Restoration Parts & Consultancy
Best F1 Car Ever?
Just occasionally, we get to help out on the engine restoration of a Formula 1 car that is a unique part of motor racing history. And this car had it all – one of the greatest drivers of all time, running in perhaps one of the most controversial seasons of all time. This is the story of the return to glory for Michael Schumacher’s Benetton B194, the very car that took Michael to the first of seven world titles in 1994.
Ahead of the 25th anniversary of this tumultuous season, renowned restoration experts Rennwerk got in touch to see if we could help. Could we source parts for an engine that they would be able to build and fit to this car, so that it would be able to run at demonstration events throughout 2019? Their brief was simple – in keeping with the need for authenticity, the parts needed to be as close as possible to the ones that Cosworth used that season.
Our first step was to see if we could track down a suitable donor engine that could be used as a basis for their rebuild. Given the proliferation of other successful Cosworth F1 engines like the DFV and HB, what seemed like an easy task was anything but. At the beginning of 1994, Cosworth introduced their new 3.5 litre V8 naturally aspirated engine, codenamed the EC. Although outwardly similar to the HB that had run from 1989 to 1993, this was an all-new engine that carried virtually no cross-over parts with its predecessors.
When one considers that an F1 engine from this era would have contained around 4,000 parts, finding a donor engine would be a very good starting point. But to make matters worse, the EC only ran for one season, as it was outlawed the following year after the rapidly-introduced rule changes that dropped capacity down to 3.0 litres. This meant that Cosworth only ever built around 25 of these engines, and most were stripped down at the end of the year.
The Engine Donor
One of the best examples of how Modatek can help with engine restoration is that we have contacts all over the world who have were involved with Cosworth engines, right back to when the company first started in 1958. It took quite a few phone calls and visits, but eventually we managed to track down one of the few remaining engines that survived intact from the end of 1994.
Our initial impression was that this engine looked like it had was taken out of the pool at the end of “that” season-finale race in Australia (you know, the one where Michael had a little bump), and the engine was then partially stripped before being rebuilt into a display engine, but still contained many of the hundreds of parts that we’d need.
On closer inspection, there were several parts either damaged or missing, and working with Rennwerk, we were able to pull together an exhaustive list of parts that would need to be repaired or re-made.
One of the other great reasons that Modatek can help with projects like these is because we have exclusive access to Cosworth’s extensive drawing archive. We quickly dug out the drawings of the parts that we needed to repair or remake – even though the drawings were over a quarter of a century old, they were still pristine and completely legible.
It didn’t take long for the combined efforts of Modatek and Rennwerk to get all the parts together that were needed for the rebuild. Within days, Rennwerk had managed to get the engine built up again, and in some cases were able to utilise modern-day manufacturing methods to ensure that the new parts were even better than the originals.
The Engine Restoration End Result
Finally complete, the engine was fitted to back of their newly-restored B194 chassis, and the engine fired back into life for the first time in 25 years.
Throughout the year, Rennwerk were able to run the car at selected historic motor sport festivals. But the icing on the cake was when none other than Michael’s 1994 arch-rival, Damon Hill, drove the car at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Check out the video at the top of this page for the full coverage of the Michael Schumacher tribute at the FOS, which includes Damon’s run at around the 11 minute mark. We’d like to extend our congratulations to the team at Rennwerk for such amazing work and dedication!
So if you happen to be working on an engine restoration project and you need help in finding parts, get in touch!