Home » This Carmaker Sells Vans With Two Front Ends. Here’s What They’re For

This Carmaker Sells Vans With Two Front Ends. Here’s What They’re For

Double Ender Top
ADVERTISEMENT

There’s a photo circulating around the Internet right now and it looks fake, like a glitch in the matrix. If you head on over to Citroën’s Relay cargo van configurator, you’ll quickly spot something that is not like the other. Alongside different chassis cabs is the option to buy two van front ends that are bolted together. Citroen calls this the Relay Back-To-Back and the images aren’t a weird Photoshop. You can buy the front end of one of these vans and it’ll be delivered using the front end of another van as its rear wheels. It’ll all make sense in a moment!

This revelation comes to us from the fine folks of Opposite-Lock. If you’ve been looking for a like-minded car forum that doesn’t have the toxicity of Facebook, I totally recommend joining. The post containing this double-front-end van caught my attention. Was Citroën late to April Fools’ Day?

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Nope, if you click on the site, you can really order the front third of a rebadged Fiat Ducato van. Next, I had to see if these vans really are conjoined and sure enough, I even found press releases about them. Ok, now that I confirmed that these van things are real, the next question was simple: Why?

V3dimage.ashx

 

ADVERTISEMENT

If you’re one of our European readers you’re probably laughing at me for learning about something you’ve had in your countries for years. But you have to understand how things usually work in America. If you’re buying a commercial van with the intent of turning it into a motorhome or some specialist vehicle, you’ll usually find yourself buying a chassis cab. Similar to that is the cutaway, but those have no back walls.

A cutaway or a chassis cab gives you the full frame and drivetrain of a commercial vehicle, but with the cab of a van or truck up front. This helps streamline the production of specialty vehicles. A chassis cab vehicle has all four or six wheels plus a long frame. You’re just left to put on the ambulance body, motorhome body, service body, or whatever you’re placing onto the frame. Here in America, you can buy all of the popular vans, including the Ford Transit, Ford E-Series, RAM ProMaster, and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter as a chassis cab or cutaway.

Great For Special Builds

8121.jpg

What you don’t really see in America is what Fiat calls the “Back-To-Back.” If you’re a vehicle body builder in Europe, you can purchase a Fiat Ducato without any chassis or wheels behind the cab. These vans are also sold as the Ram ProMaster, Citroën Jumper, Citroën Relay, and Peugeot Boxer. Fiat and Citroën can do this because, unlike other popular vans like the Ford Transit and the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, the Ducato is front wheel drive.

Fiat still sells the Ducato as a chassis cab and as a similar “Floor Cab” vehicle. However, some specialist builders are going to want more flexibility and freedom than is offered with either of those. That’s where the Back-To-Back comes in.

ADVERTISEMENT

Fiatprofessionalaufderinternationalenmotorshow2018inhanover092018

Since there’s no chassis or wheels aft of the cab, a builder can go wild. A specialist can have one or both of these partial vans delivered. From there, they can build whatever they want from the B-pillar back, be it a motorhome, a tow truck, or anything else.

So far as I can tell, Fiat has been constructing the Ducato as a Back-To-Back chassis for at least two decades. Before the Back-To-Back, chassis cab vans would be shipped to builders where the chassis would be cut off, anyway. So, Fiat is simply taking that step out.

But that still doesn’t explain the wild images. Why, exactly, are these vans conjoined?

Two Vans In The Space Of One

Ducatobacktoback092018

ADVERTISEMENT

The answer to that one comes from a GoAuto.com.au article on the sighting of a Ducato Back-To-Back. The simple version is that bolting two Back-To-Backs together where their chassis end makes them easier to ship. Now, you can fit two Ducatos or Citroën Relays into a space one normal van fits. These vans aren’t driven across the country like this. Instead, a driver puts one end into neutral and then hops into the other end, driving it onto a transport.

From FCA product strategy senior manager Alan Swanson, via GoAuto.com.au:

“I know it looks like it’s a part of FCA’s top secret Transformers project, but it’s actually just the easiest, most space-efficient way to transport these vehicles.

“Specialist coach builders, for example, transform the Fiat Ducato’s cab chassis into motorhomes, among other applications, and this is the easiest way to ship them.”

118876590 1714481298704838 66451
East Coast Fiat Brisbane

If you want one of these weirdos and happen to live in Europe, Citroën will sell you a third of a van for £36,018 ($45,130). Toss in a little more than 800 Euros more if you want it with a chassis and rear wheels.

So, there you have it. Fiat and Citroën will happily sell you roughly a third of a van and they’ll ship it to you bolted up to another third of a van. Obviously, this works best if you’re a specialty builder. Then you just buy both ends and separate them before you build your motorhomes, tow trucks, or whatever. Still, I love to think about owning a pair of these, finishing the middle, and just having a van that goes both ways.

(Images: Stellantis, unless otherwise noted.)

ADVERTISEMENT

Popular Stories

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
64 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Kaiserserserser
Kaiserserserser
12 days ago

FYI Mercedes, this article was apparently so interesting that “the old site” had to go ahead and copy it today 🙂

Frederick Tanujaya
Frederick Tanujaya
17 days ago

Wait…they literally made a Value-Pack of a Van??

BigThingsComin
BigThingsComin
16 days ago

Costco alerted!

Gurpgork
Gurpgork
18 days ago

Does this make it a Push-Me-Pull-Ute?

RustHoles
RustHoles
18 days ago

If you decide to keep them together, do you have to register one vehicle, or two?

Erik McCullough
Erik McCullough
18 days ago

I think there needs to be an episode on Top Gear feature this and 2 other similarly decked cars.

Attack Squirrel
Attack Squirrel
18 days ago

I mean FCA has been doing this for years, in the early 90’s lead engineer of FCA’s Canadian division Red Green spliced together two K-cars with little more than duct tape. The back ends became a handy trailer!

Clubwagon Chateau
Clubwagon Chateau
18 days ago

“And remember: If the women don’t find you handsome, they should at least find you handy!”

64
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x