Hang on a minute, XJ220 wheels on a Ford Transit? That’s a lot of money to have at each corner of a rusty old van. But it wasn’t until I noticed the pipes sticking out the back that I actually realised what I was looking at — 640hp+ of mid-engined Ford Transit.
This is the Transit of Jaguar XJ220 specialist Don Law Racing, and it demonstrates exactly what happens when someone of their calibre mixes work and play.
What we essentially have here is a long wheelbase mk3 Ford Transit with a Jaguar XJ200 engine in the middle, sending its power to 345 section tyres via its hidden transaxle.
Other than the wheels and exhausts there’s really not much to give the game away, but if you’re tall enough you’ll notice a couple of uniquely placed scoops on the roof. Rather than keep a cargo fresh, they provide clean air for the 3.5l twin-turbocharged V6 beneath.
Despite the engine inside, there’s still plenty of load space to hand, something that’s confirmed by Don Law’s son Justin, who says the van has helped him move house twice and has had everything from beds, chairs, plants to his dog in the back of it!
But Don and Justin weren’t responsible for the Van’s creation, that’s an even weirder story, brilliantly told in detail by this article at crankandpiston.com. Essentially, the vehicle started off life as a pre-production Transit before being used by the Benetton Formula 1 team to deliver parts.
A connection between Benetton and Tom Walkinshaw Racing (TWR) eventually saw the XJ220 Transit end up with TWR, who at the time (and under the Jaguarsport name) was tasked with developing the XJ220 in collaboration with Jaguar itself.
Of course, the XJ220 never got the V12 of its development car, and that’s another story altogether, but the blown-V6 that it did end up with was now ready – its chassis, however, was not.
So TWR set to work fitting the engine into something that could clock some test mileage, step in the Ford Transit! Yes, TWR worked to fit the engine and drivetrain into the back of the van, while an astonishing amount of the vehicle including its brakes, front suspension and panels, all remained original Ford parts.
The vehicle was considered something of a myth before one day being spotted by Don Law during a visit to TWR. Don Law’s rapid offer to buy the Transit was promptly refused from TWR, but a bit of insider knowledge eventually meant Law could get his hands on the van.
Basically, TWR had no XJ220 engines left bar the one in the back of its now mouldy Transit. So when Law pretended to be desperate for one the company eventually pointed to the lump in the back of their Transit.
Stipulations of the sale meant the Transit was supposed to be cut up and crushed, but this, thankfully, was not to be. Since then, Law and his team have continued to develop the van’s chassis and engine, upgrading numerous parts for better performance and handling.
There’s a great video walkthrough of the van including footage of it being used in anger, below: