Ultimate Sleeper: Ford Van Has Supercar Heart

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Improbable Ford/Jaguar XJ220 Test Bed Transit Van Terrorizes Hill Climb Events with 640 Horsepower

The term “sleeper” gets kicked around a lot. But we may have finally found the ultimate sleeper in this Ford Transit van. On the surface, it looks like any other basic delivery van used in the U.K. But underneath the surface lies the heart of a supercar, not to mention one great story.

That’s because this humble van was used by Jaguar in the 1990s to help work out the bugs on what was, at the time, the world’s fastest production car: the XJ220. So, the inconspicuous white box received the same twin-turbo 3.0 liter V6 as the Jag, producing 540 hp. You don’t get much more under the radar than that.


But when Jaguar was finished with the van, they didn’t dispose of it. The Transit sat on a back lot for a while, then spent time as a parts hauler for the Benetton F1 team. Finally, Jaguar XJ220 specialists Don Law Racing acquired the van and gave it the life it always deserved.

DLR slapped a set of XJ220 wheels on the Transit, tuned the suspension, and fitted slicks in the rear. The engine makes a healthy 640 horsepower in its current guise, enabling the brick-like van to reach 171 miles per hour. The “Jag Van” regularly competes at the Goodwood Festival of Speed hill climb event.

And watching this thing fly around corners is just as hilarious as you might think. DLR even races the van with various bits attached to the roof, which include a ladder, piping and plywood. The dash mimics the look of a work van as well, with things like a British tabloid and fast food wrappers glued in place.

As serious as people take racing these days, it’s refreshing to see something like this insane Transit blasting down roads. And it’s even better to see such an interesting piece of Jaguar and Ford history living it up in retirement.

Brett Foote is a longtime contributor to Internet Brands’ Auto sites, including Chevrolet Forum, Rennlist, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other sites.

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