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Would you pay £50k for a van? Ken Block limited edition Ford Transit Custom review

  • Exclusive £50k Ford Transit with over 200hp driven
  • Awesome Alcantara interior, aggressive looks
  • Previews MS-RT ‘big brake’ and power mods

This is Ken Block’s Ford Transit Custom. No, seriously – this is the exact van, built to his specifications, and used by him and his family for road trips in Europe. And we’ve driven it.

Don’t know who Ken Block is? Then click here. Come back when you’re done. We’ll wait.

Ken Block limited edition Ford Transit Custom review - rear

So what’s this tricked-up Transit Custom like, and did we mention you can buy one? But only if you’ve got a spare £50,000…

Read the rest of the review to find out.

>> The £50k Ford Transit - Ken Block limited edition Custom now on sale

Who builds the Ken Block Transit and what’s the spec?

The Ken Block limited edition Ford Transit Custom is part of Van-Sport’s range of modified Ford light commercial vehicles.

Van-Sport is the firm behind the M-Sport and newer MS-RT models, too, and also build Valentino Rossi VR46-branded versions of the Transit Custom and Ford Ranger as well. You can read more about how it builds them in our separate story here; we’ll have more VR46 content soon.

Ken Block limited edition Ford Transit Custom review - with VR46 Ford Ranger

But back to the Block.

This particular Transit Custom is a left-hand drive Double-Cab-in-Van (DCiV), with the 170hp 2.0-litre EcoBlue turbodiesel engine. More significantly, in addition to extensive visual and mods inside and out, it’s also a demo vehicle for Van-Sport’s coming range of performance upgrades.

This includes a big brake kit for extra stopping power, but also engine parts that take this Transit Custom beyond 200hp.

What are the exterior mods on the Ken Block Transit Custom?

As you’d expect, the Ken Block Custom gets all the external add-ons of the latest Transit Custom MS-RT – plus a little extra polish.

This means aggressive front and rear bumpers – including the ‘extreme’ splitter accessory at the front – side skirts, rear spoiler and new exhaust. The wheels are the usual MS-RT 18-inch OZ Racing alloys, finished in black.

Ken Block limited edition Ford Transit Custom review - 46 Skull graphics

A unique Ken Block graphics pack adds further individuality, with the design inspired by Block’s 2016 World Rallycross Championship racing livery. It looks menacing without being completely over the top.

What’s different about the inside of the Ken Block Transit Custom?

If you’re wondering where the extra money goes (it costs some £20k more than a conventional MS-RT Transit Custom), check out the interior.

Ken Block limited edition Ford Transit Custom review - steering wheel and dashboard

Almost every conceivable surface is lined with Alcantara – including the dashboard, doorcards, headlining and sunvisors (!) – while the seats get bespoke leather covering complete with stitched Ken Block 43 skull logo on the headrests front and rear.

Ken Block limited edition Ford Transit Custom review - Skull 46 logo headrests

On top of this, additional sound deadening has been added to improve refinement. Though to be fair to Ford’s EcoBlue engine, it doesn’t really need that much help in this regards – it’s already pretty quiet.

What about the performance mods?

Look through the lower grille and you’ll see an MS-RT-branded intercooler – which is used to reduce air temperatures allowing the van’s turbo to safely make more power. It also hints at further changes under the bonnet.

Ken Block limited edition Ford Transit Custom review - MS-RT intercooler

Pop the hood, and there are more MS-RT bits on display, including a large silicone hose for the new air intake system, and box of electronics on the front passenger side; this, as you’ve probably guessed, is the supplementary brain of the thing, holding the remap that takes advantage of the other changes.

Ken Block limited edition Ford Transit Custom review - MS-RT remap tuning box

According to Van-Sport boss, Edward Davies, the result is a Transit Custom with ‘over 200hp’. Which means it’s finally got enough power to keep the 204hp Volkswagen Transporter honest.

What’s the Ken Block Transit Custom like to drive?

We didn’t have long behind the wheel, but a few things certainly stand out.

Firstly the engine work. The recalibration is very smooth, and certainly doesn’t have the boosty, aftermarket feel you sometimes get with remap work. Presumably the additional components – the intercooler and the air intake – help with this, but the quality stands out.

Ken Block limited edition Ford Transit Custom review - front

It didn’t feel shockingly quick. This may have been partly down to an AdBlue issue experienced on the day, but you also have to remember this is still a Transit van, not a sports car. You should comfortably expect to sprint 0-62mph in less than 10 seconds, even so.

The brake upgrade also works very well – again avoiding some typical aftermarket traps by remaining smooth and progressive, while still being decisively more powerful than the standard stoppers.

Ford typically does a great job of providing decent brake feel as standard, so we’re glad that hasn’t been ruined here.

Ken Block limited edition Ford Transit Custom review - MS-RT big brake kit

With all that Alcantara, not to mention the extra sound-deadening, it almost goes without saying that refinement is excellent for a van.

The suspension uses the same Eibach rear spring upgrade as other MS-RT Transit Customs. This reduces the ride height for a meaner look and better cornering stability, and even sorts out some of the bounciness you get when driving unladen – all without destroying  the ride comfort.

Is it worth the cost?

Always the question with a high-price lifestyle van like this one – and to be clear the £49,995 (ex VAT) asking price for this Ken Block limited edition doesn’t actually include the performance mods.

To be honest, that is a big lump to swallow. And much as we love the Alcantara interior, it’s difficult to imagine paying so much more than a standard Transit Custom MS-RT to get it, regardless of the association with Mr Block that’s included.

Ken Block limited edition Ford Transit Custom review - rear seats

The Transit Custom VR46 offers a slightly cheaper alternative, too, and that’s as a true kombi van, with removable rear seats and no rear bulkhead. (Van-Sport retains its commercial vehicle status by replacing the rear-most windows with custom aluminium panels.)

In some respects, the VR46 interior is even more spectacular; not only are the leather seat covers more intricate, Van-Sport even changes the lower dashboard colour to meet Rossi’s personal requirements.

How much are the Van-Sport Transit Custom performance upgrades?

At the time of writing we only have pricing for the big brake kit, which is £1,500 plus VAT and £250 for fitting. For that you get 356x32mm vented and grooved front discs, plus six-piston calipers and braided hoses.

We understand there will ultimately be four stages of engine tune, but the price details for these are still forthcoming. These changes will also invalidate the Ford warranty.

Verdict

It’s a hell of a thing to be in and to look at, the Ken Block limited edition Ford Transit Custom. But we fear the price is just that bit too high for most pockets – and indeed, although Van-Sport will still build you one if you ask, it’s not anticipating a huge rush of orders for this particular model.

Ken Block limited edition Ford Transit Custom review - side

That is in stark contrast to the regular MS-RT, which is flying out, despite exclusively being available from the Hartwell Ford dealer group.

The performance upgrades should be more interesting to more buyers, however, so we look forward to bringing you more info about production plans for these as we get them.

Also read:

>> Ford Transit Custom MS-RT review

>> 204hp VW Transporter Sportline kombi review

>> The full Parkers Vans Ford Transit Custom review

>> Visit to Van-Sport – builders of the M-Sport and MS-RT Ford Transit vans and Ranger pickups