The Future: Cosworth here, Cosworth now

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Cosworth recently teamed up with Gordon Murray Automotive to develop a naturally aspirated, 3.9-litre V12 engine to power the GMA T.50 supercar, which will be the first ever GMA vehicle ever to go into production. 

In case you didn’t know, Gordon Murray was the South African-born British designer who developed the fetish object that is the McLaren F1.There can’t be many other cars in the history of the supercar creed whose latest manifestation has been as vaunted. But when Cosworth collaborates with this man – we might be seeing something close to the real deal – a new McLaren F1. And the original F1 came with a BMW powerplant. Not very ‘F1’ that, was it? The question that obviously has hung in the air in the decades since the original F1’s launch is as follows: what if we could make an F1 with a Cosworth engine? Talk about F1 heritage manifesting in a production car. We doubt that DNA could be trumped.

According to the Cosworth press folks, what the firm delivered was the highest-revving and most responsive naturally aspirated engine ever fitted to a production road car – and the firm was rather vocal about wanting to rewrite the supercar rulebook, a claim many have made but few have executed. Press sources said that the T.50 “would be the purest, lightest, most driver-focused supercar ever built – a spiritual successor to the iconic McLaren F1 and made to the same exacting standard.”

The list of technical highlights listed by GMA and Cosworth is long. Like the McLaren F1, the T.50 has a naturally aspirated V-12 Cosworth engine mounted behind the cabin, a six-speed manual gearbox, and a central driving position flanked by two passenger seats, reached through gullwing-opening doors.

It is claimed to be lighter than a metric tonne. And if that proved to be the case, the T.50 would have a power-to-weight ratio of around 1.5kg per horsepower, – that’s better than the ludicrously vicious McLaren Senna by a factor of over 10 percent.

The heaviest composite component on any car is the engine. And if the GMA was going to come anywhere near its McLaren rivals, it was clear that the powerplant Cosworth would be developing would push the envelope in terms of mass reduction. Along with that it had to have the fastest response time of any engine ever built for the road, replicating the targets set for the illustrious McLaren F1. 

This, in short, would be the highest revving production engine in the world with the greatest power-to weight ratio in the history of consumer-facing internal combustion. 

According to Cosworth press, GMA’s brief also extended to aesthetics and aural experience. Like the totemic DFV engine, it had to look amazing and sound as good as it looked – and of course had to meet the challenge of Century 21’s exacting emissions regulations.

The end result, if the car manages to flex all that promise, is truly incredible and lives up to Cosworth’s unmatched heritage. The V12 promises 663 PS at 11,500 rpm, with a maximum torque figure of 467Nm produced at 9,000rpm. But to ensure day-to-day driveability, apparently 71% of the engine’s torque will be produced from as low as 2,500rpm.

The engine produces 166PS-per-litre. This is a staggering record. And how does it do this? We can only speculate – but one of the secrets must be in the high strength aluminium alloy used in the block – the lightweight steel technology used for highly stressed elements like the crankshaft – as well as the use of titanium for things like connecting rods, valves and clutch housings. Amazingly – all this means that the whole engine weighs in at just 178 KG – which is significantly less than two of your humble correspondents.

We can’t think of a better way that Cosworth could honour its motorsport heritage than by producing the most powerful and light engines in the history of mechanical engineering. And there’s not a lithium battery in sight.