TVR fired up its new Cosworth V8 for the first time a few days ago - and discovered it had so much grunt that it overloaded the dyno.
Company bosses Les Edgar and John Chasey were visiting Cosworth’s Northampton works to view and hear a prototype of their new car’s Le Mans engine and watch it do a simulated lap of the famous circuit, but barely a minute into the test its torque output so exceeded expectations that the test equipment had to be shut down and reconfigured.
A few minutes later the re-engineered, all-alloy Ford ‘Coyote’ V8 completed its test lap in 3min 40sec - good enough to have made a TVR Cosworth-powered car a front-runner in the GT3 category at this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours.
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Every engine will be hand-assembled in Cosworth’s world-famous race shop, under the same conditions as the firm’s F1 and IndyCar race engines and by the same people.
“We thought about setting up a separate operation to build the TVR V8s,” said Cosworth technical director Bruce Wood. “But it seemed more efficient to make them the way we do all our other engines.”
Wood added that Cosworth might build a separate facility if volume increased beyond about 500 cars a year, but if that happened, the same standards would be applied.
TVR plans to build its car in a number of guises - standard and extra-performance road car, track-day car, Tuscan series racer and Le Mans car -so it is reluctant to disclose the extent of Cosworth’s modifications to the Coyote V8.
In standard form, the engine already appears in power levels from around 300bhp in the Ford F-100 pick-up to 412bhp in the recently launched European-spec Mustang.
However, the TVR engines will get unique engine management, which has been designed by Cosworth to modify the behaviour of the engine’s variable cam phasing, plus a lighter flywheel, a dry sump (both to prevent oil starvation during high cornering loads and to lower the engine in the car) and unique manifolds to suit the cars’ side-exit exhausts.
“We reviewed a lot of engines before making our choice,” said Edgar. “We even thought about bringing back TVR’s Speed Six. I’ve always admired my predecessors for being bold enough to make their own engine. But the Speed Six couldn’t have met future clean-air regulations, so it wasn’t a serious contender.”
One argument in favour of the Ford engine, said Edgar, is that American companies are good at making “bombproof” big-capacity V8s. “We needed an engine with built-in reliability and long life,” he added, “but with enough ‘head room’ for the extra performance we had in mind. It was clear the Coyote could do those things.”
Cosworth, whose relationship with Ford goes back more than 60 years, soon established that Coyote was modern, packed with new technology, quite compact and “not heavy”, not least because of its aluminium block. “We’re more concerned with power-to-weight than outright power,” said Edgar. “Our target weight for the first car is 1100kg, so with the power we already know we can get, we’re on target.”
TVR’s intention is that Le Mans racing will be “front and centre” of its business. The company will reveal and display a version of its Le Mans car at the 2017 race - shortly before it starts selling roadgoing versions of its first model and plans to be ready to compete in the 2018 race.
Edgar and Chasey want the relationship between the road car and the racer to be simple and close. The first TVRs should reach customers in the second half of 2017.