The Ford Transit is a van amongst vans. It is an icon of the van world, renowned for its maximum cargo and people hauling capacity. It is a solid van, infused with the Ford cars’ chassis magic, excellent steering feel, and grip.
Its gearbox and stability are sturdy and it has an excellent weight transfer balance. For this reason, cargo carting businesses such as FedEx and Amazon Prime, always turn to Ford Transit vans for their reliability, heft and space.
It’s no wonder, then, why Ford Transit vans also happen to be one of the top pics for van conversions into tinyhomes. With the combination of the wide range of lengths, roof heights, engine capacity and wheel drives, and affordability, it’s kind of a no brainer. We chose a 2014 Ford Transit Jumbo – you can read about why we decided to go with the Ford Transit van and all about our van build here.
Ford Transit Van designs
The Ford Transit is in essence a commercial van. It has a European van design and its latest US model has a choice of two V-6 engines. You can choose between various lengths, heights and wheelbase options for your van conversion needs. Below is a comparison of the Ford Transit models van’s heights and lengths.
The low/mid roof Ford Transit 150
The Ford Transit 150 is a short length van, rivalling the size of the ordinary pickup. Its passenger side power sliding door makes it easy to park, open and access the interior of the minivan. This minivan however does not have rear sliding doors but you can have dual rear-hinged type in their place. The low roof F-150 advantage is that it can fit in most garages.
The extended long high/mid roof Ford Transit 250
One version of the Ford Transit 250 has a roof so high that a 6’4 person can stand upright in it. The factory bare-bones version has double sliding doors, a compact and handy rear-view camera, and an infotainment system from Synch 3.
The Ford Transit 350
The Ford Transit 350 has a choice of regular or long wheelbases. Additionally, these vans can either have low, medium or high roof heights. The low Ford Transit van has a height of 82.3 inches. The medium-length variety has a 96.8 inches height while the high roof version has a 108.6 inches height.
Speaking of its varying wheelbases, the long-wheelbase version is 147.6 inches long, while the regular model has a 130-inch wheelbase. While it has a standard 81.3 inches width for all models, it also has three different lengths.
Its regular length is 219.9 inches, but there is the longer 237.6-inch model and the extended length 263.9 inches version that is a huge hit with family vanlifers. The interior space in the long wheel base Transit Van pays dividends when space is a rare commodity in vanlife. Many vanlifers who opt for the LWB version are able to include bathrooms and showers in their conversion, features that would simply be impossible to squeeze in to some of the shorter vans.
The base engine is either a 3.7-litre V-6 or 3.5-liter turbocharged V-6 engine. The popular turbo diesel 3.2-litre 5-cylinder has been phased out in the 2020 model. These vans are rear-wheel drive but all-wheel-drive versions are now available.
Ford Transit Van features
- The 2020 Ford Transit is an AWD van, with a huge sliding door, barn doors and low doors for easy load of stuff.
- The cabin area has air conditioning, giant cup holders, and grippy rubber floors.
- There is a Bluetooth entertainment system onboard
- Driving features such as cruise control
- Seat warmers (small perk but AMAZING when travelling in cold regions)
- Active driver assists Transit features
Pros of Ford transit vans
There are many good reasons why many campervanners choose the Ford Transit vans over the Ram Promaster or the Mercedes Sprinter for van conversions. Some of the benefits of the Ford Transit van include:
1. Excellent interior height
As mentioned earlier, the Ford Transit cargo van has a variety of wheelbase dimensions, lengths, heights. The Ford Transit Jumbo’s internal height is possibly the most outstanding feature – you can stand in it! We aren’t being dramatic when we tell you it will make your vanlife experience 1000 times better being able to stand in your van. Seriously, don’t underestimate the power of standing space! The Ford Transit has the tallest internal height if you compare it to the Sprinter or Promaster. Some of the benefits of the Ford Transit’s height include;
- More height after conversion and placement of ceiling and flooring. Its high roof lessens claustrophobia allowing a spacious living space.
- High roofs allow the placement of upper storage spaces such as cabinets. Use these spaces for clothing, food and other storage needs.
- High roofed vans are easier to live in when there is inclement weather. If you are going to be indoors for lengthy periods, you want a van that is spacious enough to cook in, eat in, and work in, if it is raining outside.
2. Rear-wheel drive
The Ford Transit is a beast. The LWB has 487.3 cubic feet of cargo space, give you oodles of space to work with when it comes to converting into a tiny home. Its spacious interior however presents a unique problem when your camper goes off the beaten track – particularly if you are nearing your vehicles GVM.
Away from the asphalt highways, the weighty cargo area content sitting on your van’s rear wheels will force them deep into the ground, which could cause it to skid in wet and steep off-road terrain. In such settings, front-wheel drive vehicles such as the Ram Promaster will skid excessively to pull their heavy cargo backs up steep slopes.
The Ford Transit van rear-wheel drive on the other hand has superior terrain handling, braking and acceleration benefits. It will therefore perform excellently in mild climates that do not have excessive snow. You will also not experience torque steer as is common in FWDs and your van will have pretty reliable load transferability.
If you are going to have lots of intense and demanding off-road campervan travel, you can alternatively go for the new AWD Ford Transit van.
3. Cheaper repair bill
If you are torn between the cloud-like comfort of a Mercedes Sprinter and the robust Ford Transit, and ease of maintenance is an important factor to you, go for the Ford Transit van. Mercedes Benz Sprinter has a complex engine and exhaust system that can be a hassle to maintain.
Sprinters are complicated and require more attention than an ordinary Ford Transit van does. Most critics of the Sprinter van often quote the difficulties that used Sprinter owners have over its complex diesel exhaust fluid pump system (DEF).
As an illustration, Motosrbiscuit says that the Sprinter’s DEF consisting of the actuators and tank level, temperature and control unit sensors will begin to fail when your Sprinter van clocks the 100,000-mile mark. Replacement of these parts could set you back over $1000. You also have to find a Mercedes certified dealership or mechanic to work on the Sprinter’s elaborate system.
Bearfoot Theory’s Kristen Bor says that Sprinter systems are so knotty that regular mechanics will turn them away. They however say that Ford Transits have lower costs of maintenance.
“You can have it serviced anywhere. Parts are easy to come by and if you break down in a small rural town, your chances of having it easily fixed (without costing a fortune) are much greater than with a Sprinter,” says Kristen.
4. Drivability ease
Most first time Ford Transit drivers often find it a pleasant surprise just how easy to drive their monstrous vans are. Large vehicles are synonymous with wobbly sharp turns and bumpy drives. Not so for this behemoth. It turns like a sedan or truck.
For this reason, you can park in tight spaces and parallel parking spots. Its excellent tight turning circle makes it easy to drive in urban areas. It is also nimble and has a list of driver assistance tools.
The Transit wins an AutoExpress fastest van track battle that pits it against Sprinter. A review by CarandDriver that compares the Transit to Sprinter, declares the Ford Transit’s superior suspension system a winner, meaning that you will have a high level of comfort in your Ford Transit conversion vans.
5. Reasonable price point
A Ford Transit will generally cost $10,000 less than a Mercedes Sprinter van will. It is also slightly cheaper than a Ram Promaster and has an additional better engine build and more clearance than a Promaster.
6. Excellent engine
The Ford Transit may not have older van’s V8 engines, but its V6 engines are respectable, fuel-efficient and easy to maintain.
Cons of Ford transit vans
1. Sub-par gas mileage efficiency
The Ford Transit is a heavy beast and lacks the aerodynamic qualities that most SUVs have. For this reason, it is like a hulk of metal combing through the air. Like most vehicles, its size and weight it has a cringeworthy EPA Fuel Economy rating.
2. The roof height is troublesome
While its height is a boon for vanlife living, it can be a pain in car washes, garages and in the leafy suburbs, where there is low lying foliage. A Ford Transit owner, therefore, has to say goodbye to automatic car washes and embrace lots of buckets and sponge washes.
Our top 10 best Ford Transit Conversions
1. @nikkibigger and @benwaugh
Nikki & Ben of @nikkibigger and @benwaugh are life and travel partners that have made a sweet tiny home out of Wilson, their 2017 Ford Transit 250. Wilson is a high roof, extended length Ford Transit 250 model. Nikki’s dad and brother converted Wilson for stealth camping, keeping his exterior subtle and pretty much unchanged.
Wilson has a 15-gallon undercarriage water tank that Nikki & Ben refers to as Wilson’s navel and a propane gas tank powered sweet hot water shower. Wilson’s wide back door windows are tinted for privacy. Under their queen size mattress bed is a massive storage space that houses their bikes, batteries, skateboards, winter wear and camping gear.
Wilson interior is a thing of beauty. With Nikki’s guidance on colour, Wilson’s architect and builder changed up the Ford Transit 250 interior giving it a cabin chic vibe, with accents of wood, leather, lots of white and gold.
They have a full kitchen, with a refrigerator and cooker with oven, because Nikki loves to cook. Some of Wilson’s interior exemplary features include a beautiful thrift store accent piece mirror and Nikki’s handmade cucumber log wall.
Their van’s piece de resistance however is its elmwood countertop, gold faucet and massive sink. It is the perfect sink size for pot cleaning and it can hold lots of utensils at a go. We cannot forget to mention Nikki’s handy upside-down kitchen storage jars. They are the epitome of kitchen organization, held upside down by two screws and washers. They stay magically afloat in this space, bringing a magical aura to Nikki & Ben’s tiny home on wheels.
Anna French is a solo female van lifer travelling in Casper, her 2016 Ford Transit 250 van. On purchase, Casper was a low top model, but after a $3500 conversion bill, now is a comfy high-top van. Casper has a natural cabin in the forest aesthetic.
It has a black walnut countertop, pinewood cabinets, and a cedar ceiling. Casper’s fibreglass high top bubble has windows for extra natural light, opening up its interiors. Its amenities include a solar camp shower and composting toilet.
Mat & Danielle of @exploringalternatives 2015 Ford Transit conversion is a labour of love. Their camper van conversion was a DIY project from start to finish. They chose a medium length high roof Ford Transit van that had close to 100,000 km on it. Medium length vans are easier to pack and have more stealth than their larger counterparts.
To bring it up to date, Mat & Danielle insulated it and added modern features such as cruise control. Their DIY van build took them close to five months to complete and the result is an exceptionally functional and practical build, with excellent bathroom, mechanical plumbing, inset shelving and pivoting table feature.
Their clever use of design, functionality and beautiful aesthetics creates an excellent office and home on wheels. A few of their Ford Transit vanlife conversion features include a 12-volt fridge, 200 watts solar panels roof rack and solar generator and a vehicle alternator powered auxiliary battery.
Their conversion van interior materials are natural, earthy and wooden. Their van’s walls are natural pine with beeswax and hemp oil finishes and the van’s kitchen is basic but functional. It has beautiful hand-built woodwork for the food prep area and a flip-up table.
They have a butane cooktop top-loading fridge and charcoal water filter. The bed they say is the most complex of their van’s interior build. It is a bed, a lounging area with an adjustable backrest and couch. Additionally, they convert part of the bed space into a two-person dinette.
Stella is a 2004, Ford Transit van owned by Sophie. It is a medium length, high roof van with a classic metallic exterior that takes on any scenery, due to its reflective nature. Stella cost Sophie a lowly £900 on purchase and a further £1450 for conversions and repairs.
This van is now a thing of beauty with its airy open plan design that gives it a clean but shabby chic look. She has a unique holiday by the beach feel thanks to her whitewashed wood panelling, and warm yellow lighting.
Antoine and Isabelle are the ultimate outdoors vandwelling couple. They love adventure and outdoor activities such as split boarding and mountain biking. Their Ford Transit van conversion is simple, functional and comfortable.
They started their tiny house on wheels by building a 3D model to ensure maximum use of space. They chose a 2016 Ford Transit for their DIY conversion build. Antoine and Isabelle now have to themselves a four-season off-grid van complete with a heating system, superb ventilation and adequate backcountry power solar panels and batteries.
Their van model has an extended length and high roof. Consequently, they have a high double mattress platform bed at the back, with lots of storage space underneath it. Antoine and Isabelle went for a knotty pine panel interior and an easy to clean vinyl floor. Their kitchen has a freezer, refrigerator, propane range cooker and oven and a sink, with running water. It also has amenities such as a propane instant shower and composting toilet.
Benchmark Vehicles is an automotive vehicle customization shop in Portland, Oregon. Their Ford Transit conversions are the ultimate adventure vans, with an appealing layout and clean, modern feel. Their 2019 Ford Transit 4×4 EXT, aptly dubbed Into the Mist has a two-panel platform bed and bottom sleeper that converts to a bench dinette.
They have a curtain divider that can divide the lower bunk bed section to create two separate sleeping areas. Their conversion design includes captain chairs and swivels, plus top of the range Fenix Grigio flip-up tables and cabinetry.
- Instagram photo link: https://www.instagram.com/p/CAyCDjjpHEl/
- Additional supporting photo: https://www.instagram.com/p/CCbaVHsJWZr/
- Video walkthrough: The Tour – Ford Transit Camper Van Conversion
Sam Moser of mosermakes loves to make things, and if there is one word that personifies his Ford Transit van conversion aesthetic is the word ‘neat’. His camper cargo van is a Ford Transit 250 GVWR, high roof 3 door rear-wheel drive van. Sam’s conversion design gets as much function as possible out of its 11 feet by six-foot van interior.
His campervan conversion highlights include loads of storage in the garage. Here he stores his water tank and electrical system, plus all other travel equipment. His kitchen area however is the show stopper. Centred around his sink cabinet is a massive double sink that transforms into a large countertop space.
Underneath the countertop space are large deep drawers that act as a pantry and utensils storage space. His two-burner range stove space can also transform into countertop space. You will love his two-door entry to the cab of the van. They offer privacy and enhance stealth and interior thermal properties. These doors are so neat, that when shut, look like doors to a wardrobe or storage cabinet.
The Fites, Mars, Ash, their babies Everly and Atlas and fur baby Beirut are a popular #vanlife family. They travel around in Edison, their 2016 high roof extended length Ford Transit 350. They have made such excellent use of their van’s space that they have a mezzanine sleeping area that acts as a couch, bed, play area and workbench. Additionally, Mars and Ash work in their van.
They have a loft bed where their eldest daughter Everly sleeps, with little stairs leading to it that also work as toy storage space. The front of their van doubles up as a living area and kitchen. They also have a small bathroom veiled by a sliding mirror and an outdoor solar shower.
One of Edison’s stand out features is a rooftop deck that also works as a storage space. Their Transit vanlife conversion design has a 20 square feet pullout back deck that is an excellent socializing and play space for the couple and their children.
The Outside Van’s Ford Transit conversion van is the Swiss army knife of off-grid Ford Transit based tiny homes. It is also a high roof van and by design can haul a ton of equipment including mountain bikes and snowboards. You can store your surfboards in their overhead reinforced tracks storage space.
Its Safari Roof rack can store loads of luggage, tents, boards as well as your solar system and AGM batteries. This van has a custom pull out awning that can provide shelter or shade when you want to take a break in the outdoors.
Its interiors are a work of art. Outside Van has carefully thought through every minute detail adding push captain chairs and a bulkhead storage system in the van’s cab area. This super-efficient storage space will store your bulky gear, bedding and clothing items perfectly. Under this storage system are LED lights and a dimmer switch, creating a perfect indoor reading and relaxation spot.
Vanlife Custom’s Vincent Van-Go is a medium-sized, medium high roofed Ford Transit campervan. Vincent Van-Go has a mini garage, perfect for bicycle storage, and amenities such as a hot water shower and cassette toilet. Its kitchenette has a two-burner stove, a fridge and a water system.
Vincent Van-Go’s show stopper features include its Baltic birch walls that give it’s interior a natural, airy and light feel. Its cabinetry is Formica covered to ease cleaning. Its stainless-steel sink has a removable cover that transforms it into a cutting board.
Launching out your vanlife strategy and looking for an excellent conversion van? Look no further than the Ford Transit, the king of vanlife conversion vans as evidenced by the #vanlife Ford Transit conversions above.