With a little bit of humor and plenty of engineering money to burn, Ford shows just how to stir an audience with a blend of completely incompatible parts. Renault’s done this before, and Ford, perhaps spurred on by the French marque’s success with their radical Espace, brought a Formula 1 motor together with the looks and proportions of a Ford Transit van.
As it turned out, the Supervan 3 was not based off a production Transit van, but it nevertheless used the familiar shape and proportions, albeit with a composite shell draped over a spaceframe body with trick suspension, removable panels, and a very spartan interior.
Of course, the highlight of the outrageous Supervan 3 was the motor. Sitting betwixt the rear wheels, the Ford-Cosworth HB was something every boy with aspirations of becoming a racing driver knows the sounds of better than their own mother’s voice. The V8 revved to 13,000 rpm, displaced 3.5 liters, and made 700 horsepower. It powered Schumacher to his first victories, helped Senna snag his last ones, and gave a slew of struggling teams the chance to run competitively in F1.
Not surprisingly, this promotional tool still draws crowds everywhere it goes. Keen observers will notice that the engine note heard here is not that of a screaming F1 motor, but something deeper and growlier. In the interests of reducing costs and making the Supervan 3 accessible to a greater number of people, Ford removed the finicky and demanding HB motor and replaced it with one of their Prosport V6 engines. This tuned version, sporting a supercharger and more than enough power, is much easier to start and maintain, and doesn’t require a fleet of engineers.
The brickish body and the massive wings keep it planted, but also creates quite a lot of drag. The Supervan 3 tops out at around 150 mph, but does a good job of making audiences giggle before it reaches its top speed.