“Did you just put the words ‘badass’ and ‘vans’ in the same sentence?” Yup…and you’ll see why in just a minute.
Just because the vans you see on the road and dealer lots are only driven by flower delivery men or soccer moms doesn’t mean some clever minds haven’t taken them to the extreme.
“Man, I can’t wait until the new Grand Caravan is released, I have one pre-ordered” – said no one, ever. At least no one whose face wasn’t immediately punched by a friend afterward.
But who’s to stop someone from picking up a used Ford Transit and turning it into a fire-breathing beast?
Let’s take a look at some of the coolest supervans ever created.
Transit Center Drift Bus
Holy crap! Created for Rallycross driver Marcin Wicik by Transit Center Motorsports in Poland, meet the world’s first drift van (in case you can’t see video, it’s the one at the top of the article.)
Starting with a used Ford Transit van, they managed to strip the entire interior and give it a full race interior – roll cage, race seats, the whole lot.
Then they took a 400 hp V8 from a BMW M5, tuned it up to 440 hp, and dropped that bad boy under the hood. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
Then a six-speed sequential gearbox was fitted, and to make sure Mr. Wicik didn’t flip over at every turn of the wheel, a full Bilstein suspension was installed.
For more pics and video, check out the Ford Transit Drift Bus page at Transit Center Motorsports.
Renault Espace F1
Created by Renault in 1995 to promote the regular road-going Espace, the Espace F1 actually has more in common with Renault’s F1 cars than the standard minivan. Some of you may remember this being featured in the Gran Turismo 2 video game back in the day.
Featuring a completely carbon fiber chassis and body, the Espace F1 was converted to a mid-engine layout with an 800 hp version of the 3.5-litre RS5 V10 engine used in…you guessed it…their Williams-Renault FW15C F1 car. A six-speed semi-auto transmission and F1-style carbon ceramic brakes round out the upgrades.
Even with all these upgrades, the Espace F1’s performance numbers are shocking. 0-62 mph in 2.8 seconds up to a 194 mph top speed. All from a souped-up minivan made nearly 20 years ago.
Honda Odyssey Race Van
What comes to no surprise is that Honda will be entering the 2013 Pikes Peak Hill Climb. What does come as a surprise is that they’ll be doing it in a freaking Odyssey.
Starting with the standard minivan, Honda dropped in a 3.5-liter V6 with 532 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque, a massive roll cage and racing interior, a racing suspension, 19-inch BBS wheels, and of course tires and brakes to go along with the setup. Standard minivan brakes probably aren’t up to stopping a 532 hp race van.
Ford Transit SuperVan 3
Originally created in 1971 using a 400 hp V8 from the GT40, Ford’s Transit SuperVan has gone through a few iterations, eventually arriving at today’s SuperVan 3.
Built on a Ford C100 race car chassis and special 7/8-scale fiberglass body, the Transit SuperVan 3 sports a 3.5-liter V8 with a massive 730 hp and a rev limit of 13,800 RPM. A fully custom independent suspension keeps all four tires on the ground, while 11-inch Brembo brakes barely fit into the 13-inch OZ magnesium wheels.
But the ‘3’ was born in 1995 and only went through a couple revisions. Ford: think it’s about time to give us a SuperVan 4? We do.
Ford XJ220 Transit Van
This one’s so cool because it’s a complete sleeper, and was developed in secret by Jaguar.
Before the XJ220 came out, Jaguar wanted to test the powerplant for the upcoming supercar without anybody noticing. So naturally, in 1989, they bought a Ford Transit and fitted it with the XJ220’s 542 hp, twin-turbo V6 engine that gets a 0-60 mph time of less than five seconds.
The only thing that could have given it away, if onlookers were savvy enough, were the XJ220 alloys and high-speed tires attached to the van.
You can still occasionally spot this van at various motorsport events and car shows.
Bonus: Virgin Media’s Themed Vans
Although nothing’s changed internally on these vans, they’re still worth a mention. In a marketing campaign a couple years ago for TiVo, Virgin Media made a few TV and film themed vans and had customers vote on their favorites.
Ultimately, the Dukes of Hazzard General Lee van won, with the A-Team’s black and red van coming in second.
The other themes: Starsky and Hutch’s Gran Torino, the Herbie the VW Beetle, Scooby Doo’s Mystery Machine, and Greased Lightning from Grease.
Yeah, it may be a cheap ploy, but honestly, who would you prefer to pull up next to your place – a boring old TiVo van or the A-Team’s van? That’s what I thought.
Did we miss any?
What’s your favorite supervan? Did we miss any?