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Transit Supervan rides again

2011-04-14 09:02

VERY (SWIFT) TRANSIT: If your company’s delivery driver is a speed demon (and aren’t they all), it is probably best to invest in one of these…

Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Ford
Model SSV
Engine 3.2l turbodiesel
Power 147kW @ 3 000rpm
Torque 470Nm @ 2 750rpm
Transmission Six-speed manual
Ford’s Transit van is something of a performance hero in Europe where frustrated racers (masquerading as delivery drivers) do some amazing dynamic driving with these them in congested Continental and British cities.

Even Top Gear has pandered to the peculiar appeal of Ford’s Transit, the show memorably featuring an episode where Nurburgring specialist Sabine Schmidt completed a flying lap of the world’s most famous racing circuit only eight second shy of the 10-minute barrier.

Suffice to say the Transit, despite its utilitarian nature, has a curious dynamic appeal.

No surprise, then, to find Ford has a history of building one-off Transit concept cars featuring outlandish performance.

Back in 1971 the company’s engineers built the Supervan I based on Ford’s Le Mans conquering GT40 and powered by a five-litre  small-block Ford V8 and capable of 250km/h. Supervan II was another ex-Le Mans car project, this time using the C100 as a donor and powered by a DFY Cosworth V8. It was good for 286km/h at Silverstone.

The madness continued with Supervan III in 1995, featuring pretty much the same 3.5-litre Cosworth V8 Michael Schumacher sat in front of for his first two World championships – producing 480kW at 13 5000rpm.

BIT TOO CIVILISED?

Ford's latest modified Transit is called the SuperSportVan (SSV) and it was built specifically to impress those attending Britain's largest commercial vehicle show, hosted in Birmingham in the English Midlands.

Powered by the same 3.2-litre in-line five turbodiesel we’ll see locally in Ford’s new Ranger soon, the Transit has 147kW and 470Nm driving the rear wheels via a six-speed manual transmission.

The 3.2-litre engine is usually only available in Ford's four-ton Transit Jumbo but for the SSV it wasn transplanted into the (lightest) Transit chassis, a short-wheelbase 260.

Beyond the big-engine, small(er)-van dynamics, the SSV adds a raft of styling upgrades typical of a one-off concept car. There are Le Mans-style classic blue bonnet stripes, two exhausts, side skirts to neaten the airflow at speed, spoilers front and rear and extended wheel-arches housing 235/45 tyres on two-piece alloys.

Ford says the SSV is strictly a one-off but one can’t help buy wonder if indeed there would be a market for a limited production run of hot Transit vans?

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