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by David Zalstein

Any car enthusiast worth their salt knows about the iconic Ford Model T and its widely regarded place in history as the world’s first mass-produced automobile. But this year, Ford is celebrating a different Model T…

Launched 100 years ago in 1917 – nine years after the debut of the Model T – the Ford Model TT was Ford’s first purpose-built one-tonne van, and represented the beginning of its foray into commercial vehicles.

First launched in the US, and later built in Manchester, the Model TT was longer and stronger than the Model T, with owners able to choose from a variety of chassis styles, including having a flat cargo bed, a screened body, and a panel van.

Providing seating for two up front, the Model TT was powered by an engine that required the use of a cranking handle to be started, while, to ensure a smoother ride, owners could also opt for “modern air-filled rear tyres” instead of solid rubber ones.

Celebrating the milestone, Ford of Europe commercial vehicles general manager, Hans Schep, said while a lot has changed since the Model TT debuted, some things remain the same.

“It is amazing that while in some ways today’s vans are a million miles from the Model TT in how they have come on, they fundamentally do the same job as they were designed to do 100 years ago – providing a flexible means of keeping businesses on the move,” Schep said.

Since 1965, Ford’s most important commercial vehicle has been the classic Transit, with its current local range comprising the regular Transit and smaller Transit Custom – the latest addition to the range being the long-awaited arrival of a new six-speed torque-converter automatic transmission.

In the UK, the home of the Transit, a fleet of plug-in hybrid (PHEV) Transit Custom vans are set to take part in a 12-month trial in and around London, with the Transit Custom PHEV scheduled to be officially introduced in 2019.

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