In order to make the big 6.5-L V12 engine that powers the Aston Martin Valkyrie, Cosworth made a 3-cylinder test engine with 250 hp.
Making the world’s most powerful naturally aspirated engine isn’t easy. It takes a long time to develop and then construct these simultaneously delicate and powerful machines, and going back to the drawing board could mean months, even years of delays for the overall project.
Engineers have a schedule to keep, and in order to make sure they didn’t fall behind, Cosworth made a tiny test engine before they made the Valkyrie’s big V12.
In an interview with Carfection (by way of Jalopnik), Cosworth managing director Bruce Wood revealed how the company went about making a test engine before devoting the time and resources for the finished product.
According to Wood, it would take a little over a year to make what would become the Valkyrie’s V12 engine, but getting to that point would be extremely challenging. Cosworth had to make an extremely powerful engine (in terms of hp per liter) and also still meet European emissions standards.
That double target would be tricky, and getting it wrong would mean a year of lost development. So instead of going straight from design to V12, Cosworth engineers took an off-the-shelf model and modified it just to see if it was even possible.
"So we took a four-cylinder engine that we already had, and we designed and manufactured a three-cylinder cylinder head for that, that was an absolute replica of three cylinders of the Valkyrie design,” Wood said. “And we were able to get that up and running within about five months."
What they wound up with was a 3-cylinder engine that made 250 hp without the benefit of a turbocharger. Then they simply made three more, slapped them all together, and called it a V12 with 1,000 hp.
Jalopnik obviously wanted to know what sort of car a 3-cylinder Aston Martin would look like, so they managed to convince artist Manny Suazo to take a stab at it.
the F1 car is now an Aston Martin-Red Bull-Honda, Cosworth says they developed a 250hp naturally aspirated emissions-legal 3-cylinder on their way to building the Valkyrie V12... this makes sense pic.twitter.com/CuSSsP4FQG— Manny Suazo (@smokyburnout) December 12, 2018
Sadly, despite being what is likely the most powerful naturally aspirated 1.6-L engine ever built, we’re unlikely to ever see it in a real car. Wood admitted that the Valkyrie’s real engine would require a rebuild every 62,000 miles, and that’s a little too often for a mass-market compact car.
But if the import tuner market ever comes back, Cosworth will have an engine waiting.