Earlier this week, we talked about the amazing 6.5-litre V12 naturally aspirated engine of the Aston Martin Valkyrie. Yes, that unit with 1,000 bhp at a screaming 10,500 rpm and a service interval of just 62,137 miles (100,000 kilometers). It turns out there is one more extremely interesting fact about the development of that motor that we’ve missed out.

Believe it or not, the V12 engine started its life as a 1.6-litre three-cylinder unit. Cosworth, responsible for the design of the V12 thought it’s a good idea to work on a scaled variant of the engine first and see if it’s actually possible to extract such an amount of power from a naturally aspirated motor that still meets the modern emissions standards. Simply put, it was a proof of concept.

The result is a 1.6-litre, three-cylinder naturally aspirated motor with 250 bhp that meets all the emissions regulations. It’s basically a quarter of the Valkyrie’s actual engine in terms of displacement, number of cylinders, and peak output. Who said three-cylinder engines are boring?

“We know that to go from a blank screen to having the first running engine was going to be of the order of 12 or 13 months,” Cosworth’s managing director, Bruce Wood, described the idea. “And because of the sort of conflict of needing to meet emissions, and needing to deliver such a high power per litre, we knew there was a really big challenger there. What we did not want to do was wait 13 months to prove to ourselves that we had met that challenge.”

The three-cylinder engine started its life as an inline-four for which Cosworth designed its own three-cylinder head that was “an absolute replica of three cylinders of the Valkyrie design.” That first step of the V12’s development was done in about five months.

“That is to say within five or six months of starting the program, we were able to say, ‘yes, we’re going to be able to deliver emissions and performance.’”

Source: Carfection on YouTube via WhichCar

Gallery: Aston Martin Valkyrie's Cosworth V12 engine