This Ford Transit van is getting an electric makeover and a massive performance boost
Pike’s Peak has seen a number of Electric cars Race for the Cup, from legendary sports cars to electric motorcycles. But there were some controversial performance vehicles gracing the track as well. One in particular is a Ford Transit van that was recently upgraded from the ground up and converted into a “Supervan.”
The high altitude, rapid road changes, curves and thin air of Pike’s Peak have always been a challenge for drivers – especially internal combustion drivers. This makes Pike’s Peak the perfect place to showcase electric vehicle performance. The 1,400 hp Supervan 4.2 was one such offering that surprised many fans and drivers. Popular automotive YouTuber Larry Chen sees what Stard’s amazing modified Ford Transit van is all about.
A closer look at the Ford Supervan 4.2 and its capabilities
Ford Performance decided to push the car further than anyone had ever done, turning it into an electric race car. The Supervan 4.2 showcased superior performance and a design that looks like it was inspired by Forza Motorsport. Even though it’s a truck, looking at it from the front or side offers a completely different story. Its dimensions remain similar to those of a pickup truck, but every element has been designed with the vehicle’s aerodynamics and function in mind.
This, in essence, makes the car a completely unique electric race car, points out Michael Sakowitz, founder of Stard Austria. He worked closely with Ford Performance for this unique design. The 4.2 truck moniker comes from the fact that the 1,400-horsepower monster is the result of a revised design for its 4.0 version; The 2,000 hp minivan made its debut at the 2022 Goodwood Festival of Speed. The idea was not only to meet the specification guidelines for Pikes Peak but also to revise the aerodynamics of the 156 turns and variable winds on the track.
A deceptively good looking truck with all the features designed for performance
The most notable changes include the air ducts, as the team had to completely remove the rear windows and reshape the body. The center channel creates a Venturi effect, further supporting downforce.
They also introduced a much larger and more prominent carbon fiber rear spoiler and front splitter. Michael mentions that while they don’t have to remove the rear wing when transporting the truck, “the front wing has to be removed. But you need special trailers for it. It’s the largest size any car can have, like a Hummer or anything that’s allowed to drive on the road.” “
The struts, prominent spoiler and center duct combine to improve flow to the engine as well as create better downforce. Even the side mirrors are designed to catch wind and help create more downforce when you’re on the road. According to the designer, this feature is particularly useful when racing downhill, as the air becomes denser on the way down and applies greater force upwards.
To understand the true size and perspective of the Supervan 4.2, you have to look at the car from the side. The most obvious feature here is the size of the tires – they appear very small compared to the vehicle itself. However, the tires have 18-inch 325 wheels, so they are really wide.
Even with the introduction of these large wings, the team was able to reduce the car’s weight significantly. However, the modified E-Transit truck still weighs over 4,400 pounds. This car has been revised for Pike’s Peak and quick acceleration time that comes with 1,400 horsepower, all-wheel drive, and improved aerodynamics. All these factors combine to make it one of the fastest vehicles to grace the track.
Naturally, the best driver for the job was Romain Dumas, who was hired to test it. He set a new record for the open category with a time of 8 minutes and 49.682 seconds. However, the record of 7 minutes and 57.148 seconds still prevails, set by Dumas in a Volkswagen ID R Pikes Peak.
Ford Supervan 4.2 Pikes Peak Electric Powertrain Details
However, the Ford Supervan 4.2 is about more than just looks. The main protagonist, a 1,400-horsepower triple, sits comfortably in the back of the truck. It also generates 1,328 lb-ft of torque, giving it the advantage in even the tightest turns. As Michael said: “This is the craziest car we’ve ever made. This truck means serious business.”
The engines are the same as those used in the 4.0 but have been reduced from four to three due to regulatory issues. This allows the Supervan to go from 0 to 60 in less than two seconds. It also has a unique three-engine configuration; One drives the front axle and the other powers the rear axle.
The engines were equipped with a single-speed transmission. It also uses mechanical differences in both the front and rear axles. As a result, there is no mechanical connection between the two axes. “That means you can have the front wheels go forward and the back wheels go back independently, right?” Larry Chen comments.
Michael responds positively, indicating that he could do so if the situation required it. This, combined with the all-electric powertrain, allows the vehicle to maintain consistent power throughout the course, making the truck suitable for the challenging and ever-changing terrain of Pikes Peak.
Having said that, it is important to note that the motors are connected to each other via fixed mechanical shafts. The idea is to allow more precise torque vectoring – even at higher speeds. Looking at the Dumas taking it out of tight curves, it’s clear that the car is quite responsive.
One of the most immediate advantages a Supervan has is its cooling systems. In conventional internal combustion engines, higher altitudes and less efficient air often mean ineffective cooling. This is the main reason why internal combustion engines are likely to fail at Pikes Peak as the finish line approaches.
However, the engineering team at Super Van 4 has designed the channels in such a way that they not only produce more downforce, but also flow through the electric motors more consistently. This keeps them calm and efficient throughout the race.
Inside Supervan 4: A glimpse into its racing prowess
The Supervan 4.2 is a beast not only on the outside and under the hood but also on the inside. There is a roll cage inside to help it meet Pike’s Race specifications. There is also a CCS charging plug inside, but it is removed when racing to reduce the weight of the truck.
Comfort isn’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of sports cars — especially ones as extreme as this one. However, a look inside the Ford Supervan 4.2 is nothing short of impressive. As Larry said: “I don’t think he (Romain Dumas) has ever had that much space in a race car in his life.” Michael confirms this, saying: “Absolutely not. That is what I can confirm. He has already told us that.”
There is enough space to fit the co-driver’s seat as well. There are also features where the vehicle is equipped with a co-driver, leaving room for future activities as needed. Without the passenger seat, there’s actually enough space to take a nap if you wish. Moreover, behind the rear firewall, there’s not much either. “You can do a good weekend trip in this car,” Michael admits.
Now, if only Ford could make its regular Transit vans so exciting.