Its last lease of life was provided by a major design in 1988, this DFR-designated motor surviving among minor F1 teams until 1991, an almost ridiculous 35 seasons after its debut. But it was not quite done even then.
A DFR powered at least one state of the art racing car this century, and I know this because I was there to see it. It was 2001 and the car was Bentley’s brave EXP Speed 8 Le Mans car. The car was brand new and designed to run with Audi’s 3.6-litre twin turbo V8 under its engine cover. But while the car was ready to start testing, its engine was not. To have waited until Audi provided the required motors would have meant delaying the programme another year. So, and in complete secrecy, the Bentley went through almost its entire development programme powered by a DFR. And it actually did the team a massive favour. Not only did it match the 600bhp expected from the Audi engine (if not the torque), like all DFVs it was not exactly the smoothest running engine. In fact it vibrated so much the car had to be phenomenally well built not to be shaken to pieces by it. The result was a car that, once teething troubles were overcome, would run with enviable reliability throughout its career.
I’m so looking forward to whatever DFV celebration there might be and I hope at least one example of every type of engine – DFV, DFW, DFY, DFX, DFZ, DFR, DFL, DFS and even the four cylinder FVA that influenced its design – is there. And every kind of car too: F1 machines from every era, Indy cars, sports cars and F3000 cars too. And at least one commercial vehicle too: remember the Ford Transit Supervans? Well Supervan 2 was DFV powered too. One more example of the versatility of the greatest competition engine ever built.
Photography courtesy of LAT.