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|Details: Moving into the 1980s you may be surprised (or not) that there is quite a lot I can say about this seemingly innocuous photo! The subject is 2122F, a Ford Transit minibus in unmarked grey livery, parked at Heathrow Central station on 22nd May 1981.|
Point 1 - This minibus had two goes at being a service vehicle.
New in June 1978 as a replacement for 1600F, it was based at Chiswick Works until it was sold in February 1983. However, about a year later it was leased back from Hertz for another few months' use. There were in fact 12 vehicles that came back into stock, most of which were assigned as a cover/reserve fleet. When I saw this photo I thought that the lack of lettering suggested it was taken during the vehicle's second tenure but this was not the case. Perhaps it was unmarked from new.
Point 2 - It is a Mk2 Transit.
I had always listed this (and LT's other S-suffixed Transits) as being Mk1s. I had not seen any photos and I only knew that the R-suffix Transits were Mk1s while the T-suffix ones were Mk2s. Based on the fact that LCBS's six S-suffix Transits were Mk1s, I assumed that LT's were too. Looking at the chassis numbers it would appear that S-suffixed 2110F and 2121F were also in fact Mk2s.
Point 3 - The passenger compartment door is hinged.
This has been raised on LTSV a couple of times recently. On Mk1 and Mk2 Transits, when a cargo/passenger compartment side door was fitted, it was always hinged from the front, and had a higher sill than the front doors. Also (where fitted) it would obviously preclude the fitting of sliding front doors, which were otherwise common on LT Transits. With the advent of the Mk3 Transit in the mid-1980s, the sliding cab door option was discontinued, while cargo doors became sliding as standard, and this has remained the situation with all subsequent models.
Point 4 - LT took fewer Transits than I thought.
When digging into the details given above I was surprised to see that London Transport only took 3 Ford Transits with S-suffix registrations (1977/1978) and all were minibuses. 16 vans had come with R-suffix plates but this was an anomaly and the normal intake seems to have been fewer than a dozen Transits each year. In fact there were only four Transits added across registration years T, V and W (1978-1981). This is explained by the generally smaller overall fleet size at the time, the fact that the medium van requirements were also met by the Bedford CF and Leyland Sherpa models, and there was greater use of smaller vans (such as Ford Escorts).
Point 5 - Seeing this photo has triggered another side project.
Again whilst digging into the details, I noticed that Ray had added a note about a photo of similar 2121F on the internet. However, when I went to look, the photo had been removed (or moved). This made me realise that the availability of photographs on other websites now does not guarantee their availability in the future. Because of this I decided to start saving copies of photos found online, not (generally!) for re-use here but for reference purposes.
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