The Essex-based Ford Heritage Vehicle Collection has been boosted with the recommissioning of Transit Supervan 3. Originally built 20 years ago when it was known as Supervan 2, this very special Transit with the heart and lungs of a racing car will spearhead a number of activities next year when the company celebrates the 40th anniversary of the launch of the Ford Transit range.
Built on a Ford C100 race car chassis and originally powered by a mid-mounted Ford-Cosworth 650bhp 'HB' F1 engine, Supervan 3 first saw the light of day in 1995 when it was displayed at the motor show in Birmingham. For the next few years, in its unique hand-crafted seven-eighths scale fibreglass body, it was used at special events up and down the country before being 'retired' in 2001 after its appearance at the National Van Show in Brighton, where it was presented in authentic Royal Mail livery.
By then the F1 engine had been replaced for reasons of practicality by a Ford-Cosworth Pro Sports 3000 (V6) engine, which it retain today. Power is transmitted via a Hewland gearbox to the rear wheels.
The top speed of Supervan 3 is estimated at around 150mph with acceleration which would not disgrace many sports supercars. Aerodynamic stability at high speed is aided by a deep front splitter and large rear wing.
The recent re-commissioning work also included returning Supervan 3 to its original 1984 highly distinctive Ford Motorsport paint livery.
"Transit Supervan 3 will play a major role in many of the events we are planning in 2005 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Ford Transit," said Gary Whittham, Ford's director of commercial vehicles.
"It looks fantastic, sounds even better and goes like no other Ford Transit van," he added.
Supervan 3 follows in the famous wheeltracks of Supervans 1 and 2. The original Supervan was produced by Terry Drury Racing and made its debut at Brands Hatch on Easter Monday 1971. It was fitted with a 400 horsepower version of the high-performance 302 cubic inch V8 engine used in Ford's Le Mans-winning GT40 sports cars.
Supervan 2 debuted in 1984, at the Donington Truck Grand Prix, and was the work of Auto Racing Technology of Woolaston. Powered by a Ford-Cosworth DFL engine – the long-stroke version of Ford's famous DFV F1 engine. It was clocked at Silverstone doing 174mph. Ten years later and DRL Engineering of Suffolk undertook a complete re-build of Supervan 2 and, fittingly, it was decided to re-name the vehicle Supervan 3.
This latest recommissioning work was carried out by Sporting and Historic Car Engineers of Bicester in Oxfordshire.
Although Ford has lost contact with Supervan 1, which left the company many years ago, Supervan 3 join another high-performance Transit in the Ford Heritage Vehicle Collection. This is the World Rally Transit, which combines all the features of a load-carrying rally support vehicle with higher performance and rally-car-style interior and exterior. Based on the rear-wheel-drive version of the new-generation Ford Transit, the WRT features a tuned 200bhp version of the Ford Duratorq diesel engine. With its rally-style paintwork and distinctive W1WRT registration number it does rather stand out in the crowd. And rally drivers will feel totally behind the wheel as the seats, steering wheel, intrumentation are from an actual WRC Ford Focus which campaigned in 2001.Published 17 July 2004