Gulf Mirages: A Le Mans win in 1975 vindicated the DFV sports car idea – see page 50. A GR8-DFV also finished second at Le Mans in ’76, run by Harley Cluxton’s GTC team.
Inaltera: Engineered by Jean Rondeau, they raced in 1976 and 1977, but were then replaced by Rondeau-badged cars.
Ligier: A JS2-DFV took second place at Le Mans in 1975. The team then turned to F1.
Rondeau: First raced at Le Mans in 1978, won the French classic in 1980, and struggled on without much success until the mid-1980s.
The records show that DFV-engined sports cars won twice at Le Mans (1975 and 1980) and twice in the Monza 1000Km (1980 and 1982). They also won six-hour/1000km races at Spa (1973), Silverstone (1980), Enna (1981) and Brands Hatch (1981).
From the early/mid-1980s, several DFV-engined cars ran in the C2 class of the world sports car championship, including chassis from Ecosse, Tiga and – most successfully – the Spice SE88C.
Cosworth DFV components at the engine’s 1967 launch
Grand Prix Photo
Egged on by Bill Brown, one of Cosworth’s four directors at the time, DFVs occasionally found a home in powerboats. American Chris Hodges’ DFV-powered catamaran, driven by Jackie Wilson, set a world speed record of 123mph in the unlimited engine class, and later won endurance races by impressive margins.
DFX and DFS – Indycars
Although Duckworth originally set his heart against turbocharging the DFV for racing in North America – Roger Penske asked in 1972 but the project never reached the track – this did not deter the Vels Parnelli Jones team from doing their own thing; to meet USAC regulations, the very first DFV turbo was a 2.65-litre developed by VPJ. Cosworth soon adopted and re-engineered it and re-named it DFX.
The first USAC victory followed for a Parnelli VPJ6 at Pocono in June 1976. Two more wins followed later that year, after which there was an avalanche of DFX successes – not least 10 successive victories at Indianapolis, from 1978 to 1987 inclusive.
At peak, before boost restrictions were in place, a DFX produced 840bhp. It was not until 1987 that another engine got the better of it – this being the GM-financed Ilmor V8 design by ex-Cosworth man Mario Illien.
As a none-too-successful stopgap for 1988 and 1989 Cosworth produced the DFS, a redesigned DFX which drew on the DFR for many of its development details.
Although DFVs were generally thought too expensive and too rare for use in club racing, there were some impressive silhouette Special Saloons on the British scene.
In 1976 Colin Hawker produced an extremely smart VW1600 lookalike, which had Lola running gear and a Cosworth DFV engine under its GRP skin. Dubbed the DFVW, and backed by Toleman before it stepped up to F2 and eventually to F1, this was extremely successful for two seasons. When Toleman withdrew its support, it was retired, apparently broken up and returned to its Lola roots.
DFY – Formula 1
By the early 1980s, even when further developed outside the Cosworth factory – Williams, for instance, had engines modified by John Judd – the DFV was struggling to stay competitive with the 1.5-litre turbocharged F1 power units. In one final fling Cosworth set Mario Illien to make a two-stage redesign: one by combining the DFL’s wider 90mm bore with a new short-stroke crank (revised oil management inside the engine and different camshaft profiles also figured); the other being new cylinder heads with an ultra-narrow valve angle. Definitive DFYs had 22.5 degrees between lines of inlet and exhaust valves (with suitable porting changes to match), compared with 32 degrees for conventional DFVs.
First seen in 1983, this was the first DFV derivative to have a visually different cylinder head/camshaft cover top end. Although it produced about 520bhp this was still not enough to match the latest turbos, and it was short-lived.
Michele Alboreto’s DFY-powered Tyrrell 011 scored the last DFV-derived F1 victory: the US GP, appropriately held in Detroit, in June 1983.
When Illien and his friend Paul Morgan left Cosworth to set up Ilmor, the turbocharged V8 they designed for CART racing had a strong resemblance to a DFY.
With nothing more serious than publicity in mind, Ford commissioned a series of Transit-derived Supervans in the 1970s and 1980s.
The original was engineered – if that’s the word! – by Terry Drury, around a very simple mid-engined tubular chassis and the running gear of a GT40. It appeared in 1971. A replacement did not then break cover until 1984.
Underneath the boxy bodywork, Supervan 2 used the chassis of a C100 and Cosworth DFL
Supervan 2 looked like a current-model Transit, though the vast air scoops in its flanks , big rear spoiler, and noise soon gave the game away. Based on the chassis and running gear of a just-cancelled C100 (an alloy-and-carbon fibre monocoque) its engine was placed where there would once have been a loading floor in a real Transit. The first engine fitted was a 3.9-litre DFL and was rated at 590bhp. Martin Brundle lapped Silverstone’s full circuit in 1min 38sec, recording 176mph down the Hangar Straight.
It wasn’t until 1977 that a DFV-powered Pilbeam, driven by Alister Douglas-Osborn, won the British Hillclimb Championship. After a decade in which small, turbocharged Hart engines ruled the roost, the DFR figured strongly in Martyn Griffiths’ Pilbeam in 1990 and 1991, after which Roy Lane, David Grace and Andy Priaulx used Pilbeams and Goulds powered by one or other of the DFV, DFL and DFR family to win many championships up until 2000.
Michel Ferte in his Cosworth-powered March in the 1986 F3000 championship
Pascal Rondeau/Getty Images
When 2-litre F2 racing died out in the early 1980s, and F1 threatened to become a pure 1.5-litre turbo formula, a large number of late-model DFVs might have been scrapped. This inspired Bernie Ecclestone to encourage the launch of a new stepping stone single-seater formula – F3000 – in 1985. This was for normally aspirated 3-litre engines, and its mandatory 9000rpm rev limit made the DFV ideal for this purpose; it produced about 450bhp at that level. From 1985 to 1990 DFVs were the most powerful and reliable power units, after which Mugen-Honda produced a brand-new V8 which was at once more powerful and much more expensive.
Although no DFV-engined road cars were built, there was no shortage of ‘if only’ proposals. Models, plaster styling studies and paper projects were all that most had to show. These were the most prominent:
Albar’s UK importer annnounced it would build a DFV-powered road car in 1984 – starting from its Beetle-based Jet kit. A good way to use up redundant DFVs, it claimed.
Cheetah, a Swiss-based company, reputedly based a car on a March chassis in the mid-1980s.
That patron saint of white elephants, Frank Costin, built a model of a proposed DFV supercar in the early 1990s.
DFZ and DFR – Formula One
Long after the DFV had become an F1 makeweight, Cosworth produced two derivatives which briefly proved more competitive, though not outright winners, against the last turbocharged engines and the new, naturally-aspirated 3.5-litre Hondas of the late 1980s.
DFZ: A simple update of the DFV/DFY, this 560bhp/3495cc engine was intended as a stopgap, for use in the Jim Clark Cup/Colin Chapman Trophy competitions for naturally aspirated F1 cars in 1987. Tyrrell, March and AGS all bought DFZs for this purpose, and at the end of the year it was Jonathan Palmer and Tyrrell who took those awards.
In 1988 many of the back-of-the-grid teams took supplies of DFZs, but only as an interim measure, as Cosworth had better things in mind for Benetton.