Pontypool converter MS-RT has transformed Ford’s Transit Connect light van into a head-turner with a throaty roar, as George Barrow discovers.
Ford’s Qualified Vehicle Manufacturer (QVM) programme is normally spoken about when discussing the seamless and warranted work of a bodybuilder supplying something like a tipper truck or a box body.
Its list of accredited specialist converters includes big names in bodies like VFS, Paneltex and TGS, and it even includes interior modifiers such as Sortimo and Bott, who can fit out the vehicle loadspace – perhaps drilling where necessary – and still leave the vehicle covered by the warranty.
All QVM accredited converters match the base warranty on their vehicle conversions, so it’s complete peace of mind that the work is done well and that the van is still covered should there be a problem.
New bodies being added and interior items being added are one thing, but what about replacing Ford’s own components? In the case of South Wales-based MS-RT, who modify Ford vans in the old ‘Max Power’ sense of the word, the exact same QVM guarantees apply.
The Pontypool outfit had the Transit Custom approved for the QVM programme last year and now it’s the turn of the Transit Connect. Order your base vehicle – it can be of any specification or trim from the Transit Connect range – and MS-RT will customise it at its factory with body kits, wheels and even an exhaust. Short-wheelbase vans are currently being produced as part of a Launch Edition of 40 special units, but next year the long-wheelbase variants will also be available.
On visiting the factory it’s not only clear to see why the work involved requires the firm to be a QVM but also why it has been accepted on to the programme in the first place.
As we are guided around each of the manufacturing stages, from the injection-moulding of the body panels through to the priming, polishing and painting of the parts, it’s plain there’s real thought and attention to detail in making these body-kitted Connects come to life.
The conversion itself consists of a full body kit with aggressively styled front bumper and diffuser. There’s a new grille too, and side skirts, rear bumper, rear diffuser and spoiler. In all there are some 20-plus individual parts carefully moulded using a fast-curing exothermic plastic that go into the body kits of the new MS-RT Transit Connect. Each is sanded down, by hand, while any moulding edges are shaved off before being cleaned, primed and painted in an on-site spray booth. The vehicles are then stripped of the parts they no longer need and the new components are added over the course of a day.
The interior gets a similar going-over. There’s a carbon inlay sports steering wheel as well as handmade nappa leather and suede seat coverings. Then come the wheels – 18in alloys from OZ Racing, covered in a low-profile (for a van, at least) 225/45 Michelin tyre. Finally, there’s a quad-pipe stainless steel sports exhaust system to make the regular, unadulterated 1.5-litre Ecoblue diesel engine sound a little perkier.