10 Worst V8 Engines Ever

2023-03-23 17:17:52 By : Ms. Summer zhao

A V8-powered car will always win over the heart of any gearhead, but sadly, not all these engines were a success – let's take a look.

Léon Levavasseur designed the world's first V8 engine in France in 1904 for speedboat racing. The 'Antoinette 8V' engine produced a whopping 50 hp at 1,100 rpm, making it the weakest V8 engine ever. Nevertheless, the V8 configuration has produced some of the world's most significant power plants, such as the Toyota 1UZ-FE, which cost Japanese manufacturer Toyota over $1 billion in development costs between 1983-1989. What's more interesting is the 1.7 million miles the 1UZ-FE was subject to before making it into consumers' hands. Thanks to Toyota's attention to detail and penchant for over-engineering, the 1UZ-FE is considered the most reliable V8 engine in the world.

Although the V8 is on its deathbed, you can still pick up incredibly well-priced V8-powered products such as the 370-hp 2023 Dodge Charger R/T costing a pocket-friendly $32,645. Powered by the legendary 5.7-liter Hemi V8, the Charger R/T is the cheapest V8 on the market today. Sadly, the Hemi's legendary status could not prevent it from featuring on this list of the worst V8 engines ever.

The Ford Flathead V8 debuted in 1932 as a 3.6-liter 65 hp V8 engine with a flat cylinder head, hence the nickname. Power would eventually reach approximately 120 hp as the 'flatty' entered the early 1950s.

Although an innovative simplistic design allowed the world to get its hands on the V8, Ford's efforts were highly primitive as the flathead suffered catastrophic overheating malfunctions, mainly due to the restricted airflow as the intake/exhaust valves sat next to the cylinder requiring two 90 degree turns before entering and exiting the block.

Post WWII saw a reduction in cost for overhead valve engines leaving the difficult Ford Flathead redundant among its peers, and Ford pulled the plug in 1953 after subjecting the little eight-cylinder to 20 years of service.

RELATED: Abandoned 1951 Ford Custom With A Flathead V8 Gets Rescued In The Most Satisfying Way

Built between 1953-1957, Chrysler released the 241 cubic inches Hemi as a symbol of efficient power. This forgettable little block would be a thing of the past if it weren't for its 'Red Ram' nickname, thanks to the red valve covers featured.

On the topic of small V8s, the world's smallest production V8 was, quite shockingly, from Maranello. Ferrari fitted a small 2.0-liter V8 to their 1980 Ferrari 208 to display frugal performance. This prancing stallion is capable of 217 hp.

In comparison, Dodge's little Red Ram Hemi produced a dull 140 hp from its 4.4-liter girth, performing at a shockingly low 7:1 compression ratio – possibly the most pitiful engine block to wear the fabled Hemi moniker.

Chrysler was ahead of their time in 1976 when it installed a computer system for its V8 engines. Using eight external sensors, the 'lean-burn' V8 could monitor variables such as starting condition, throttle position, rate of change, inlet temperature, and coolant temperature. The above variables would generate a formula allowing the 'lean-burn' V8 to maintain a frugal fuel use based on drivers' behavior.

While it sounded incredible on paper, this vastly advanced feature lasted only five years, as Chrysler pulled the block in 1980. Sadly for the forward-thinking V8, computers of the time failed to withstand the heat and vibrations of an automotive engine bay, never mind mechanics who settled on simply removing them. One of the biggest problems was Chrysler installing the device on the air cleaner, exposing it to regular temperature changes and vibrations, leading to catastrophic failure.

The Chevrolet 305 small block, manufactured between 1976-2002, arrived with a power rating of 160 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque from the initial 'LG3' variant. Another product of the oil crisis allowed customers to keep hold of a V8, albeit muted.

The Chevrolet 5.0-liter small block was a product of the time. The major problem it faced was the vehicles General Motors insisted it power, such as the 145 hp Chevrolet Camaro, which, ironically, isn't the worst Camaro ever. They even subjected the 1981 C3 Corvette to the 305, producing a measly 180 hp, making it one of the worst Corvettes ever!

Oldsmobile had a cunning plan to tackle the excessive prices of the oil crisis, and that was a diesel-powered V8 engine. But, unfortunately, the Michigan-based manufacturer was rushed by GM into getting the LF9 V8 ready for the 1978 model year.

Sadly for the once great Oldsmobile, diesel fuels were known to contain water and foreign particles at the time. Unfortunately, GM's cost-cutting meant they skipped installing a water separator, leading to catastrophic failure for consumers. Another area for improvement was the head bolt design. The 5.7-liter V8 shared its head bolt design with its gasoline counterpart, which was a fatal oversight for GM, as diesel compresses at a much higher rate than gasoline. This flaw alone led to head bolt failures totaling Oldsmobile LF9 units en-mass.

RELATED: 15 Terrible Cars That Led To The Demise Of Oldsmobile

To impress the American markets and take on the Porsche 911, British manufacturer Triumph decided to follow Pontiac's footsteps and blend their current inline-four into a 2.5-liter V8.

A costly development between 1964 and 1969 saw a 3.0-liter Triumph V8 producing 145 hp, exclusively available for the Stag between 1971-1977. The Triumph V8 may have sounded glorious but arrived littered with rookie errors, such as the water pump on top of the engine failing to fill the cooling system unless you, somehow, drove at an angle. Another issue was the 'skewed' studs used on the cylinder head, a design chosen to allow technicians easy access to the head gasket. Sadly, they helped accelerate cylinder warping, as their awkward placement was subject to the engine's poor cooling capabilities.

Triumph sold 25,877 Stags, with roughly 3,000 regretful consumers shipping it to the USA.

In 1980 Ford took the already pitiful 302 and scaled it further down to a 255 cubic inch V8 block capable of 119 hp and 194 lb-ft of torque.

As expected, the block lasted a couple of years, but in that time, Ford dared to fill the engine bay of the Mustang, Capri, and Firebird models. That's right, Ford's flagship performers took a whopping 13 seconds to get to 60 mph when armed with the 255 Windsor V8.

The 255 'Windsor' was designed to be a frugal response to the tightening emissions regulations, yet it still maintained a 14 mpg average, one of many V8s to avoid from this era.

Pontiac manufactured the 265 cubic inch V8 in 1980/81. The little 265 produced 120 hp and was technically a reworked 301.

If they kept it for their compact range, the little 265 might be a respected unit. But, unfortunately, Pontiac did just as Ford and Chevrolet did and committed a sinful act. Equipping the Grand Prix and Firebird with the 265 engine meant their performance vehicles were now subject to 120 horsepower.

Luckily, GM was quick to replace all Pontiac's power plants by 1982 with their 'corporate' V8 engines derived from Chevrolet and Oldsmobile units.

RELATED: 10 Reasons Why The Pontiac Firebird Trans Am Is An Iconic American Muscle Car

The Cadillac V8-6-4 engine was a technological marvel ahead of its time. Using a computer command module (CCM), the Caddy could shut down up to four cylinders to help reserve fuel and reduce emissions. Cylinders were deactivated based on driver behavior as the system locked rocker arms on selected cylinder heads.

An incredible feat on paper, but sadly, when introduced to the real world, the computer technology of the era could not keep up, and the system provided customers with an uncomfortable jerky ride as it struggled to select cylinder count. Cadillac abandoned the V8-6-4 after four years in 1984, opting for the equally poor HT4100 block.

BMW released the N62 as a naturally aspirated V8 between 2001 and 2010. A stunning block producing 362 hp made its way into the era's 5, 6, and 7 Series BMW models. The 6 Series had always been a problem child, and the N62 just added to the chaos.

Unfortunately, the N62 suffered from two issues – it was expensive to repair and difficult to work with. Valve stem seals were a problem point which would cost owners up to $8,000 in repairs as the N62 continued to have leaky issues. Coolant pipe leaks and gasket oil leaks were all standard on the N62.

An automotive writer based in the UK, suffering with an unhealthy obsession for cars and Formula One. ​​​Providing commanding content that attracts attention and entertains all at the same time is key. At the weekends, you can find him Driving past Williams Racing making high pitch V10 noises with his mouth.... daring to dream...