the differential and prepare the big van for a re-spray. It was time to get cracking…
The first job was stripping the front end and removing the engine, gearbox and the many parts that were attached to the front bulkhead. Then the conversion could begin, and a chap called Keith had supplied a handy template so Elvis knew where to cut the holes for the steering gear and pedals. In the meantime, Mike headed off to get some parts and the man to see was Transit Van Club supremo, Peter Lee. He got everything he needed, and all for a £200 donation to a children’s cancer charity.
Back at the workshop a clever plan to cut and weld the dashboard meant Elvis could re-locate the instrument binnacle, and then it was a matter of fitting all the parts that would complete the conversion. The now right-hand drive van could head off to get its fresh coat of grey paint. It looked amazing, but there was still plenty of work to do!
A front leaf spring needed to be reconditioned, so Mike looked after that one by heading to a specialist firm in the West Midlands. For around £100 they made sure the spring was returned to its original shape, and once painted and fitted with new bushes it was as good as new and ready to be re-fitted.
There was just the differential left to tackle, with Elvis swapping the crown wheel and pinion for higher ratio items that would improve the top speed and make for quieter motorway cruising. Out came the old parts that gave a 5.8:1 ratio, and with careful measurement and setting up the new 4.6:1 diff was installed.
Mike had called this one if his favourite builds on Wheeler Dealers, and he certainly loved the result. A fun test drive around Grimsby docks was the icing on the cake, and although he really didn’t want to part with the Transit it was sold to van dealer, Andy, for the full £15,000 asking price.
The boys had made almost £2000 in profit, but more importantly they’d turned one of these famous Fords into something very special. For anyone who loves classic commercials this episode was a proper treat.
Mike said: “At last a Ford transit and an MK1 to boot. I always knew this would be an amazing project and as I’ve never seen a right-hand drive conversion before I knew that Elvis was the right man for the job. There were a few sweaty moments cutting into that dashboard, but in the end he nailed it. Changing the colour and stretching out the rear differential was also the correct thing to do, and it’s given this van a whole new lease of life. There’s no denying that at the end of the show, I was clearly emotional about letting it go. It has gone on display in a van centre, and after watching last night‘s program, I think I’m going to give them a call and buy it back! It should stay with me.
“I’ll also be bringing it along to the Classic Motor Show at Birmingham’s NEC next month.
“This has probably been my favourite build so far and we still have the Lotus Europa episode for you to see!”
Find more info:
Discovery UK – Wheeler Dealers
Join the club:
Transit Van Club
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