Back in December, Roadkill contributor Benjamin Hunting listed off eight great engines with fewer than eight cylinders and then followed that up in March with eight great turbocharged engines. Both were solid lists full of fantastic power-making mills from the earlier Nissan GT-R’s RB26DETT to the Hudson Hornet’s flathead inline-six. Today, we want to hear about your favorite non-V8 engines and why.
This is the 2.0-liter Zetec engine in my 2004 Ford Focus ZX3. It’s old and dirty and ugly. At wide-open throttle, it sounds like a hefty chap who’s just climbed 15 flights of stairs. But it’s durable and efficient with just enough power to have a little fun when you need to merge on a tight onramp or to enjoy the winding roads on closed courses in Mexico.
I swapped a slightly different version of this engine into the Nixon-mobile Ford Escort that I ran in the 24 Hours of Lemons with fellow automotive journalist Alan Cesar (before we were both auto journalists). While the engine packed up 60 minutes into its first race, that was our fault and not the engine’s. Naturally, we swapped in a 215,000-mile replacement from Alan’s street car (a stupid story in three parts) and that engine ran several more races even after we sold it to a new owner in 2013. Turning this over to Elana now:
Hey, hey! So OBVIOUSLY, my favorite non-V8 is the Viper V10, because it is well-known that I would abandon my friends and family and run away with that car if only the tires didn’t cost so much. However, if we’re talking about engines you might possibly could own, or do own, I’m gonna go with the Opel 1.9 (or in my case, 2.0). People keep telling me to swap something into the Opel GT in place of its little iron four-banger, but I kinda like the way it chugs along. Look how cool its little ribbed valve cover is. Finnegan said he is partial to the 2JZ, which makes sense. That’s a solid performance piece. While we are on the topic, I’m going to be presumptuous and say that Freiburger’s favorite non-V8 is the rotary in his RX-7 from episode 59 although it could be some sort of Jeep flathead too. Maybe we should ask him in the next Q&A.
So how about you? Got a favorite non-V8? Could be a straight-eight, could be a V12, could be a three-cylinder. Let’s hear what you like and why.