Don’t Be Fooled, the Ford Supervan Is Actually Just a Ford GT40

Who doesn’t love a super fast van? Hell, Ford even called it the Supervan. There’s literally nothing to not love. Well, it gets even better because this isn’t really a van; well, it is, but it’s not just a van. This van is actually a Ford GT40 with a Gurney-Weslake 435 hp V8. While the disguise is honestly not that great, most folks probably wouldn’t guess that this van had 435 hp and rides on a real Ford GT40 chassis. 

black and white photo of the original ford Supervan, which was basically just a Ford GT40
Ford Supervan 1971 | Ford UK

What is a Ford Supervan? 

According to Silodrome, Ford has only ever made three Supervans. The original Supervan was born from the ashes of a retired Ford GT40 chassis; a Mark 1 Ford Transit van body was then grafted onto the top. The second Supervan, Supervan 2, was built in 1984, then in 1994, Supervan 2 was rebuilt into the Supervan 3.

As you might expect from a van-shaped Ford GT40, the van could clear 150 mph. The ridiculousness of the Supervan was a massive PR win. Ford would parade it around at racetracks and even make it race other Ford cars from the era. 

Let’s focus on the original Ford Supervan

By the 1970s, the Ford GT40 had had its day in the sun, and the racing world was moving on, as it does. So, when someone at Ford UK thought Ford should be doing more promotional material for the Ford Transit, the brainstorming commenced. It’s hard to believe they spent much time thinking about it, though, because the idea that Ford went with was to literally just bolt a Ford Transit body onto a GT40 chassis. Albeit an awesome idea, it isn’t exactly the most sophisticated or nuanced. 

The OG Supervan left the lab and took the streets in 1971. Ford unveiled the Supervan at the Easter 1971 race meeting at Brands Hatch. It completed several hot laps in front of the crowd. Unsurprisingly, it set the best lap times ever achieved by a Transit.

Silodrome goes on to note that the Super van could clear 60 mph in just 7.0 seconds flat with 100 mph not too far behind at 21.6 seconds. Needless to say, despite its power, the non-aerodynamic shape of the van proved to hold it back in circuit racing. But, seeing as how drag racing was having a bit of a comeback at the time, Ford regularly let it roast unsuspecting cars at the drag strip instead. 

Long live the GT40-powered Ford Supervan 

Ford Supervan Engine
Ford Supervan engine | Ford UK

The people loved it. It was a hit. The Supervan captivated and excited audiences with its ferocious V8 screams paired with its dopey look of flared fenders, chunky shape, and racing livery. 

The original was so beloved that Ford updated it in ‘78 with the new Ford Transit body style. Following the original, Ford made a second Super van in ‘84. And not to let a good thing die, Ford UK kept the fun and games alive for the third iteration in ‘94. 

Watching the videos of the first Supervan make it pretty easy to see why fans would have been excited to see it all those years ago. Long live the Supervan.

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