Of MAE’s, FVA’s ,DFV’s…and in part Five…… a lone TC

The legacy of Ford’s hard work and commitment to motor sport in the 60’s filtered well into the 70’S and when, early in the new decade they took their foot off the loud pedal, such was the momentum that saloon car race grids continued almost unchanged. This was even more evident in regional and club racing with Kent engines growing out of the woodwork ….powering all manner of Fords. That was tremendous for the sport and happily, provided a unique opportunity for this writer to get to know the engine that started it all…. by the seat of the pants.


1. Perseverance 1972

Signs of the time….This pencil sketched shot taken at the Perseverance track in Port Elizabeth in 1972 is typical …Eight Fords in the first Four rows.

So much first-class historical info is available on the Ford Kent engine that it would take a Library to house the detail. In fact that library would have to be expanded as the years roll by simply because here we are nearly 60 years after the start of things and the machine is still alive and kicking. To write on this subject might seem therefore to be superfluous….but….here is a more personalised tale….

2. 997 Kent - PDM Clark

The original 997 Ford Kent, nothing special at all. Except in this pic, showing the rather unusual hollow crankshaft.

It’s Port Elizabeth 1972 and the Perseverance Industrial park racetrack ….. Sweaty palms inside those racing gloves for the start of the race & the tacho hovering at around 6000 Rpm. Being unfamiliar with the best way to get the machine off the line, I decided to play it safe and slip the clutch a little more than necessary both to prevent being rear ended by stalling the car ….. as well as setting the machine up amongst the gaggle of starters for the first sharp right hander. There were butterflies in the stomach for a number of reasons, the first most pressing requirement was not to bin this precious piece of machinery …… the other being the anticipation of just being able drive the car flat out in a race.

I got the start done OK, managed to keep my spot in in the pack and rounding the first right hander with the tacho hovering around 7000, kept to the right and floored it in 2nd gear. A fraction delay as the machine climbed onto the cam…..then there was music from a four piece orchestra…now it does not matter whether you are a Johan Strauss or Metallica fan… old Otto was doing a fine job as the tacho zipped passed 8000. The next sequence of events produced the real musical appreciation ….in no time I had to make my first high rpm shift …at 9 grand into 3rd ….. the engine lost less than  1500 rpm, It gobbled up third quickly and again shifting at 9…. into 4th . Looking through that unfamiliar narrow windscreen, the task now was to deal with the fact that I was passing cars at a fair rate and the next right hander at the end of the back straight coming up quickly. Deciding not to be too brave, let a few cars through and shortly thereafter arrived at the turn onto the main straight, again in 2nd , all clear…. so give it the full beans. This time that tacho needle hit 10000rpm and a series of upshifts through the incredibly close ratio box which accompanied the wail of the engine…. this was racing at a different level than I was used to but the heart pounding in my chest was more about the visceral attack on the senses…. experiencing one of the great saloon car race engineering achievements of the 60’s…. and a taste of Cosworth.

As an engine man, this was Nirvana, there was another 500 rpm on the table to be used if I so wished but again did not want to be the guy to miss a gear and lunch the MAE. So for the remainder of the race decided to go as quickly as I could ‘limiting’ shifts to 9500 Rpm and staying out of trouble.

9 more laps of the symphony and finally back to the pits….. detecting a flash of relief on Lionel’s face, his car back in one piece….I had just run 10 laps in the Broadspeed Anglia and become one of a small group to have pedalled the car in a race. So accomplished was the machine that despite my average driving and the need to stay out of trouble, managed not only to bag the class but enjoyed mixing it with cars two classes above.

3. Lionel Rowe Broadspeed Perseverance 1972

Perseverance 1972 – the Broadspeed Anglia on the day ….. driven in this 2nd race by Lionel.

Production Based Racing Engines

Looking back over the last 60 years at the incredible history of racing engines with beginnings  based on humble production car designs, the range involved is substantial, varied and in a few cases…spectacular. Practically every large car manufacturer with the will to go racing has entered the fray with differing levels of success…..and taking a peek at that history, I note the period starting in 1958 as the breakpoint for the ‘horsepower genie’ to have been uncorked from the bottle. Yes there was activity before that and there were manufacturers that moved into this time-window with performance based engines such as Alfa and Jaguar but I am talking about bargain basement cooking variety engines. These were powerplants that no doubt were designed by their originators to do the job of powering mom’s taxi as a first priority… to not cost a fortune…. and have good durability.

There have been many that rose to fame… and….a handful would go on to create an almost cult-like following simply because the basic designs and the environment in which they operated held that bit of magic lifting them above the rest.

There are just three engines that qualify for the ultimate Hall of Fame and which we will cover in special posts…… The original Chevy Small block, the BMC ‘A’ and the subject of this write up, the Ford Kent…..But there was one other knocking on the door, the Renault C. The top three all broke ground in the 50’s and incredibly kept going as production engines well into the 90’s and are still in action today in a plethora of classics as road and race cars.

4. Chevy Small Block
5. BMC A

The other two Hall of Fame Engines…Chevrolet Small Block and the BMC/Leyland ‘A’

That listing will look reasonable to most neutral engine men, with the exception of the Renault C…. and many would rush to exclude that engine perhaps in favour of Ford’s small block or BMW’s 2002 four.  Don’t be so hasty, because the Renault is closest to the hall of fame (despite having a very small band of cheering followers) for a very unique reason in my book…..and that justifies a separate post.

SO….first in line – The Ford Kent and the Cosworth connection.

For those of us who lived through the rise to fame of this 4 cylinder small Ford, I can vouch that it happened as if by magic. We could hardly have realised that we were witnessing one of the great race engineering accomplishments of our time and quite frankly, as a dyed in the wool GM guy, found the whole thing annoying. The fact is that the Kent onslaught on the world of motoring has been ‘bested’, to use a new-fangled expression, by only one engine…. and that is the original Small block Chevy, thus balancing the books just a little. As I have mentioned before, we lived in PE, a city that housed both the big US motor giants and there were few neutral parties…one took sides…. and with performance car pickings for us GM blokes being thin on the ground in the 60’s, we tolerated the continuous Ford water torture, however, as an engineer, carried a respect for the Blue Oval’s go faster activities.

 When the 105E Anglia came to life in 1959, I am pretty sure nobody figured that the heart of this little machine would not only start a tuning revolution in saloon cars that would finally leave a stamp on even the most sophisticated of European brands….. but also form the basis for the world’s most successful Formula one engine of all time. The eight years that followed grew that original measly 37 bhp to 220 bhp in four cylinder form and 405Bhp in DFV V8 form. The ‘four’ went on to hugely more power in the 70’s as the ‘BD’ series and the V8 went on to 512 bhp twelve years after that but yes, it all started with the very oddly configured 997cc four cylinder, pushrod 105E.

Here is the sales blurb from 1959 and, unusually for car marketing folk who normally bluster-on about anything but real attributes, the text for this ‘ad’ used the engine as the focus point….did they know something….?

The Text on the left reads :

“You are looking down on the new Anglia short, short stroke engine with exhaust manifold and carburettor removed. The flames tell you that each of the four cylinders has its own separate porting – a sports car characteristic seldom found on any other light car. Separate porting, large diameter valves mean better deeper breathing – more efficient production of power, more usable power from less fuel, more value for your money.”……Yeah right….if you believe that you will believe anything but this was clearly a swipe at their main competitor BMC, whose ‘A’ engine ran siamesed inlet and exhaust ports and as already noted, the longest stroke of any front line engine of similar capacity.. The truth though, was that in standard production form, the benefit of individual porting and a short stroke configuration was hugely exaggerated…..but….as we would soon learn, both features would be a launching pad for the tuning folk.   That big Bore of 81mm providing massive valve area for such a small engine, with separate porting and short stroke would eventually enable huge power and ridiculous Rpm for those times…..

6. 105E Ad 1

Each of our three ‘hall of fame’ engines achieved notoriety for similar reasons and each, amongst many attributes contributing to ultimate success, have a single feature that provided the ultimate ‘X’ factor. For the Ford Kent it was a single issue…. Elbowroom…..let me explain…. I mention this because the first 105E I viewed in a semi stripped condition was that of the Fitzpatrick/Briggs Broadspeed….and at first glance it looked very odd indeed. To see the motor with the number one piston at top dead centre and piston # two only ‘halfway’ down the bore…is just not normal. In a world where the equivalent 997cc BMC mini engines required a telescope to find the # two piston in the same situation….way down the bore …..one must ask the question…..what in the world motivated the Dagenham engine people to produce a 1 Litre 4 cyl engine with a stroke of just 48.4mm?…..the most oversquare bore/stroke dimensions in history…..and do that in 1959. Here is the irony though….that first 997cc engine in standard form was, contrary to Ford’s advertising, a bit of a ‘dog’ from a performance point of view. At 39 Bhp for the ‘high’ compression version, the ‘ad’ hype could not lift the car above very, very average capability on the road.( 0-60mph took 28 seconds and maxed at 72Mph – 116Km/h) More sobering is the fact that in those days gross Bhp figures were quoted and the below pic of the Data plate shows the real nett power as installed…a whole 32.5 Bhp at 4800 rpm

8. Data Plate 105 E

Nevertheless, we have to give the engineers who put this thing together massive credit, because not only did they plan for longer stroke crankshafts able to run in the available crankcase area (moving from a 3 main to a 5 main bearing design in the process) but cylinder bore centres were also designed with big elbowroom to increase bore sizes well beyond the 81mm stock parameter.  . The original  997 stroke of 48.4mm eventually grew to 77.6 and the bore to 90.4 mm  doubling the engine capacity…….an absolutely unique achievement in the annuls of engine engineering, with the only external dimensional change being the block deck height increase to enable the longer stroke. Cosworth could not possibly have started activities with a production engine of greater ultimate potential.

9. MAE Cosworth Engine Block

ELBOWROOM – The basic Kent Block – this an MAE 997 – The 15mm between bores a masterstroke – ultimately allowing a bore Size increase from 81 to 90.4mm

But that was not my first contact with the 997 Ford…. at the age of around 11, I came across a bright yellow GSM Dart in a Ford dealership frequented by our family in Zastron of all places, the car fitted with the same engine. That must have been around 1959. As a budding petrolhead with anorak tendencies even at that young age….I knew from then on that the South African designed and built GSM Dart was fitted with a Ford Anglia engine. Little did I know, however, that at the same time in a shed in England, two engineers were busy fettling away at that piece of iron.  By 1960 Frank Costin and Keith Duckworth had their 997cc MAE customer race engine (Modified Anglia Engine)  producing 75bhp …….Cosworth engineering were on the map. The long and illustrious history of the Kent ‘four’ as a high power package was on its way.


1959 GSM DART POWERED BY THE 997 Ford 105E

We have already covered what happened with this engine in its basic pushrod form in the road and race tuning world of saloon cars (Fordomination  Parts 1 &2).. so let’s take a peek at what was happening on the Cosworth front…..

In this Post I don’t intend covering the history of this company in detail simply because there are many brilliant accounts of both the history and engine detail on line….but rather keeping the story to the evolution of the 105E. Cosworth started small and grew both in stature and engine capacities. Lets stick with the small engine first. The 997cc (MAE) customer race engine gradually increased in horsepower to a point in 1963 where that 32Bhp had grown to the magical figure of 100bhp at  8000rpm for the F3 version…..’so what’ you may say…..that was the sort of 100bhp/litre  target that fully modified production engines were aiming for in the mid 60’s….and you would be right but…… incredibly, this engine was doing it on a single choke 46 IDA Weber carburettor! With the rules specifying a single choke carb for the formula, the configuration of the Ford was ideal  & the previously popular BMC based race engines were committed to history. The dual twin choke IDF Weber version of that engine produced by Holbay, using the Cosworth hardware, produced 125Bhp at 9200rpm….. the Broadspeed engine used in ‘The’  1966 British saloon car Championship winning Anglia & the machine noted in my opening paragraph.  The development of this engine really maximised the design features built into the production unit by Ford. The most significant departure from the norm by Cosworth was the move to radical cam profiles not previously used in pushrod engines…let’s face it for a production based package to be red lined at 10 500 rpm in the mid 60’s was a huge event in the tuning game.

11. 46 IDA on Downport Cyl Head

How to get 100 Bhp per Litre from a single choke Carburettor – 46 IDA Weber fitted to the downport MAE Cosworth cylinder head

By 1965, Cosworth had built many variations of the Ford pushrod engine for race applications in capacities ranging from the 997 through 1498 and 1598cc, many of the latter built with the Cosworth gear-driven single Overhead camshaft (SCA) version of the Engine at power figures now up to 176Bhp. This package still based on the Ford engine block was successfully used in F2 racing and provided this fledgling Company their first confidence boosting in-house design success. At that point in time, this little operation was probably learning about race engines at a pace faster than any other in the world and were shortly to venture into 4 valve cylinder head tech way ahead of even the established race engine designers, surprisingly with one exception….Oldsmobile.  (please see the Oldsmobile 442 story)

They were soon to be offered a far more significant opportunity.

Lotus chief Colin Chapman wanted a new F1 engine to use in the new 3 Litre formula which had been effective since the beginning of 1966 and in a repeat of a meeting in 1962 in which Walther Hayes, the newly appointed public Affairs man at Ford had called with the idea of Chapman building what turned out to be the Lotus Cortina….this time it was Chapman calling on his friend Hayes, now the Director of Ford public affairs. A very productive dinner resulted in Ford putting up £150 000 for a project to build two dedicated racing engines, a four cylinder unit and the F1 engine. Chapman had already identified his first choice engine builders.

Prior to this, he had approached the Cosworth men to design and build a unique 3 litre (F1) race engine from an open canvass…it could be a V12 or V8. Coincidentally, Duckworth had been working on the next phase of engine development on the Ford four and had already started work on a narrow angle 40° four valve cylinder head as the next step for the Kent. Not surprisingly for the F1 version, Duckworth stuck with the idea of a V8 and not a V12 and had done so after some very reasoned thinking. Firstly the bore-centre dimension of that Ford Anglia based four would allow a V8 derivative to meet the 3 Litre requirement perfectly. Secondly they needed, initially at any rate, just 400Bhp to successfully enter F1 and have some development leg room. Common sense at that point lead to the decision to build the four cylinder Kent four valve and, provided the package could achieve better than 134bhp/litre …they would be in the game with a V8 version of the same basic design

They achieved that…. and the 1600 FVA was born….still using the Kent engine block….. Here was the four cylinder Ford fitted with Cosworth’s new narrow angle 4 valve cylinder head now producing upward of 218 bhp at 9000Rpm in 1.6 Litre form. A reduced stroke 1500cc test engine was built to verify what half a 3 Litre V8 would do…. They achieved 200 bhp+… on the money. The V8 Formula one engine was designed around those Kent FVA cylinder heads, with some port angle changes. Using the bore spacing of the original four cylinder Anglia allowed the 85.34mm bore size for the DFV.  The first full throttle performance run of the new V8 DFV produced 405Bhp at 9000rpm. Job done.

12. 1600 Cosworth SCA

1600 SCA SOHC 176 Bhp

13. 1600 Cosworth FVA

1600 FVA 4 Valve 220 Bhp

14. 3 Litre Cosworth DFV

DFV  V8  405 Bhp

OK you may say, not much from the original 105E Anglia engine found its way into the Four Cam V8…..true, that may be so  in terms of hardware…. but that is not what this story is about. This was a time when the growth of big horsepower could come about through the development of established designs…. and not only through clean sheet radical design departures. Each step of the way from the original 105E was evolutionary and taught the Cosworth men how not only to get to the power figures required but how to keep the engines together….as a matter of interest, crankshaft journal diameters  for the DFV V8 were identical to the 105E.

Here’s the thing though, whilst Hayes had loosened up the £150 000 for the funding on both the FVA and DFV projects he only declared £100 000 to Cosworth as being the absolute development cost for both engines….they achieved it. It is remarkable that at their bidding, Ford developed two championship winning engines, both dominating respective categories and setting new Tech standards for the industry, for an amount that would have been seen as pocket money even in those days. The payback was immense, not only in financial and reputational terms for Cosworth but the racing achievements and branding for Ford. Coming in after the’63 thru ’66 Ford saloon car onslaught and the First of the 24Hr LeMans victories for the GT40 in ’66, this new attack underlined ‘Ford Total Performance’ as one of the most believable marketing taglines in the history of Motoring.

Fordomination in the last years of the 60’s was accelerating, not waning.

The FVA won all Formula two championships from 1967 to 1971 and the DFV winning 12 F1 world championships on the trot from 1968 with the first race win in 1967 and untold numbers of sports car and US oval track victories. The natural progression to the BDA series of engines eventually had this very basic Ford engine block producing up to 260 Bhp in 2 litre form and a further development moving to an all Aluminium version of the BD range in the early 70’s.

The kicker though is the ultimate accolade…..Cosworth had established a new norm in the development of narrow angle four valve cylinder head tech and the big manufacturers were running behind the curve….. BMW is (reliably) reputed to have bought an FVA and used the basic design for their own four valve racing applications. Their most notable development being the 1000+ bhp Turbocharged 1.5 Litre F1 engines based on the 2002 production engine blocks.  Mercedes contracted Cosworth to design the 4v cylinder head for their 2.3 Litre 190 Merc……Serious achievements for a company starting out in a shed with a small four cylinder engine producing just 32 bhp.

At this point and as a lead-in to my next article… Fordomination Part 5, covering the Kent derived 1558cc Twin Cam, we need to touch on just how well Ford then used the rule book to maximise the race potential of their product. By the end of 1967 there was not much left for Ford to dominate in saloon car racing. Successful campaigns in Europe, the UK and South Africa put this manufacturer in an unassailable position. The psychological head butt of that Le Mans 1,2,3….. and another Le Mans win in 1967 had Ford firmly on top of the heap.

The rule book  in 1968 for the UK (and us here in SA) allowed the use of Cosworth’s new four valve FVA in the newly launched Mark 1 Escort Twin Cam, simply because no-one thought to exclude a four valve ‘head on the Kent bottom end (Europen rules were a bit smarter and outlawed the 4 valver). The rapid march of technology had outsmarted the rule makers and whilst being a teeny stretch of the Homologation rules….it was legal. In no time we had gone from the rather portly Mark Two Lotus Cortina racer with a 175Bhp Twin Cam, which was finding things a bit difficult, to a lightweight Escort at 220 Bhp. Power to weight ratios shifted from around 9lbs per bhp to under 7 in one fell swoop. Lap times were obliterated and the FVA Escorts matched the best of the Falcon V8’s. Sounding exactly like an F2 open wheeler, this car became the second Ford powered sedan racer to join the 10 000 Rpm club and opened a new chapter in racing saloon audio.

For the next year in the UK and South Africa two cars dominated proceedings. In the UK it was the red and gold Allan Mann FVA Escort and in SA the Meissner/Gough equivalent. I need, however to make a point that is oft neglected and in so doing put into numbers the magnitude of Ford’s Domination by 1968. If we take the years prior to 1963 (that year being Ford’s entry into activities) the pack leaders were Jaguar and the Kyalami lap record for saloon cars had hovered at over the 2:00 minute mark for some time. Lap times had not shifted massively during this period but by mid- 1963,  the Jags were limbering up to be first to break the barrier in a race….. only to have the new kid on the block, a humble Ford Cortina, do it first with Basil van Rooyen the tuner/pilot.

That was the changing of the guard and one of the most significant upsets in saloon car racing ever. The same scene played out in the UK and Australia at exactly the same time with the Cortina GT bursting the bubble of established saloon car racers around the globe….and what was so special about the Cortina?…nothing startling, except that this was the new trend in lightweight monocoque bodyshell construction and that 1498cc Kent engine. Ford had nailed every lap record on every track hosting saloon car racing anywhere in the UK and SA…with Kyalami as an example…that 2:00 minute barrier in 1963 moved to a 1:41 in 1968. That is 19 seconds a lap…. before the advent of slick tyres…. and whilst the V8’s helped, the Kent engine…. in TC and FVA formats were the primary destroyer of old lap records.

There is lots more interesting stuff to cover on the Cosworth/Kent story and we will do so as we go along… but… at this point we need to digress and touch on the other sibling in the Kent world… the Twin Cam. This was the twin overhead cam cylinder head designed in 1962 around the Ford engine block to power the Lotus Elan. The package was also side-tracked do duty in the Lotus Cortina in 1963. In that application found itself under immediate pressure as a race engine. A fledgling Cosworth had stepped in to help sort out teething problems and very soon this version of the Kent was producing in the region of 100Bhp/litre (160Bhp from 1600, cc) and doing so in top line Cortina racers around the world starting the rise to fame for the TC in 1964 and ’65. By 1966/67 Ford’s range of V8 engined race saloons, the Mustangs and Falcons took the shine off the Twin Cam as the primary race weapon & when the FVA arrived in 1968 the TC’s days looked to be really numbered…or so we thought…

15. Lotus Twin Cam Escort

THE LOTUS TWIN CAM IN THE ESCORT – The Basis for Willie Meissner to develop the most potent TC of all time

…..the rule book caught up with Ford for 1969 and the FVA was outlawed in the Escort both in the UK and SA, leaving racers a little flat footed in having to go back to the now aging 1600 twin cam….. one Willie Meissner thought otherwise and pulled a rabbit from the hat to resurrect the TC spectacularly and produce the most potent normally aspirated TC in history…….

Let us cover this somewhat controversial but fabulous development in Fordomination Part Five.


The Drive in the Anglia sparked a bit of a rebellion……

In the following shot which is Bruce’s full pic of the day at Perseverance, with Lionel in the Broadspeed on the front row…. you will note the Opel somewhere in the middle of the pack. I drove both cars that day. This is typical of a race grid in those times with just one GM product in the bunch. No matter, the Opel did OK with two third places in the 1000 class behind the Broadspeed and the Bram Jeavons Mini. That was the last time I was going to let a Mini beat the Kadett in its class without a good scrap….The drive in the Broadspeed sparked a determined effort to see what could be done with the Opel so….

16. Start Line Perseverance 1972

This – at Perseverance basically a modified road car on race tyres

17. 993 Kadett Perseverence

Turned into this as a proper race car…Probably the only ‘A’ body Kadett built to full group 5 regs in the world & where the silly Homologation docs were ignored and modified on the basis of…. ‘what you can do, I can do’…… so we could take the opposition on…..on equal terms.  More on this in future posts.

18. Kadett Aldo 1974