Here’s a refreshing reminder that, with all the bad news coming out of the auto-industry, innovation and new ideas are still ruling the day. This is Ford’s Transit Connect, which is designed, engineered and manufactured by Ford of Europe, but just now coming ashore in the US (this summer). Its mission is improved fuel economy, bigger load capacity and better cargo accessibility, making it a great van for gigging.

On display at the Chicago Auto Show in Februray, were four Ford Transit Connect vans, one outfitted to carry legendary Chicago blues man Eddie Shaw, his band the Wolf Gang and all their gear. When the blues resurgence was in full swing in the ‘60s and ‘70s, Eddie Shaw was in the mix.

Shaw, and his tenor sax, were right in the midst of some of the seminal blues recordings going down in a few Windy City studios. He played gigs with Hound Dog Taylor, Freddie King, Otis Rush, Earl Hooker and Magic Sam. Today, Shaw is on the road more than 200 days a year with the Wolf Gang in cities around the world, and they desire affordable vehicles that can also carry the band’s full kit. ‘I think the Transit Connect is going to be the car of the year for musicians,’ said Eddie Shaw, ‘It’s economical, gas mileage is great, there’s good storage room in it, you can get a couple of guys in there. I can put my horn in there and my woman – and I’m gone.’

Ford says that Transit Connect’s compact size and tall cargo area make it the ideal shape to squeeze into the tight parking spots found in most major cities. “The top is high, and you can pack your stuff high, can slide into any parking space – and I can grab my horn out of the back and walk right in, and I’m cool,’ said Shaw. ‘I think this is the right car for musicians, coming at the right time.’ With its standard, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine and automatic transmission, Transit Connect delivers fuel economy estimated at 19 mpg city and 24 mpg highway.

RELATED – How much gear can you stuff in your van?

Originally posted 2009-04-06 13:58:13.