Last week, we asked you for your favorite non-V8 engines and once again, we were overwhelmed by how awesome all of our RK Nation readers are. More than 5,000 people weighed into the Facebook post with their favorite engines. We’d love to have included everything from Geo Metro three-cylinder engines to Cummins 12-valve engines, but we didn’t want to overwhelm everyone so we’ll keep it to five. You should know that the Alfa Romeo “Busso” V6, Volvo Redblock, Toyota 22R/22RE, Nissan VG/VQ V6, Toyota 2JZ, Jeep 4.0-liter, and Chrysler Slant-6 also got huge responses and we like most of those, too.
However, here are the five we picked out to share with you.
Ford Barra I6 (Australia)
The Aussies won this one, even though it wasn’t a competition. We got a huge response from the crowd Down Under about Ford’s beloved straight-six. Ford stopped building V8s in their Falcons by the early 1980s, opting instead for locally designed inline-six engines after that. Like many other places in the world, Australia then developed its own six-cylinder tuning crowd. The Barra came along in the early 2000s and turbocharged versions can make some absolutely devastating horsepower.
GM 4.3L V6
We also got lots of love for General Motors’ V6s. Some people like the 4.3-liter V6 that was, basically, a Small-Block Chevy V8 with two cylinders lopped off. Others like the Buick V6 that came in millions of front-wheel-drive GM cars from the ‘80s, ‘90s, and ‘00s (its roots go much farther back). We tend to favor the 4.3-liter since Roadkill got so much out of it in the Rotsun. And by “got so much out of it,” I mean “thoroughly enjoyed waling on it after it let us down so much.” (They really are sturdy engines, though, when we’re not doing the tuning on them.)
Once you get past the crank-walk and The Fast and the Furious jokes, Mitsubishi’s 4G63 deserves most of its following. Mitsubishi threw versions of the 4G63 into just about everything from sedate passenger sedans to rippling, turbocharged Lancer Evolutions. The tough little mills can still be found cheaply and built to big power levels. Because Mitsubishi put them in everything, you can also swap them in all kinds of weird platforms that used Mitsubishi engines. That includes, in no particular order, the Mitsubishi Eclipse, Eagle Talon, Plymouth Laser, Mitsubishi Mirage, Mitsubishi Galant, Dodge Colt, Mitsubishi Lancer, and—last but definitely not least—the Eagle Summit Wagon.
Mazda Wankel rotary engine
Probably no engine divides the automotive world quite like the rotary engine used in Mazda’s RX-series cars. The pistonless engines produce prodigious volume and heat along with, potentially, big horsepower. They happily run all day at high revs and nothing sounds quite like them. Rotary enthusiasts will swear that a wailing Wankel sounds amazing as it passes even while they hold their hands to ears to keep blood from spilling all over their shirt. They’re a stubborn bunch, rotary drivers, but they just might beat you everywhere from the drift course to the drag strip.
We got many, many surprising responses from our fans suggesting that the best-sounding non-V8 was not an Alfa Romeo but was, in fact, an Audi inline-five. This author remains skeptical, but I’ll admit this: a 20-valve Audi engine sounds absolutely amazing. Manufacturers during the Group B era of rallying were cagey about horsepower figures, but I’ve read power figures north of 600 from the S1’s turbocharged 20-valve engine. In a rally car.
We’ll have another great question for you later this week. Get ready to mash your keyboards with an answer.