Demand for classic minibuses growing

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Heritage operators are showing increase interest in classic minibuses. Vehicles such as this Southern National example are rare now, despite once seeming ubiquitous. NICK LARKIN

Demand and prices have been rising for classic minibuses with increased interest from heritage operators. Peter Lee, founder of the Transit Van Club and who worked on the original Transit production line, has written a definitive book about the vehicles. Peter says there has been a marked interest in all generations of the Transit, including minibuses, over the past few years: “We are getting a lot of interest from bus operators wanting to run older vehicles on tours. They look the part and are economical to run.”

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Prices of the first generation Transits built from 1965-1985 had risen massively over the last five years or so and there have been offers of £40,000 made for top quality examples. But Peter added that has been a great surge of interest in recent recent years. “There are a lot of people who have grown up in the 1980s and 1990s and want one of these vans,” Peter explained.

Prices can be from £1,000 up to £15,000 for a van in excellent original condition, and these have been coming out of the woodwork. “These are easier to drive and have better spec finish than earlier models with options such as power steering and air conditioning,” he said.

Classic minibus interest centres around factory-built vehicles, but also the versions with bespoke bodywork seen in their hundreds on service work with major bus operators such as Devon General in the late 1980s and and early 1990s: “The problem is that although these seemed to be everywhere they had hard service lives so are rare nowadays. Some would-be owners were reporting problems finding insurance for minibuses whether used commercially or merely shows.”

Details of the Transit Van Club can be found at