Motoring giant Ford today marked reaching two significant milestones by rolling a special-edition vehicle off its Southampton assembly line.

The launch of the special-edition Transit called Sapphire marked the 45th birthday of the Transit van.

And there were also celebrations at Southampton and at Ford plants in Turkey and China as Ford reached Transit sales of six million worldwide, with the UK accounting for 2.1 million of them.

Ford's European manufacturing vice president, Ken Macfarlane, handed the keys to the Sapphire to Paul Hendy, managing director of Britain's first Ford dealer which reaches its own 100 years milestone this year.

Mr Hendy, who sells around 3,000 Transits a year, said: "Transit has been an integral part of the business for many years.

"As one of the country's leading suppliers of Transit we are thrilled to be involved in such a key milestone for Transit, especially as we celebrate our centenary as a Ford dealer this year."

Mr Macfarlane said: "It's great to be here in Southampton as Transit reaches another significant milestone. In its lifetime this plant has addressed many challenges and yet maintained the high quality of its product. This is made possible by a dedicated workforce and I thank them for that."

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