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What are the best V8 engines ever made?

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  • carnut4carnut4 Posts: 574
    the first Buick V8s were called "nailheads." To compensate for the relatively small valve sizes, these engines had fairly wild cam timing for a stock engine, especially on the exhaust.
  • rea98drea98d Posts: 982
    They were fairly popular with hot-rodders in the 50's, and are making a comeback (Real hot rods don't have valve covers). They're also the first V-8 available to a working joe.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,741
    And very inefficient. If one was tuned right, thye could idle at about 100 RPM. You could watch the fan blade spin.

    Seems that they always burned oil and used a lot of gas. Only three main bearings but I guess that was enough.

    I love the sound of a flathead with a split manifold and short glasspacks.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,009
    Oh, don't go dissing flathead Fords...they are worshipped by a savage cult that will come online and tear you to pieces...just warning you.

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  • carnut4carnut4 Posts: 574
    at a local show 'n shine last spring. Not too many of those around, and running, in a 32 Roadster. I can't even remember the last time I saw one of those. One always wonders about the extra strain on that lower end with the 3 main bearings and all. In this case, there was a small blower with a big 4 barrel on top. Sure sounded nice-but different from a flathead.
  • moparmadmoparmad Posts: 197
    Please forgive me,but when I see a flathead I can't help but think of eight Briggs and Stratton lawnmower engines all squished together.Honestly I like the new resurgence though,always fun to see something different.And did you know that for only a large fortune you can get awesome power out of those beasts...Uncouth,unforgiving,but definately cool...Ok maybe not awesome power but still they are cool and deserve a mention in the history of V8's.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,741
    Had the distributor mounted in front of the engine, under the fan. They were a B**** to put points in!

    And, Shifty, I would never knock a flathead. They were strong runners for their time.

    And that sweet sound!.....Still, a Chevy six made some fine music too!

    Find a steep hill ( 2 AM in a residential neighborhood) Go over the crest of the hill about 40MPH, slide it into second gear, and let out the clutch....!
  • rea98drea98d Posts: 982
    Hehehe...
    re Briggs & Stratton,
    first time I heard of those flatheads I had just finished tearing down and rebuilding an old B&S lawn mower engine, and that was exactly what I though about.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    I don't want to add fuel to the FE engine debate, and the 390 GT engine probably did give the FE series a bad name with the muscle-car enthusiasts, but I will say that the 390 could really turn on with the right aftermarket equipment, at least on the street. The last special-interest car I owned was a '68 Cougar XR-7 6.5 litre, with the high-compression 390 2-barrel. The engine was tired, and the car felt slower than the 289 Cougars I had owned. I had it rebuilt with 9:1 pistons, Comp Cam (270 duration hydraulic), Edelbrock Performer manifold and Holly 650. Just run-of-the-mill parts, but they absolutely transformed the engine. The guys at the Mustang Ranch called it "the Beast", and it was easily as responsive around town as any GTO I had owned. The HO and Ram Air Pontiacs were some of the best street engines around, but the 428 Cobra Jet was also one heck of a street engine, apparently better than the "385" engines that followed.
  • moparmadmoparmad Posts: 197
    It is a beautiful thing to see what a matched set of run of the mill parts can do to any engine.I really love these guys who run a tunnel ram and duel 1000 cfm Holleys on a 302 with a stock cam and 2.50 gears and then call the engine junk because it has no bottom end.I carefully matched the intake,carb,and cam on my current project(70 Cuda)and I can't believe the the power this little 323 cu in(318 .30 over)small block makes.
    Thanks for the input everyone,now lets see the lists...Most influential...Most underrated...most durable...Most overrated?
    How about your dream V8's?What V8 would you put into what vehicle to make a dream ride?
  • moparmadmoparmad Posts: 197
    Why thank you Carnut4.I forgot to mention it is the original block in my Cuda,I only wish it was a Hemi,because it would be worth about 50 times what it is.But then I wouldn't dare to drive it,huh.
  • rea98drea98d Posts: 982
    I'd have to take high tech...The 4.6 Ford, with all the custom goodies. Naturally aspirated, of course.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Just off the top of my head, a '65 GTO post coupe with trips, close-ratio 4-speed and 3.90s. An Isky solid-lifter cam for that lumpy idle, and '71 heads for better breathing and compatibility with today's gas. Crude but effective.
  • moparmadmoparmad Posts: 197
    This has nothing to do with this topic but I thought it was pretty funny,check out this 4 bangin' techno muscle...
    Go here and click on 2.3MB of insanity

    http://www.geocities.com/MotorCity/Track/6965/neon.htm
  • The best V-8s are being manufactured today, when you take into consideration fuel efficiency,low pollution, longevity, and performance. A good "work" engine is the GM 5.3 liter 285 HP, and for performance, the Ferrari 3.6 liter 395 HP, is hard to beat.
  • jdermodyjdermody Posts: 2
    The Buick 455 Stage I...I'm thinking a Sinead O'Conner tune is apropos. "Nothing Compares". Enuf said. Justin
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,009
    Yeah, I would agree, the modern V-8s these days are very strong and efficient compared to the older ones...just look at the performance numbers you get from cars right out of the showroom, and decent handling and gas mileage, easy starts, 150K miles endurance in many cases. What the old engines had going for them was a kind of brute strength and a real simplicity, which is appealing , too. Modern designers are learning to distribute torque curves all along the rev range and to take advantage of gearing. Modern muscle cars are more "liveable" than older ones, but some people like the rawness of the older engines and cars. They have an "in your face" quality.

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  • mmcswmmcsw Posts: 29
    No, I'm not a Ford freak, just trying to get your attention... A point I'd like to make about the old flatheads is the compactness of the design, just compare the height of a flathead with that of a modern DOHC design.
    My dad was a mechanical engineer for 45 years at GM Research Labs in the GM Tech Center. The last 15 years or so he was head of the design room where they drew up all of the blueprints for engines, anyway he loves old boats and at a old boat show we recently attended together he pointed out the compactness of those flatheads. But I was drawn to a old DeSoto Hemi that just looked gorgeous in the engine compartment of an old speed boat. And talk about the sweet sound of a V-8 exhaust, those old boats had no exhaust system at all(after the manifolds), they just exhausted below the water line and at speed the pipes were not covered by water at all.
  • carnut4carnut4 Posts: 574
    The sound of those 800 horsepower injected small block Chevies, grinding away on the dirt with the revs cranking up on each short lap kinda sounds like the big boats on the water. Of course the sprints have a show of their own. Off topic? There's another example of one of the best V8's ever made-the small block chevy! And, it was one of the most compact ever-next to the small block Ford OHV, and of course the flathead.
  • mmcswmmcsw Posts: 29
    Arguably the best automotive engine of all time, possibly the most widely produced (80 million plus in various displacements over it's 45 year run to date), certainly the one with the most aftermarket parts available.
    A point I'd like to make about small blocks vs. big blocks is that during the evolution of the American V-8 engine in the 50's, that a lot of the motors were "big blocks", but small displacement. This makes for a lot of excess weight. For example the now defunct Pontiac V-8 had identical external dimensions for all displacements from 326 cid to 455! Of course the old adage "there's no substitute for cubic inches" was a mainstay in Detroit's engine technology for years. Who needs double overhead cams, 4 valves per cylinder, variable cam timing, etc, when you have 450 to 500 cubes under the hood. Anyway, those small displacement big blocks of the late 50's and early 60's really were boat anchors. The big 3 brought out the small blocks to lighten up their cars.
    There is hope on the horizon, consider the new SBC, the LS1. The only thing it shares with the old SBC is the bore spacing, so it really is a new design. It's available now in 4.8, 5.3, 5.7, 6.0 and now a 8 liter versions. All of which would probably put an old 60's big block to shame in terms of output, efficiency and durability.
  • I don't know whether to be happy or bummed about the kind of power they're getting out of the new engines. It' great because now you can get lots of horsepower in a reliable, reasonably priced, safe car. But I've always liked the old musclecars of the '60s, so it's a little depressing to see that some of the modern engines make more power than even the real bruiser big blocks of the past.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,009
    Part of the problem was that the older muscle cars were using very low gearing to take advantage of the type of power they were developing; so now, not only are some of the new cars faster off the line, they are much faster on the top end, too, due to things like variable valve timing, lighter weight cars, fuel injection, etc, that allows them a very broad torque band. Variable timing and lift is like having a torque cam and a rev cam at the same time---it's a tremendous advantage.

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  • jpstaxjpstax Posts: 250
    I'm curious why the Chevy 409 didn't make your lists. I'm also wondering why no one else mentioned it in the 57 posts (I think I read all 57). Granted the 409 was a limited production big block, but it was the king of the drag strip until the Dodge hemis came out and started beating the beloved 409 consistently. I totally agree with you on the 327. I don't know much about the 350.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,009
    I can't speak for the others, but to me the 409 was a beast of an engine all right but not around long enough to create a legend around itself, Beach Boys notwithstanding. Perhaps its rarity, size, weight and lack of versatility never allowed it to be remembered as well as the other Chevy engines.

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  • I think the 409 didn't make the lists because it just wasn't that great. While it was competitive with Pontiac, Ford, and Mopar engines of the time, I wouldn't call it 'king of the dragstrip'. The other manufacturers put a higher proportion of their money into racing development, and ended up with SuperStock packages that could run right with the race 409s. I think the idea of putting the combustion chamber in the block ended up being inefficient; certainly it wasn't an idea that was copied, or ever tried again. I'd call the 409 'king of the street', though, in '61 thru maybe '64 or '65.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    That is one great car song. My recollection from reading old car mags is that the 409 was strong on the strip in '61 and '62, but by '64 it was an also-ran. The hi-perf 409 was available in the '65 Chevy through January '65, I believe, but only with the single 4V, not the 2x4V. I saw a red '65 Impala 409 (not SS) with 4-speed at a recent Palo Alto Concours, and would love to have it for a daily driver. I don't think the car is worth all that much, except to someone like me who likes full-size 4-speeds, sleepers and oddball engine combinations.

    I had a 409 once...a '65 Impala wagon with 409/340 and Powerglide. About as inspiring as it sounds. Was going to combine it with a '65 SS convertible 4-speed with tired 327, but ran out of money.

    My understanding is that the "W" engine was never intended for passenger-car production--it was designed in the mid-'50s for large trucks. That would explain why they had to work so hard to get power out of it. The cams were so radical they'd wear out the valve springs.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,741
    As an impressionable teenager, I would always look at the emblem on the front fenders when I spotted a Chevy. If it only had a "V" it was a lowly 283. Crossed Flags over the V meant it was a 327...not bad, we would wonder if it might be the 300 HP version instead of the much more common 250 horse. And...not often, but once in awhile, we would spot, above the crossed flags, the three important numbers...409!

    Now, I did grow up in a Chevy town. Fords and Mopars were for hicks. I did watch one night though a stop light race between a 409 and a 406 Ford (remember those?) Much to our surprise, the Ford won!
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,741
    Back in those days, the hot cars would head to Hawthorne. Lots of stop light drags!

    LOTS of cops too!
  • carnut4carnut4 Posts: 574
    Isell-every time you mention something, it brings back another memory. In the very early fifties, when I was just a little kid [and already a carnut] my folks lived about 3 blocks off Hawthorne blvd. In those days, I remember lots of flathead Fords cruising around-mostly hotrods from the 30's and 40's. I used to walk down Hawthorne with my grandad, and I'd notice these hotrods bombing around, and the sound of those engines with the loud exhaust, etc. No wonder it got in my blood at such an early age!
  • moparmadmoparmad Posts: 197
    Sorry I have been busy lately and haven't been here in awhile.I failed to include the 409 because I have Moparitice.I live and breathe Mopars and am not up on my Ford and Chevy engines,that is the reason I was curious to hear others input into this discussion.I have just scored a pristine 440 for my 70 Cuda and have been busy with that but I would like to thank everyone who has given thier input.
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