Fistful: Cosworth rarities

Cars People Culture

It’s sixty two years now since Mike Costin and Keith Duckworth launched Cosworth Engineering in a greasy corner of London. Since then the engineering firm has provided the connective tissue of some of the world’s finest and most winning sports cars the world has ever known – and has collaborated with a wealth of mainstream brands to make their road-going products growl and twist and go. There’s more to the company than the garlands it won as producer of the greatest Formula 1 engine ever produced. Here’s a small fistful of Cosworth motored cars you might have missed.

Cosworth F1 4WD

In 1969 Cosworth developed a car that was meant to address the ubiquity of four wheel drift in Formula 1. You couldn’t blame them for feeling bold. The company’s wildly successful DFV engine had meant Formula 1 chassis had more power than they could handle. Because of this, traction was at a premium, and 4WD for a moment appeared to be the answer.

Though it’s strange looks integrated all sorts of weird aero, the car wasn’t an attempt to use aerodynamics to improve pace. The whole issue was meant to create grip out of corners. If wings hadn’t arrived in F1 for a few more years, the 4WD Cosworth might have developed into something essential. As it was, aero downforce on the winged F1 cars that arrived around this time gave grip without weight.

With its heavy, complicated drivetrain this car became instantly obsolete. Interestingly, the DFV engine in this machine was fitted back-to-front so that the clutch was immediately behind the driver’s seat, and the output shafts to and from the centre diff were sited to the right of the car, the driver being offset to the left to make way. A strangely beautiful freak.

Chevrolet Cosworth Vega

In 1975,  GM president John DeLorean (ring a bell?) launched a hot, Cosworth-engined derivative of  the Vega, Chevy’s popular two-door fastback. It hit with rave reviews, Yank writers raving about the car’s taut handling and snappy performance. They pitted the Cosworth Vega against all the Euro contenders – including Alfa’s and supremely capable BMW 2002 – and the American won out on top almost every time with a really quick pull away time of seven-and-a-half-seconds and the kind of road handling absent in so many straight-liner American motors.

Under the hood was a 2-litre double overhead cam engine designed by Cosworth. Apparently it squeezed almost 260 BHP out of the block, which was a lot of bang-for-inches at the time. But such a hi-spec car came at a price – almost twice the ticket of a base Vega and only a shade below that of the ‘75 Corvette Stingray. This probably did for it as a long-term derivative and is now rare as hen’s teeth.























Singer Cosworth 911

Singer is a company that specialises in producing immaculately bespoke air-cooled outlaw 911s for the super rich. Their LA-based skunk works is the pet project of Rob Dickinson, former lead singer of the Norfolk pop band Catherine Wheel. Apparently Mr Dickinson had been smitten with 911s since he was a kid and worked briefly for his homies Lotus Cars before focusing on his music – and pretty soon after the band broke up he launched the company.

In 2011 Singer did a deal with Cosworth to provide engines for customer’s builds. It’s difficult to nail how many were produced and if the deal is still ongoing. Singer is not your average car corporation and keeps its business to itself a lot of the time – but the Cosworth collab has been followed by mad hookups with firms as diverse as high end watch artisans Panerai and F1 stalwarts Williams. But we reckon if you choose to have a Cosworth engine in your Singer custom build you’re an individual of style and taste. What better way to spend your millions?

RS500 Sierra Cosworth

The RS500 is a true blue-collar supercar. Launched post Group B Rally, when the thirst for excess in 80s Britain was seemingly unquenchable, this powerful beast is perhaps the ultimate Ford/Cosworth collaboration and is extremely sought after. A six-figure Sierra? Go figure.

In a bid to dominate Group A touring car racing, 500 base RS Cosworths were handed over to Aston Martin Tickford for conversion. The main difference in the new class of Cossie was the uprated engine with a thicker walled block. There was a bigger turbocharger and intercooler, as well as a tricked out fuel pump and cooling system.  There were some aesthetic tweaks too that put subtle but radical finishing touches to the RS500’s stance, with an extra lower spoiler on the tail in addition to the trademark three strutted whale tail and a modified front splitter and bumper to aid air flow.

This is the ultimate car for the badass 1980s estate agent.