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What are the best V8 engines ever made?

moparmadmoparmad 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, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    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.

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  • kinleykinley 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, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    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.

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  • modvptnlmodvptnl 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 WashingtonPosts: 19,603
    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!
  • 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 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 Posts: 583
    Ford V-8. best made.....domestic.....and it's still being made....
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    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.

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  • rea98drea98d 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 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 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 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 Posts: 583
    a 351, 302 or 289? Is the 5.0 still produced?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    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

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  • carnut4carnut4 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 WashingtonPosts: 19,603
    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 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!
  • 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, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    Where did that term Rat Motor come from? Is it just the one motor or more than one type?

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    thanks, that makes sense...just one of those crazy bits of car culture.

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,603
    I had forgotten that term...Rat motor. In So. Calif we called them that too. Never heard Mouse motor.
  • carnut4carnut4 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 Posts: 283
    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?
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