Ford has revealed an all-new Supervan, part of a long line of wild van-based promotional vehicles stretching back to the early seventies and usually packing something much more potent than a four-cylinder diesel.
The new Supervan 4 is based on the electric version of the Transit Custom, meaning that unlike Supervans of yore which typically featured V8 racing engines, this one is powered by batteries.
Ford Supervan gets 2,000hp
A Supervan’s power comes from a bespoke 50kWh liquid-cooled battery pack mounted low in the van for optimum weight distribution and a low centre of gravity. Four electric motors deliver 2,000hp through an all-wheel-drive system – enough to propel the Supervan from 0-100km/h in a supercar-beating two seconds.
Unveiled at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in England, the new Supervan doesn’t owe much beyond its floorpan to the Transit Custom, with the vehicle being built around a steel spaceframe and clad in carbon composite panels. While some Transit Custom is visible in its styling, with its flared wheel arches, low and aggressive splitters and diffusers and big rear wing, the looks are more GT racer than practical load-lugger.
Ford certainly intends for the Supervan 4 to see some on-track action, evidenced by the interior featuring a full FIA-approved roll cage and racing seats. Selectable driving modes are accessible via the interior touchscreen (the same as in the Ford Mustang Mach-E), including Road, Track, Drag, Drift and Rally. These adjust factors such as the torque mapping and the responsiveness of the controls based on the type of event in which the Supervan is competing.
Other features giving hints as to the Ford Supervan’s potential future track exploits are a pit-lane speed limiter and a “tyre cleaning mode”, which locks one axle while spinning the other to “help clean and warm the tyres before performance runs”.
Still some practicality
Even though the Supervan 4 is a hard-edged track machine, it’s not without its practical side. It still features a load bay in the rear, accessible through a sliding door. That interior touchscreen runs the latest version of Ford’s Sync 4 operating system. Ford says when drivers want to “take a break from hustling the electric Supervan up hillclimbs and around racetracks to plot a route, find a charger, connect to wifi and make phone calls.”
History of the Ford Supervan
The first Supervan, based on the Mk1 Transit, was rolled-out in 1971, featuring a mid-mounted 400hp V8 engine from a Ford GT40 racing car. Another followed in 1984 with a Cosworth racing engine and yet another ten years later powered by another Cosworth engine, the HB V8 found in Jordan, McLaren, Benetton and Lotus F1 cars in the early nineties. Supervan 3 was retired from public duties in around 2000; until now, there hasn’t been another. Judging by those performance figures, the Supervan 4 hasn’t exactly suffered from lacking a V8.
“The chance to be part of the iconic Supervan story and reimagine what it could be in the 21st century was a dream opportunity,” said Amko Leenarts, director of design at Ford of Europe.
“The fourth chapter of the Supervan story is designed to be the fastest, most extreme yet while keeping the Transit DNA. The proportions are a more dramatic version of what we developed for the E-Transit Custom and the front light bar creates a futuristic expression, making the Electric Supervan the absolute pinnacle of Transit design language.”
Like those that went before it, the Supervan 4 is expected to remain a one-off.