With Volkswagen AG's Audi Div. about to acquire Cosworth, the British racing-engine and automotive engineering specialty company, some companies' Cosworth services may be left out in the cold. The most notable will be Ford Motor Co. Ford has had a long relationship with Cosworth and currently depends heavily on the British developer of racing engines for its CART and Formula One powertrains.

Ford apparently was "offered" a chance at buying Cosworth, but declined.

A high-ranking Ford source says that "We were very much aware of what was going on (with VW's bid to buy Cosworth from owner Vickers plc). Vickers was 'out on the street,' but we did not think it (buying Cosworth) was a good deal."

Martin Hayes, a communications advisor employed by Cosworth, tells WAW: "Audi has entered into a period of four weeks exclusive negotiation with Vickers" to buy Cosworth for $196 million. That period ends July 3. He says Audi's two primary conditions for buying Cosworth are parent Volks-wagen's acquisition of Rolls-Royce - which has happened - and "the resolution of certain contractual matters," chief among them being Cosworth's racing-engine contracts with Ford.

Mr. Hayes adds that although certain details of Cosworth's contracts with other automakers are proprietary and confidential, the essence of all Cosworth contracts "will be reviewed by Volkswagen." He says that if certain contracts are set to run after Volkswagen would take ownership of Cosworth, the fate of those agreements is cloudy and would be subject to Volks-wagen's discretionary review.

Although other automakers can still bid for Cosworth after the July 3 deadline for VW's exclusive negotiations, it appears unlikely. Indeed, VW's acquisition of Cosworth could even become official before July 3.

"The feeling is here (in Britain), and most people believe, that it's a done deal," says Mr. Hayes.

Although Ford stands to lose the racing prestige associated with its Cosworth relationship, a Ford source says the company has many options after the Cosworth connection is severed.

Bringing engine development in-house is a possibility. Ford's Advanced Vehicle Technology (AVT) is very heavily involved in the development of racing engines. Ford also may consider other independent racing engine developers.

It's clearly a setback for Ford. The Ford-Cosworth Formula One engine lineage is responsible for hundreds of wins on the circuit since 1966.

Audi will reportedly take control of Cosworth Castings, one of four divisions that include: Cosworth Racing, Cosworth Engineering and Cosworth Inc. Volkswagen is set to control the racing and engineering operations.

Cosworth is crucial to VW's Rolls-Royce deal, as BMW AG, a rival bidder for Rolls, says it will no longer supply engines for the Rolls-Royce and Bentley car lines after losing its bid to acquire Rolls-Royce. With the purchase of Cosworth, Audi will be in charge of using Cosworth expertise to produce new 8-cyl. and 12-cyl. engines for the Rolls/Bentley lineup.

Ford's trend-setting aluminum casting facility in Essex, Ont., which turns out heads for the company's passenger-car and light-truck V-8 and V-10 engines, employs a proprietary casting process developed by Cosworth to produce the cylinder heads for those engines. The Cosworth Process ensures a more uniform, durable casting free of the troublesome microporosity that afflicts traditionally cast aluminum components.