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Carmakers recognize well-respected engineering companies and have hired them to produce performance versions of their cars. Dinan makes high-performance BMWs, and Shelby did the same for the Ford Mustang. One engineering company stands out above the rest and is synonymous with high-performance engines, and that is Cosworth. When faced with a professionally-tuned sports car and someone wants to know what company made the engine, the answer inevitably comes back as “Cosworth”. Its prowess isn’t limited to any one car company either. Cosworth has dabbled in executive sedans, sports cars and was one of the most prominent engine manufacturers in Formula 1. Here are some of the coolest road cars to ever come out of Cosworth.

Cosworth made the Ford Escort RS no longer boring

Ford Escort RS Cosworth in the air
Ford Escort RS Cosworth in the air | Steve Etherington/EMPICS via Getty Images

Ford-owned Cosworth was running the Sierra RS in rallying with little success as a rear-wheel-drive car. In 1990 Cosworth introduced its Ford Escort RS, which would succeed the Sierra, and produced better racing results. Ford had to make 2500 homologation versions of the Escort RS in order to comply with Group A rally regulations. In order to fit a bigger engine, Ford built the Escort on the Sierra’s chassis. The road car sent 230 horsepower to all four wheels from its 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine developed by Cosworth. Private tuners have supposedly gotten 350 horsepower without touching the turbo. 

Mercedes-Benz 190e 2.3-16: anything but the ordinary executive sedan

At first glance, the Mercedes-Benz 190e Cosworth might seem like a boxy old man’s Mercedes-Benz. However, if you look closer, it’s anything but. A big spoiler stands above the trunk lid, which if you follow the side plates down, you’ll see side skirts, a widebody kit, and a big front lip. It used self-leveling suspension and a Cosworth 2.3-liter inline-four. A lightweight cylinder head and pistons and four valves per cylinder helped the engine to a 7,100 RPM redline and 185 horsepower. Unfortunately, the Cosworth variant was squashed in racing by a number of more powerful and agile contenders, including the Audi Quattro, BMW M3, and AMG’s own 2.5-liter (stroked) variant of the 2.3-liter, pushing 230 horsepower.

1975 Chevrolet Vega made modest power with immodest technology

1975 Chevrolet Vega Cosworth
1975 Chevrolet Vega Cosworth | National Motor Museum/Heritage Images via Getty Images

Ford and Chevrolet both had a helping of Cosworth engineering. In 1975 Chevrolet released a Cosworth-engineered Vega, a stout-looking Camaro of the time with a fastback roofline and bigger rear windows. Cosworth’s Chevrolet Vega used a 2-liter inline-four that only made 110 horsepower. However, the engine used dual overhead camshafts and was mated to a 5-speed manual, and the car only weighed 2,760 pounds. A properly motivated Vega Cosworth owner could swap the inline-four for the Ford Escort Cosworth’s engine without regret and enjoy immediate success.

Ford RS200: a rallying monster from Cosworth

Ford RS200 at 1986 RAC Rally
Ford RS200 at 1986 RAC Rally | National Motor Museum/Heritage Images via Getty Images

One of the most impressive cars Ford ever made in Europe was the RS200, a rally car with an engine developed by Cosworth that produced 444 horsepower to all four wheels with 1.8-liters of displacement. Road-going versions of the Ford RS200 got 250 horsepower, which was still a lot for a 2,600-pound car. It, unfortunately, had a hand in the demise of Group B rallying when a string of accidents claimed the lives of a few drivers and spectators. The Ford RS200 would later go on to enjoy numerous successes in rally racing from 1986-1992, with over 650 horsepower at the end of its run.

Cosworth is one of the most important and recognizable engineering companies in the world. Almost every successful F1 team used a Cosworth engine from 1963 until 2013, including McLaren, Lotus, and Williams. Out of its 638 race entries, Cosworth took 176 victories and 535 podiums.


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