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10 Most Iconic Car Engines in History

We’re thrilled about the fact that electric cars are becoming the norm. We are car people and when we see new innovative technologies that stretch the limits of what’s possible on the road, it makes us happy.

But it doesn’t mean that we are not fans of the power and performance of gasoline engines. This is why we have made this list of the 10 best car engines from recent times that caught our attention (for the good).

It was a challenging task to choose only 10 engines from the vast array of options but we managed to do it somehow. Whether you like a compact engine or a monster on the road, you’ll find your jam here. So buckle up as we talk about some of the most technically impressive engines of our time one by one.

1. Ferrari Colombo V12 (1947)

The Ferrari Colombo V12 engine is a real engineering marvel thanks to its distinctive qualities. No wonder why Ferrari stuck to this engine design for the longest time. This masterpiece was designed by an Italian designer Gioacchino Colombo (hence the name) with a meagre 1.5 litres of displacement. Yet as time went on, it expanded and changed, finally growing to a whopping 4.9 litres in the Ferrari 412.

The Colombo V12 is unforgettable for its power output and unusual howling sound. Although the engine’s rapid revving nature made it incredibly responsive and thrilling to drive, the narrow-angle between the cylinder banks allowed for a more compact and lightweight construction.

2. Nissan RB26DETT Inline-Six (1989)

The 1989 Nissan RB26DETT Inline-Six engine swiftly rose to fame in the car industry for all the right reasons. The Nissan Skyline GT-R, a fast sports car that swiftly gained a cult following, was the first vehicle to have this engine.

Six cylinders and dual turbocharging allowed RB26DETT to generate massive power and torque while being dependable and long-lasting. This engine was also quite adjustable, which gave room for modifications to increase its power output, making it a favourite among auto enthusiasts.

3. Toyota 2JZ-GTE Inline-Six (1991)

When we hear the word ‘Toyota’, we only think of quality cars. The brand has a long history of developing high-quality, dependable engines, which has helped the business gain a solid reputation in the automobile sector.

The 2JZ-GTE continues to be one of the most definitive and iconic Japanese performance engines in the world even 20 years after its end of manufacturing. The engine has become well-known for its capacity to generate significant power while remaining dependable and unrivalled in its class.

4. Aston Martin V12 (2001)

Aston Martin is renowned for creating grand tourers that combine power with class, usually featuring big, fuel-guzzling V12 engines. The DB9 and Vanquish are prime examples, utilising the AM11 V12 engine, generating 540 hp and 565 hp respectively.

However, Aston Martin has proven it can compete with the crazy hypercar brands with the Valkyrie. This F1-inspired hypercar boasts a 6.5-litre naturally aspirated V12 engine, nicknamed ‘Nebula’, developed with Cosworth, capable of producing 1,160hp with help from an electric motor. Not surprisingly, it also has an exhaust note reminiscent of a souped-up Lexus LFA.

5. Chrysler 426 Hemi (1964)

We know you won’t take this list seriously if Chrysler 426 Hemi is not on it. During the 1960s, Chrysler set out to create an engine that could win in NHRA and NASCAR races and capture the attention of car buyers. That’s how 426 Hemi was born.

This engine dominated the muscle car era of the 1960s and ’70s, earning the respect of both Ford and Chevrolet enthusiasts. It had a rated 425 horsepower and 490 lb-ft of torque, which was closer to 450 horsepower in reality. Today, the Hemi remains a symbol of American automotive power and engineering.

6. Chevrolet Small Block V8 (1955)

Chevy developed the tiny block V8 to compete with Ford’s popular Y block V8, which turned out to be a game-changer. Its release in 1955 was nothing short of groundbreaking because it outperformed every other V8 engine on the market at the time in terms of weight, power, and size. Hot rodders love the small block V8’s responsiveness to tweaking for both racing and street performance. This engine was revolutionary and ahead of its time, establishing the foundation for later V8 designs. One of the most adaptable engines ever created, it has been used in a variety of applications over the years, from race cars and off-road trucks to boats and custom motorcycles.

7. Honda B-Series (1989)

Honda produces a family of inline four-cylinder engines known as the B series. The Civic, Integra, and Accord are just a few of the Honda vehicles that have utilised these engines since they were originally made available in 1989. Honda’s superb engineering allows B engines to produce astounding power levels despite their modest displacements,

In addition to the pentroof form, the B offers good combustion chambers and a small included angle. The Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control or VTEC technology sets apart B engines from other manufacturing engines. It uses a hydraulically-activated system to switch between two different camshaft profiles to improve performance at different RPM ranges.

8. Chevrolet 454 Big Block V8 (1970)

The legendary powerhouse that made its imprint on the automotive world is the Chevy 454 Big Block V8 engine. First created in 1970, this engine was intended to be a bigger and more potent version of the Chevy 427. Even during the difficulties encountered during the 1970s oil crisis, the Chevy 454 was able to maintain its reputation as a well-liked engine for drag racing and heavy-duty pickup trucks up until 2001. A 454 Large Block V8 crate engine is still available today directly from Chevy.

9. Ford Flathead V8 (1932)

The mass-produced 1932 Ford flathead V8 engine revolutionised American automobiles because it was inexpensive and simple to put together. The engine became more dependable and robust with a one-piece cast block, and it also had enhanced water cooling and good crankcase ventilation. Power output increased from 65 hp to 85 hp in just a few years.

As there were numerous versions of the flathead engine for both passenger vehicles and commercial trucks, it was very adaptable and quickly became the preferred powerplant for both hot rodders and land speed racers. It laid the groundwork for hot rodding and gave rise to the aftermarket performance parts industry.

10. Pontiac V8 (1955)

The legendary Pontiac V8 engine is a favourite of classic American muscle car fans. The tremendous performance of the engine, which made its debut in 1955, is still renowned. Because of its high horsepower and torque, the 455 Pontiac V8 is one of the engine’s most well-known variants.

Pontiac V8 has grown to be quite sought-after among collectors and fans. Popular muscle cars like the Pontiac GTO, Firebird, and Trans Am were propelled by the engine. The Pontiac V8 engine continues to be a classic vehicle community favourite because it represents the power and performance of traditional American cars even today.

These engines have set benchmarks for power, performance, and efficiency, and continue to influence the future of the car market.


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