Cus­tom vans are all about do­ing things dif­fer­ently, but Trevor 'Dig­ger' Gar­diner's Mk2 Tran­sit blows them all out of the wa­ter. It's on air, is eco­nom­i­cal and best of all, was all put to­gether in his shed.

Classic Ford - - CONTENTS - Words and Pho­tos Jon Hill

All the gear — and plenty of ideas.

To be­gin with, we have to make few ti­h­ngs clear. This is Trevor 'Dig­ger' Gar­diner's Tran­sit and Dig­ger does things dif­fer­ently.

For a Start, Dig­ger is into vans which tends to mean you are in a sec­tor that fol­lows its own path. A path that has one hell of a lot of his­tory go­ing right back to the early days of this coun­try's cus­tom car scene that went to­tally in­sane dur­ing the '70s. And that is ex­actly where Dig­ger's roots lie - his Dad was trucker and the ul­ti­mate to him, is a van, pick-up or, a truck.

"The early Bri­tish van scene was a huge in­flu­ence on me, but specif­i­cally a Ford Econo­line Se­ries-2 called Gla­di­a­tor, which was on the cover of US mag­a­zine, Truckin

when I was 14. Some­thing like that, I’ve al­ways wanted,” he reck­ons.

And he cer­tainly gets the build­ing done. His in­ven­tory of pre­vi­ous cus­toms is huge, start­ing off with a red Anglia at 16 fit­ted with 5.5Js and a red and black fur in­te­rior fol­lowed by a high­rid­ing V6-pow­ered Fi­esta van on 4x4 tyres.

The cus­tom scene means that cer­tain facets are very big in Trevor’s life — he’s got a rather whop­ping col­lec­tion of slot mags and they do ap­pear on ev­ery­thing. Show rods too are right up there — wit­nessed by the fact he also has a C-Cab street rod called Dig­ger’s Ex­press De­liv­ery. It’s all scratch-built by Dig­ger, it’s filled with chrome and a pol­ished-to-death small-block V8, and yes, it fea­tures slot mags.

On tow

The Tran­sit project started off as an idea to build a trailer to tow be­hind the C-Cab. But the thing is with the C-Cab, you can re­ally only stand driv­ing it for about 100 miles. A van is much bet­ter from the point of us­abil­ity. What was about at the time was an un­fin­ished Tran­sit in an ad­vanced state of build by Paul Brown. “He’d done loads of work, in­clud­ing 90 per cent of the body restora­tion.” It wasn’t quite what he wanted be­cause it was fit­ted with Mk3 Tran­sit front sus­pen­sion and a Rover V8, but it was a long way to­wards the sort of thing Dig­ger was af­ter. All he had to do was stamp his mark on it.

It’s def­i­nite driver-sta­tus meant an eco­nom­i­cal pow­er­plant was needed, so out went the Rover and in went a straight-six Mercedes diesel. “I had one as a daily and was se­ri­ously im­pressed with the econ­omy and per­for­mance, so I bought an E300 as an MoT’d run­ner, ran it around to check it over, then used the lot as a donor.”

But it didn’t just stop at the driv­e­train. Dig­ger has used as much as he can in­clud­ing the dash, in­te­rior and gear­box. It had to be like a mod­ern van and it cer­tainly is in­side. That’s not to say the build wasn’t easy be­cause Dig­ger was very much on a learn­ing curve. “If I’d have known what I know now, I would have used a stand­alone ECU for the gear­box and ev­ery­thing else to sim­plify things. Try­ing to get ev­ery­thing to talk to ev­ery­thing else has been very, very try­ing, but we’re sort of there now.”

Out too went the in­her­ited sus­pen­sion and in its place a more cus­tom-era Jag front and rear sus­pen­sion that’s con­trolled by air bags. “There’s a bit more work to do there but it does its job…”

A cliché maybe but this re­ally is a, more-youlook-more-you-see, type of build and you may well have to know your Tran­sits to see the dif­fer­ences. For a start the side doors are sui­cide — now con­verted so that the hinges are hid­den, plus, as Dig­ger puts it, “Cus­tom vans have

one-piece tail­gates — I’ve al­ways wanted one so this has one, too!” The paint matches that of the C-Cab (al­though that is white pearl) and fit­tingly so do the graph­ics, which nat­u­rally had to say, Dig­ger’s Ex­press De­liv­ery but with a II af­ter it. And they are hand-painted graph­ics at that, and the work of Sam Trench. “I took a bit of a leap of faith and gave her free reign.” And if you’re won­der­ing on the sig­nif­i­cance of the rear door, that’s a trib­ute to Dig­ger’s Dad. “The song we played in his hon­our at his funeral.” With so much in­flu­ence on him, you can see why Dig­ger did it.

For us, vans are cool and this one’s got all the hall­marks of a com­plete pack­age: it sits right, goes as it should and is to­tally prac­ti­cal, too — the rear seats fold flat to form a bed mean­ing he got his camper!

Best of all, Dig­ger built it to pass the BIVA in­spec­tion, which in th­ese days of tight­en­ing reg­u­la­tions means it’s fu­ture-proof. You can’t stop a good man hav­ing his fun…



Dig­ger’s a big fan of Mercedes’ 3-litre turbo diesel, so that’s what the Tran­sit got. It looks tight, but it fits. Dig­ger loves slot mags — they do look good on the van. Mercedes dash was grafted in. Steer­ing wheel is a ma­chined-down 10 inch slot mag from a Mini!

Tran­sit is a com­pan­ion to Dig­ger’s C-Cab street rod. IRS rear end works in-con­junc­tion with air bags. Whisk dou­bles as an aerial. Handy for camp­ing trips...

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