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Are Vans Going To Be Cool Again?

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I watched the A-Team movie this past weekend, and I must admit that I think B.A.'s original A-Team van was (is?) bad-ass. However, I like that old-school van because a) it's unique and b) I have fond childhood memories of the A-Team TV show. I'm not a van enthusiast, per se, I just know to appreciate a cool ride when I see it.

Yet if the rumors are to be believed, the Ford Transit Connect Wagon is going to be "THE" vehicle at this year's SEMA show, and could re-start the custom van craze.

Ford's Transit Connect Wagon Customization SEMA
Seriously. SEMA is going to be brimming with Ford Transit Connect Wagons.

Has Ford Reinvented the Van?

In the 1970's, custom vans were hot with younger consumers. Affordable, easily customized, and thinly disguised as rolling bedrooms (seriously, the number of 70's era van ads seen here depicting young consumers in a passionate embrace is sort of shocking). Check out this Dodge full-size van ad circa 1975:

Original Dodge Van ad 1970s
An actual Dodge Van* advertisement from the 70's. *Bikini girls not included.

It's got everything: custom rims, custom paint, girls in bikinis, and a dude playing guitar on the roof. What more could you want, right?

Now check this out: Ford is pushing SEMA customizers to dress up the Transit Connect wagon. I'm told that any established customizer can get their hands on a brand new Transit Connect free of charge - all they have to do is promise to show at this year's SEMA show. While I'm pretty sure I'd rather see tricked out Scions and high-performance Mustangs at SEMA, I can't deny that the Transit Connect has some potential.

2014 Transit Connect
Put wheels, a drop kit, and a dark tint on this van and you've got a decent little cruiser. Of course, you can say that about everything.

How Hot Can A Custom Transit Connect Really Be?

A murdered out Transit Connect with deep black paint, black rims, a black tint, and a lowering kit would probably look awesome...but so would any other vehicle with those extras, right?

Customization with Electronics in Ford's Transit Connect
Lots of room for electronics and entertainment options, which is where the industry seems to be headed

The Transit Connect has a ton of room for all sorts of goodies - custom enclosures, entertainment systems, crazy retro interiors - but at the end of the day it's still a small car-like van with a 4cylinder designed for families.

Am I going to spend my hard-earned dollars customizing a van when I could put that money towards something cooler, faster, bigger, or smaller? I don't think so.

Of course, I'm a 34 year old male. Ford is rumored to be targeting 20-somethings with this van, as the price point makes it very affordable for first-time buyers. With all the customization options Ford is helping to generate, and all the buzz they're trying to build at SEMA, it's certainly possible that this little van could enjoy the same kind of reception that Scion's xB received a few years ago.

What do you think? Is this van going to take off, or is this just another example of a big company trying to tell us what's cool?
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  • CustomRacing
    CustomRacing Thursday, 07 March 2013

    I don't think I like this thing all that much, the front is pretty cool looking, bu there isn't enough design altogether. The back end is way too simple and the whole thing is a little too square overall in my opinion. The only van I've ever liked was the Honda Odyssey (mostly because of it's super quick VTEC engine.)

  • jlancaster
    jlancaster Thursday, 07 March 2013

    I'm with you. Frankly, I sort of hate the idea of driving around one of these as they seem like they'll be really slow...and I agree that a Honda van is sporty (for a van).

    I'm curious to see what kind of infotainment and interior customizations these vans get, as that's supposedly the direction that accessories are going in (performance stuff is going to be less important, or so they say). If I make it to SEMA this year I'll be sure to check these out closely.

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