Richard Dredge
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Richard Dredge

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Richard Dredge
Author

Richard Dredge

Ford Transit Supervan 2

The Ford Transit Supervan 2 was even more extreme than its predecessor, but its promotional life was short

The Supervan 1 that had been unveiled in 1971 had been a tremendous success for Ford, garnering huge amounts of publicity for the company. Despite this, that vehicle was scrapped in the 1970s, but that didn't stop Ford from coming up with a successor in the guise of Supervan 2, which was revealed to the world in 1984.

Ford's motor sport supremo Stuart Turner had been one of the driving forces behind Supervan 1, and when he left Ford in 1975 the appetite was lost to keep that vehicle alive. However, when Turner returned to head up Ford's motor sport activities in 1983, within a year there was an all-new Supervan which was created on a far more planned basis than the original, with ace race car designer Tony Southgate heading up the engineering. Supervan 2 was built by Auto Racing Technology, which was run by Southgate along with his business partner John Thompson.

Whereas the original Supervan used a genuine steel Transit bodyshell, its successor featured a glassfibre shell that was seven-tenths of the size of the production vehicle. Supervan 2's monocoque was constructed from aluminium alloy and carbonfibre, while the outer panelling was made of aluminium sheet and glassfibre.

In 1983 Stuart Turner had canned Ford's C100 endurance racer project and the mechanicals from this were donated to Supervan 2. That meant there was a 590bhp 3.9-litre Cosworth DFL V8, that was capable of taking Supervan 2 all the way up to 176mph. And unlike Supervan 1's theoretical top speed of 168mph, this time Supervan 2 was maxed out for real, at Silverstone.

Whereas Supervan 1 had looked largely stock thanks to it using a genuine Transit bodyshell, Supervan 2 sat much closer to the ground, featured a huge air duct on each side to feed the massive radiators so the V8 could keep its cool. The prominent front and rear spoilers were essential to keeping Supervan 2 on the ground as the speed built, and for the same reason the floorpan incorporated ground effect venturi tunnels. There was no escaping the fact that this was something pretty lairy.

Having made its debut at Donington Park for the first British Truck Championship in 1984, Supervan 2 proved just as popular as its predecessor had done. Despite this, the vehicle was used by Ford for just 15 months before it became a static exhibit at the British Commercial Vehicle Museum in Lancashire – before it was given a new lease of life a decade later as Supervan 3.

 

Vital statistics
Engine Mid-mounted, 3.9-litre, V8
Power 590bhp at 9250rpm
Top speed 176mph
1/4-mile 12.1 seconds

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