Heavy hitters, including Detroit’s Big Three, have produced some mighty engines over the years, that take lots of abuse and keep coming back for more.
Don’t we all just want to buy a car that, for once, keeps going forever? Yes, we are all guilty of this dream but, as you will learn today, there are American engines out there that will almost look after themselves. We can find them in classic cars, and we can find them in modern sports cars. Some of them are one of the best American V8 engines, and some can be found in good old Detroit legends.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that this list includes a number of diesel engines as well. These coal runners can last far more than just 200,000 miles, and many have used those engines in various projects – from classic cars to motor swaps. One guy even swapped his Tesla’s electric motor for a Cummins diesel – you know who we are talking about.
10 Chevrolet Small Block V8
This staple of the American automotive scene has been in production since 1954 and lasted for nearly 50 years. Available in displacements from 262 cu-in all the way to 434 cu-in, it offered power outputs from 110 hp all the way up to 765 hp in factory trim. There have been over 100 million small block V8s manufactured, and it is one of the best American engines ever made.
9 Ford 5.0 Coyote V8
The five-liter Coyote V8 was designed for the Ford Mustang GT to compete with the General Motors 6.2 LS3 engine found in the Chevrolet Camaro. The larger V8 had to fit in the same space that the 4.6 V8 used to occupy, and it was the first to use the twin variable cam timing, which was responsible for much better power delivery – it even improved fuel consumption. It powered the Ford F-150 with its 360 hp and the Ford Mustang GT, where it delivered 460 hp.
8 Chrysler HEMI V8
Chrysler’s Hemi engines are just as famous as the Chevy small block V8s. The Hemi name comes from the hemispherical cylinder head, which improves the combustion by having a better surface-to-volume ratio. Hemi V8s can be found in the Dodge Charger, Plymouth Barracuda, Dodge Super Bee and the Plymouth Superbird among many iconic cars. This V8 found its way to the Jensen FF and Jensen Interceptor, and it powered the exotic Monteverdi Hai 450.
7 GM LS V8
The LS V8 family from General Motors spans a series of third and fourth generation of small block V8 engines. In production since 1997, they are available in displacements from 293 cu-in to 511 cu-in. Factory power output ranges from 255 hp all the way to 755 hp, although the SSC Ultimate Aero TT came pumping 1,180 hp. Hemi V8s powered cars all over the world – from Pontiac Firebird to Australian Holden Monaro, from Trans Am to Holden Statesman.
6 Dodge 3.6 Pentastar V6
This engine was actually made by Chrysler, and it was the first-generation Pentastar motor that found its way to the Dodge Charger and Dodge Challenger. Its power output of up to 309 hp was enough to turn the Ram 1500 into a swift and rather reliable truck. But it is the Challenger and Charger duo where it found its fame as a reliable and powerful unit capable of many trouble-free miles.
5 Ford 7.3 Powerstroke V8
The first generation of V8 diesels made for Ford by Navistar became regarded as the most reliable engine ever used in light duty trucks. The engine wasn’t faultless, the most common failures were the leaking turbo up-pipes, faulty crankshaft position sensors, and the fuel filter housing would often crack as well. Apart from that, though, the engine was nearly bulletproof, and it was replaced only because it couldn’t meet California’s strict noise regulations. Two million of the 7.3 V8 engines were produced between 1994 and 2003.
4 Chevrolet Duramax V8
The second diesel engine on our list is the Chevy Duramax V8, and this one came from a collaboration between GM and Isuzu. It found its way to GMC and Chevrolet trucks initially only to be then used in vans, pickups, and even medium-duty trucks. Over two million units were manufactured, and this engine has a huge fan base in America. Depending on application, it was available with up to 550 hp and could offer as much as 1,050 lb-ft of torque.
3 GM 6.2 V8
Commonly referred to as LS3, this V8 replaced the LS2 and found its way into the Chevrolet Corvette, Chevrolet Camaro SS and such exotics as the Drakan Spyder and even the Jensen Interceptor R. It was used by Holden in Australia and in its Eaton supercharged LS9 version it made the Corvette ZR1 an absolute beast. The last Holden Commodore used this engine as well.
2 Chrysler 3.5 V6
This is the older version of Chrysler’s V6, one that came before the Pentastar engines took over. This normally aspirated V6 produced only 225 hp, but because of not being stressed too much, it delivered its performance for many miles. It can be found in older versions of the Chrysler Concorde and Dodge Intrepid, which essentially were the same car. The 3.2 was a second generation of Chrysler’s SOHC four-valve V6 engine.
1 Ford 6.7 Powerstroke
The 6.7 Powerstroke Diesel is the fourth generation of Powerstroke engines from Ford, and actually the first designed and manufactured by Ford. All previous generations were made by Navistar. This fuel-injected diesel V8 comes with a sequential turbocharger and delivers 475 hp and 935 lb-ft of torque in its standard specification, but is capable of withstanding much more. The engine powers the Ford F-250 through to the Ford F-550 trucks and has the best power output in this class of diesel engines.