In a greater sense, it was the first engine
of the modern era to take every aspect of
performance and vehicle dynamics into
account from its conception. By looking at
all of its interactions with its users and
tailoring every aspect of its design to fit
those needs, the DFV became the most
dominant F1 engine ever. No frills. No risks.
No flash. Just perfection of the basics.
Beyond its initial impact in the sport,
the DFV’s brilliance extended into its
unprecedented tenure as F1’s must-have
engine. Cheaper and more competitive
than anything else on the market, it was
F1’s default “spec” engine from 1968
through ’ 83. During that 16-year span,
the DFV powered 12 World Champions,
taking Lotus, Matra, McLaren, Tyrrell and
Williams to glory, with greats such as
Jackie Stewart, Emerson Fittipaldi and
Mario Andretti operating the throttle.
With Renault opening the door to forced
induction in 1977, the DFV’s days appeared
numbered, but it survived multiple coups,
taking its final title with Keke Rosberg in
DAY OF THE DFV
At the height of
Formula 1’s FiSA-FOCA
“war,” the 1980 Spanish
FOCA teams Ferrari,
renault and Alfa romeo,
boycotted it. Williams
driver Alan Jones won,
but it was later declared
null and void by FiSA.
’ 82. It would remain in F1 until ’ 85 before
turbos completely ruled by ’ 86.
But the story doesn’t end there, and
updated versions of the DFV would return
to F1 in 1987 for the non-turbo Jim Clark
Cup. After turbos were banned for ’ 89, its
final iteration, the DFR, ran until ’ 91, ending
a 24-year era that will never be matched.
POWER TO THE PEOPLE
items protruding into the airstream. It was
easy to keep cool, allowing designers to
use smaller, more aerodynamic radiators.
It was incredibly reliable. It could be tuned
and serviced by almost any skilled engine
builder, and fostered a cottage industry of
DFV specialists. It spawned F1’s first and
only “kit car” era where the majority of
the grid designed new cars every year to
carry off-the-shelf Cosworths.
It reads like a classic American novel that
starts during the Machine Age, and with
two Indy car engines weaving the central
theme, spans the third running of the
Indianapolis 500, the Depression, both
world wars, the Civil Rights era, Vietnam,
and concludes just after the Berlin Wall fell.
With his name forever linked to the most
durable and lasting Indy car engine ever
built, the origins of Fred Offenhauser’s
“Offy” can be traced back to the 7.3-liter
4-cylinder Peugeot that powered Jules
Goux to victory at the 1913 Indy 500.