Manchester United legend Eric Cantona may once have famously referred to his industrious midfield teammate, Didier Deschamps, as just a ‘water carrier’ but … where would we be without water!? From mobile phones to tomato soup at the supermarket, all these goods are delivered by commercial vehicles, they don't just appear by magic!
Ugly, noisy and full of smoke? Don’t be fooled into thinking though that Del Boy’s three-wheeler from ‘Only Fools and Horses’ is typical of today’s commercial van. Things have moved on from the days of the Robin Reliant and when it comes to looks, technology and comfort – today’s vans are up there with some of the best passenger vehicles on the road.
Although I’m not about to buy one just yet, I did want to do a bit of research into things like average mileage, body frameworks, storage space etc. and have discovered a few really good websites out there, of which Van Monster is probably the best.
Although it might sound like an episode of Pimp My Ride, Van Monster actually has thousands of second hand vans for sale on its site and I ended up spending a whole afternoon just browsing! I definitely didn’t realise there were so many of these types of vehicles on the road (well, why would I?) and it was pretty interesting to discover all the different shapes, sizes and kinds out there.
Of course, as you’d suspect, all the various car manufacturers are in the market and have their own versions of what constitutes a good commercial van but, after having a good look, here are my favourites from each:
Peugeot have models that include the Bipper, Expert and Partner. I liked the Boxer though, it’s big and can carry up to 2000kgs.
The Sprinter and Vito are Mercedes’ offerings, and if I had to choose I’d probably go for the Sprinter. In terms of running costs it seems hard to beat.
When it comes to Ford it’s hard to choose anything other than the Transit. Maybe the best known van out there, certainly in the UK, the Transit is just really adaptable and sturdy.
With all the Volkswagen models you’ll get the super-reliability they are renowned for but I’m going for the Crafter. There’s just something about it that looks great and you can almost imagine a modern day A-Team using it!
Seriously, until looking I didn’t realise that some of these vehicles are absolute beasts and wouldn’t be out of place in even the toughest off-road rally. And did I actually say vans weren’t sexy? Who am I to argue with Mr T?!
VW, Ford, Mercedes