Rare Rides: Luxury Van Time With a 2017 Ford Transit Explorer Conversion

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides luxury van time with a 2017 ford transit explorer conversion

Today’s Rare Ride was sort of off the radar as a present day vehicular category until your author was presented with one in an ad. It’s the sort of luxurious conversion van people bought to take their grandkids on vacation in the Nineties and early 2000s, but updated for today.

Presenting the Ford Transit Explorer Conversion. It’s quite large.

The Transit name is a longstanding one in Europe and places not North America, where it’s been on sale as a cargo hauler since 1965. The van entered its fourth generation in 2013 and debuted at NAIAS that year. Unlike other Transit generations which were Europe-centric, this generation was designed jointly by Ford teams in North America and Europe. The Transit entered North America as a replacement for the absolutely ancient E-Series van (still produced today in stripped chassis version). Transit went on sale as a 2015 model in North America.

Available in cutaway, chassis, cargo, and passenger versions, the Transit’s flexible platform is rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, and front-wheel drive in some markets. The front- and rear- drivetrain optionality appeared for the first time on the third-generation Transit in 2000 (still in production for select Asian markets).

The Transit is presently available in cargo and passenger guise as standard 129.9-inch wheelbase, as well as a longer 147.6-inch version called the 150. Roof heights also vary, separated as low, medium, and high. Cab and cutaway versions have their own short, regular, and long wheelbases as well. A variety of small inline-four engines are available globally, but American versions have a 3.7-liter V6 (275hp) as standard, with a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 (310hp) an optional extra.

Explorer conversions offer seven- and nine-passenger luxury versions of the Transit 150 as well as a Factory Medium Roof version of the Transit 250. All Explorer Transits have the EcoBoost engine, and all-wheel drive is optional on all models.

Today’s Rare Ride is a nine-passenger low roof version, to which Explorer fitted a luxurious two-tone brown interior. Leather and wood are almost everywhere you’d expect in a conversion van, along with the curtains and interior roof lighting. The extended roof also contains a large TV, a rear sunroof, and transom windows along both sides. It’s pretty far removed from a standard Transit passenger van, and that shows in the price. While our used 2017 example is $43,900, a new one will cost around $80,000. Here’s betting this is a much better vehicle than an old Econoline or Express conversion.

[Images: Explorer Conversions]

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  • Ollicat I have a Spyder. The belt will last for many years or 60,000-80,000 miles. Not really a worry.
  • Redapple2 Cadillac and racing. Boy those 2 go together dont they? What a joke. Up there with opening a coffee shop in NYC. EvilGM be clowning. Again.
  • Jbltg Rear bench seat does not match the front buckets. What's up?
  • Theflyersfan The two Louisville truck plants are still operating, but not sure for how much longer. I have a couple of friends who work at a manufacturing company in town that makes cooling systems for the trucks built here. And they are on pins and needles wondering if or when they get the call to not go back to work because there are no trucks being made. That's what drives me up the wall with these strikes. The auto workers still get a minimum amount of pay even while striking, but the massive support staff that builds components, staffs temp workers, runs the logistics, etc, ends up with nothing except the bare hope that the state's crippled unemployment system can help them keep afloat. In a city where shipping (UPS central hub and they almost went on strike on August 1) and heavy manufacturing (GE Appliance Park and the Ford plants) keeps tens of thousands of people employed, plus the support companies, any prolonged shutdown is a total disaster for the city as well. UAW members - you're not getting a 38% raise right away. That just doesn't happen. Start a little lower and end this. And then you can fight the good fight against the corner office staff who make millions for being in meetings all day.
  • Dusterdude The "fire them all" is looking a little less unreasonable the longer the union sticks to the totally ridiculous demands ( or maybe the members should fire theit leadership ! )