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What are the best V8 engines ever made?

moparmadmoparmad Member Posts: 197
edited February 2014 in General
I just saw an article in Car craft about the ten
worst V8s.What are your opinions on the best?
Not only the most powerful but the most
influential,best designed etc.
My choiches in no particular order:
Chrysler 426 Hemi
Chrysler 340 Six pack
Chevrolet 350
Chevrolet Aluminum 427
Chevrolet 327
Ford Boss 429
Ford SCJ 428
Most underrated:
Chrysler 318
Chrysler 360
Chrysler 392 Hemi
Ford 351M
Buick 455
Most overrated:
Chrysler Late 440
Chevrolet 350
Ford 302


  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Well, pretty good list....I think for most influential one would HAVE to add the Oldsmobile Rocket 88 of 1949, and of course, the Chevrolet 265/283---both pioneers in the field of the short-stroke OHV V-8.
  • kinleykinley Member Posts: 854
    Charles F. Kettering lives on. Wasn't the 49 Cad engine his also, 331 c.i. 7.5/1 compression ratio?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    I don't know that Kettering had much to do with that one in a hands on way...he's such a legend, like Edison, he gets credit for everything even if he was just in the room watching something being invented. He also came up with a few bonehead ideas, like the Chevy air cooled engine of the early 20s...a big disaster for Chevrolet.
  • modvptnlmodvptnl Member Posts: 1,352
    Can't tell where your loyalties lie. Just kidden'. If we are talking pure performance(very limited availability) I think the 427 SOHC Ford may have been the strongest. I know you'll say hemi but that's fine. To each his own. by the same token both Ford "M" motors 351 and 400 were terrible. With [non-permissible content removed] deck sizes intake manifolds are hard to come by. Main bearings are considered too large for high revs. And only the C6 bolt pattern was available for the tranny. I'll pass on that one. At least the Cleveland style heads were decent but only available as 2bbl. One thing I'm passionate about is the 302 or 5.0l. This motor, thanks to fuel injection in '86, in the post '78 up Mustangs has flat embarrassed cars with big blocks of all makes at the drag strips. And the tuner aftermarket makes 'em a terror on road courses as well. Don't understand your chev 350 in two catagories(sp?). Besides chev small block really covers a lot of ground so 327, 350 etc. says it all to me.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,350
    I think the Buick 401 /425 engines were fantastic.

    They held up well, didn't leak oil like the Chevys and would really fly!

    My 65 Riviera Grand Sport - 425 - 2-4bbl carbs would lay rubber for a block without trying.

    It also got 8 mpg on super premium fuel!
  • badgerpaulbadgerpaul Member Posts: 219
    Those Buick engines were also easy to work on. I still have a soft spot for the 68 Electra that I bought used and ran over 200,000 miles on before it rusted away. The funny thing about it was that the interior still looked great, no split or cracked seats, very little wear on the carpet.
  • moparmadmoparmad Member Posts: 197
    As far as the Hemi goes I will say only this...
    It is common knowledge that top fuel dragsters use custom made blocks for thier engines. What many don't realize that in thirty plus years the basic design of that block hasn't changed all that much,it is based on the Chrysler Hemi. I will say that the best high performance engine to date in my opinion is the Vipers awesome V10, but I asked about V8's. Who can argue with the V10's 450 horsepower, 490 FTLBS. of torque? And this is sae net,not the gross ratings of old,you need to increase those numbers approx. 20% to compare them to an older engine. I include the 350 Chevy only because of the fact of thier popularity, I think they are very overrated, I have rebuilt an '88 350,and '75 360 together with the help of the owner of the 350,and even he mentioned the difference in the quality of the castings.
    I will be the first to admit that I have little knowledge of Fords and Chevys,I have been a Mopar fan since I knew what a car was, this is why I wanted to see everyone's input to this list. The 302 Fords I have seen may be fast if modified,but what isn't? I have pummeled too many 302 Mousetangs(sic) with my Cuda to have any great respect for them. I am not saying they are all junk, maybe it is because around here all the younger kids drive them and they measure performance in how loud the stereo goes.
    Ok one more word about the Hemi,in a recent Mopar Action article a dyno pull from 1967 was found in a Chrysler archive. It was of a 66 Hemi,and it showed 475 hp. This is gross horsepower,however, this was a 66 which is the weakest of the 426's. Now doesn't that make you wonder how they rated those old engines,the Hemi was supposedly 425 hp,but so wasn't every other heavy hitting big block.
    The greatest thing I can say about Buicks is I would love to see a Yellow and black GSX in my driveway,About a '70.
    Brings up another point. Is it just my taste or is 1970 about the pinnicle of muscle car styling?
  • wilcoxwilcox Member Posts: 584
    Ford V-8. best made.....domestic.....and it's still being made....
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    There are many other types of engine that put out a lot more HP/liter than a V-8 or V-10, but the V-8 design seems very rugged by nature and thus suited to the tremendous pressures of say drag racing. I can't say that many of these high strung engines putting out 130hp/liter could stand that level of punishment--to be fair, it's not what they were built for, nut nonetheless, you have to give the domestic V-8s (well, some of them) credit for sheer toughness.
  • rea98drea98d Member Posts: 982
    I'll have to agree with Wilcox on the Ford 4.6L V-8's. What was the first mass produced V-8 Ford came out with? Wasn't Henry the one who figured out how to mass produce an affordable V-8 rather than the expensive custom jobs before that?
    I'll tell you what won't be making any best V-8 list any time soon-Ford V-8's from about the mid 70's until the introduction of fuel injectors. They are huge, drink gas by the gallon full, and don't make that much power. #&%@ Emission controls!
  • carnut4carnut4 Member Posts: 574
    and look at the original big block Ford V8-the 352. Now some might argue with me, but that always seemed to me to make a better boat anchor than anything else-yeah I know-they made some hotter versions-and it grew to the 390,406 and 427. But I still say it'd never make a best V8 list-ESPECIALLY the 70's versions. Talk about a sluggish gas hog....
  • modvptnlmodvptnl Member Posts: 1,352
    With the advent of the 385 series big blocks(429-460) the FE motor was all but done. There may have been a few stragglers in 1970, mostly 390's, But I can almost assure you there weren't too many 70's versions. Believe it or not there is a resurgence of the FE motor for more authentic Cobra kit cars(authentic kit car , now there's an oxymoron) Dove and Eldebrock make repro heads blocks etc. in aluminum. Again I will state a 427 SOHC, basically a side oiler FE block with exotic OHC heads was reportedly making 600 h.p. from the factory. I'd consider giving up a pinky for a SOHC. Also note that 427's in Cobra's ruled the sports car scene as well as being the first and for a long time the only American winner of LeMans. So based on racing history I believe the Ford FE motors deserve some mention. Sorry for babbling.
  • modvptnlmodvptnl Member Posts: 1,352
    While I own a '97 Cobra (4.6 DOHC) and I think it's all right(I'm disapointed in the performance) it has not proven it self over time or competition to be considered a great engine.IMO. The "lowly" pushrod 5.0 with a few well chosen mods destroys the new modular motors at the drag strip. Like the chev 350 the 302/351 enjoys the greatest aftermarket support of any engines ever produced. Try finding aftermarket heads or intakes for the buicks and such mentioned earlier. To me a motor either has to stand way out from the crowd(Ford and chrysler Hemis, 427 SOHC etc.) or stand the test of time and competition to be considered great.
  • wilcoxwilcox Member Posts: 584
    a 351, 302 or 289? Is the 5.0 still produced?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Oh, darn, I forgot the conversion formula for liters = cubic inches....anyone remember this? I do remember that the 5.0 is a 302 engine
  • carnut4carnut4 Member Posts: 574
    that ANY 427 [Chev, Mopar,Pontiac]would have screamed in a car the size of a Cobra and made racing history. Also, if one looks at engines used in racing today [Sprint cars, NASCAR, Sat nite quarter mile tracks everywhere] the engine of choice is clearly the small block Chev-either a tweaked up stock block or custom aluminum race motor. That speaks volumes. So my vote for one of the all time greats would have to be the small block chev-in any of its configurations.
  • modvptnlmodvptnl Member Posts: 1,352
    I'm not sure we are on the same page here. I do think the chev small block is one of the best motors of all time. My response to you initially was directed at post #11. That the Ford FE motors have a history and represented the U.S. against the world in competition and that your recollection of the 70's was a little skewed. It was never a Chev vs Ford debate. I was just defending what is a historic motor. Besides after about '73 I don't think there was any motor making any horsepower during the rest of the 70's. Including 454's,460's,440's etc.
  • carnut4carnut4 Member Posts: 574
    Since this topic is "best V8 engines" I was only saying that the small block Chev has many, many good reasons for being here, and the Ford doesn't. There are many reasons for that, but if you're a big fan of that motor, it doesn't matter anyway. You're right about the 70's as the dark ages of efficiency for all engines. I just remember some particularly anemic 390 Fords and Mercuries from the early seventies.
  • modvptnlmodvptnl Member Posts: 1,352
    civilly. Just remember that there were just as many anemic small block chevys out there during the 70's and even the early 80's as any other motor. The 265's in the Monza comes to mind. 305 2 bbl's didn't exactly set the world on fire. Lets not forget the cross fire 350's in the vettes in the late 70's, I think they made 140 horsepower!!!! So just like the Ford FE motor there's good and bad in everything.

    One final note, I do think the Ford FE motor is an old archaic design and even in the 60's was a heavy yet sturdy block. The sides of the block extended past the center line of the crank to allow cross bolting the mains, a design being utilized in the newer blocks today by both G.M. and Ford. I just want to say for the last time that I felt it needed to be defended as a series of motors that deserved Historic recognition. Your original flame of this series of engines I felt needed to be addressed. I'm done.
  • ls1v8ls1v8 Member Posts: 34
    Pontiac produced several V8 engines in the 60's and 70's that are worthy of consideration in the "Best Of" group.

    Pontiacs 421 Super Duty in 1962. Free-flowing cylinder heads, forged-steel crank, rods, 4-bolt main, 11:1 compression, twin 4-bbls on a high-rise intake, and factory headers.

    Also the 400 RA Series of engines ending with the Ram Air V engine in 1969.

    And the last Big Cube, big HP, and huge torque engine put in a Muscle car at the start of the Horsepower Ice Age: The SD 455. It’s fitting that Pontiac, which starting the muscle car movement, would fire the last shot in the super car wars with the Super Duty 455 of 1973-74. When most car companies were turning their attention to increasing fuel mileage and decreasing emissions, the SD 455 was placed in 1973 and 1974 Firebird Formulas and Trans Ams.
  • carnut4carnut4 Member Posts: 574
    and the Pontiac was a great motor from the start, with fully machined combustion chambers[few realize this] in every production engine and other new revolutionary features, like the stud mounted rocker arms [that most people think Chevy invented. It's track record[Nascar, Drag racing] speaks for itself. Definitely a vote for Pontiac as one of the all time great V8s.
  • ls1v8ls1v8 Member Posts: 34
    Re: Rocket Eighty Eight engine from posts 1 & 3.

    I found a little blurb on the engine when I was searching nameplate history.

    Oldsmobile engineers had been working on their own V-8 engine, (in the late 40's) building four prototypes. But General Motors pulled the plug on the junior division efforts. They wanted The Caddy, to be first with a contemporary overhead-valve V-8.

    [i]"Many of the Olds and Cadillac design principles had been developed by GM's legendary engineer, Charles Kettering. Thus the Olds engineers had intended that their new baby should be named "Kettering V-8."[/i]

    Rocket 88 won out on the name choice.
    Probably another GM decision so not to glorify engineers?
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,350
    I've never seen a 421 with 2-4bbl carbs. Did they make such a thing? I have seen the mighty 421 with 3-2bbls.

    I had a 64 Catalina once upon a time. It had the 421 - single 4bbl. It also had been factory ordered with a three speed on the column. What a sleeper that car was!
  • ls1v8ls1v8 Member Posts: 34
    This set-up was offered but, I believe it is very rare. It was for the Drag Cars. I saw one at a car show in FL. in the early 80's when I used to compete with my 73 TA.

    It was a 421 SD Catalina. The ones with the lightweight body parts. Aluminum bumpers and bumper braces, aluminum fenders and fender aprons, and aluminum radiator and radiator core. It may have had a swiss cheese frame too. The 421 SDs in this type of car ran high twelves at 110-115 mph. Not to bad. My LS1 Formula can't do that...Well with me in it anyway!
  • tucsonjwttucsonjwt Member Posts: 265
    Once GM fixed the soft camshafts on the 454, this became a great engine. It's the combination of engine/transmission/rear end that you have to consider. I have an old beater 73 Chevy 3/4 ton pickup with a 454/400 which still runs like a dream. I keep it mostly for nostalgia value. It still passes emissions easily(pre smog model.)In a heavy vehicle a 454 will get the same gas mileage as a 350 - lousy gas mileage. I try to never exceed the speed limit, but sometimes it's fun to get up to 75 mph quickly with the old rat motor. It's a sensation you don't get with modern cars.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Where did that term Rat Motor come from? Is it just the one motor or more than one type?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    thanks, that makes sense...just one of those crazy bits of car culture.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,350
    I had forgotten that term...Rat motor. In So. Calif we called them that too. Never heard Mouse motor.
  • carnut4carnut4 Member Posts: 574
    I've heard both mouse motor and rat motor as it applies to the chev small and big blocks. I thought it came from the expression "build a better mouse trap", referring to a built small block, and then the bigger blocks got the name "rat"-but I don't know. Anyone?
  • tucsonjwttucsonjwt Member Posts: 265
    Now that I think of it, I subscribe to Street Rodder, Vette, and Corvette Fever. I have seen articles in all of these magazines refer to the Chevy big block as a rat motor. Street Rodder had a series of articles on an old Buick Big Block which they referred to as a nailhead. Not being the Buick type - why is it called a nailhead?
  • carnut4carnut4 Member 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 Member 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 WashingtonMember Posts: 20,350
    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 Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    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.
  • carnut4carnut4 Member 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 Member 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 WashingtonMember Posts: 20,350
    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 Member Posts: 982
    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 Member 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 Member 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 Member 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 Member Posts: 982
    I'd have to take high tech...The 4.6 Ford, with all the custom goodies. Naturally aspirated, of course.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member 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 Member 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
  • dranoeldranoel Member Posts: 79
    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 Member 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 Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    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.
  • mmcswmmcsw Member 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 Member 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 Member 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.
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