Since it was formed in 1958 by Mike Costin and Keith Duckworth, Cosworth has become the most successful independent engine manufacturer in history as well as one of the market leaders in performance electronics, with a string of driver and manufacturer titles to its credit in a wide range of formulae with impressive performances in Formula One, IndyCar, Champ Car, WRC, sportscars and MotoGP.
In The Beginning
Cosworth began life in a small workshop in London in 1958. However, things quickly grew and a move to larger premises was soon required. The company moved to north London, where it began working on the development of the Ford 105E engine. Cosworth actually achieved its first victory when Jim Clark took a win in the Formula Junior category in his Lotus 18 at Goodwood in 1960.
The Classic Motorsport Era
In 1964, the company moved to Northampton where bigger prospects were around the corner. In 1966, Duckworth signed a contract with Ford to develop a new three-litre Formula One engine, and the legendary DFV was born. It got its first taste of victory in 1967, when Jim Clark again provided the maiden victory at the Dutch Grand Prix.
The DFV, in subsequent development guises, went on to dominate the sport for 15 years and clinched 155 race wins during that time.
A host of famous names benefited from Costin and Duckworth's approach in Formula One. Jackie Stewart, Emerson Fittipaldi, Mario Andretti, James Hunt and Nelson Piquet all took championships using Cosworth engines during the 1970s.
This period of sustained dominance in Formula One played a key part in making Cosworth a major name in motor racing around the world and a favorite with fans.
The 1980s & 1990s
Cosworth's success continued through the 1980's and 1990's in a range of championships around the world. The Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworth and XG V6 powered Mondeo both won the World Touring Car Championship and the Zetec-V8 F1 engine powered Michael Schumacher to his first world championship title.
In North America the DFX and XB engines dominated the CART/Indy formula leading to Cosworth receiving the Queen's Award for Export achievement in both 1986 and 1992.
The Birth Of Motorsport Electronics
This same period witnessed the spectacular growth of motorsport electronics and the establishment of data recording (or logging) and analyses as a cornerstone of modern high performance motorsport .In 1987 Cosworth's electronics division was founded by
Tony Purnell under the name Pi Research. The company initially focused on providing electronic instrumentation for race teams and racecar manufacturers wanting to improve the quality of their data from wind tunnel testing. The extension from wind tunnel data gathering instrumentation to on-car data acquisition systems was the natural progression - and the Pi Research "Black Box" was born.
Used extensively in the North American IndyCar Championship, the Pi Research Black Box was the first electronic dash display and combined data logger to be used in professional motor sport. The success of the product in allowing teams to analyses performance parameters of the car, engine and chassis, as well as providing clear, accurate information for the driver marked a turning point in race car technology and defined the future for motorsport.
Following rapid expansion and several relocations, 1998 saw Cosworth's electronic division move to its current home - a purpose-designed facility just north of Cambridge in the UK. At this time Pi Research acquired Pectel Control Systems to complement its data acquisition technologies with world-class engine and chassis controllers.
The Ford Years
Cosworth and Pi Research were bought by Ford in 1998 and the companies became works engine and electronics suppliers to the Stewart Grand Prix Formula One team and its successor - Jaguar Racing.
Cosworth and Pi Research also supplied engine and electronics solutions to Ford for its highly successful campaign in the World Rally Championship providing power and performance to legendary names in the sport including Colin McRae and Carlos Sainz.
In North America, 2003 saw the introduction of two new Cosworth engines for open wheel racing.
The Cosworth XG engine for Chevrolet in IRL Indycar, and the Cosworth XF, which was adopted as the specification engine for the Champ Car World Series.
Sister company in Ford's Premier Performance Division, Pi Research supplied the complete set of car electronics to both IRL IndyCar and the Champ Car World Series.
Success also continued in the wider business arena for Cosworth and in 2003 the business was voted the Motorsport Industry Association business of the year.
Today's Cosworth Group Is Formed
In 2004, Cosworth was purchased by Jerry Forsythe and Kevin Kalkhoven, co-owners of the Champ Car World Series (the successor to CART). Under its new ownership Cosworth embarked on a diversification strategy, applying its expertise in mechanical engineering, performance electronics and precision manufacturing to secure business opportunities in the mainstream automotive, aerospace and defense industries.
In January 2011, the Motorsports Industry Associated (MIA) recognized Cosworth's diversification success with the inaugural New Markets Award. In November of the same year, Cosworth's success in high value-added manufacturing in the UK was rewarded with the prestigious RBS 2011 Manufacturer of The Year Award.
In 2013 Cosworth announced plans for a major new factory at its Northampton home to coincide with its 50th anniversary in the town in 2014. The new facility will provide state-of-the-art flexible manufacturing systems to enable Cosworth to supply high-performance engines for premium sports car manufacturers and continue to deliver a "one-stop-shop" for performance products and technologies to the automotive, motorsport and retail aftermarket industries.