A few years ago Ford announced a new family of engines they were calling EcoBoost. They were going to start building smaller displacement engines designed to work with turbochargers. The idea here was to keep the fuel economy up without giving up too much power. One of those in the lineup, the smallest, was a little three-cylinder, 1 liter displacement engine. In addition to showing up in some of their smaller cars in Europe, they were going to sell it crated here in the states.
I thought this was brilliant for a few reasons. One, that’d be idea for restoring old cars for which the original engine would, for lack of a more polite term, be crap. Think of a classic VW Beetle, for instance. You don’t need a load of power there, but a new, fuel-sipping engine would be perfect. And even larger cars: there’s a 125hp version that would do nicely for something that you’re not trying to thrash about too much.
Two, it’d be great for kit cars. There are a lot of organizations that will sell you a body, chassis, suspension, etc., just with no engine. This would be a perfect and inexpensive way to go with something along those lines.
But while discussing it with friends, I remember saying “You know, if someone built a sufficiently lightweight car, I bet one of these would be an absolute blast on a racetrack.” The engine is, after all, just 213 pounds when dry. In something superlight like an Ariel Atom, it’d put out enough power to be fun.
Well, someone at Ford had the same idea. Here’s video of Chris Harris throwing the 1 liter edition around the Nordschleife in a tiny little Formula Ford car… a training racer. He mentions at the outset that 1) it’s road legal (in the UK anyway), and 2) someone did a 7:22 lap in it. Under 8 minutes is amazing. Under 7:30 is astonishing. The record for a road legal car is something like 6:51 over a 13 mile course.
Granted, this edition is boosted further to 170hp, but Ford still claims it’ll get 57mpg at 70mph. It’s just mental. I love it. Decent fuel economy can be awesome.