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Ford Supervan breaks another record at Mount Panorama


Ford has claimed the outright record at the Mount Panorama Circuit in Bathurst, Australia, just days after a new record was set at the track by Jules Gounon in a derestricted Mercedes-AMG GT3 race car. Ford’s record was set by two-time Le Mans winner Romain Dumas, in what can only loosely be called a ‘van’.

The vehicle in question is Ford’s latest rendition of the Supervan – a lineage of ultra-high-performance machines that began in 1971 to promote the facelifted Mk1 Transit.

Supervan 1 featured huge slicks, and the running gear and chassis from a Ford GT40 Le Mans racer.

Supervan 1 was built by Terry Drury Racing, and its workaday body concealed a Ford GT40 chassis along with a mid-mounted 434bhp 5.0-litre V8. The giveaway? Flared arches, bulbous Firestone slicks and a top speed in excess of 150mph. Needless to say, this outrageous creation succeeded in generating plenty of publicity for the Blue Oval.

1984 heralded the arrival of Supervan 2, which upped the ante with lightweight components and even more power. Built by Auto Racing Technology, the Supervan 2 was seven-tenths the size of the equivalent production Transit, and was underpinned by the carbonfibre and aluminium monocoque developed for Ford’s stillborn C100 Group C challenger.

Supervan 2’s bodywork was manufactured from a combination of aluminium and glassfibre, and was more aerodynamically stable than its predecessor thanks to underfloor venturi tunnels, an aggressive front splitter and side skirts. Huge intakes were carved out of its flanks to cool the C100’s 3.9-litre Cosworth V8 race engine, which developed 590bhp. All this motor sport technology allowed Supervan 2 to reach a terrifying 174mph at Silverstone in 1984.

In 1994, Supervan 2 evolved into Supervan 3, after spending several years on display at the British Commercial Vehicle Museum in Lancashire. In this guise, the bodyshell was adapted to replicate the appearance of the Transit of the period with a new nose and doors, although the underlying structure remained. Supervan 3 did, however, get a new and even more powerful engine: a 650bhp 3.5-litre Ford-Cosworth HB V8.

This motor was the same unit that propelled Michael Schumacher to his first Formula 1 World Championship with Benetton. The F1-powered Supervan 3 was retired in 2001, but it was revived for the Transit’s 40th anniversary in 2004 with a less extreme Ford Cosworth Pro Sports 3000 V6 powerplant.

Supervan 3 was a development of its predecessor, and was originally fitted with an F1-derived Cosworth V8.

Then, in the summer of 2022, Ford revealed Supervan 4.0 as an all-electric performance machine that developed a dizzying 1973bhp and 1328lb ft – more than all three of its predecessors combined. This ridiculous amount of power was sent to each of its wheels by four electric motors, allowing Supervan 4 to bolt from 0-62mph in less than two seconds.

With 1973bhp, Supervan 4.0 developed more power than all three previous generations combined.

The Supervan 4.0 chassis is a steel spaceframe draped in aerodynamic carbonfibre bodywork that, aesthetically, is a far more radical departure from the production model. It made its first appearance at the 2022 Goodwood Festival of Speed, where it finished fourth.

Ford then developed Supervan 4.0 into Supervan 4.2 for the 2023 Pikes Peak Hillclimb, where it aimed to set a record by completing the legendary 12.5-mile challenge in less than nine minutes, in the Open Class. For this, Ford was required to strip out 400kg of weight and make revisions to the suspension settings, ride height and brakes. In addition, Blue Oval engineers added a comically large rear wing to help generate downforce at the high altitudes Pikes Peak is famous for, and they also reduced the number of electric motors to three to increase the range.

Supervan 4.2 sacrificed power for less weight and more downforce for its Pikes Peak attempt.

The three-motor set-up means the Supervan 4.2 isn’t as powerful as the 4.0, but that didn’t stop it from reaching the summit of Pikes Peak in just eight minutes, 47.682 seconds, and setting a class record in the process.

And now, Supervan 4.2 has another record to its name, after stripping Mercedes-AMG of that Mount Panorama lap record. We hope the Supervan will continue to its successes for years to come.

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