TBT: What Does This Ford Transit Have in Common With 1950s-Era Convertibles?

Mar 07, 2024

In the 10 years since its debut in the U.S., the Ford Transit – Ford’s unsung hero – has become adept at being whatever our customers need it to be. It is also probably not a vehicle line most auto enthusiasts would associate with concept vehicles, but the Transit Skyliner prototype from 2014 gave American businesses a glimpse of what a luxury version of the Transit could be as the venerable van made its debut in the States. 

Billed as a “private jet on wheels,” the one-off van dipped into Ford’s heritage, borrowing the famed “Skyliner” name, which dates back to a line of 1950s-era convertibles. Though the Transit Skyliner was not a convertible, it did offer a touch of elegance to what was typically known as a workhorse vehicle. This “private jet on wheels” had a unique, custom limo design intended to showcase the van’s capabilities beyond use as a shuttle or by commercial fleets and general contractors.

The drive modes available on our Ford and Lincoln vehicles are very popular today, but the Transit Skyliner had its own unique seating modes: theater, business, reception, and travel. Each setting arranged the Skyliner’s custom-designed, leather-trimmed, throne-style seats to accommodate each layout. The van also featured a bar, a 52-inch retractable movie screen, and a motorized table in its 487 cubic feet of interior space. 

The Skyliner’s entertainment features included custom, handmade, surround-sound speakers, satellite TV, and a media server for movie storage. The entire interior, which included LED mood lighting, was controlled through a smartphone or tablet.

The Transit Skyliner was designed in collaboration with Ford of Europe and Galpin Auto Sports, a Ford Dealership with a lengthy history of vehicle customization, including during the van craze of the 1960s and ’70s. It made its debut at the New York International Auto Show at the same time that Transit production began at Kansas City Assembly Plant. 

The Transit Skyliner itself never went into production, but more than 1.2 million Transit vans have been produced to date, and it has become a staple of the American workforce. Now paired with E-Transit, the van is poised for continued dominance in the work that keeps America running.

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