There was a time during the 80s and 90s when manufacturers built wild concepts in the buildup to launching new models.
By doing so, they created excitement for cars that were typically the opposite of “exciting.”
Those days are gone, but we can look back at the Ford Transit Supervan and Renault F1 Espace with fondness.
Nowadays, performance concepts are expected to be realistic and almost production-ready vehicles that customers can buy – but 20 years ago, manufacturers built fantasy cars for the fun of it.
Ford’s Supervan drew crowds for two decades before, and Renault followed suit continuing to draw attention and fans at global race meets.
They were never intended to be mass-produced, but they certainly raised the profile and appeal of the Transit, Espace, and their respective racing divisions at the time.
While it’s sad that we may never see cars or vans like this again, we should consider ourselves lucky the Supervan and Espace made it onto the roads… and racetracks.
In 1994, Ford used the Supervan concept – now in its third iteration – to promote the new model of the world’s most popular delivery van, the Ford Transit.
Painted in Ford Racing livery, it cut the same silhouette as the then-new Transit – but the similarity to the actual van stopped there.
The fibreglass body was placed atop a Ford C100 Group C sportscar platform and was powered by a mid-mounted Cosworth HB 3.5-litre V8 engine straight out of a Formula 1 car.
This produced 484kW and could take the Supervan to 240km/h.
The vehicle showed up as a promotional feature at many race days and created an endearing Transit fan out of those who saw or read about it.
The photos and video below show you why.
Renault Espace F1
Showcased just a year after the Supervan 3 in 1995, the Renault Espace F1 could not have been more futuristic.
It loosely resembled the original Espace in shape but was more a Formula 1 car than a people-carrier.
Unlike the delivery-van Ford, the Espace F1 sported a full carbon-fibre chassis, four-seats, and a 588kW Renault V10 F1 engine.
This engine could rev 13,800rpm – and was placed where the centre armrest in the second row of seats would normally be.
The Espace F1 would go from 0-100km/h in 2.8 seconds and accelerate onwards to a top speed of 312km/h.
There has never been a cooler van-concept than this, and the sound of it running in the video below is a large reason why.