Go-Fast Technology, Technostalgia

Designing the 1986 Cosworth F1 Engine


Ford Cosworth GBA 1.5 liter turbocharged V6 F1 engine. Click for Largerizer

I was rooting around through YouTube videos, looking for something else entirely, when I came across these videos that I think everyone will find interesting. They’re from the BBC series Equinox and document a part of the early years of the Formula one turbo era. In particular, they follow the efforts of the Ford Cosworth engineers to design and build a competitive turbocharged 1.5 liter engine for the Beatrice (remember them?) F1 team.

This post might be better fodder for Hooniverse, but there are all sorts of technology in evidence that was cutting edge in the mid-80s but is antique junk now. The computer technology for example, is very quaint and brings back memories that I’d just as soon be rid of to make room for something else, like all of the tricks that I used to use for programming and burning EPROMs. Totally useless today.

There are evidently 3 videos in the series of which I could only locate the first two, each about 50 minutes long. The two videos cover the design and debugging the the engines, and I think the last one follows the team’s travails in the 1986 F1 season. If anyone can find an embeddable copy of the third video, let me know and I’ll add it.

[youtube width=”425″ height=”344″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbB1qwhKaaE[/youtube]
[youtube width=”425″ height=”344″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqfVAGOaGEc[/youtube]


  • CaptianNemo2001

    [youtube Ucau77iVndk http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ucau77iVndk youtube]

    For more ancient history and a backstory to Ford and Cosworth. 9 Days in Summer.
    """One of, if not the classic motorsport film Nine Days in Summer is the definitive story of the development of an iconic racing car and record-breaking engine. Design guru Colin Chapman and engine supremo Keith Duckworth came together to produce the now legendary Lotus 49, powered by the fabled Ford DFV which would go on to become the most successful engine in Formula One history. The car went from concept to racetrack in just months and, amazingly, was victorious on four occasions during the 1967 Grand Prix season, including its debut. Nine Days in Summer, introduced by motorsport expert Simon Taylor, charts this extraordinary achievement in comprehensive detail. Incredible full-colour race action from nine Formula One rounds combines with fascinating footage of Cosworth and Lotus craftsmen painstakingly creating these stunning examples of automotive art. The film also allows you unprecedented access to Chapman, Duckworth and legendary drivers Jim Clark and Graham Hill. Nine Days of Summer, from the Ford Archive Gems series, is the ultimate guide to the creation of a motorsport icon and a milestone in motorsport film-making."."" – Stolen from the Youtube description.

  • CaptianNemo2001

    Also, Thanks for showing this. I missed seeing it on Youtube… Got to love engines on the edge of design and development.

    16 mins 7s in "We've had… ah. er. accident"

    I would not mind a wooden DFV for display…

  • CaptianNemo2001

    Does anyone miss just how incredible this stuff is? Its high end, American made, engines winning in motor sports…

    I strongly suggest taking the time to watch all 3 videos and I'll dig and see if I can't find part 3 to the first video.

  • nanoop

    Oh, the engineering on-the-fly! I

    The third part is from 1987, called "Turbo – made to measure", and can be found currently on Youtube, chopped into four parts. http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=turbo

    This "Equinox" series seems rather adequate for atomic toastees, "Future Space Ship" and everything: http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/series/7311

  • nanoop

    Oh, forget the Youtube things – its one of the episodes above, named like the Missing One. I was lured by the introduction into thinking that this is something else. Sorry.