Autocar’s David Thomas, who was charged with testing Supervan at Boreham Proving Ground, described the cabin as “surprisingly civilised”. A Corbeau racing seat replaced the standard item and the steering wheel was of the type used in the Escort Twin Cam.
Before embarking on his own test laps, Thomas sat alongside racing driver Terry Croker and produced a set of performance figures for Supervan.
“Despite assurances that the engine is safe to over 8000rpm, we chose 7000rpm as our limit,” wrote Thomas. “This gave 68mph in first, 102mph in second and (given enough room) 134mph in third.
"Theoretical speeds of 165mph in fourth and 196mph in fifth are purely academic. Using only two gears, Supervan can accelerate to 60mph in 7.0sec and cover a standing quarter mile in 14.9sec.”
Even more impressive was its behaviour on the circuit, reckoned Thomas: “To watch Terry Croker sweeping through Railway Corner with a front wheel pawing the air is a most awesome experience.
“When my turn came, the butterflies were fluttering… In less than a lap I was feeling quite at home. There is a lot of understeer, especially when using plenty of power on the faster bends. Easing off helps to reduce this, but pressing on even harder is sometimes equally effective.
“Straight-line stability is flawless. The high seating position meant that I could see just where the corners led. It was all most enjoyable.”
Supervan toured car shows, race tracks, dealerships and drag meetings before receiving a Mk2 makeover in 1978. The format proved successful enough for Supervans 2 and 3 to follow in the 1980s and 1990s.
Previous Throwback Thursdays
4 March 1899 - Steam, electric or combustion engine?
14 February 1913 - 100 miles in one hour
8 April 1916 - Making post-war predictions
25 March 1922 - Caterpillar tracks are the future
2 February 1934 - The ethics of skidding
21 January 1949 - Tidier tails
24 April 1959 - Aston Martin enters Formula 1
27 January 1961 - Ford Thunderbird road test
19 January 1980 - Talbot Horizon road test
13 February 1982 - 4x4s tested on the farm
17 April 1985 - Secrets of a lost British supercar
28 April 1993 - BL's unseen concepts
16 March 1994 - Bentley's Concept Java
16 April 1997 - When Bugatti bit the dust
4 April 2001 - 0-260mph in 6.0 seconds
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