Known in Germany as the "first generation" Transit
Unlike the British-built Transit "family", the first production Ford to wear the "Transit" badge was a van built in Ford's Köln (Cologne) plant in Germany. It was introduced in 1953 as FK 1000 (Ford Köln carrying 1000kg). From 1961, this vehicle was called the Ford Taunus Transit. Production of this model ceased in 1965.
The German vehicle was not widely exported, and the "Mark 1" tag has commonly been applied, retrospectively, to the 1965-78 British model (see below). Whilst there have been three basic Transit platforms since 1965, the various facelifts and upgrades over the years have been referred to using a conflicting range of "Mark" numbers, with some sources counting a facelift as a new "Mark", some not. Ford's own historical look back at Transit production, published for the launch of the 1994 model, avoids the issue by referring to generations of Transit by years produced. Therefore this article attempts to make mention of all the common naming systems.
Origins of the name
Ford had a manufacturing plant in Cork, Ireland up until the mid-1970s. Just after World War II, the proprietor of the local Ford Garage, "The Transit Garage", built a Ford Special, a 2-seater sports car, to compete in the local Cork 20 Rally. This car won the race and was known as the Ford Transit. The name was established, and noted by the management of the local factory. When a name for the commercial van was being sought, the already established name "Ford Transit" was readily available. Complete restoration of the original car was commenced in 2000. In 2007, the car was located in Northern Ireland.
UK "Mark 1"; Germany "Second generation"
The first Ford Transit proper was introduced in October 1965, and has been in continuous production in three basic generations to the present day. The van was produced initially at Ford's Langley facility in Berkshire, England (a former Second World War aircraft factory which had produced Hawker Hurricane fighters), but as demand outstripped the capability of the plant, production was moved to Southampton, where it has remained ever since. Transits have also been produced in Ford's Genk factory in Belgium and also Turkey. The Transit is also produced in China for the Chinese market.