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Thread: Ford Transit Supervan 1

  1. #1

    Ford Transit Supervan 1


    Ford of Great Britain commissioned Terry Drury Racing to build the original Transit 'Supervan', based on their MkI Ford Transit. Supervan was created as a clever market project, to both promote the Transit van, and Fords own sporting prowess.


    Although an original steel Transit van body was used, it was extensively modified. It featured a mid-mounted 5.0 litre Gurney-Weslake Ford V8 topped with four Webers and said to be from a Ford GT40, which was backed by a 5-speed ZF trans-axle and GT40 vented disc brakes and had fully independent suspension. The cross-over exhaust system definitely looked GT40. And the exhaust note is definite GT40 too.


    Performance was pretty impressive, given its obvious aerodynamic handicap and weight. 0-60mph in 7 sec, 0-100 in 21 sec, while the standing mile was achieved in 14.5 sec.


    It looked quite terrifying at speed, with massive body roll, and the inside front wheel would often lift through corners, but as a promotional tool, it was incredibly successful. Unveiled in early 1971, Ford demonstarted Supervan at several events throughout the next couple of years, and it also toured Ford dealerships. Supervan was used throughout the early part of the '70s, then retired. Ford then built Supervan 2, which debuted in 1984, and which itself would be succeeded by Supervan 3 ten years later.


    But what became of the original Supervan? It was apparently road registered in the early 1970s. Ford sold it into private ownership, and in recent years have tried, unsuccessfully (apparently), to trace its current whereabouts. Some reports suggest it does still exist, although there is at least one replica being built, so its possible the replica may have been confused as the real thing.

  2. #2
    What ever happened to the original Transit Supervan? I'd love to know that it still exists.

  3. #3
    Hi Steve,
    there are rumours that it still exists somewhere in the UK,in a semi dismantled state, although I have not seen anything concrete yet. I met Terry Drury while I worked in the UK many years ago, he used to build rally engines for us. He was dodgy as hell!

    I have quite a soft spot for the old Trannys for some strange reason? And am building my own "Transit Supervan" at the moment to use as a tow vehicle. Mk1 Transit,(but a "jumbo" LWB, as opposed to the SWB original) with Territory Turbo (XR6 Turbo) engine. Will have around 400hp, but look bog stock, for added humour!

    Have you seen the Transit van owned by Lord March? It was on Top Gear a few years back. Looked like a standard Mk3 Transit, complete with roof rack. Was originally built by TWR as a test mule for the Jaguar XJ220 Sports Car engine (3 litre twin turbo V6 ~700hp) Heres the clip, bloody hilarious! Start at around 1.20:


    Conrad
    Last edited by conrod; 07-12-2012 at 09:57 PM.

  4. #4
    Conrad, what an awesome idea! I love it! I don't know why more people don't do the same. Its the perfect rig for towing a historic racing car. Do you have any progress photos?

    Yeah I remember that Top Gear episode, although I had no idea of that vans history! That is quite amazing, and explains the wheels, which had me scratching my head the first time I saw it.

    I'd heard the same thing re the original Transit Supervan, that it existed, but was dismantled. I'd assume the GT40 parts are probably long gone too.

  5. #5
    No progress phots, as I really haven't made much progress yet! Bought the van, and a bunch of NOS panels and parts, plus the engine, 9" diff etc. Still collecting parts for it ATM. There are a few Transits around that have been restored and are being used as period rally service vehicles, really nicely done too, mostly running V8's. Quite a movement worldwide in historic racing circles for period transporters/tow vehicles. There is a thread somewhere on Ten Tenths with some amazing transporters that have been restored for this purpose.

    Yep the wheels look a little out of place on the "Top Gear" Tranny, 17" centrelocks with massive widths! Apparently the story was the van was going to be scrapped after the engine testing was completed, but it somehow found its way into the hands of Lord March. (I really like it!)

    I would guess the same re the original Supervan, the GT40 parts would have been first to disappear. Ironically those parts are relatively easy to replace.(if not exactly cheap!) It is the van (or bodyshell) that would be required for an original resto.Very low tech in comparison to Supervan II and III, but had much more character I think (and was the only one based on an original van) The wheels were specially made by Revolution for this project (and apparently all leaked like a sieve!) The track always looked a little odd to me, like the front was much wider than the back. But quite a famous piece, especially considering its very "limited" competition history!

    Conrad

  6. #6
    i recall seeing one at brans hatch around 1995ish. pretty sure it was all f1 beneton underneath. it was pretty cool

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by rogered View Post
    i recall seeing one at brans hatch around 1995ish. pretty sure it was all f1 beneton underneath. it was pretty cool
    rogered .. that would have been Supervan 3

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by bry3500 View Post
    rogered .. that would have been Supervan 3
    Thats the one bry

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by rogered View Post
    Thats the one bry
    It still amazes me that some numbnuts at Ford asked/required/approved/whatever that the 3.9 DFL engine be removed and be replaced by a poxy V6 - AAAARRRRR!

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by conrod View Post
    It still amazes me that some numbnuts at Ford asked/required/approved/whatever that the 3.9 DFL engine be removed and be replaced by a poxy V6 - AAAARRRRR!
    may be its to make it more Aurthentic. They were never sold with a v8, but i think they were v6 powered. Be greatfull they didnt re-power with a V4

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by conrod View Post
    No progress phots, as I really haven't made much progress yet! Bought the van, and a bunch of NOS panels and parts, plus the engine, 9" diff etc. Still collecting parts for it ATM. There are a few Transits around that have been restored and are being used as period rally service vehicles, really nicely done too, mostly running V8's. Quite a movement worldwide in historic racing circles for period transporters/tow vehicles. There is a thread somewhere on Ten Tenths with some amazing transporters that have been restored for this purpose.

    Yep the wheels look a little out of place on the "Top Gear" Tranny, 17" centrelocks with massive widths! Apparently the story was the van was going to be scrapped after the engine testing was completed, but it somehow found its way into the hands of Lord March. (I really like it!)

    I would guess the same re the original Supervan, the GT40 parts would have been first to disappear. Ironically those parts are relatively easy to replace.(if not exactly cheap!) It is the van (or bodyshell) that would be required for an original resto.Very low tech in comparison to Supervan II and III, but had much more character I think (and was the only one based on an original van) The wheels were specially made by Revolution for this project (and apparently all leaked like a sieve!) The track always looked a little odd to me, like the front was much wider than the back. But quite a famous piece, especially considering its very "limited" competition history!

    Conrad
    Keep us posted as you progress with your Supervan Conrad. What a great project! Yes, there is huge interest in old and interesting transporters. Some of these were absolute works of art, particularly those used in Europe. They were as interesting as the cars they carried. Classic & Sports Car did a recent article on some of these which was interesting.

    Re the original Transit Supervan, yes I'd found the track to be slightly odd too. I guess there just wasn't the room to move the front wheels inwards at all, hence the wheels sticking so far out of the bodywork, while the rear GT40 set-up was much narrower. Made the vehicle just that much more whacky, which I guess added to its charm. The body roll at speed looks alarming though, the driver would have required a quick dose of brave pills before each run.

  12. #12
    spotted at Hampton Downs last weekend:


  13. #13
    World Champion ERC's Avatar
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    I saw that too, but what lurks underneath?

    The original concept was brilliant and a real crowd pleaser. I ran the Nottingham Sports Car Club's (standard) Transit van for a short time and I was stunned to find that it coped with a snow covered hill somewhat better than many (abandoned) saloon cars, so stuffing a race V8 in it would have been a hoot!

  14. #14
    Semi-Pro Racer Spgeti's Avatar
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    Yes, I saw it as well along with a couple of other Transit vans there. Very nice.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by ERC View Post
    I saw that too, but what lurks underneath?
    It has a fairly large capacity fuel injected V6 in it, of undisclosed origin. Goes rather well too

    Pic from the other side, the Masport van has a 302 in it



    Last edited by conrod; 11-03-2015 at 08:58 PM.

  16. #16
    Wow, those both look really great! Its funny, those things used to be everywhere, nobody ever gave them a second glance. Now its so rare to see one, and it really makes people happy when they do.

    My father bought a brand new MkI Transit van from Brown Brothers Ford in Pahiatua (now Hoffman Ford). He ordered one with the V6 in it, so it had the protruding nose. I still remember going with him as a wee bloke to go pick it up.

  17. #17
    you guys know that Renault did a similar thing with an espace. put a F1 chassis with a V10 in it. Prost demonstated it a couple of times

  18. #18
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    I've probably done a dozen or so transit repowers, a few memorable ones stand out, one a brand spanking cab /chassis for the local Ford Dealers with a 250 x-flow that needed a firewall recess along with the extended front ( I presume it got a ford 12/12 warranty being new ) , also a 400 chev one for Tullochs rally car tow vehicle, several for plumbers/shearers work vans. Had one with a 250 falcon for a tow vehicle myself that I ran in a flying lap at Teretonga after clutch let go in the Cortina, never again, it spent most of the lap on two wheels trying to fall over. Diff ratios were poor for V8's, but I found a Falcon diff with same axle splines as Transit, so cut bearing carriers off falcon diff and slide the transit axles and tubes over the falcon ones- great ratio & keep transit floating hubs & stud pattern... job done!

  19. #19
    I know a guy that has / had a Transit van, the same model as the Masport one above. This guys' one has a V8 in it, and he uses it as his rally car service van. I serviced crewed for him once at a rally around Tauranga way, going down there with the van chock a block with gear and 4 guys, and the BDA Escort on the trailer behind, the van went up every hill like it was empty and no trailer on the back.
    Don't know if it was the heat from the engine, the vents were blocked, of the heater / blower was just useless, but the windscreen was fogged up the whole way there - of course it was raining, we were on our way to play in the mud for the weekend!!

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by JAFA View Post
    I know a guy that has / had a Transit van, the same model as the Masport one above. This guys' one has a V8 in it, and he uses it as his rally car service van. I serviced crewed for him once at a rally around Tauranga way, going down there with the van chock a block with gear and 4 guys, and the BDA Escort on the trailer behind, the van went up every hill like it was empty and no trailer on the back.
    Don't know if it was the heat from the engine, the vents were blocked, of the heater / blower was just useless, but the windscreen was fogged up the whole way there - of course it was raining, we were on our way to play in the mud for the weekend!!
    this one?


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