Should you’re something like me, and on the street in a little bit of site visitors fairly frequently, some vehicles stick out greater than others, and never at all times in a great way. One eyesore we’ve absolutely all encountered earlier than, and maybe had the ‘pleasure’ of driving ourselves for no matter purpose, is the van. They’re massive, loud and sometimes are proper in your bumper attempting to go you by virtually pushing you out the way in which. Typically, they’re a ache and a nuisance most of the time. However how are you going to spruce up a van to develop into, effectively…. cool? Easy, add a giant engine and make it go quick. Like, REALLY quick!
Principally, every thing with the phrase “Tremendous” in it’s immediately higher, proper? Superman, Superspeed, Supersonic, Supercharger, Supercompressor, Supersonnerie, Supercar and so forth. However how a few Supervan? Is asking a easy van a Supervan the way in which to go to shed the horrid reputations most individuals affiliate it with? Nicely no, it’s not nearly naming one thing “tremendous” it’s extra about making it tremendous within the course of as effectively, one thing Ford and Renault took very a lot to coronary heart!
1965 Ford Transit
The unique Ford Transit was launched in 1965, following the discontinuation of the Ford Taunus Transit. The Transit stays one of many bestselling business automobiles of all time and has been in steady manufacturing ever since. However, as it’s a fundamental van, it’s not all that cool to have a look at it doesn’t matter what era of Transit is earlier than you. It’s designed to haul stuff round from A to B and to not look good doing it. In fact, issues have moved on from the unique sequence of Transit vans. However in all equity, any van on the market seems just about the identical from the bumper/grille backwards.
The Transit really has an attention-grabbing fame, as at one level it was fairly widespread with thieves and robbers via the UK as a type of transportation. You would simply conceal a crew, and no matter you stole within the again, away from prying eyes and make your getaway. The UK’s Metropolitan Police allegedly reported that in 1972, virtually 95% of the financial institution robberies have been achieved utilizing a Ford Transit. Not the most effective fame you may have, however fortunately there’s an upside to the Transit’s historical past too.
Ford Transit Supervan (1971)
The idea of the Supervan isn’t all that difficult. From the skin, we have now a normal trying Ford Transit van, however beneath that exterior shell, it’s a complete totally different world. The thought began with the 1971 Ford Transit Supervan, constructed as a promotional car by Ford within the UK. It featured a white bodyshell of a long-wheelbase Ford Transit draped over a Ford GT40 chassis and engine. This meant the Ford Transit Supervan had about 435 horsepower, about 4 to five occasions the facility of a normal one!
The result’s fairly hilarious, and doubtless a bit scary to drive as effectively. The widened wheel arches and massive tires protruding from beneath it are just about the one giveaways about this automotive’s underpinnings. Till it’s fired up, that’s. The unmistakable V8 rumble reveals the Supervan’s intentions. First demonstrated on the UK racing circuit of Thruxton, the automotive was able to zero to 100kph in roughly seven seconds and ploughed on to a prime velocity of about 255kph, solely restricted by extreme physique elevate at such speeds. The whereabouts of the unique Ford Transit Supervan stay unknown, however fortunately we have now this era video from Ford Heritage to get pleasure from;
Ford Transit Supervan 2 (1984)
By 1984, Ford thought it was about time to create a second Supervan primarily based on the “Spine of Britain” Ford Transit and put it on the market additional. The Ford Transit MKII was launched in 1977 and was as soon as once more a gross sales hit for a lightweight business car. By now the automotive had grown slightly and had a redesigned entrance finish that would home larger engines. And Ford took that fairly actually, because the Ford Supervan 2 had the most important engine ever fitted to a Transit on the time.
A restyled fibreglass physique, intently resembling the roadgoing Transit however with all types of aerodynamic adjustments, was draped over a Group C Ford C100 racing chassis and fitted with a 3.9 litre Cosworth DFV V8 engine. This engine produced near 600 horsepower, a major improve over the primary Supervan. Throughout testing at Silverstone, the Ford Transit Supervan 2 reached a prime velocity of 174mph or roughly 280kph. An insane velocity for any sort of van, even when it’s a re-bodied Group C race automotive in drag.
Right here’s the automotive in motion at Donington Park in 1986, in fairly a tough high quality video sadly;
Ford Transit Supervan 3 (1994)
A couple of 12 months after the Ford Transit Supervan 2 was constructed, Ford introduced the third era of the Transit van. This implies the Supervan 2 was shortly sidelined as a promotional car, and over time rebuilt into the Ford Supervan 3. The third-generation Transit had a totally new form on the entrance, ditching the forward-pointing nostril of the MKI and MKII. This was additionally the primary time such a promotional car was constructed in the midst of a era’s lifespan, as a substitute of in direction of the top, near being changed by a more moderen mannequin, and successfully rendered ineffective.
The Ford Transit Supervan 3 was constructed utilizing the unique Supervan 2 chassis however with a brand new engine. A 7/eighth scale fibreglass physique hid a 3.5 litre Cosworth HB V8, making between 630 and 700bhp relying on the set-up and tuning of the engine. This engine would energy the McLaren MP4/8 automotive, pushed by Ayrton Senna to second place within the 1993 Formulation 1 World Championship, coming in second behind fierce rival Alain Prost within the Williams-Renault FW15C (this turns into related in a minute).
The highest velocity of the Ford Transit Supervan 3 was very near 300kph however afterward, the F1-derived V8 was changed with a extra smart Ford-Cosworth V6 with a measly 260bhp. Nonetheless loads of enjoyable, however nowhere close to the extent of madness it initially was. The Ford Transit Supervan 3 was used for fairly a while, and appeared on the 2013 Goodwood Competition of Velocity;
However there’s extra insanity; Renault Espace F1 (1995)
I already talked about there’d be extra lunacy, and one thing concerning Williams-Renault developing, and this mad Renault Espace F1 is it. The recipe is sort of just like the Ford Supervans however this distinctive Renault Espace was constructed to have fun the success and tenth anniversary of Renault’s individuals’s van, the Espace. Usually relegated to driving the children to and from faculty, or maybe pack every thing up and go on a summer season vacation with the household, this Renault Espace F1 is a really totally different beast.
The place the Ford Supervans could be fitted with V8 engines, this Renault Espace F1 comes with a Renault RS5 V10 engine used within the 1993 Williams-Renault FW15C Formulation 1 automotive. In that very automotive, the three.5-litre V10 engine would clinch each the driving force’s and constructor’s championship. A closely modified Espace-shaped carbon-fibre bodyshell could be fitted to a racing chassis with the V10 mounted within the again. Full unbiased suspension and a large roof-mounted rear wing could be wanted to maintain this factor considerably on the bottom.
The inside options 4 bucket seats, racing harnesses and a steering wheel with push buttons for the F1-derived sequential gearbox. With near 800 horsepower on faucet and a redline of virtually 14,000rpm, this monster would do over 300kph when seating 4. Right here’s precise footage of the automotive screaming alongside throughout testing, by the hands of Alain Prost;
And much more Supervan-like insanity
In fact, such automobiles lose the practicality they have been as soon as designed for. The Transit misplaced its loading capability as a result of rear-mounted engines, and the Espace not had three rows of seats for a similar purpose. Nonetheless, as an engineering train, and for the sheer quantity of enjoyable, these vehicles are actually superior! There’s one thing fascinating as seeing one thing as soon as designed for hauling stuff round each single day, scream by at 14,000rpm and near 300kph like there’s no tomorrow.
However the story doesn’t finish there. Should you take a look at the listed YouTube clips in any of the movies featured above, you’ll discover there’s much more hooliganism with regards to van conversions. How a few Ford Transit with the engine from a Jaguar XJ220, as soon as utilized by Prime Gear? Or how a few classic Volkswagen Bus with a twin-turbo Porsche 993 engine humiliating individuals at a monitor day? When you begin digging, you shortly tumble down the YouTube rabbit gap!