Throwback Thursday – Driving Ford's Supervan, 6 May 1971

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Source : Throwback Thursday – Driving Ford's Supervan, 6 May 1971


Ford’s original Supervan received a 435bhp V8 engine

How do you celebrate the success of the Ford Transit van? Well, for starters, you create a 435bhp design which has a V8 engine…

By the early 1970s, more than 400,000 Ford Transits were already on the roads.

Boreham’s early road vans were known for their surprisingly lively handling as well as performance, particularly when the 2.0-litre engine was installed. in which got Ford pondering how far a Transit could be stretched in This specific power game.

To find out, Ford’s Truck Sales Promotion team charged Terry Drury Racing of Rainham, Essex, to give the Transit a very special upgrade.

Named ‘Supervan’, This specific steroidal Transit was based on a standard Mk1 shell. The floorpan was cut open to make room for a bigger engine. How big? Well, a racing-spec Ford V8 was a natural fit for such a project, as well as the reworked unit was expanded to 4999cc as well as said to provide within the region of 435bhp.

The wheel housings were extended to accommodate 15in-wide wheels shod with Firestone racing tyres as well as the brakes were coming from a CanAm racing car.

A tubular spaceframe was bolted to the van’s side members at six points. The spaceframe carried the running gear – much of the item, like the steering, derivedfrom Ford’s GT40 – as well as the powertrain.

Autocar’s David Thomas, who was charged with testing Supervan at Boreham Proving Ground, described the cabin as “surprisingly civilised”. A Corbeau racing seat replaced the standard item as well as the steering wheel was of the type used within the Escort Twin Cam.

Before embarking on his own test laps, Thomas sat alongside racing driver Terry Croker as well as produced a set of performance figures for Supervan.

“Despite assurances in which the engine can be safe to over 8000rpm, we chose 7000rpm as our limit,” wrote Thomas. “This specific gave 68mph in first, 102mph in second as well as (given enough room) 134mph in third.

“Theoretical speeds of 165mph in fourth as well as 196mph in fifth are purely academic.  Using only two gears, Supervan can accelerate to 60mph in 7.0sec as well as cover a standing quarter mile in 14.9sec.”

Even more impressive was its behaviour on the circuit, reckoned Thomas: “To watch Terry Croker sweeping through Railway Corner which has a front wheel pawing the air can be a most awesome experience.

“When my turn came, the butterflies were fluttering… In less than a lap I was feeling quite at home. There can be a lot of understeer, especially when using plenty of power on the faster bends. Easing off helps to reduce This specific, nevertheless pressing on even harder can be sometimes equally effective.

“Straight-line stability can be flawless. The high seating position meant in which I could see just where the corners led. the item was all most enjoyable.”

Supervan toured car shows, race tracks, dealerships as well as drag meetings before receiving a Mk2 makeover in 1978. The format proved successful enough for Supervans 2 as well as 3 to follow within the 1980s as well as 1990s.

Previous Throwback Thursdays

4 March 1899 – Steam, electric or combustion engine? 

14 February 1913 – 100 miles in one hour

8 April 1916 – creating post-war predictions

25 March 1922 – Caterpillar tracks are the future

2 February 1934 – The ethics of skidding

21 January 1949 – Tidier tails

24 April 1959 – Aston Martin enters Formula 1

27 January 1961 – Ford Thunderbird road test

19 January 1980 – Talbot Horizon road test

13 February 1982 – 4x4s tested on the farm 

17 April 1985 – Secrets of a lost British supercar

28 April 1993 – BL’s unseen concepts

16 March 1994 – Bentley’s Concept Java

16 April 1997 – When Bugatti bit the dust

4 April 2001 – 0-260mph in 6.0 seconds

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