Meet the WRC-in­spired van of your dreams

South Taranaki Star - - FRONT PAGE - DAMIEN O’CAR­ROLL

Vans are not usu­ally par­tic­u­larly ex­cit­ing, right?

Hold that thought, be­cause UK com­pany MS-RT might just have some­thing to say about that.

MS-RT is a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween ve­hi­cle spe­cial­ist VanS­port and rally leg­end Mal­colm Wilson, owner of the of­fi­cial Ford WRC team, M-Sport.

The com­pany has just re­vealed its lat­est prod­uct, based on – wait for it – the Ford Tran­sit Cus­tom van.

A ‘‘mo­tor­sport-in­spired’’ van may seem a lit­tle left of cen­tre, but MS-RT says that its Tran­sit Cus­tom has ‘‘a fu­sion of style and prac­ti­cal­ity of­fered by no other ve­hi­cle on the road’’ and comes with a choice of panel van or dou­ble cab op­tions and two dif­fer­ent wheel­bases.

MS-RT uses tech­nol­ogy and aero­dy­namic in­flu­ences from Ford’s works-backed rally team to cre­ate the van, each of which is hand-fin­ished at MS-RT’s cus­tom-built fac­tory in Gwent, South Wales.

Ex­te­rior styling in­cludes a full front bumper and grille re­place­ment with in­te­grated fac­tory fog lamps, ex­treme front dif­fuser, wide body arch ex­ten­sions, sills, rear dif­fuser and rear spoiler, all of which are man­u­fac­tured by MS-RT.

It also comes with a twin sports ex­haust sys­tem, along with unique MS-RT ex­te­rior brand­ing and de­cals, ex­clu­sive 18-inch An­thracite OZ Rac­ing al­loys with 103 XL load-rated Hankook Ven­tus S1 evo2 tyres and Eibach per­for­mance low­er­ing springs.

MS-RT say the com­bi­na­tion im­proves han­dling and re­spon­sive­ness, while at the same time en­sur­ing the Tran­sit Cus­tom still re­tains its pay­load ca­pac­ity.

In­side is no less ex­ces­sive, with hand­crafted Nappa leather and suede seat fac­ings, a sports steer­ing wheel with car­bon fi­bre in­lays and MS-RT branded floor mats and dash clocks.

It’s not all ex­ces­sive silli­ness, how­ever, be­cause un­der the bon­net the van re­tains Ford’s (ad­mit­tedly ex­cel­lent, but hardly ‘‘mo­tor­sport-in­spired") 125kW/ 405Nm EcoBlue 2.0 litre TDCi en­gine, hooked up to ei­ther a sixspeed man­ual or six-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion.

The Tran­sit Cus­tom isn’t the only ve­hi­cle MS-RT does in­ap­pro­pri­ately mo­tor­sporty things with – it also does a cou­ple of ex­treme Rap­tor-like ver­sions of the Ranger ute, a thor­oughly bonkers be-winged and bodykit­ted ver­sion of the small Tran­sit Con­nect van and a ‘‘Guy Martin Proper’’ ver­sion of the large Tran­sit Cargo.

While a range of strangely mo­tor­sport-themed com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles may seem strange, MSRT’s close ties with M-Sport ac­tu­ally make things a bit clearer. After all, if you were tow­ing a rally car or load­ing up a bike or two to go to an event or a track day, then what bet­ter way to go than in some­thing that looks like it be­longs out on the track?

But that kind of style doesn’t come cheap – the prices in the UK range from £32,995 (NZ$64,107) for the base three­seat SWB man­ual up to £36,490 (NZ$70,900) for the six-seat LWB auto.

The MS-RT Ford Tran­sit Cus­tom is a mo­tor­sport-in­spired van cre­ated by a rally team. Yes, re­ally.

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