New Zealand Classic Car - - Kits And Pieces -

Cos­worth’s amaz­ing four valves

Given that even the most mod­est mi­cro car these days will be pow­ered by an en­gine with four valves per cylin­der, it seems ex­tra­or­di­nary to think that, half a cen­tury ago, such a lay­out was con­sid­ered to be ‘push­ing the en­ve­lope’ in Formula 1. In 1967, the rules for Formula 2, that fan­tas­tic feeder cat­e­gory, were in­creased to a max­i­mum of 1600cc. Cos­worth, hav­ing had Ford pro­vide the seed money for a new 3.0-litre Formula 1 en­gine, pro­duced what was es­sen­tially ‘half’ an F1 en­gine for Formula 2.

The first round for the new 1.6-litre cars was at Snet­ter­ton in Norfolk on Good Fri­day, and of the 22 cars that turned up 50 years ago, three were pow­ered by the Lo­tus-ford twin-cam, two had BMWS com­plex Apfel­beck unit, while the bal­ance were mo­ti­vated by Cos­worth’s lit­tle jewel — the FVA or ‘Four Valve — Se­ries A’. They pow­ered Brab­hams, Lo­tuses, Ma­tras, Lo­las, a cou­ple of Mclarens, and a Cooper — and, not sur­pris­ingly, they cleaned up. They con­tin­ued clean­ing up — Mike Costin and Keith Duck­worth had clearly come up with a win­ner, but as dom­i­nant as the FVA was in F2 that year, that was noth­ing com­pared to the main game they had com­ing.

Round three of the 1967 Formula 1 world cham­pi­onship on June 4 was around the track set in the Dutch sand dunes. Zand­voort was such a great cir­cuit it is hard to be­lieve such abom­i­na­tions have been built across the planet, many in the last quar­ter of a cen­tury, when the Nether­lands had the blue­print of near per­fec­tion just sit­ting there. Round one had been in South Africa back on New Year’s Day, and re­sulted in a sur­prise vic­tory for Pe­dro Ro­driguez — his first, but the last for two of mo­tor rac­ing’s most fa­mous names — Cooper, and Maserati that pow­ered it. It was over five months be­fore round two, where Denny Hulme scored his maiden win around the fa­mous streets of Monaco, as recorded in last month’s is­sue.

Dur­ing May, Gra­ham Hill — who had re­turned to Lo­tus af­ter seven years driv­ing for BRM — had put mileage on the lat­est Lo­tus pow­ered by the Ford-fi­nanced Cos­worth DFV (the Dou­ble Four Valve). Hill’s team­mate, Jim Clark, was a tax ex­ile and there­fore un­able to spend much time in the na­tion of his birth — he would there­fore sam­ple this new weapon for the first time in north-western Hol­land. It took some get­ting used to the V8’s abrupt power de­liv­ery, even for Clark, and while Hill put his Lo­tus 49 on pole, the Scots­man was back in eighth. Be­tween the two team­mate were the Repco V8-pow­ered Brab­hams of Denny Hulme and Jack, Dan Gur­ney’s ex­quis­ite and rapidly im­prov­ing V12 Ea­gle-wes­lake, the V12 Cooper-maser­atis of Jochen Rindt and Ro­driguez, and the Honda of John Sur­tees — also a V12. Be­hind Clark came Chris Amon, in the quick­est of the three Fer­raris, while Bruce Mclaren was still in the 2.1-litre F2-based Mclaren-brm back in 14th.

Hill un­der­lined the ad­van­tage of the new car and shot off into a lead, while Clark, get­ting in­creas­ingly com­fort­able, started pick­ing off cars. As hap­pened so of­ten that year, Hill’s car broke and Brab­ham took over — Jimmy ini­tially had trou­ble shak­ing off Denny, but once clear he set his sights on Jack, known as just about the hard­est man to pass — but the Repco

was giv­ing away a lot of power to the Cos­worth and, ul­ti­mately, Clark pow­ered on to record a fa­mous de­but vic­tory, ahead of the two Brab­hams and Chris lead­ing a trio of Fer­raris. The Lo­tus-fords re­mained the class of the field for the rest of the year but Denny pre­vailed in the cham­pi­onship.

Cos­worth’s amaz­ing en­gine was soon widely avail­able, and pow­ered ev­ery cham­pion from 1968 to 1974. It took Fer­rari’s flat 12 to break the run, but the DFV kept get­ting bet­ter and more pow­er­ful. The last ti­tle came with Keke Ros­berg in 1982, and the fi­nal win was in 1983 — 16 years and one day af­ter the first. The re­mark­able en­gine scored 155 Formula 1 wins, but the first of them came half a cen­tury ago this month.

Fun with num­bers

The re­cent Rus­sian Formula 1 Grand Prix saw a de­but vic­tory for the Fin­nish driver, Valt­teri Bot­tas. In terms of achieve­ments in mo­tor rac­ing per capita, Fin­land, Scot­land, and New Zealand stand head and shoul­ders over what­ever na­tion might be fourth. The Finns would edge out ev­ery­one based on the re­sults of their race and rally driv­ers, but we well know that it takes en­gi­neers and me­chan­ics, too, and our con­tri­bu­tion in those fields, as well as be­hind the wheel, means we al­ways punch above our weight.

So get this — Bot­tas won his first Grand Prix and was joined on the ros­trum by a pair of world cham­pi­ons — Fer­rari’s Se­bas­tian Vettel and Kimi Raikko­nen. It was the 22nd time Vettel had fin­ished sec­ond, and the 33rd time Kimi had fin­ished third. Be­fore we move on from such non­sense, Lewis Hamil­ton was fourth — in car 44 …

Men­tioned in pass­ing

Sadly, in re­cent months a number of no­table Ki­wis with mo­tor-rac­ing con­nec­tions have passed away. In the April is­sue, we car­ried a trib­ute to Allan Mccall — Jim Clark’s me­chanic on the Lo­tus 49 that won the 1967 Dutch Grand Prix re­ferred to above — but I would be re­miss not to also men­tion his­toric racer Ivan Se­lak and en­gine guru Mur­ray Bunn — the wiz­ard be­hind the ‘Sid­chrome Mus­tang’ of Jim Richards and Des Radonich. Then, in early May came news of an­other man who was closely in­volved in the early days of ‘JR’ — Bob Mcmillan, who also had huge in­flu­ence in as­sist­ing other driv­ers, in­clud­ing the un­re­lated Dave Mcmillan.

Prob­a­bly less well known was Den­nis Lyon, a South­lander who worked with Ge­orge Begg dur­ing the Formula 5000 era of the early ’70s. Den­nis’ mate Lind­say Kerr told me, “Den­nis be­gan as the odd-job per­son, but his re­spon­si­bil­i­ties grew as his knowl­edge grew. He built his own Formula Ford (the Lyon 1), and raced it with some suc­cess at a na­tional and lo­cal level dur­ing the late 1970s.

“His en­thu­si­asm for mo­tor sport never left him, and one of his last jobs was a re­build of the en­gine of a 1980s F1 car owned by Tony Quinn at his High­lands Mo­tor­sport Park. He rated this as hon­our to have been in­volved, but in his last days quipped that he ‘felt sorry for the poor per­son who was go­ing to have to sort the gear­box out’. Fit­tingly, his last lap was at this same venue, but at a much more se­date speed than he would ever have wished his en­gines to pro­duce.”

Mclaren HQ

For many Ki­wis who in­clude mo­tor rac­ing in a trip to Europe, a visit to the jaw­drop­ping Mclaren HQ is a treat wor­thy of all the an­tic­i­pa­tion you could imag­ine. The ‘vis­i­tor ex­pe­ri­ence am­bas­sador’ is a fa­mil­iar face in the form of Stephen Don­nell — hus­band of Bruce and Patty’s daugh­ter, Amanda. Amanda and Stephen took up their roles in 2014, and it is Stephen’s en­cy­clopaedic knowl­edge of all things Mclaren that vis­i­tors are treated to as they stroll past the line-up of cars on dis­play. Not sur­pris­ingly, the col­lec­tion

in­cludes Formula 1 cars, Can-am mon­sters, Indycars and sports cars — all Mclarens, ex­cept one.

If the car in the pho­to­graphs looks fa­mil­iar, then it is be­cause two of the most fa­mous driv­ers we’ve ever pro­duced raced it — the Austin Ul­ster was Bruce Mclaren’s first rac­ing car, and then a few years af­ter he had used it as a spring­board to big­ger and bet­ter things, it was pur­chased by a young fel­low who went to the same school as Bruce, and idol­ized him while they were still both teenagers — and his name was Kenny Smith!

The sig­nif­i­cance of that car to the Mclaren legacy was not lost on Mclaren’s long­time supremo Ron Den­nis, and in 1991 the car left New Zealand to take up res­i­dence in Sur­rey as part of the Mclaren col­lec­tion — ex­cept it was miss­ing one mi­nor de­tail …

The story is taken up by Brian Rice. Brian’s not in­con­sid­er­able achieve­ments in mo­tor rac­ing in­clude work­ing for both Ross Jensen and Jim Boyd. He re­calls help­ing to clear out a work­shop in New­mar­ket many years ago, when he found an old Auck­land Car Club badge — it was “… as rough as guts” but he hung onto it for safe­keep­ing. Fast for­ward many years, and Brian, by now a life mem­ber of the Auck­land Car Club, is show­ing Stephen around the club rooms.

“He was tak­ing photos and then spot­ted a badge, and I said ‘I’ve got one of those — it would go well on Bruce’s old Austin at Mclaren’ — and that’s where it is, ex­actly as it was when it was found on the floor many decades ago!” Brian re­calls.

The Triple Crown

In men­tion­ing Mclaren, it is timely to talk about ‘the triple crown’ in light of the an­nounce­ment by Mclaren-honda that it would re­turn to In­di­anapo­lis with Fer­nando Alonso in 2017. Only one driver has ever won the triple crown — win­ning Le Mans, the Monaco Grand Prix, and the Indy 500 — and that was Gra­ham Hill. Alonso, who has won Monaco twice, would very much like to give it a shot, and, while he has never been shy about men­tion­ing it, the lo­gis­tics have al­ways been com­pro­mised by the fact that, in re­cent years, Monaco has al­ways clashed with Indy. That was not al­ways the case, but in re­cent decades it hasn’t been pos­si­ble for a Formula 1 driver even to con­tem­plate ‘Indy’.

When news first broke, I felt cer­tain I’d been sent a hoax email, or ‘fake news’ — com­ments such as “This would never have hap­pened un­der Ron Den­nis” were quickly fol­lowed with “or un­der the rule of Bernie Ec­cel­stone”, but not only is it hap­pen­ing; Alonso is do­ing it in a proper pa­paya-coloured Mclaren — not that hue mas­querad­ing as ‘Mclaren re­turn­ing to its roots’ or­ange on this year’s Grand Prix cars. Still, if the Honda-pow­ered Mclarens were even re­motely com­pet­i­tive, no one would even care about the colour, but into the third year of their re­union, they are fur­ther off the pace that even at this point in 2016.

Af­ter the first day’s test­ing at ‘the Brick­yard’, Mario An­dretti stated that Alonso looked like he’d been rac­ing there for 20 years. Alonso, mean­while, thought that the mas­sively wide straights “… when I watch on the TV …” be­came un­be­liev­ably nar­row at 360kph. Alonso will drive for the team run by Mario’s son, Michael, ar­guably the best driver never to win the 500.

That was a time when Formula 1 (and Nascar) driv­ers reg­u­larly ran in the Indy 500 — a time when it re­ally was the big­gest race in the world. A break­away se­ries in the 1990s left an open goal that Nascar gladly marched straight through, and the shine has never re­turned — per­haps un­til now. Alonso is one of the great­est driv­ers of all time, and he will give Indy a fo­cus it could never have imag­ined only a month or so ago.

By the way, among the handful of men to have won two of the ‘big three’ is Bruce Mclaren, who won Monaco in ’62 and Le Mans in ’66. In­ter­est­ingly, how­ever, only one man­u­fac­turer has won all three. Mercedes, Fer­rari, Ma­tra, Lo­tus, Bu­gatti, Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Re­nault, and Peugeot have won two of the three, but only Mclaren has the triple. Of­fen­hauser-pow­ered Mclarens won Indy in 1972, ’74, and ’76, while a Mclaren F1 GTR won Le Mans in 1995, and Mclarens have won at Monaco 15 times. The next ‘win­ningest’ is Fer­rari, with nine. The last time a Mclaren won at Monaco was in 2008, and it is fair to say that if Alonso be­lieved there was any chance this year, he wouldn’t be at Indy!

Be­low: Cut­away draw­ing of the Ford Cos­worth FVA

Above: Jim Clark giv­ing the Cos­worth­pow­ered Lo­tus 49 a de­but vic­tory

Right: Johnny Ruther­ford on his way to win­ning the 1976 Indy 500

The badge on the Austin Ul­ster at Mclaren — photos by Stephen Don­nell

Right: Fer­nando Alonso in his pa­paya Indy 500 ride

Be­low right: Bruce’s legacy — only Mclarens have won the Monaco Grand Prix, the Indy 500, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Photo cour­tesy Bruce Mclaren Trust – Jack In­wood Col­lec­tion

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