Cosworth stands as a bright spot in the dark room of British reliability jokes. Mike Costin and Keith Duckworth founded the company in 1958 with the goal of making a living building racing engines. Starting with Formula Junior, the Cosworth team built powerplants that won races. In 1969 the company branched out and began dabbling in road-going motors as well. Here are four of the best cars to feature Cosworth’s magic touch. If you think we missed one, let us know with a comment below.
It was the 1980s, and Mercedes Benz wanted to go rally racing. The basis for its future racer was the 190E, as the four-door possessed efficient aerodynamics and a sophisticated multi-link rear suspension setup. Cosworth was tasked with the engine tuning and built a new cylinder head incorporating two camshafts actuating four valves per cylinder. Audi brought the Quattro to the rally scene prior to the 190E’s debut, completely upending the rally world. Mercedes chose to pivot its plan, taking the tuned 190E to the Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft (DTM) series, where it battled the BMW E30 M3 into the early 1990s.
Ford Sierra RS
Some awesome cars never reach U.S. shores, and the Ford Sierra Cosworth is one of them. The 2.0-liter inline-four was pressurized by a Garrett turbocharger and fed fuel by Weber-Marelli fuel injection. Horsepower output was a robust 204, proving to be enough grunt for a top speed of 149 mph. In an effort to create an even hotter package, 500 Sierras were converted to RS500 spec, providing beefed-up engine internals and 224 hp. Homolgized versions of these hot Fords enjoyed success in both rally and DTM, earning them major victories in Germany, Japan, and Australia.
The Pontiac GTO, Vega Cosworth, and DMC-12 all shared one thing—John DeLorean’s influence. The Vega debuted for the 1971 model year with styling straight off of the 1970 Camaro. The paltry 90-hp base engine, however, left a lot to be desired. DeLorean reached out to Cosworth for development of an engine that would allow the Vega to go racing—specifically in the SCCA “B” production class. The Vega’s 2.0-liter was tuned to 290 horsepower, with a rev ceiling of 9000 rpm. Unfortunately, emissions choked the four-cylinder back down to 120 hp, just 10 more versus available two-barrel engine from the start of the experiment.
Ford's Escort Cosworth joined its performance lineup in 1992, providing yet another example of Europe receiving cool cars that the U.S. missed out on. All-wheel-drive was standard, as were Recaro sport seats, five-speed manual gearbox, and an unapologetic rear spoiler. The Cosworth-tuned engine was 2.0 liters, boosted by a Garrett turbo, and had an output rated at 227 hp. This power proved plenty enough to rival road going competitors from Audi, BMW, Nissan, and Toyota and propeled the Escort to modest racing success in the World Rally Championship. The Escort most recently made headlines when Gymkhana specialist Ken Block clipped a boulder on a rally stage, burning his custom built “Cossie” to the ground.