Autosport International is by far my favorite motorsport show. The selection of cars, technology, and engines is incredible . I’ve been in the motorsport industry for more than half of my life and I always look forward to this event. As most of you know, England is the cradle of motorsport, the center of excellence for racing, bar none. I know this statement may offend some but you know its true. They know how to race in the UK. Autosport International or as it it’s traditionally know to the oldtimers “The Racing Car Show” is held the second week of January in Birmingham England at the NEC Exhibition hall but it’s been going on for years. The show is divided into several sections, engineering, rally, circuit, Karting, etc. with each section devoted to the specialists in that category. The engineering area always features some really exciting products including the latest technology for all levels of motorsport. We’ll take a look at some of the engines found at Autosport International this time.
Nicholson McLaren is remanufacturing the Matra V12. They’ve recast the blocks, heads, the entire engine all for a private collector. Nicholson McLaren was a little tight lipped about who that person is but it really doesn’t matter as long as we get to hear these run again.
As you can see, the Matra V12 has mechanical fuel injection and a distributor type ignition….some of you may need to look that up to find out what it is and how it functions. I think most engines stopped using distributor ignition in the 90’s.
Matra used the 3.0L engine in F1 and Endurance racing in various chassis through the 70’s. It was somewhat successful but could never unseat the Ford DFV.
JUDD also had a few lumps on display. Their V8 is primarily used in sportscar racing. This is their 3.4 L V8 but they offer a V10 too. John Judd and Sir Jack Brabham started the company in 1971 and they’ve won a few races over the years.
The darling of the circuit in 2012 was the Nissan Delta Wing. Never mind the car, the engine is also interesting. Ok let’s get one thing clear, this is not the engine from the Nissan Juke as so commonly mentioned. This is a clean sheet design by RML (Ray Mallock LTD) cranking out 300bhp from 1.6L. It weighs in at only 91kg too.
Carbon Fiber intake manifold and a bank of motorsport connectors means business. Notice the RML logo cast into the block on the right. The attention to detail on a true , bespoke racing engine is always interesting. Take a look at the proof machining on the inside of the alternator bracket and the cooling shroud on the alternator itself.
The crank used in the Delta Wing’s engine is produced by Capricorn. They produce very nice components with many of the top racing teams and a few exclusive production cars relying on them for parts. Notice the lightweight design and bolt-on counterweights. It’s too bad this crankshaft is hidden within the engine.
The use of motorcycle engine in sports cars is becoming very popular in the UK. This Suzuki Hyabusa based engine uses the motorcycle’s cylinder head and cylinder assembly along with a new crankcase and ancillaries. This version is turbocharged and when mated to a sequential gearbox the result is a fierce track weapon. Innovation such as this, is yet another reason why racing is good in the UK.
The Ford BD series is one of the most ubiquitous 4 cylinder racing engines of all time. It was used in all forms of competition from 1969 to 1986 when it was last used in the RS200 Group B rally car. And that’s what we have here is the Ford BDT, the final version of one of my favorite engines. The BDT is either a 1.8 L or 2.1L in evolution trim, alloy block , 4 valve head engine producing 250bhp in road going configuration. It was developed to produce over 850bhp in “full race” mode.. and this was 27 years ago.
Notice the small turbine housing required for fast response and the twin fuel injectors per port required for high power versions. The availability of high flow injectors did not exist when this engine was developed.
Below is a normally aspirated version of the Ford BD, the BDG. That means 2.0L from a 90.7mm bore with a 77.6mm stroke. This engine will find a home in a MK 1 or MK 2 Escort rally car .
And since we are on the Ford topic, the Lotus Twin Cam (Ford based) was well represented at Autosport. This gem was tucked into a Lotus 23B and looks the part with the Lotus script along the cam cover. Parts support for both the BD and Lotus engines is terrific, in fact you can build an engine from scratch using all new parts. Blocks, heads, cranks..everything is available new.
The Ford Duratec family of four cylinder engines continues to be very popular for clubman and mid level racing use. The support for these engines is incredible with a wide range of parts and components allowing configuration of the engine for many applications. This engine can be considered the replacement for the Ford BD series of engines considering its wide spread use and similar power outputs.
One of the most interesting engines at the show was the Aston Martin R17 , 2.0L inline 6 cylinder LMP1 spec unit. The R17 was designed and built by Prodrive for the 2011 Aston Martin Racing LMP1 Sports car. The clean sheet design was engineered around the 2011 ACO regulations in an attempt to minimize weight and packaging so that maximum potential could be extracted from the KERS system employed. Some of the more advanced features of the R17 include a machined from solid engine block utilizing a one piece liner set up. The displacement is 1995 cc derived from an 85mm bore with a 58.6mm stroke. The compression ratio is 12.5:1 resulting on 530bhp at 7250 rpm. Torque is 560 Nm at 6750 rpm.
Notice the 42.9mm inlet restrictor on the turbo. The ACO, the governing body for international sports car racing requires this to limit power output in an attempt to equalize competition. This shot also shows the machining detail on the machined from solid engine block.
The exhaust manifold is encapsulated in a shielding material to contain the heat within the manifold. While this looks like a coating, it’s a bespoke wrap engineered for this particular manifold.
The Renault Gordini F1 Turbo V6 was a 1492cc powerhouse. Producing 900bhp to 1400bhp , it powered several teams in the 80’s including Lotus. Here we see the engine mounted in a 1983 Lotus 94T. The 90 degree V6, named the EF1, ran as much as 5.5 bar of boost. Notice the small turbine housing on the turbocharger, ideal for fast response. Later development of the Renault V6 F1 engine saw pneumatic valve springs employed that later became standard issue in all F1 engines.
And finally, we have a 1924 Austin 7 race engine. The 747 cc side valve engine produces 51 bhp at 7000 rpm on a two bearing crankshaft and features a high lift camshaft, modified cylinder head and forged connecting rods. I think this was one of my favorite engines at the show.
As you can see there is no shortage of interesting engine at Autosport International . Materials and technology continue to evolve allowing lighter and more powerful engines to be developed, keeping racing interesting for all of us. Check back soon for more coverage of Autosport International.