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Red Bull's V8 Supercar take on Aussie classic Sandman panel van


Project Sandman mixes Holden history with V8 Supercar engineering.

Ahead of this weekend's Gold Coast 600 V8 Supercar round in Surfers Paradise, Red Bull Racing (RBR) Australia have taken the covers off Project Sandman, their in-house take on the old Holden panel van icon which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.

Work began on the Sandman back in April, in collaboration with the Holden Design Department.

While the shape and the name might be bringing back fond - or not so fond - memories of years gone by, the Tribute Edition Sandman is more than a trip down memory lane.

Underneath the evocative, mattress-fitting body, (yes, Red Bull Racing claim it can still fit a short mattress in the back) is a race-spec V8 Supercar.

Sitting on the 888-032 Car of the Future V8 Supercar chassis used by Jamie Whincup during the 2013 season, is the same 5.0-litre V8 engine used by the RBR racer, along with the same suspension, brakes and running gear.

Unlike the V8 Supercars, the Tribute Edition Sandman features paddle shifters on the steering wheel, rather than the floor-mounted sequential shifter seen in the series.

It sounds like a race car, it's faster than our race cars in a straight line

And while the V8 Supercar Commodore runs on Dunlop control tyres, the Sandman's 18-inch wheels are wrapped in Michelin-branded rubber. The different rubber will help dissuade any notion the car could be used for sly tyre data collection.

RBR also plan to upgrade the circa-650hp/485kW race-spec engine to a 5.7-litre V8, once they finish building it, which will give the Sandman 705hp/526kW.

The team say the differences are because they wanted to push boundaries, with Jessica Dane, the team’s Media Manager, saying "we wanted to create a piece of engineering art".

Red Bull Racing driver Craig Lowndes says that car holds its own against the race-trim sibling.

"It sounds like a race car, it's faster than our race cars in a straight line," he said.

Sadly, the Tribute Edition Sandman won't be hitting showrooms. The one-off special will be kept by the team as a promotional vehicle and for use during ride days.

That's unfortunate, because the two 6ftx18 3/4" carbon fibre surfboards on the roof would certainly be a talking point in the beach carpark on a Sunday afternoon.

The stiff, low-slung race suspension would also make nigh on impossible to get the Sandman 'a-rockin', which might detract from its appeal...for some.

Red Bull Racing have no plans to bring a road-going version of the Sandman back to Australian roads, although RBR spokesperson Peter Jameson hopes it "inspires Holden" as the manufacturer moves towards the end of local car production in 2017.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a Supercar take on a commercial Holden. In 2001 Garry Rogers Motorsport - back when they were a Holden-backed team - built a VU Commodore Ute V8 Supercar as a show and ride car.

For now, the Sandman can be seen as part of the Gold Coast 600 event in Surfers Paradise which runs from October 24 to 26.