TopCar’s top ten vans of all time
1. Iveco Vision
Italian industrial vehicle firm Iveco says its vision for a hybrid-powered concept van is all about renewable energy. Photovoltaic panels on the partially transparent roof help top-up the batteries. Also transparent are the A-pillars which provide increased vision at junctions.
2. VW Bulli Concept
2011 Geneva motor show concept takes cues from the iconic 1950s panel van and camper – hence the two-tone trim and the enormous badge in the centre of the nose. Designed to move six people rather than cargo, Bulli packed an electric powertrain with a range of around 300km. Sadly, the rumoured production version is yet to materialise.
3. Nau Ecco Camper
Hard to believe this electric three-wheeler also takes its inspiration from classic Volkswagen vans. It was conceived as a futuristic camper that transforms into a temporary home upon reaching its destination. Sadly it failed to leave the drawing board which means we’ll never get the chance to laugh hysterically when passing it on the freeway.
4. GM HX3 Hybrid
Launched 45 years after the L’Universelle, the 1990 HX3 Hybrid was designed as an alternative to the family sedan. Supposedly inspired by jet aircraft engineering, it achieved a commendably low drag co-efficient and used a hybrid powertrain that could switch between petrol and electric modes. Still looks like the future 25 years on.
5. Renault Twizy Cargo
Renault offers it in appliance white, but it’s not fooling anyone. The Twizy Cargo swaps the regular version’s rear seat (positioned in tandem behind the driver) for a lockable cubby. This ‘boot’ swallows a scarcely believable 180 litres of champagne and is able to support 75kg of snails. We prefer the F1-inspired racing version.
6. Ford Transit Supervan
Nowadays green vans are in. Twenty 20 years ago engineers took a somewhat different approach. is Surely one of the fastest commercial vehicles ever produced, Supervan 3 rocked a mid-mounted 3.5-litre Cosworth engine good for 480kW while its Transit chassis was made less wobbly by adding an aluminium and composite monocoque. The ideal pizza delivery van, if not the most efficient one.
7. GMC L’Universelle
Not quite as powerful as Ford’s Supervan 3 but the GMC L’Universelle paved the way for the concept of a performance van. It debuted at the 1955 Motorama show with gullwing doors and a host of cues from the Book of 1950s American Car Design. Its Pontiac V8 engine produced 132kW – a lot for 1955.
8. Ford Airstream
Debuted at the 2007 Detroit car show with styling inspired by classic American Airstream motorhomes shrunken to fit the dimensions of a modern crossover. This mirror-finish marvel, powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, is desperately seeking a Route 66 road trip.
9. Citroen Tubik
Citroen is another brand with a long, storied history in vans. For the 2011 Frankfurt show its designers reimagined the company’s classic Type H van complete with porcine nose and rounded cladding. How sad the Tubik will never become a food truck as so many of its surviving forebears have today.
10. Peugeot Food Truck
Never mind, French cousin Peugeot has plugged that niche with its own take on the food truck. Designed by Peugeot Design Lab and dubbed Le Bistrot du Lion, the vehicle is a restaurant on wheels. Once on site, the vehicle spreads its wings to create areas for food preparation, dining and refreshments, as well as a DJ booth. How the French do fast food.