Individuals and organizations across the globe have different metrics to determine which engine is the best. It can be on the basis of the number of units sold, historical significance, reliability, or even era-specific performance. There is no one true metric to determine the best. And hence, after ample time spent on research, we have come up with a list of probably the greatest car engines ever manufactured which challenged and redeveloped the automobile industry as we know it today. The following car engines have managed to impress every gearhead in the world.
Ford Flathead V8
This piece of engineering brought the V8 engine to the masses for the first time ever in the history of human civilization. When it first arrived in the market in 1932, there was nothing else like it. With an above-average performance by the prevalent standards back in those days, this engine garnered the availability of horsepower at an affordable price serving everyone from the common folk to criminals. Such was the popularity of this engine that helped revive Ford Motor Company after World War II was over.
Chevrolet Small-Block V8
23 years after Ford reinvented the wheel (metaphorically), Chevrolet took inspiration from the idea and notched things up a bit. The result was a highly durable and efficient small block V8 engine by Chevy which served not only family cars, but even commercial trucks in the GM’s product range. The first version delivered 160 horsepower with a 256 cubic inch capacity while adding just $99 to the price of a car which was earlier fitted with the “stove bolt” inline-six engine. The legacy of this engine lies in the fact that more than 1 million units were built in its first year alone and in 2011, the engine has crossed the 100-million mark. The longevity of this engine means that all Corvettes have come with a standard V8 factory fitting ever since.
Chrysler 225 Slant Six
For its 23-year-long existence in the market from 1960-1983, the Chrysler 225 Slant Six became well known for its epic durability which can be best understood from a person’s statement wherein he confessed that his mother’s car did over 300,000 miles with this engine and never had to come across the tappet cover coming off the engine hood. In fact, it was so durable that it was used in everything from cars and trucks to farm tractors, boats, and industrial forklifts. The name owes its origins to the unique 30-degree tilt towards the passenger side of the vehicle which gave a lower center of gravity.
MoPar Street Hemi
Under strict adherence to NASCAR’s two-vale per cylinder policy, Chrysler came up with the Hemi in 1966. The Hemi’s name is a derivative of its combustion chambers’ hemispherical shape. This design allowed Chrysler to integrate larger valves than the normal into the engine. Although this made MoPar’s Hemi the largest and most expensive engine of the era, it was also the most powerful. The daunting size of the engine gave it the nickname “The Elephant Motor”. Sadly, unleaded gas and emissions regulations cut down the Hemi’s lifespan to just 5 years as it was retired in 1971.
BMW AG Inline-6
Having already created a name for itself as a reputed engine maker for trucks, motorcycles, and aircraft, BMW tried to gain a foothold in the light-car manufacturing vertical in 1927. After WWII, MBW looked to rebuild itself. It took time, but by 1968, it had become ready to compete with its most potent rival – the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. What BMW did was to modify its existing SOHC 4-liter 2-cylinder engine by adding 2 more cylinders. This gave birth to the Inline-6 series. Afterward, it was just about continuously upgrading the engine to compete with the more compact V6 engines used by their rivals. Each new generation of the Inline-6 was smaller, lighter and more powerful than its predecessor.
One of the all-time greats, Volkswagen’s air-cooled Flat-4 had a production dream run for 70 years (1936-2006), delivering between 20-30 million of these engines. It came to be as a result of Hitler’s desire to provide his people the same mobility as Henry Ford has done for his fellow Americans. A renowned Ferdinand Porsche was to deliver the ultimate “people’s car” while achieving the ambitious performance and cost targets. He went for a 1-liter 4-cylinder engine with 24 horsepower generated and placed it at the rear of the vehicle. Voila! We got the Beetle.
Buick Nailhead V8
1953 was the year when Buick released its V8 engine with a huge 4” bore and short 3.2” stroke with a 5.3-liter displacement, and it delivered an amazing torque spread out over a wide RPM range. The Buick Nailhead V8s need less engine oil and rarely have oil leakage. With a small size as compared to other V8 engines of the era, the Nailhead truly had a strong impact on world motorsports.
Toyota 4AGE Inline-4
The long-lived 4AGE Inline-4 brought the latest technology to the common man by being accustomed to being fitted in the small cars. It lived up to Toyota’s reputation of providing good torque and power with a good fuel economy as well. It is important to note that the average piston speed of Toyota 4AGE was only 0.1 meters/second short of the four-cylinder of Porsche 944 S2. This gives you an idea of how good an engine was made available to the common person’s car by Toyota.
McLaren F1 S70/2 V-12
The result of a collaboration between McLaren and BMW in the first half of the 1990s is a 600 horsepower 6.1-liter V-12 engine that despite being designed for motorsports, won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in its first-ever attempt. Although BMW had some ideas of its own, they were more than expensive for their own production models. Hence, McLaren got into the fray to design a non-turbocharged engine to keep the sanity of the F1 alive. The benchmarks set by this engine took almost a decade to be overcome by their competitors.
About the Author:
My name is Stephen Fox. I write for World Wide Automobile. It’s a full-service leasing company. We deliver a tailored experience to our customers and I have experience of over 10 years in the automobile industry. In my leisure time, I love to travel with my family.