Cosworth Book Details Early Days In London & Famous DFV Engine

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Cosworth The Search For Power 8
release date
May 2017 (6th Edition)
Graham Robson
Veloce Publishing
where to get it

The Search For Power

Cosworth: The Search For Power looks like a coffee table book an astute grandkid might get for pops one Christmas. And, to be sure, Graham Robson’s definitive tome will look great on your coffee table. But as they say, don’t judge a book by its cover.

By now, every gearhead knows the name Cosworth. The British engineering firm was started in 1958 by two engineers, Keith Duckworth and Mike Costin, with ambitions to go racing (hey, they could have called it Ducktin).

More Than Just Numbers

Cosworth: The Search For Power traces the company’s history from its early days to the present, where Cosworth is the go-to consulting firm for squeezing more of everything out of an engine. This is not to imply that Robson’s book is only a dry exercise in statistics, dyno sheets, and production numbers. Although Robson is an engineer, and that’s his specialty, he also has more than 160 books to his credit and knows how to hook his audience with a good story.

Cosworth: The Search For Power is an engaging and human book, with plenty of quotes and stories peppered throughout, both in the main content and sidebars from various luminaries beyond Duckworth and Costin. Robson has good quotes from managers, team principles, drivers, and even the money guys and investment types that got dragged into this business (and actually came out making money).

The book contains photos from the early days of the two main guys working in the aircraft industry (seemingly all British race engineers of the time came out of the aircraft industry) to small shops appended to quaint British cottages and modern-day spaces that look like NASA-run surgical wards. There are also photos of drivers and other famous racing figures, but how did so many successful racers cross paths with Duckworth and Costin?

That answer is three little letters: DFV, short for Double Four Valve.

From Cosworth: The Search For Power by Graham Robson, published by Veloce Publishing.
From Cosworth: The Search For Power by Graham Robson, published by Veloce Publishing. 

The Legendary DFV

Duckworth and Costin’s philosophical approach set the racing world on its ear, going over every last nut, bolt, bit, and screw with a fine-toothed comb. The idea was simple. It wasn’t just about making an engine with all the latest cutting-edge performance techniques (double overhead cams, four valves per cylinder, alloy usage, and so on). Instead, it was about making the DFV Work with a capital W! 

In their hands, the Grand Prix engine went from being a complex series of systems hooked up to an already complicated car to a simple, powerful, reliable unit. Duckworth and Costin didn’t invent the term “plug and play,” but they may as well have.

Now, all an aspiring Grand Prix entrant had to do was design a chassis, buy a DFV, and bolt the durn thing in. It was literally that simple. It was like screwing in a light bulb. No more worrying about the center of gravity and fuel consumption and weight as those were now known values. An engineer could draft up a car, leave a blank spot for the engine, then literally go down to the Cosworth factory and buy one the way you would a loaf of bread. 

Suddenly, it wasn’t just Lotus running the DFV (they had exclusive rights for a season). Now, it was people like Ken Tyrrell and the guys at March Engineering. Pretty soon, 85 percent of the starting grid used DFVs. And hey, if it works in F1, then why not at Indy? Or chop the DFV in half and make a small block formula engine? Touring cars? Rally cars? 

And that’s what Cosworth: The Search For Power is ultimately about. It’s about two extremely clever guys who built a better mousetrap, and the racing world beat a path to their door.

Cosworth: The Search For Power
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Author Graham Robson traces the history of Cosworth, the designer and supplier of the now legendary DFV engine.

Today, Cosworth specializes in various types of propulsion, including batteries, alternative fuels, control systems, and aerospace and marine engines.

Robson, a motoring historian, has more than 160 books to his name.

Worth Every Penny  

Look, this is a great book with loads of info and great photos. If you need the hardcore deets, there are three appendices, one of which lists every power plant the company ever made with a picture of each. Cosworth: The Search For Power would make a wonderful gift for any car enthusiast in your family.

If you are hungry for more great car books, we have showcased dozens of titles as part of our Book Garage series

Longtime Automoblog writer Tony Borroz has worked on popular driving games as a content expert, in addition to working for aerospace companies, software giants, and as a movie stuntman. He lives in the northeast corner of the northwestern-most part of the Pacific Northwest.

Cosworth: The Search For Power Info

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • ISBN-10: 1845848950
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845848958
  • Weight: 3.35 lbs.
  • Dimensions: 10.13 x 0.88 x 10.13 inches
  • Publisher: Veloce Publishing; 6th edition (May 15th, 2017)