If you asked a member of the public to the name the most boring, everyday vehicle they can think of, the plain, old, white transit van will be probably be high on the list. Even the white van man needs to get his kicks though. There’s some less plain, faster alternatives that are still available for cost-effective travel, but we decided to look at the real end of the spectrum. These are the fastest vans ever made.
Renault Espace F1
The Espace F1 is regarded as the fastest van around, but it actually has more in common with an F1 car than the humble Espace it’s derived from. It was built to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Espace series in 1995 by legendary French manufacturer Matra. It features a lightweight, carbon fibre, F1-style chassis in combination with a carbon fibre-reinforced Espace J63-series body. The best part is what they put under the hood, though, a 800 hp (upgraded from the original 700 hp because why not?) 3.5-litre, 40-valve Renault RS5 V10 engine, the same used in the Williams FW15C raced by Alain Prost and Damon Hill during the 1993 Formula 1 season.
Ford Transit SuperVans
Ford has a long history of putting very large engines in very large vehicles. It actually goes back to the start of the seventies when they put a 400 hp V8 from the GT40 in a standard Mk1 Transit Van. Reports claim it reached as high 150mph and as a result the first “SuperVan” was born.
We had to wait thirteen years before Ford created the second iteration in 1984, a slightly lowered, fibreglass replica of the Mk2 Transit fitted with a Cosworth DFL engine that reached 174mph.
It’s the third, and unfortunate final, iteration that got really interesting though. It doesn’t outdo the Espace in terms of raw power, but they do win the honour of putting the first F1 engine in a van. To celebrate the release of the Mk5 Transit in 1994, Ford went back to the drawing board and returned with a rebuilt SuperVan 2. This time they’d stuck a 3.5-liter V8 with a huge 730 hp and 13,800 RPM rev limit in there.
Regrettably, these vans were never made available to the public, the Espace resides in Matri’s museum in France and we’re not sure where the latest SuperVan is right now – we can only hope Ford is using it as the template for its next iteration. Looking for even more power? Take a look at the sports cars that rule the auto market right now.