Citroen seems to have set itself the wholly laudable target of covering every niche in the LCV market. With its Ready to Run programme of specialist conversions it has largely succeeded too, which is why we are once again handing it our Van Conversions Award.
The aim of such schemes is to provide customers with ready-bodied vehicles that can be delivered straight to them via the dealer and put to work instantly. There is no need for the buyer to wait while
the chassis is bodied locally, possibly by an under-the-arches body builder whose work is of questionable quality and whose only virtue is cheapness.
By contrast, conversions that form part of a manufacturer’s programme tend to conform to strict quality standards: and while they may not be cheap, some of the packages on offer are remarkably price-competitive.
Citroen’s Ready to Run line-up doesn’t solely embrace tippers, dropsides, and Lutons; it also encompasses vehicles bodied to carry lightweight items of plant, car transporters, glass carriers, refrigerated vans – precious few van makers other than Citroen offer temperature-controlled conversions – and vans converted to run on LPG.
Minibuses are included in the portfolio too, and that portfolio is continuing to expand. Last February saw the introduction of a six-seater Dispatch Crew Van. Developed by Snoeks Automotive, the conversion allows the operator to transport a team of workers in comfort and safety. Their tools can be stowed in a compartment at the rear of the vehicle separated from the passenger saloon by a bulkhead.
At the same time Citroen unveiled a Ready to Run Space Van constructed by Supertrucks and based on the Relay. Available with a choice of two load floor lengths – 4100mm or 4500mm – it is up for grabs with either a 20.4cu/m or a 22.3cu/m cargo area with a payload capacity of up to 1300kg.
Aside from the amount of room it offers, the Space Van boasts a low deck height. With a standard steel suspension the height is just 550mm. Specify the optional air suspension that is available, and lower it, and you are talking a remarkably modest 370mm.

Highly Commended

Citroen is not the only manufacturer to run programmes of this type. Ford offers its One-Stop Shop scheme, and we are happy to gift it our Highly Commended award.
As well as a one-way Transit-based tipper, the line-up embraces a three-way tipper – an unusual sight in the UK – in addition to a Transit chassis cab-based dropside, box van and Luton derivatives. A Transit curtainsider can be ordered too.
Precious few firms running 3.5- or 4.6-tonners – the weights the curtainsider is available at – use curtained bodies, despite their advantages of low weight, which means a higher potential payload, and ease of loading and unloading. Maybe they should.
While security with curtainsiders is always going to be an issue, all sorts of reinforced backings are available for curtains these days that will help them resist the attention of a knife-wielding thief and without making them more difficult to open and close.