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The Best Car Engines of All Time

Ever since the days of the industrial revolution, car mechanics have pushed their engine designs to produce more power, more efficiency, more loudness, and so on; from giant big-blocks capable of pushing a car over 300 mph to smaller single-liter motors that are impressive in their own right. Some of Thee Best Car Engines of All Time have been created right here in America.


The Best Car Engines of All Time

And, when it comes to high-performance vehicles, we’re big fans of anything that can drive fast or fly high. As such, we thought we’d have some fun today by looking at the best car engines of all time, as it pertains to their overall impact on the automotive industry — here we go!

1) Small-Block V8: Chevrolet

The iconic American V8 engine has been sold in more than 100 million vehicles. Thanks to its innovative pushrod system, the engine was easy to upgrade. In fact, some race teams have been able to push out over 2,000 horsepower by making modifications to the original design. And, it’s just as popular off the racetrack, as it’s been seen in everything from muscled Corvettes to four-door sedans to pickup trucks to vans and more.


Read more about the best Corvettes of all time


2) Flat 4: Volkswagen

As one of the longest-running production engines of all time, you may not think much of this simple flat-four, air-cooled boxer engine, but was made for an impressively long time – from 1936 to 2006. Because of its simple design and efficiency it was used in a variety of different automobiles, including the iconic Volkswagen Beetle and Transporter. It even served as the basis of the first cars produced by luxury car manufacturer Porsche.

3) Model T Engine: Ford

Arguably the most iconic car ever made, Ford’s Model T Engine may not have driven very fast, but it’s an extremely important aspect to the overall development of the modern automobile. This inline four-cylinder, 2.9-liter engine was able to reach a top speed of 45 mph and pump out 20 horsepower. Known for its reliability and simplicity, the engine remained central to the Ford Model T brand throughout its entire lifespan, and remained in use even after the car itself was discontinued.

4) Fuhrmann Engine: Porsche

The four-cylinder vertical shaft engine, designed by Dr. Ernst Fuhrmann, broke new barriers when it was released with the Porsche Spyder and Carrera models. Born from the Volkswagen Beetle’s flat four engine, its characteristic duo overhead camshafts per cylinder blank were controlled by vertical shafts with angular gears. As far as engines from the 50s and 60s go, it’s one of the most successful, winning a classic double victory at 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1953.


Read more about the best Porsches of all time


5) B-Series: Honda

Another very successful engine, introduced in 1988, is known as Honda B-Series. These motors were made in 1.6 to 2.0 liter variants – and although there are variations among different car models, the basic design does not change much within B-Series engines. As a series, you can expect to see anywhere from 126 to 190 horsepower on average, and a reline in surpassing 8,500 rpm, at an astonishingly small 1,495 cubic centimeters. 

6) XK6: Jaguar

Another engine that had a long production run – over four decades from 1949 to 1992 – is Jaguar’s take on a straight-six engine with the XK6. British engineering shone on this motor, as its versatility and ability to produce powerful torque at almost any engine speed made it a top competitor on the racetrack and popular consumer option on the road. Not only did it see use in Jaguars, but Listers, Daimlers and even the FV101 Scorpion tank also had versions of this engine.

7) Colombo V12: Ferrari


This engine is possibly the most popular Ferrari ever produced. Named Colombo V12, after designer Gioacchino Colombo, the engine combined the visions of both men’s ideal engine — Enzo’s Fiat straight-eight and Colombo’s powerful 12-cylinder. Seen first in the Ferrari 125, with just 1.5 liters of displacement, engineers beefed up the power eventually, achieving 4.9 liters in the 250 GTO.


Read more about the best Ferraris of all time


8) 22R/R-E: Toyota

While there are many American-built truck engines that could make the list, we think the Toyota 22R deserves a spot due to it being responsible for building the Japanese manufacturer’s reputation into the reliable one that it is today. The engine only had one real problem, stretching timing chains on high-mileage trucks, however it remains one of the most dependable motors ever built, with its longitudinal placement in such vehicles as the 4Runner, Celica and Hilux from 1981 through 1997.

9) S70/2: BMW

This V12 BMW engine, found in Mclaren’s F1 sports car, was the result of a collaboration between the two car manufacturers. Built in the early 90s, the engine is famous for its stock over 600 horsepower output, that even when downgraded to meet Formula One rules (not to mention it wasn’t designed to focus on racing), won 24 Hours at Le Mans upon its first time competing.  

10) 1600-HP Twin Turbo V8 Engine: Hennessey Special Vehicles

The most powerful car engine on today’s market is from a recently formed company, Hennessey Special Vehicles, in partnership with Pennzoil and Shell. Its massive 1600-hp engine powers a car known as the Venom F5, the fastest hypercar in the world, even beating out Formula One cars with its 301-mph top speed. If you have a need for speed and aren’t afraid of its $1.6 million cost, you can own one of the most powerful engines ever built.


Read more about the best race cars of all time