Practical, powerful, and easier than you would think to parallel park, the Ford Transit has become America’s best-selling commercial van: And for damn good reason. With more configurations than any other vehicle in its class (a whopping 58 in total), and available in a myriad of different sizes, prices, packages, drivetrains, and colors, the Transit is the kind of vehicle that you wouldn’t mind working out of on a daily basis.
This space-age slice of modern day practicality has graced several of our most popular cheat sheets this year, scoring high marks for its ability to be one of the best vehicles to live out of, and for being one of seven hand-picked food trucks that we feel could really change your lunch break for the better.
Thanks to the help of specialized outfitters, custom car shops, and hard-boiled DIY ingenuity, Transit owners across America have been busily turning these clever vans into purpose-built work horses, and the support they have received has been staggering. With 12 Transit specialists alone residing within 30 miles of the van’s Kansas City Assembly Plant, there is little doubt that a refreshed interest in this chassis is why more than 100,000 Transit vehicles were produced in the U.S. alone for the 2015 model year.
In order to properly celebrate this unprecedented success story, Ford released a list of 11 specialty Transit vans that it felt embodies what owning one is all about. Many of the vans listed in Ford’s rundown have been heavily tricked out for specialized jobs, and while all of them were you uniquely crafted in their own way, these following five contenders were real winners in our eyes.
1. The Windy City Limousine
Windy City Limousine, a luxury transport specialist located directly across from Bosch’s Automotive Aftermarket Division, took a Ford Transit and sent it down to Battisti Customs of Elkhart, Indiana in order to make this posh people hauler a slick hit. Designed to carry 13 passengers in both luxury and style, this latest addition to the Chicago-based company’s fleet features hardwood floors, diamond patterned, black leather couch-style seating, a full bar, LED mood lighting, one hell of a bangin’ sound system, and two flat-screen televisions.
2. So-Gnar’s Creative Hub
From posh to “POW!” this next van has everything you need when it is time to shred the slopes, with custom boot dryers, snowboard racks, tuning benches, and a portable DJ booth making it on board. Custom built for skate and snowboard outfitter So-Gnar, this particular vehicle is more of an expression of a certain lifestyle than a marketing tool. Wrapped in a “sticker bombed” collage, this Transit is extremely polarizing, and to many is the perfect embodiment of the word So-Gnar, which by definition is listed as: “So-Gnar: s?-när (adjective) (slang used by snowboarders/skateboarders/surfers) — An act of courage, death, disgust, stupidity, pure awesomeness, or anything that is awesome for that matter.”
3. Surfers Healing Woody Van
It may sound like a hippy massage van designed to cater to stressed-out surfers, but this custom Transit van has nothing to do with rubbing beach bums. It instead focuses on giving a unique group of kids the chance to ride the waves. Champion surfer Izzy Paskowitz and his Surfers Healing team have been busy helping kids with autism experience a side of the sea previously thought impossible, paddling out every week, with the hope that mental boundaries can be broken if the positive pressure is applied at the appropriate point.
Paskowitz’s son, who is also autistic, may have helped jump-start his father’s journey, and Ford’s custom wrapped Transit may haul surfboards and life jackets to and from the beach, but it is the kids themselves who make this whole thing happen. So check out the video below, because you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more moving story in the news today.
4. The Grateful Grail Coffee Shop
From tear-jerker to eye-opener, this next contender is the equivalent of a rolling espresso stand on wheels. The Grateful Grail, as it is lovingly referred to in its hometown of Baltimore, Md., can often be found parked at busy business districts during the work week, and has been known to frequent local music festivals and neighborhood events on the weekends. Founded by brothers Brian and David Seward, The Grateful Grail Transit van is a mobile DIY masterpiece, with everything from the clever pivoting pastry display shelf to the custom kitchen all being hand built by the two siblings. Once local artists Brian O’Rourke and Jae Meca finished painting the food truck’s shell it was time to hit the streets, making this a favorite for all manner of morning commuter since its debut.
5. Wag’n Tails’ Pet Grooming Studio
Our final fave today comes courtesy of a little company from Granger, Indiana, which feels that taking a dirty dog to the vet for a wash was a terrible way of doing things since your clean car typically ends up smelling worse than the front bumper of one of our custom zombie apocalypse cars. So to combat this unpleasant side of pet ownership, Wag’n Tails Mobile Conversions took Ford Transit vans, and morphed them into futuristic, self-contained mobile pet grooming studios. Looking like something straight out of Star Wars, these sleek machines feature everything you need to get that Bull Mastiff of yours bathed, with many of their vans coming complete with full-size tubs, hydro-massage shampoo systems, grooming tables, blow dryers, vacuums, and fridges.