Unless you’ve lived across the pond since the early ’60s, you might not know that Ford of Europe has a long and interesting history concerning race-inspired vans. The Blue Oval has experimented with a handful of variants, in fact. Back in the heyday of the GT40, Ford quite literally bolted a van body onto a tube chassis with a Ford GT40 powertrain and created a super van.
Oh yes, this van was as fast as they come, reaching speeds of more than 150 mph. Now, the question is: why the hell did they do it? To put it simply, Ford wanted to use its super van as means to sell more vans in Europe. The basic philosophy behind this was that Ford could sell a ton of vans if they competed in racing and actually won.
That way of thinking is probably where the phrase “Race on Sunday, sell on Monday” came from if we had to guess, but it certainly works. It’s one of many reasons why you’ll see production cars (albeit modified) racing in events such as the IMSA series or tire cups. It’s a means for marketing, but it’s also a means for super vans, apparently.
The concept behind the super van was so successful in fact, it paved the way for the Transit Connect — arguably the “Backbone of Britain” as Ford calls it — which is a sportier van option available with turbocharged power. Look no further than the second- and third-generation European Transit Connect vans. The latter, of course, is powered by none other than Ford’s proven four-cylinder EcoBoost engine. But remember, the Transit Connect wasn’t the only racing-inspired van that Ford ever built — it’s just the result of the GT40 super van that came before it!