Sunny Side Kitchen 2014 Ford Transit Connect SEMA Build
This Transit Connect Is Poised For Work And Play
The small delivery van market has exploded in recent years, and the Ford Transit Connect claimed a good portion of that market. Local deliveries of sandwiches, edible arrangements, flowers, and more were capably handled by the Transit Connect since it was introduced in this country in 2010. Even some electricians, carpenters, and contractors have found happiness with the small workhorse. But now Ford is reimagining this market segment with some pretty significant changes.
First, the tall roof that really indicated the TC was a utilitarian vehicle is gone. The low roof is offset with a lower floor to give you the same amount of cargo space. Second, the amount and quality of the amenities (ranging from heated windshields to backup cameras, the Sync system that integrates your phone with the stereo, and some very luxurious seats…and a lot more) has been amped up significantly.
The Transit Connect was designed in Europe under the company’s “One Ford” global product strategy. The vans will be sold in both Europe and North America (and other worldwide markets, likely) with tweaks depending on the needs of customers in each region.
That swoopy European flair is clearly seen in the high-mounted recessed headlamps, large bodyside moldings, multipiece bumpers, and drawn-back recessed tail lamps.
The reason for all the fancy amenities is Ford wants to sell the Transit Connect to families that may not want the typical minivan -- or cab drivers who want better fuel mileage. The long-wheelbase version of the TC can seat up to 7 people. That’s a big deal. Although the TC is smaller than the average minivan, the boxy shape means the passengers are actually afforded more space than they might be accustomed to. The passenger-carrying abilities might make the TC even more popular than it is now, but we’re mostly concerned with how it works as a work truck -- and that’s an area where Ford has not given up any ground to anyone.
In real-world conditions, Work Truck Review was able to test a pre-production prototype version of the ’14 Ford Transit Connect. About two months before the SEMA show, Ford gave out nine of the prototypes to a variety of customizers, and one of them went to Impulse Marketing & Media (impulse-marketing.com), where this author and vehicle builder took charge of the project. Having built more than 20 project vehicles over the years with various manufacturers, it is still an honor to be selected by an OEM vehicle manufacturer to create the unbelievable. Staying with the commercial theme, this Transit Connect was converted into a bakery delivery truck and equipment hauler for Sunny Side Kitchen -- but with a hot rod twist.
The factory 16-inch wheels were swapped out for bigger 18-inch versions from TSW Alloys. The Carthage models were wrapped in P255/45R18 Toyo Proxes S/T II tires to provide added grip for high-speed deliveries. To further accent the wheels and tires, MGP caliper covers were added to dress up the wheel and tire selection. Finally, stopping power was punched up a bit with a set of replacement EBC brake pads. A Gibson Performance Exhaust tip was tacked onto the end of the TC’s complicated exhaust system to make it look a bit sexier, but no real changes were deemed viable. The very comfortable captain’s chairs were taken to Katzkin, where custom covers were stitched up to match the exterior colors. The dual-tone seats were perforated for added appeal, and the outside black leather bolsters were enhanced for superior comfort and maximum durability. Other interior amenities included replacing the factory audio speakers with those from Lightning Audio. Now hitting the local farmers’ markets and making deliveries is that much more enjoyable.
The factory black base coat color was enhanced with Axalta waterborne paints applied by Theresa Contreras and the rest of the crew at L&G Enterprises in San Dimas, California. All the factory body cladding was smoothed, sanded, and colored black to make the panels disappear into the factory black color. The rear barn door window wipers were also shaved to create a smoother rear appearance, and the factory roof rack was removed to make the outward aesthetics more visual. Finally, the unique Sunny Side Kitchen logo was applied and buried in clear. After all, this is no standard delivery vehicle. This is custom and custom means paint -- not vinyl graphics. The business end of the truck was upfitted by 3W Truck and Equipment in Escondido, California. The crew at 3W built custom enclosures for the tables that have to be brought to the farmers’ markets to sell the Sunny Side Kitchen cookies. One table even disappears into the roof with extension rams holding it up. Finally, a custom-sized BedSlide 1000 was built to accommodate all the necessary accessories in the rear. It operates quite simply with a single hand operation and will accommodate a ton of weight.
The ’14 Transit Connects come with either a standard 169hp 2.5L Duratec engine or the optional 1.6L EcoBoost engine that puts out 178 hp. Either way, you’re getting a six-speed automatic transmission so that the truck can provide enough low-end torque for heavy loads yet still cruise along at a nice pace on the highway. A CNG/LPG Gaseous Prep Package is also available.
The electronic stability system provides enhanced control in slick conditions such as snow, rain, or even gravel roads. Roll Stability Control provides enhanced side-slip control and delivers electronic rollover stability for the vehicle. RSC utilizes gyroscopic sensors to monitor vehicle roll motion and rate of turning in milliseconds. This helps determine when and how it utilizes the brakes to help keep all four wheels of the vehicle firmly planted.
To help provide easy loading and unloading from the driver or passenger side, the Transit Connect features dual sliding doors.
The long-wheelbase van features 130.6 cubic feet of cargo space and can accommodate items up to 7 feet long, 5 feet wide, and nearly 4 feet tall. The short-wheelbase model, on the other hand, helps make maneuvering tight city streets and parking in small spots easy.
Ultrasonic sensors in the rear bumper are used with the optional Reverse Sensing System, which audibly alerts you to certain objects located directly behind the Transit Connect when you’re backing up at slow speeds, and an optional camera shows you exactly what you’re about to back into.
If you’re in the market for a fantastic delivery vehicle or a van that will do it all and comes in a variety of configurations, make sure to visit your local Ford dealer and check out the new ’14 Transit Connect. You and your business will be money ahead.
|2014 Ford Transit Connect |
Available In Van and Wagon Models
|Maximum payload:||1,710 pounds (when properly equipped)|
|Maximum towing capacity||2,000 pounds (when properly equipped)|
|Short-wheelbase van||105.9 cubic feet of storage capacity behind front seats|
|Long-wheelbase van||130.6 cubic feet of storage capacity behind front seats|
|Short-wheelbase wagon||77.0 cubic feet of storage capacity behind the front seats|
|Long-wheelbase wagon||104.2 cubic feet of storage capacity behind the front seats|
Ford Motor CompanyDearborn, MI 48126
L&G EnterprisesSan Dimas, CA 91773
EBC BrakesSylmar, CA 91342
Gibson Performance ExhaustCorona, CA 92879
BedslideMedford, OR 97504
Lightning AudioGilbert, AZ 85233
Katzkin LeatherMontebello, CA 90640
3W Truck and EquipmentEscondido, CA
Impulse Marketing & Media818-400-3459
MGP Caliper Covers877-995-0003
Sunny Side Kitchen760-470-2468