eBay finds: A Ford Transit camper with a spring in its step.

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)

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11 responses to “eBay finds: A Ford Transit camper with a spring in its step.”

  1. outback_ute Avatar

    I wonder if a modern turbodiesel could be swapped in, and the Cosworth V6 find a more fitting new home?

    1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      A) It would be easy, but B) Why on earth would you want to do that?

      1. outback_ute Avatar

        Well the improved torque and range would be nice and you drive it a lot the fuel economy would help. Plus the Cosworth V6 would be more fun in something like a Capri!

        1. crank_case Avatar

          my thoughts exactly, a land rover TDV6 would be great in a transit, and quicker.

  2. Alff Avatar

    The retrofitted aftermarket window was clearly intended for one of ours and even then they looked like an afterthought. Despite it, this is a very appealing home away from home for a couple of soon to be empty nesters. Hmm…

  3. dr zero Avatar
    dr zero

    I’ve got fond memories of Transit campers. The folks took us all around the UK and then Europe in one back in 87. I’m pretty sure that the one we rented didn’t have a Cosworth engine though!

    1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      Superb family photo!

      1. dr zero Avatar
        dr zero

        And surprisingly one which Mum framed properly. She is notorious for having the ground take up half of the view!

  4. boxdin Avatar

    I’ll take my 1990 short ford van w 300 6 cyl. More stability, more power, probably better milage too.