Author: Carey deVictoria-Michel
Welcome to Freedom Vans’ Ford Transit ordering recommendations post! Freedom Vans recently published an article with recommendations on ordering a Mercedes Sprinter van for a conversion. Since then we have had much inquiry around what these might be for a Ford Transit, and we are here to provide! Below you will find all the recommendations we give when you go through the process of ordering a 2021 Ford Transit van for your #vanlife. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any further questions.
You can build your own Transit van on the Ford website to get an idea of features and cost. Also, reference Freedom Vans’ past builds on our websites project gallery. (‘Elroy’ and ‘Rex’ are examples of Transit conversions.)
The following list includes basic recommendations- remember that it is ultimately up to your personal preference. We recommend going to your local dealership to look at and test drive a van in person, or renting a van on Outdoorsy (basically the airbnb of camper rentals) to experience firsthand what kind of van is best for you.
The choice of going with a cargo Transit van has a lot of upsides. To build a full conversion in a van, it is best to start with a fully blank slate for the interior. There are many reasons for this, but essentially it makes the process from the start more efficient. Also, if you are considering a crew/passenger van for the windows, you should still go with a cargo because windows can always be added exactly where you would like. It will likely bring the cost of your van down considerably from what the cost of a crew/passenger would be.
If you are set on a crew/passenger, then the likely upsides would be having bench seats or passenger seats that would not need to be installed later in a cargo. It is not impossible to convert a crew/passenger van.
Go with your personal choice for paint color on your Transit. It is good to consider that black will get hot in the summer as it retains heat from the sun. A lighter color will help keep the temperatures cooler in warm climates. For some, color is an important feature of the van and that might outweigh the temperature considerations.
3) Roof Height
The roof height options are short, medium and high, and we recommend high or medium. The medium roof height will give you 72 inches, or 6 feet on the interior. Freedom Vans will insulate between 2-2.75″ on the ceiling, which would give 5’9″ to 5’10” of height. The high roof gives 81.5″/6’9.5″, and after insulation it would give at least 6 feet 6 inches of height. So, if you are taller than 5’8″, the high roof height will be the best option. At Freedom Vans, we have recieved questions about the option of getting a pop-top to add height. We do not personally recommend that here, and we do not install pop-tops in our shop. We have found that the high roof in Transits have met the needs of our clients.
Medium Roof – An option for those who are shorter than 5 feet 8 inches.
High Roof – Works for those up to 6 feet 6.5 inches tall.
The length of the Transit can depend on the layout of your build and what features you are interested in. This could be completely based on your personal preference. The options you have with the Transit are Regular, Long and Extended Long. For those who want to have all the space in the world, then go with the Extended Long. This aspect of the van will determine how much space you have to build in for your conversion. We have built in both Long and Extended Long transits, and we recommend either of these lengths over the Regular.
The dimensions of the wheelbase measure the distance between the front and back wheels – the Regular is at 130”, the Long is at 148”, and the Extended Long is at 148” with an extension behind the back wheels. The measurements of the length of cargo space from front to back are 126″ for the Regular, 144″ for Long, and 172″ for Extended Long. Below, are dimensions for the interior space starting from behind the cab seats. This is the amount of space you would be able to build in, and the roof height options.
357.1 cubic feet in a Long wheelbase with the Medium Roof.
404.3 cubic feet in a Long wheelbase with the High Roof.
487.2 cubic feet in a Extended Long wheelbase with the High Roof.
(dimensions referenced from – https://www.badgertruck.com/2020-ford-transit-interior/)
It has been exciting news to have Ford release the Transit with AWD, because in the past Transit has only come in RWD. It is a game changer for these vans, and especially for camper vans. AWD, of course, means that these vehicles will handle better on tougher terrain, rain, and snow. We have recommendations below that also require AWD over 2WD.
6) Gross Vehicle Weight Rating
The Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) determines the maximum weight your vehicle will be able to carry. We recommend the option of ‘9500lb’. This is important because we want to choose an ideal GVWR to manage the weight added from the interior build of your camper van. The ‘9500lb’ is the SINGLE REAR WHEEL (SRW) option and we recommend the single rear wheel to give the most space inside for the conversion.
7) Rear Axle Ratio
We recommend the ‘3.73 Limited Slip’ option. The limited slip axle will apply torque to both wheels under power so both wheels will be able to put driving torque into motion. An open differential will only apply power to one wheel, so if one wheel starts to slip that will be the wheel that gets the drive torque, A limited slip differential applies torque to both wheels under power so you do not get stuck as easily. Limited slip differentials still drive smoothly around corners so driving is still comfortable around town when on pavement.
The most powerful engine option is the 3.5 liter EcoBoost Engine, which has has some new upgrades for the 2021 edition. This engine option has the most power and torque. The EcoBoost engine will better handle the weight added from a conversion, as well as moving the vehicle over challenging terrain.
This is fairly straight-forward, and we recommend the standard 10 speed transmission option.
10) Packages – Heavy Duty Trailer Tow
In the package upgrade options for the van, our recommendation is to choose the ‘Heavy Duty Trailer Tow’. This gives the van the ability to tow extra weight if needed and the power to carry more weigh.
11) Dual AGM Batteries
The Dual AGM Batteries option is a reliable choice. AGM batteries are going to be great if you ever want to connect anything to your starter battery such as headlights, a winch, running a radio for a long time, etc. It is easy additional to upgrade to and will lessen worries of getting your van to start up.
12) Dual Alternator
If your power system runs above 400 amps then it can be beneficial to your power system to add the dual alternator.
13) Extended Range Fuel Tank
An extended range fuel tank essentially means a larger tank and extended mileage. This is beneficial to having higher mileage for longer driving range, especially if you are driving longer distances on road trips in your camper van.
14) Exterior Lighting – Front Fog lamps
Fog lights will serve you when driving in low visibility conditions, such as driving in fog or rain. If you plan to venture into elevation or into the mountains, it is likely that there will be fog moving through valleys in the mornings.
15) Keyless Entry Keypad
This option is fairly straight forward, as it allows you to enter your vehicle in the case that you lose or misplace your keys. Also, in the case that you would need someone to access your van when you are not there. On road trips its super handy to be able to lock your van and not have to worry about bringing your keys with you or allowing two separate user groups to be able to access the van while out adventuring.
16) Two Additional Keys
It is always good to have a set of backup keys, especially with a converted vehicle which you are investing a lot into.
17) Running Board – Passenger side
Having a running board step on the passenger side of your van is helpful for safety and convenience when getting in and out of your van. Especially, if you are carrying larger items in or out.
We recommend that you look into the option of adding a window into just the sliding door.
19) Mirrors – Short Arm Power Folding Heated Mirrors
The short arm mirrors give more clearance while driving through compact spaces. They also will be able to power fold in when parking. The heated feature for mirrors provides safety when travelling in snowy conditions, and can help quickly melt any snow build up or freeze.
20) Ebony Leather Seats
We recommend the Ebony Leather for the interior, although in the ordering form it does not give the option of leather with the swivel base option. We also recommend getting the factory swivel seats. It could be worth asking to see if having both of these is an option.
21) Swivel Seat
It is best to go with the factory swivel seats for the driver and passenger seat bases. A factory swivel seat base is shorter than an aftermarket swivel and is more comfortable for anyone who is shorter. The aftermarket swivel bases end up adding height to the seat and are ultimately less comfortable.
22) Cruise Control
Cruise control is a helpful feature to have when driving long distances on all the awesome road trips you will be taking.
23) Tray Style Floor Mats
The tray style floor mats are the most durable and the easiest to clean. If you are going to be out adventuring in snow or mud, then this option will help with the mess in the cab.
24) Horn – Dual Horn
The dual horn option sounds a note in higher and lower frequency as to make a harmonious and pleasant ‘honk’. Basically, it sounds nicer and (!) it’s an affordable option.
25) Illuminated Sun Visor
Having the lights in the visor is a helpful feature to have at night for the cab. Also, if you think about it, your cab is kind of like the entryway of your home. It can be nice to check out your hair or face in the mornings or after a long day out on the trails.
26) Large Center Console
The center console provides you with more storage. Storage holds a lot of value in the space of your #vanhome. It can be worth it to go with a larger option and to have more places to store important items while driving.
27) Six Speaker Option
This will provide speakers in the rear doors, as well as up front. It will give you a nicer sound system throughout the whole van, and also while you are spending time in your living space.
28) Vehicle Maintenance Monitor
Investing in the van conversion will up the value of the entire vehicle. Having a feature that will monitor any needed maintenance will be worth it in the long term.
29) Audio Pack #28
This package option provides the largest screen on your dashboard and is bluetooth compatible. It will give the most ideal features for long travel and functionality.
This list features all the items that Freedom Vans would recommend to you when ordering your 2021 Ford Transit for a van conversion. You are welcome to reach out to us if you have any questions and comments (reference our ‘contact’ page). We are always happy to chat.
Below you can see an example of a ‘Build and Price’ sheet that you can find on the Ford website. It shows all our recommendations in detail, as well as pricing. You can go to Ford and fill out a form to give you an idea of what options there are.
There has been some serious hype around the upgrades of the 2021 Ford Transit. Maybe it is because they are noticing this serious trend in #vanlife across the nation. As we found in the Business Insider article which features Freedom Vans, van conversion companies are on the rise. The vehicles that fit the needs of these campervan builds are of high value these days.
We hope that all of this information has been helpful to you and your considerations. Best of luck in your future van adventures.
(Also…) Here are a few articles reviewing the Ford Transit as a van for camper conversions.