Watch a High-Tech Ford Transit Van Try to Conquer Pikes Peak
Vans may be synonymous with hauling families, and having a two-inch crust of crumbs and phlegm on the upholstery as a result, or as work vehicles transporting various cargo—slowly. But “van” doesn’t have to be synonymous with screaming children or hauling stuff. Ford recently showcased that with some serious tweaking, a van can scream up the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb course and haul ass.
The Ford SuperVan 4.2 doesn’t even look like a van
The Ford Transit is a blue-collar hero with setups for either transporting a brood or a workshop’s worth of equipment to a job site. As such, it’s fair to say Ford raised more than a few eyebrows by bringing a heavily modified Transit van to Pikes Peak to tackle the treacherous and iconic hill climb course.
However, Ford’s entry, dubbed the SuperVan 4.2, is hardly the same Transit van you’ll see ferrying passengers to the airport or being used by your local plumber.
SuperVan 4.2 is the latest and improved iteration of Ford’s Supervan 4, which debuted at the 2022 Goodwood Festival of Speed. The all-electric Transit delivers a staggering 1,400 horsepower from a tri-motor setup (two electric motors in the rear and one in front) with 600kW of regeneration. SuperVan 4.2 has one less motor than its predecessor, but it weighs 880 pounds less.
To control its mass and massive power, SuperVan 4.2 features carbon ceramic brake discs, magnesium forged wheels, Pirelli P Zero racing tires, upgraded driveshafts, and a host of weight reduction strategies, including a perspex windscreen and stripped interior.
Additionally, SuperVan 4.2 features a new aerodynamic design Ford says generates 4,400 pounds of downforce at 150 mph. Aside from its bright livery, SuperVan 4.2’s motorsport credentials are showcased by its shark fin design behind the B-pillar, a giant rear wing that could seemingly help a small plane take flight, and other aerodynamic bodywork all around.
These intensive modifications make SuperVan 4.2 unlike any typical van, and they are practically a requirement for traversing Pikes Peak.
Why these mods are necessary to handle the challenges of Pikes Peak
The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, also known as the “Race to the Clouds,” has been run since 1916 along a section of Pikes Peak Highway in Pikes Peak, Colorado. The course includes 156 undulating turns spread across 12.4 miles with drivers climbing 4,725 feet to the finish line that stands over 14,000 feet above sea level.
Along the way, drivers must navigate tight switchbacks, high-speed corners, and sweeping turns, all while climbing nearly a mile over the distance of the course. Adding to the difficulty, much of it does not include barriers, and sheer drops and cliffs meet drivers who get it wrong.
Effectively then, it’s not a course expected to be conquered by any type of van, even one as heavily modified as SuperVan 4.2
How did the Ford van perform?
To conquer the 2023 Pikes Peak event, driver Romain Dumas piloted Supervan 4.2. Dumas holds the record for the fastest ever hillclimb, traversing the course in under eight minutes in 2018 in the Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak.
He earned more records this year.
Ford’s SuperVan 4.2 captured the record for the fastest time in the Open division of the hillclimb at 8:47.682, smashing the previous record by about 37 seconds. The run also earned the record for the fastest time posted for an electric modified truck/van.
In fact, Dumas’ time in the Supervan 4.2 was second overall, beating out a host of other far more traditional racing machines. SuperVan missed out on the fastest time of the 2023 event by just seven seconds and finished nearly 30 seconds faster than the third-place entry, a 2018 Alpine A110 GT4 Evo.
So, Supervan 4.2 is certainly not your typical Transit van in form or function, but it’s certainly the fastest of them all.