Michael Fernie profile picture Michael Fernie 6 years ago

5 Road Cars With F1-Derived Powertrains

With Mercedes-AMG's F1-powered hypercar around the corner, let's take a look at machines from the past that feature engines with roots in the top flight of single seater racing

Remind me later
5 Road Cars With F1-Derived Powertrains - Blog

F1 engines are very highly strung pieces of machinery, needing very specific conditions to even start up. The component strength and cooling requirement for such engines is also vast considering they have been capable of rotating at up to 20,000rpm in past years. So even thinking about placing one within a street-going car is a fairly terrifying prospect, as shoe-horning one of these engines straight from a racing chassis into a road car is a difficult and costly process.

The engines have to go through massive changes in the quest of achieving the requirements for road use. This means it’s something which has rarely been tried, with the incoming V6 hybrid Mercedes-AMG hypercar being one of very few to use an F1-derived powertrain. Here are some of the others…

Yamaha OX99-11

5 Road Cars With F1-Derived Powertrains - Blog

Yamaha has created a multitude of engines for a huge number of applications within the automotive industry, and it began its foray into F1 in 1989.

Supplying engines for the likes of Jordan, Tyrell and Brabham, the Japanese outfit decided to start a money-no-object road car project utilising its racing technology, called the OX99-11. Using the 3.5-litre 70-degree V12 taken from the Brabham BT59, the OX99-11 was designed to be a single-seater before the bosses at Yamaha decided a slightly odd, motorcycle-like ‘tandem’ seating layout would be preferable.

The V12 was tuned to around 400bhp at a staggering 10,000rpm, but money troubles at Yamaha during a financial crisis in Japan led to the project being scrapped in 1994. However, three prototypes were produced in blue, red and yellow paint schemes respectively.

With a pricetag estimated to have been set at a steep £1,000,000, it seems that the OX99-11 was simply the right car at the wrong time.

BMW E60 M5

5 Road Cars With F1-Derived Powertrains - Blog

Introduced in 2005, the only V10-powered M5 ever made came with a powertrain developed via lessons learned from BMW’s previous Formula 1 involvement in the early 2000s. It’s difficult to know exactly how much of the engine can be considered ‘F1 derived’, but at full chat it can sure as hell rival the sound of an F1 car.

Mated to a seven-speed SMG transmission (with North American buyers getting the option of a six-speed manual), the S85 engine has a wonderfully high rev limit of 8250rpm born out of an F1 era where screaming V10s were the norm. Add in double Vanos and you have a 500bhp family saloon capable of over 200mph (with the 155mph restrictor removed) and a 0-60mph time of 4.6 seconds.

The motorsport-inspired engine found in the E60 - plus the E63 M6 - won multiple awards back in its day and a good example can be had for as little as £15,000 in today’s market. With its sneakily-subtle looks, the E60 M5 is a factory-built sleeper that could still embarrass even the most thoroughbred of modern supercars through its F1-derived heart.

Ferrari F50

5 Road Cars With F1-Derived Powertrains - Blog

The Ferrari F50 is often seen as the troubled and unloved middle child sitting between the coveted F40 and the hypercar royalty that is the Enzo. The F50 was not seen as enough of an advancement over its V8 twin-turbocharged predecessor, yet when resurrected in retro road tests, the younger car has often come out on top.

This may be due in-part to the 4.7-litre naturally aspirated V12 sitting behind the cabin which was directly developed from the 3.5-litre unit found in the Ferrari 641 F1 car from 1990. The F50 spits out 503bhp at 8000rpm making for a 3.7-second sprint to 60mph and a 202mph top speed.

Although the V12 is down 177bhp from the 641 and maxes-out at just 1mph higher than the F40, the crescendo of those 12 cylinders and the six-speed gated manual transmission makes the F50 one of the last great analogue supercars from Maranello.

Porsche Carrera GT

5 Road Cars With F1-Derived Powertrains - Blog

Having built a 3.5-litre V12 for the Footwork F1 team in 1991, Porsche set about creating a 3.5-litre V10 which would power the minnow for the 1992 season. Unhappy with how the Porsche-powered ‘91 season had gone however, Footwork canceled the deal, leaving the V10 surplus to requirements.

It was later enlarged to 5.0 and then 5.5-litres when resurrected in a Le Mans prototype, but it didn’t get very far then either, with the project decommissioned by Porsche to concentrate on making the Cayenne SUV.

Thankfully the funds created by the success of the Cayenne led to the V10 in 5.7-litre form finally making its way into the carbon frame of the Carrera GT road car. Making up a branch of the holy trinity of the early noughties alongside the McLaren-Mercedes SLR and Ferrari Enzo, the Carerra GT is renowned for being a challenging car to drive thanks to a harsh motorsport-style clutch and a free-revving engine outputting 604bhp to the rear wheels.

Alfa Romeo 164 Procar

5 Road Cars With F1-Derived Powertrains - Blog

This is cheating slightly, as this was a one-off car made for racing rather than the road, but its basis still lies with the 164 saloon of the 1980s. Built to rival BMW’s M1 Procar which followed the F1 grid as a support series, this crazy 164 never managed to turn a wheel in anger in competitive racing. This was due to the lack of other manufacturers interested in entering Formula S - the Procar’s intended series - leaving Alfa with no option but to keep its psychotic creation as a one-off special.

Formula S was set to be a revitalisation of the support series featuring ‘cars your Dad might have’ with Formula 1-spec engines crammed under their bonnets. Unfortunately it was only Alfa that came up with the goods with its 600bhp V10-powered 164. The engine was initially manufactured for the Ligier F1 team and the stats are predictably astonishing: 750kg, 0-60mph in a smidgen over two seconds and a 217mph top speed. And we thought the Giulia Quadrifoglio was fast…

5 Road Cars With F1-Derived Powertrains - Blog

With AMG about to seriously shake up the hypercar world, a period of F1-derived powertrains could well be on the horizon.

Can these new hypercars possibly match the power-to-weight ratio of their racing counterparts? Which is your favourite F1-fettled car from this list? Comment with your thoughts below!