Video: Road cars with F1 engines

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The FIA is trying to convince everyone that ‘technology transfer’ is the future for Formula 1. F1 cars should use Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems just like the ultra-efficient road cars of the future.

Maybe. But the kind of technology transfer I like to see is where mechanics get mischievous and bolt howling F1 race engines into road-going cars.

Here’s three of my favourites.

Alfa-Romeo 164 Procar

Bernie Ecclestone pulled his Brabham team out of Formula 1 at the end of the 1987 season. He had masterminded F1’s commercial operations for many years while combining the role as Brabham team manager, but finally elected to drop the latter and concentrate on the former.

He kept the Brabham mechanics busy with work on a new project for 1988. Ecclestone had dreamt up a new racing series he called the Production Car World Championship – ‘Procar’ – that would begin in 1989.

The cars would be built as silhouettes of ordinary road cars but fitted with 3.5 litre normally aspirated engines (as was used in F1 from 1989) or 2.8-litre turbocharged units. As a preview of the technology, Brabham built an Alfa Romeo 164 fitted with an F1-spec V10 engine. It was shown off at the 1988 Italian Grand Prix:

More video of the Alfa Romeo 164 Procar:

Ford Transit Supervan 3

Ford’s workhorse the Transit is more often seen in the paddock than on the race track. The company first put a racing engine in the van in 1971 to create the Transit Supervan. The 400bhp unit came from the company’s GT40 Le Mans-winning sports car.

They put an F1 engine in the van 13 years later – a Cosworth DFL, based on the classic DFV engine but with a longer stroke. – to create Supervan 2.

Supervan 3 followed in 1995, packing a 650bhp Ford-Cosworth ‘HB’ F1 engine. It could blast past 150mph and required a large rear spoiler to keep it stable at high speeds. The chassis came from a Ford C100 sports-prototype.

The van is still in use today but the F1 engine has since been replaced with a V6 unit. Here it is at Knockhill in Scotland:

High res images:

Ford Transit Supervan 3 | Ford
Ford Transit Supervan 3, 2 | Ford

Renault Espace F1

People carriers are not sexy. Nothing says ‘I’ve given up on my youth’ like a seven-seater.

But Renault, who popularised the vehicle with the Espace in the ’80s, created a genuinely desirable MPV when they dropped their championship-winning V10 engine into a specially modified Espace.

As this (French) video explains, the car also incorporated the rear suspension from a Williams-Renault FW14, and four-times champion Alain Prost drove the car at Paul Ricard:

Here’s some more video of the car (commentary in English) featuring Frank Williams talking about the car:

High res images:

Alain Prost, Renault Espace F1, Magny-Cours | Williams
Renault Espace and Sport Spider | Renault

Anyone know of any other road cars with F1 engines?

Photos copyright: Williams | Ford | Ford | Williams | Renault

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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9 comments on “Video: Road cars with F1 engines”

  1. F1 really should do this more often. i love the idea of allowing formula one technology to be put into normal road going cars. the Espace looked fantastic! imagine if F1 had homologation rules like the World Rally Championship did. i shall dream…

    1. I liked the F1 sound in a normal car… something strange!

  2. I agree, but it’s down to the manufacturers.

    For example BMW make a lot of the technology transfer between its F1 V8 and its range of engines. But I want to see how a BMW M3 would go with the P86/8 pulled out of their F1 car and dropped in…

    1. Or toyota doing some nice hothatch with their F1 engine (or even the NASCAR engine) in it.

  3. What happened to Procar?

  4. The manufacturers didn’t go for it. Some people think the whole Procar thing was just a ploy to attract more manufacturers into F1 in the late ’80s when the expense of the turbo era had driven many of them away. There’s more on it in Terry Lovell’s biography of Bernie Ecclestone, “Bernie’s Game”.

  5. Yeah Ferrari also transfer their technology from f1 to their range of cars. The F430 has the same E diff from Schumacher’s 2003 car. Another quasi example is the Porsche Carrera GT. I believe the V10 in that car was designated for F1 but somehow managed to makes its way into it. Mind you those cars are basically race cars for the road so i suppose thats a logical step.

  6. I remember having a picture of the Espace F1 on one of my folders in school and I got ripped for it! I saw it years later at a Forumla Renault event, it was uber sexy.

    I have to say though, that Alfa 164 Procar has just made one of my most desired (and unattainable) Alfa’s, never even knew it existed! I wonder how good they were at corners, no touring car aerodynamics or anything, it really does look like a standard Alfa 164!

  7. That Alfa is the ultimate Q-car, it looks totally like a normal model!

    Imagine sitting beside it at the lights thinking you could beat it away no problems and then BAM!!! off it shoots!

    Though I would imagine the noise from it would be a bit of a giveaway…

    I agree that it’s been too long since we saw something like this and someone should be planting an F1 engine into one of their models ASAP – perhaps Renault again with a proper Megane Sport, or BMW with a 1-series with engine instead of a rear seat…

    Toyota on the other hand seem to have gone the other way and put an engine from their roadgoing car (an Aygo I think) into their F1 car judging by their recent performance!

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