Cosworth driving on… Leading power-broker’s 60th is marked in style… Words Matthew Hayward.
Few names carry as much weight in the world of motorsport as Cosworth, and on 28 September the company opened its Northampton factory doors for a special 60th anniversary celebration.
An excellent selection of cars from Cosworths history littered the car park, with big names from the company’s past and present in attendance. Co-founder Mike Costin spoke about the early days, MD of Powertrain Bruce Wood covered more recent successes, and CEO Hal Reisiger outlined the company’s (big) plans.
After Costin and Keith Duckworth founded Cosworth in 1958, it moved to a 39-acre site in Northampton, where it remains to this day. Milestones include the four-valve Cosworth DFVF1 engine (1967), road-going BDA (1969), Indy 500-winning turbocharged DFX unit (1978) and the turbocharged YB engine, which powered the Group A Sierra and Escort Cosworths to many victories. Less publicised successes include the development of a lightweight drone engine for the US Navy in 2014.
Today Cosworth is rapidly pushing into new areas, and is dedicated to exploring battery and hybrid technology, as well as developing a ground-breaking compact Lidar system to be used in autonomous vehicles. It is also able to supply an off-the-shelf electronic system for almost any racing car. Above all, though, designing and building high-performance engines remains at its heart. A new US headquarters in Michigan is building components for GM, while the Northampton line is busy making cylinder heads and blocks for the Honda NSX.
During a factory tour, engineers teased the new Aston Martin Valkyrie engine – the next big project. An aural demonstration of the 6.5-litre naturally aspirated V12 on the dyno revealed a ferocious, high-revving engine that will meet all current emissions regulations.
And what does Mike Costin think of Cosworth, and how it has flourished into the 21st century? ‘I’m surprised! I had no intention of going into motor racing when I started out, I just wanted to get into a car and drive it. Our greatest achievement in my time was that we employed about 400 people in and around Northampton.
‘If you want to stay in business, you’ve got to go with the flow, as it were. It follows that the associated [electrical] technology working with the internal combustion engine is an area worth working in. Which is what they’re trying to do, to integrate the whole lot with a view to getting the best combination.’