MANY professionals and skilled tradesmen look for a lot more in a van than mere load-carrying capability, demanding a splash of style in the driveway to give their businesses the desired image.
To answer this need Ford had thrown the wraps off the Ford Transit Custom, a smart new take on the iconic van that has kept the nation supplied for decades.
Representing a completely new generation of Ford one-tonne vehicles, the Custom goes all out to bring remarkably good looks and saloon car driving qualities to a corner of the light commercial marketplace that has become more demanding.
And it is not all about image because the Custom embodies a number of highly practical features which sends out the message that it is loaded and ready for business.
For instance the need for certain tradesman to fix a length of drainpipe to the roof to carry 3m lengths of tube are gone because a folding flap in the bulkhead means that 3m long items can be stored inside the van, with the ends hidden under the front passenger seat.
And if items are to be carried on the roof a folding roof-rack is discretely fitted saving the need to spoil the vehicles attractive lines and aerodynamics when not in use.
This move by Ford has been long awaited because other European manufacturers have been producing some very good looking and driver-friendly vans for some time. But the Custom now moves the goalposts with a body featuring rounded corners, a car-like interior and driving qualities that would do justice to a business class saloon.
But at the launch of the vehicle at the Commercial Vehicle Show at Birmingham's NEC Ford was anxious to emphasise that the Custom had lost none of its core qualities of toughness load-carrying ability, durability and attractive cost-of-ownership.
With best in class fuel economy it is the first step in a new line-up of Ford light commercials by 2014.
With a full range of van, kombi, and double-cab-in-van models, the Transit Custom will go on sale later this year. Prices are still to be announced.