At the beginning of the seventies the Ford Weslake V12 was no alternative to the Cosworth DFV V8

At the end of the 1970 Grand Prix season, after the tragic death of Jochen Rindt , the V12 engines in the Ferrari 312Bs of Jacky Ickx and Clay Regazzoni had won one race after the other. And also the opener of 1971 held at South African Kyalami had become the catch of Maranello, this time with Mario Andretti in the cockpit. At that time also the V12s of B.R.M. had showed theirselves being in good shape bringing their drivers Jo Siffert and Peter Gethin victories in Austria and Italy the same year. The screeching and by the use of a lot of titanium ultra-light Matra V12 of the French aerospace group also had looked very promising, the general opinion had been to be a question of time to make that unit also winning.

But 1971 developed in another way most the experts had expected. It became a dominant triumph for the blue Tyrrells of Jackie Stewart and Francois Cevert in their first complete season - powered by the unique Ford Cosworth DFV, that was used by up to 80 per cent of the Grand Prix field. But at that time, the Detroit based Ford Motor Company already had entered the V12-train fearing not being competitive enough for the years to come. With Cosworth being involved in the development of their regular V8, Ford had decided to give the order for constructing their new V12 to another experienced sub-enterprise of great reputation, the Weslake Institute in Winchelsea near Rye at the Southern Coast of the U.K. Weslake had one their first Grand Prix with Dan Gurney in his self-made All American Racerīs Eagle at Spa 1967 in spite the Californian coming into the pits for a quick repair. Weslake also were constructing the cylinder heads for the works 3.0 litre V6 Ford Capris and also the Escort BDA being the dominant touring cars in 1971. The Weslake Institute had become famous all over the world for their research concerning the gas flow within the cylinder heads making these developments stand on a scientific base. For this reason they had got many car manufacturers as their customers for the construction of cylinder heads for road using purposes.

The Ford Weslake V12 was designed in 1971 to become the legitimate successor of the famous Ford Cosworth DFV engine the following years to make Ford stay on the top of Grand Prix Racingīs engine suppliers. The 60° block was made out of light metal being a very strong unit together with itīs magnesium oil tank. As the DFV before, the Weslake V12 was a stiff design enough to be used as a part of the chassis. The cylinder head with four valves per cylinder also was made out of light metal and was a very compact layout. The environment of the engine like the oil, fuel and water pumps, the alternator and the mechanical injection were driven by cogwheels at the front of the engine, not by belt drives as it was known from the Cosworth DFVs and BDAs before. That was one of many reasons, why the V12 was only three kilograms heavier than the corresponding V8 from the Cosworth shop. While the rival V12s of Ferrari, B.R.M. and Matra reached revs until 13 000 rpm the Ford Weslake only came up to a level of 10 500, the same that was known from the DFV.

Fordīs original schedule had been to use the Weslake V12 first in John Wyerīs Gulf Mirage 3.0 litre sportscar in 1972 ; the Worldchampionship of Makes of those days had been under the same engine regulations as Formula One. There also had been rumours, that the Weslake V12 had been planned to give itīs Grand Prix debut in Frank Williams car of his own, later known as the Politoys Ford FX3, for 1973 renamed into ISO Rivolta Marlboro Ford. But both the projects had been delayed and also the Weslake V12 had come too late for the beginning of the 1972 international motorsport season. When both the Mirage and the Williams had appeared at the tracks, they had used the traditional Cosworth DFV. While the Weslake V12 never entered the Williams Grand Prix car (for reasons that are not known), it was tested in the Gulf Mirage chassis, that was driven by Briton Derek Bell and Howden Ganley from New Zealand in the sportscar worldchampionship, in the middle of 1973 finally. But from that time on, not much was heard about the V12 engine looking so promising when being presented to the public.

It must be said, that the Ford Weslake V12 only looked superior to the Ford Cosworth V8 in theory, a thing, that never had been able to be proved on the track. So it was no wonder, that the engine disappeared silently never to be raced in Formula One. Ford concentrated their efforts on developing the existing V8 for more power making this unit worldchampionship winning for further ten years. History repeated, when Ford made another try for constructing a V12 Grand Prix engine nearly two decades later, this time at the Northampton based Cosworth headquarters. Also this project failed with the corresponding V8 engine, this time the HB model, remaining competitive enough to secure the world title in 1994.

Jutta Schmitt


Ford Weslake

3.0 litre 60° V12 engine

2993 ccm

Bore x Stroke: 75 x 56.46 mm

10 500 rpm

455 hp

Compression: 11.5 - 1

Max. Torque: 33.18 Nm at 8 500 rpm

Length: 800 mm

Width: 483 mm

Height: 560 mm

Weight: 175 kg


                                     Keith Duckworth                                                                      Harry Weslake


Ford Cosworth DFV V8



Graphics by project * 2000


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