Cosworth is strongly considering a return to Formula 1. That's a big deal because this English company gave F1 its single greatest engine, the 3.0-liter DFV V8. Thanks to the power of YouTube, we can enjoy its first laps on the track, with Graham Hill behind the wheel of one of F1's greatest cars, the Lotus 49.
Ford—which provided both funding and branding for the DFV—produced a great documentary, Nine Days in Summer, on the debut season for the Lotus 49 and the Cosworth DFV. You can find , but for now, we're going to focus on the short clip embedded below.
The 49's first test was held on May 23rd, 1967 at England's Snetterton circuit, just over a week before the car's scheduled debut at the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort. Hill was the only person around to test the car, as his teammate, Jim Clark was a tax exile at the time and unable to enter the UK.
As the video shows, the test was a remarkably casual affair, though clearly, some of the interactions between Hill and DFV mastermind Keith Duckworth were rehearsed. In any case, Hill went out for a few laps, wearing a quilted vest for warmth, and liked the engine.
"Well, it's got some poke," Hill told Duckworth on arriving in the pits. "Not a bad old tool."
The DFV was small, light, and powerful, producing around 400 hp in its debut season. Crucially, it was also used as a stressed member in the 49's chassis. Lotus designer Colin Chapman wasn't the first to bolt an engine directly to a GP car's monocoque, but he was the first to perfect the formula.
At Zandvoort, Hill qualified the Lotus 49 on pole, and in his first day behind the wheel, Jim Clark took victory. Hill and Clark subsequently took pole in every single race during the 1967 season, with Clark winning four grands prix.
The only thing that prevented Clark and Lotus from winning the championship was the fact that the 49 missed the first two rounds in the season, and three retirements. Still, the 49 and the DFV made one hell of a statement that year.
Amazingly, the engine only cost Ford £100,000 ($130,000 USD), which, , was nothing compared to the Blue Oval's Le Mans budget. Chapman apparently was able to persuade Ford to fund the DFV after he brought the company Indy 500 victories in 1965 and 1966.
Lotus then went on to win the Constructor's Championship in 1968, the 49's first full season. Sadly, Clark didn't have a chance to win the Driver's Championship as he was killed in a Formula Two race in April. Hill took home his second of two Driver's Championships that year.
Lotus had exclusive access to the DFV in 1967, but the following year, it was opened up to the rest of the F1 grid. It remained competitive into the 1980s, powering 155 grand prix victories, 12 Driver's Championships and 10 Constructor's Championships.
And that's just in F1. The DFV won the 24 Hours of Le Mans twice—despite being designed for short sprint races—and its turbocharged relative, the DFX, powered 10 Indy 500 wins.
Knowing that provides a fascinating lens to watch this video. It was a cold, almost quaint day in 1967 for this handful of Brits, but one that marked the beginning of a dynasty.