The best couple hundred thousand bucks ever spent in racing? That’s got to be Ford’s investment in the Cosworth DFV Formula 1 engine. Bolted to the beautifully sparse Lotus 49, it made its winning debut in the 1967 Dutch Grand Prix and never looked back.
Downtown Motown, June 5, 1983: Milan’s Michele Alboreto wins the United States Grand Prix East. His Tyrrell 011 fitted with a final fling, short-stroke variant of Cosworth’s DFV, this is the 155th GP victory for Formula 1’s greatest engine. Remarkably, it comes almost 16 years to the day since its first.
Sand-blown Zandvoort, June 4, 1967: Scotland’s Jim Clark wins the Dutch GP. His Lotus 49 is tailored to an engine designed to suit its chassis – indeed, form half of its chassis – and Team Lotus and Cosworth Engineering, their combined genius united by four bolts, have changed Formula 1 forever: integration rather than compromise. This is the countdown to that groundbreaking maiden victory.
The governing body confirms F1’s next set of regulations: from Jan. 1, 1966 it will be for (minimum) 500kg/1,110lb cars powered by naturally-aspirated 3-liter – a doubling of cubic capacity – or supercharged 1.5-liter engines.
Coventry Climax announces that it will not build an engine for the new F1; existing customers have 10 months to source an alternative. Lotus boss Colin Chapman, shocked initially, senses opportunity and approaches Cosworth’s Keith Duckworth. Though incapable of working in the same building, they have since 1960 combined to dominate the junior formulae, using modified Ford engines. Intrigued, Duckworth suggests a ballpark £100,000 ($320,000 at the time) for the design and initial development of a 3-liter V8, plus the supply of five units to Lotus and their maintenance for a year.
Chapman’s bids for backing receive only tea and sympathy until his meetings with Ford of Britain’s Walter Hayes and Harley Copp: the former, a pipe-smoking ex-newspaper editor for whom Chapman had written columns, is responsible for motorsport as Director of Public Affairs; the latter, Kansas-born, is a Rolls-Royce and motorsport enthusiast who joined Ford’s recently incorporated UK arm as Director of Engineering and Product Development. Convinced by the Chapman-Duckworth ticket, Hayes’ subsequent proposal at a policy committee goes through on the nod, as AOB: £100,000 is peanuts relatively.
Monday, May 31
Clark’s Lotus 38 scores the first Indianapolis 500 victory for a rear-engine car and Ford engine. Chapman’s stock in Detroit is high, even though he’s ruffled quite a few FoMoCo feathers.
A 3,000sq.ft extension to Cosworth’s Northampton, UK, base commences.
Cosworth undertakes a four-cylinder, twin-cam for the 1600cc Formula 2 rules scheduled for 1967. Based on Ford’s Cortina 116E five-bearing iron block, the Four Valves, Series A (FVA) features Duckworth’s first original cylinder head. He hopes to prove his gas flow theories – four valves, at a narrow included angle (40 degrees), and a flat-topped piston within a pent roof, rather than hemispherical combustion chamber – before turning his attention to F1.
Hayes jets to Detroit to have the F2/F1 project rubber-stamped. He meets no resistance within the operating policy committee. Henry Ford II, more concerned with beating Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans – a much more expensive endeavor than the $320,000 Hayes is requesting – merely wishes him good luck.
Meanwhile, Maurice Phillippe joins Team Lotus as chief designer from Ford Motor Company. An ex-de Havilland aerospace engineer, his self-built, stressed-skin monocoque racer had caught Chapman’s eye as long ago as the mid-1950s. (In a neat piece of symmetry, Phillippe will design Tyrrell’s 011.)
The Ford-Cosworth deal leaks to the media.
FVA generates 208hp at 9,000rpm on a dynamometer. An experimental 1.5-liter FVB version – in simplistic terms, half the proposed F1 engine – will be tested and raced during the summer in the back of a Formula 2 Brabham BT10 driven by Duckworth’s business partner and Cosworth co-founder, Mike Costin.
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