The AMC V-8 is a great example of a domestic V-8 engine that has-except for aficionados-be
Everyone likes to dis America, until it's time for America to bail them out. This happens almost daily in the walk of global politics, but interestingly, it goes down with great frequency in the hot rodding scene as well. While foreign elitists love ripping on our primitive, big-inch, pushrod engines, they often replace their high-tech, high-winding, turbocharged, weenie-displacement slugs with red-blooded American lumps. Without the 427 Ford FE engine, the AC Cobra would've been just another turd of a British sports car. Likewise, you'll frequently find small-block Chevys in Porsches, Mazdas, BMWs, and Datsuns, but when is the last time you saw a Porsche, Mazda, BMW, or Datsun engine in a Chevy? Um, like never. The world didn't seem to mind, either, when the Allison V-1710-in its 1,700 ci, 12 cylinders, and 1,000 hp of glory-helped P51 Mustangs shoot down Nazis over the skies of Europe during World War II, saving humanity from a perpetual state of Oktoberfest and a global outbreak of smelly sauerkraut. OK, the Allison was a V-12 aircraft motor, but you get the point.
Mass-produced mainstream V-8s, embraced by both hot rodders and the average consumer alike, have endured the test of time by virtue of their overall excellence. The Chrysler LA-series small-block, Ford Windsor, and all four generations of Chevy small-blocks each offer a balance of horsepower, low mass, compact size, versatility, fuel mileage, modification potential, and low cost that reflect their universal appeal. Consequently, each of these platforms have powered everything from muscle cars to trucks to fullsize vans to 9-second drag machines to RVs. VTEC that, Mr. Baggypants. In the case of Hemis and big-block Chevys, these engines have set the gold standard for outrageous power and on-track dominance. With few exceptions, trying to hang with a max effort Hemi or Rat motor with anything other than a Hemi or Rat motor is a losing proposition, and it's been that way for 50 years.
Even so, there exists an elite cadre of production engines that few people outside of die-hard brand loyalists remember. It's not that they were poorly engineered heaps that had little to offer. More often than not, they boasted cutting-edge technological innovations and set performance benchmarks for their time, but were replaced by more cost-effective alternatives. With decades of R&D separating these motors from today's crop of engineering marvels, the horsepower figures of these relics of internal combustion aren't too impressive by modern standards. Nonetheless, judged against their contemporaries, they could more than hold their own. So without further delay, and further alienating the international community, here's a retrospective on some of the greatest engines that time forgot.