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CATEGORIES (articles) > Engine, Gearbox > Ford Engines > Cosworth racing and the history of the Cosworth engine

Cosworth racing and the history of the Cosworth engine

A Cosworwoth DFV engine in a Ligier JS11

Cosworth is an engine design and manufacture company founded in 1958, specialising in engines for automobile racing. The company was previously a subsidiary of the Ford Motor Company, but is now owned by Gerald Forsythe and Kevin Kalkhoven. It supplies engines for a wide range of motorsport series, including Formula One and the World Rally Championship.

In 2006, two Formula One teams will use Cosworth engines: the Williams team who will use Cosworth V8 engines, transmissions and associated electronics, and the Scuderia Toro Rosso team who will use rev-limited Cosworth V10s based on 2005 spec engines.

Corporate history

The original company was founded as a British racing engine maker, based in Northampton in 1958 by Mike Costin and Keith Duckworth (COStin and duckWORTH). Despite being an independent company Cosworth was supported by Ford for many years and most of the Cosworth engines were branded Ford.

The company has been through a number of owners. United Engineering Industries (UEI) purchased the company in 1980; UEI were taken over by Carlton Communications in 1988. Vickers bought Cosworth in 1990. In 1998 Vickers sold the company to Volkswagen Group, who then signed a deal with Ford, which bought the racing division which had long always made racing engines for Ford. Cosworth Technology (also known as CT) offers powertrain development consultancy, and its patented aluminium casting process is used by several car makers including Audi and Aston Martin. Volkswagen sold CT to the Mahle Group in December 2004.

Cosworth was split in 1998 into two companies, Cosworth Racing and Cosworth Technology. With the acquisition of Cosworth Technology into the Mahle Group, Cosworth Technology became Mahle Powertrain.

In September 2004, Ford announced that it was selling Cosworth Racing, along with its Jaguar Formula One team. On Nov. 15, 2004, the sale of Cosworth was completed, to Champ Car World Series owners Gerald Forsythe and Kevin Kalkhoven, who renamed Cosworth Racing to Cosworth.


Association with Ford

Cosworth has had a long relationship with Ford, which began when Cosworth first started manufacturing racing engines in 1959. These were modified versions of the 1000 cc Ford Kent engine engine for Formula Junior. Cosworth began its associating with Lotus Cars by boring the Kent out to 1340 cc for the Lotus 7. 1.5 L and 1.6 L units were developed in 1963 for use in Formula B and sports car racing, as well as for powering the Lotus Cortina. The final evolution of the Cosworth-Kent, in 1965, was the MAE, when new rules where introduced in Formula 3 allowing 1000cc engines. The domination of this engine was absolute as long as the 1000cc regulation lasted. As Cosworth had some difficulty facing the demand, the MAE was mainly sold as a kit.

A year before, the SCA was introduced, a 1000cc engine based on a Ford Cortina 116E block that raced in Formula 2, and featured the first Cosworth design head. The Cortina engine was also the basis for the FVA, a F2 engine introduced in 1966, for the new 1.6 L engine rules. This engine dominated the category until 1971, and was also used in sports car racing in 1.8 L form as the FVC.

The DFV (Double Four Valve)

Lotus 49 C

In 1966 Colin Chapman (founder and team principal of Team Lotus) persuaded Ford to bankroll Keith Duckworth's deisgn for a new lightweight Formula 1 engine. Cosworth recieved the order along with the £100,000 that Ford felt it adequate to spend on such an objective. The design merged two in-line four-cylinder FVA units (as used in 1.6 L form in Formula 2) into a single 90° V8 engine, thus creating a legend in its own right, the DFV (standing for "double four valve"). This engine and its derivatives were used for a quarter of a century, and it was the most successful in the history of Formula 1/Grand Prix motor racing. Winning 167 races in a career lasting over 20 years, it was the product that put Cosworth Engineering on the map. Although originally designed for Formula One, the engine has been modified to be used in a range of categories.

The DFV won on its first outing, at the 1967 Dutch Grand Prix in the hands of Jim Clark, fitted to a Lotus 49, and from 1968 was available for purchase to any F1 team that wished it. During the 1970s it was not uncommon for almost the entire field (with the notable exception of Ferrari) to be using one of these engines (this at a time when independent wealthy individuals could buy exactly the same engine off the shelf that was also being used by McLaren et al). Most teams just built a tub around a Cosworth DFV and a Hewland gearbox. It won a record-holding 155 World Championship races, the last being Detroit in 1983, powering a Tyrrell driven by Michele Alboreto.

The DFY, introduced in 1982 was a further evolution of the DFV for Formula One, with a shorter stroke and a DFL bore, thereby producing more power, but still unable to fight against the turbocharged cars of the day. It was the advent of turbocharged engines in Formula 1 which sounded the death knell for the venerable DFV, and in 1986 Cosworth returned to the lower formulae preparing the DFV for the newly-created Formula 3000, with the installation of a compulsory rev limiter, which scaled power back from 500 to 420 bhp; the DFV remained in this class until 1992.

In F1, a new DFV-based design was introduced for the new 3.5 L normally-aspirated rules in 1987. The DFZ was produced as an interim model, but in 1988 Cosworth created the DFV's final evolution, the DFR, which won the 1989 Japanese GP with Alessandro Nannini in a Benetton, before finally being replaced by the new HB series. The DFR soldiered on in F1 with smaller teams until 1992.

The DFV has recently been given a new lease of life thanks to the interest in Classic F1 racing, which was given a World Championship status by the FIA in 2004.

DFV variants

Throughout the years, the DFV spawned a number of derivations. In 1968, Cosworth created the DFV's first derivation, a 2.5 L version for the Tasman Series, the DFW.

One of the most successful and longest-lived projects of Cosworth has been its CART/Champ Car engine program. In 1975, Cosworth developed the DFX, by destroking the engine to 2.65 L and adding two turbochargers, the DFX became the standard engine to run in Indycar racing, ending the reign of the Offenhauser, and maintaining that position until the late 80s. Ford backed Cosworth with creating a new interim design for Indycar racing in the late 80s, the DFS, which merged DFR technology into the aging DFX design, but it was eventually rendered obsolete by advancing technology.

While designed as an F1 engine the DFV was also used as in endurance racing, its flat-plane design lead to destructive vibrations putting stress on devices surrounding the engine, especially the exhaust system. Despite this handicap the DFV won the 24 hours of Le Mans twice in its original 3.0 L form. A special endurance version, the DFL, was then developed in two versions: one with 3.3 L and the other with 3.9 L. Whilst the former version soon became known for its reliability, the latter version was a step too far and is remembered as a failure.

The BDA series

Ford increased its association with Ford in 1969 by developing a DOHC 16-valve four cylinder engine for road use in the Escort. Working from the Kent block, Cosworth created a 1601 cc engine for homologation purposes. Running in Group 2 and Group 4 on either rallying or touring car racing, this engine could be enlarged to a maximum of 2.0 L.

In 1970, the BDC evolution received fuel injection for the first time. Two years later, the BDA series was being used in Formula 2, first in 1.8 L format, until reaching a maximum of 1975 cc in 1973, under BDG form, which also received an aluminum block.

The block could also be shortened, starting with the 1599 cc Formula Atlantic engine in 1970, followed by the 1.1 L and 1.3 L variants for SCCA club racing and sports car racing.

In the 1980s, the engine saw its final incarnations, the 1.7 L BDR, used in the road-going version of the Caterham, and the 1.8 L BDT, which powered the ill-fated Escort RS1700T and the more reliable Ford RS200, which was created for Group B rallying. A 2137 cc evolution model was developed by Brian Hart just as Group B was cancelled by the FIA.

The YB series

The YB series was introduced in the road-going Ford Sierra Cosworth in 1985, with 5000 units built for homologation purposes in Group A, both for rallies and touring cars. Racing versions could develop about 300 hp. An evolution model was introduced in 1997 for the limited edition RS500, with power now exceeding 400 hp in racing trim.

Further evolutions of the YB included a reduced-emissions road version, as well as the block used in the Escort Cosworth (which used the Sierra floorpan). The engine stopped being used on new cars in 1997, with the Focus WRC and road-going Focus RS relying on Zetec designs.

Other Formula One Engines

The DFV replacemnt, the HB V8 was introduced with the Benetton team in 1990, and was used exclusively by them until the end of the 1992 season. In 1993 Mclaren took delivery of customer units that were always two specifications behind the works units installed in the Benettons - despite this they won 5 grand prix with Senna that year. It was not until the introduction of the new Cosworth unit, badged as a Ford Zetec-R, that Michael Schumacher won the Drivers World Championship with Benetton, in 1994. This was the last Ford powered F1 title.

Cosworth also developed a 72° F1 V10 for the Sauber Formula 1 team. It was even rumored in the late 1990s that a manufacturer (Volvo Cars was the prime candidate) intended to use a road-going version of this engine in a production car, although this never came to pass.

Cosworth has subsequently made several V10 engines for a number of Formula One teams. The Stewart Grand Prix team used Ford Cosworth CR-1 engines from its first season in 1997. Over the years next years Ford had increased its involvement with the Stewart team, and finally bought the team, renaming it Jaguar Racing for 2000. Jaguar pulled out of F1 at the end of 2004, but the team (renamed Red Bull Racing) continued to use Cosworth engines. Minardi also used Cosworth engines until 2005, often rebadged.

Williams will use Cosworth V8 engines for 2006 and onwards, and have begun testing the new CA2006 2.4 L V8 in November 2005. Scuderia Toro Rosso will use detuned V10 engines based on the 2005 units.

Other Indycar Engines

Cosworth designed a series of replacements for the DFV to be used in Indycar racing: the X-series, beginning in 1992 with the XB. The XF, developed in 2000, was chosen as the spec engine for Champ Car in 2003, and will continue in that role through the 2006 season.

Road cars

Apart from its relationship with Ford, which saw the creation of the Cortina Lotus, Escort RS1600, RS200, Scorpio 2.9i 24V, Sierra Cosworth and Escort Cosworth, the company has developed engines to be used in various production cars, including several from General Motors: the Chevrolet Vega, the Opel Ascona 400 & Manta 400, Opel Kadett and Opel Astra GSi, Opel Vectra and Opel Calibra turbo and the 2.5 L V6 used in the Vectra, Calibra and Saab 900. Mercedes-Benz (with the 190 E 2.3-16), Rolls-Royce, ARO and Audi also benefitted from Cosworth engine technology.

The Cosworth F1 car

Cosworth made an attempt at designing a full GP car in 1969. The car designed by Robin Herd used an original 4WD transmission (different from the Ferguson used by all other 4WD cars of the sixties) and powered by a magnesium version of the DFV unit. The car was planned to drive at the 1969 British GP but it was silently withdrawn. When Herd left to form March Engineering the project was cancelled. The car is remembered by some as one of the ugliest F1 cars ever built.

Summary of F1 engine use

Season Engine Teams Victories Notes
1967 DFV V8 Team Lotus,Matra 4
  • Debut of DFV
1968 DFV V8 Team Lotus,Matra,Team McLaren 11
  • Cosworth powered cars won all but one Grand Prix.
  • Graham Hill won Drivers Championship, 2nd and 3rd placed drivers were also Cosworth powered.
  • The 3 Cosworth-powered teams took 1st, 2nd and 3rd places in the Constructors' Championship.
1969 DFV V8 McLaren,Brabham,Team Lotus,Matra 11
  • Cosworth powered cars won every Grand Prix this season.
  • Jackie Stewart won Drivers Championship
  • Matra won Constructors' Championship.
1973 DFV V8 McLaren,Brabham,Team Lotus,Tyrrell,Ensign, Iso Marlboro,Surtees, Shadow, March 15
  • Cosworth powered cars won every Grand Prix this season.
  • Jackie Stewart won Drivers Championship
  • Tyrrell won Constructors' Championship.
1975 DFV V8 McLaren,Brabham,Hesketh, Tyrrell, Shadow, March,Williams,Team Lotus,Parnelli,Hill, Penske, Ensign,Fittipaldi,Lyncar,Lola,Maki,Surtees 8
1976 DFV V8 McLaren,Hesketh, Tyrrell, Shadow, March,Wolf Williams,Team Lotus,Parnelli,Brabham,WilliamsPenske, Ensign,Fittipaldi,Kojima,Boro 10
  • James Hunt won Drivers Championship
1979 DFV V8 Ligier,Williams,Team Lotus 8
  • Cosworth-powered teams took 2nd, 3rd and 4th place in Constructors Championship
1982 DFV V8 McLaren,Williams, Team Lotus,Tyrrell, Brabham,Arrows,ATS, Osella,Fittipaldi, March,Theodore 8
  • Keke Rosberg won Drivers Championship
1987 Ford DFZ V8 Benetton,Lola,Tyrrell,AGS,March,Coloni 0
1989 Ford DFR V8 Benetton,Arrows,Tyrrell,Osella,Coloni,Onyx,Ligier,Minardi,Dallara,Rial,AGS 1
1991 HB V8
Ford DFR V8
Benetton,Jordan,Lola, Fondmetal, Coloni, AGS 1
  • DFR (final Formula One DFV evolution)'s last season
1992 HB V8 Benetton,Team Lotus 1
  • Michael Schumacher's first ever Grand Prix victory in Cosworth-powered Benetton-Ford
1993 HB V8 Benetton,Team McLaren,Team Lotus,Minardi, Jordan,Fondmetal 6
1994 Ford Zetec V8 Benetton 8
  • Drivers Championship - Michael Schumacher
1997 Ford V10 Stewart Grand Prix,Lola,Tyrrell 0
1998 Ford V10 VJ Zetec-R (Stewart)
Ford JD Zetec-R(Minardi,Tyrrell)
Stewart Grand Prix,Tyrrell,Minardi 0
1999 Ford V10 VJM1/2 Zetec-R (Minardi),
Stewart Grand Prix Minardi (old engines rebaged as Fondmetal) 1
2000 Ford V10 VJM3 Zetec-R (Minardi)
CR-2 (Jaguar)
Jaguar Racing, Minardi (old engines rebaged as Fondmetal) 0
2001 Ford V10 Jaguar Racing , Minardi (old engines rebaged as Fondmetal) 0
2002 - Jaguar Racing,Arrows 0
2003 - Jaguar Racing,Jordan Grand Prix,Minardi 1
2004 - Jaguar Racing,Jordan Grand Prix,Minardi 0
2005 TJ2005 Minardi,Red Bull Racing 0
2006 TJ2006 (V10)- Toro Rosso
CA2006 (V8) - Williams
Scuderia Toro Rosso,Williams - -

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