What is the best engine you’ve ever experienced?


This question might sound a little familiar, as we discussed your worst engines in our last installment of According to You. And that’s where Hagerty Community member Bob Keith’scomment comes into play:

“Hey one more thing – excellent piece on the Worst Engines – NOW how about an article on the BEST Engines? I would love to read the final survey results for that!”

Me too, Bob!  So let’s do it. Your answers should not be regurgitated opinions from others, nor should they be from content consumed online or in a magazine. Only your experience with an engine can help forge such an enviable accolade.

To kick things off, I’ll share my candidate and give you all a sense of what we’re hoping to see in your answers.

Lotus/Mercury MarineChevrolet LT5 V-8


My experience driving a 1990 Corvette ZR-1 ensured that its 5.7-liter LT5 V-8 motor would become my runaway favorite engine. I got to enjoy it for just a few days as a college student, but that was all I needed. The C5 generation (1997–2004), LS1-equipped Corvette was already a couple of years old by the time I met the C4 generation (1984–96) ZR-1, but I couldn’t care less after tasting the sweet, sweet powerband of that LT5 motor. Between the 370 lb-ft of torque and 375 hp on tap and the wide powerband, the experience absolutely blew me away. (That little key on the dash that turns off half of the sixteen fuel injectors when someone else needs to drive it is worth a chuckle or two, as well.)

Then I drove a Lingenfelter stroker version of the LT5 that was bored out to 6.8 liters and made 668 horsepower—the brain-melting commenced for a second time. The big boy Lingenfelter has all the torque of a big block muscle car with the powerband of a VTEC Honda. You simply cannot understate the magnificence, especially when you open the hood and see Lingenfelter’s signature siamesed intake resting atop those massive double-overhead camshaft heads.

Lingenfelter “415” stroker LT-5 Sajeev Mehta

The ZR-1 was a tour de force when new, but it’s just as impressive nowadays and still shockingly underappreciated in today’s red-hot collector car market. While it’s a bit complex on the induction side of things, the motors are shockingly reliable and quite trustworthy. Why people don’t lust after this vehicle is beyond me, but the LT5 is clearly the best engine I’ve ever experienced.

And with that, I leave it to you, Hagerty Community:

What is the best engine you’ve ever experienced?

Jump in with your experiences in the comments below.

Check out the Hagerty Media homepage so you don’t miss a single story, or better yet, bookmark it.

Read next Up next: Cragar S/S: Legendary roller remains a modified-car must


    I’ll add a 3rd vote to that… Still running a 300 6cyl today. She’s untouched other than careful maintenance for the past 31 years.

    I love V-8s, no doubt about it. I used to build small-block and even a few big-block Chevys for drag racing.
    I was into sports car racing for a few years, and loved some of the high-winding straight-fours and -sixes in those little cars. I’ve experienced a few V-12s that were really impressive.
    But the best pound-for-pound engine I’ve personally experienced? The S&S 113″ V-Twin that was in my 2001 UMC (Ultra Motorcycle Company) “Fat Pounder”. With 4″ bore and 4.5″ stroke, that puppy had nearly as much torque as it did horsepower. It was cammed up a bit, but the low-end didn’t suffer at all. The bike was pretty heavy, and I’m no small guy, but I could easily pull the front tire when coming out of the hole if I didn’t keep myself forward on the handlebars. The moment it fired up, I was lured by the lumpy idle and throaty growl through the Vance & Hines straight pipes. It pulled strong through all six speeds in the Baker transmission, and if I needed to punch it to make a pass, I seldom even had to drop a gear. It was carbureted, so the only complaint I ever had was that a few times it stalled under hard braking – but that was certainly not something that happened often.
    Yes, crotch-rocket bikes were quicker, but I’ve always liked the big torque rumbler type engines better, and out of all the motorcycles I’ve ever owned, this big boy was/is my all-time favorite. 🏍😎

    I test drove a euro spec/grey market M635CSi in 1997. According to Wikipedia, it had the M88/3 engine (basically the M1 engine). It was the only time I’ve ever spontaneously thought “that’s a mechanical symphony I’m hearing”.

    A couple of favorites: The inline-6 in an E36 M3. Smooth as silk, and rubber-band-like pull. A 250SWB, with a rabid sewing machine snarl. Kicking the throttle for the downshift gave me inadvertent stank-face every time. In a good way. A factory-race-prepped 427 Cobra, which seemed to have infinite torque at any RPM. And a Dodge 318 that Simply. Wouldn’t. Quit. It’s probably still running strong.

    I had Ford’ 3.8L V6 in several cars from a 1983 Mustang to a1994 Sable. Few problems (only in the ’83 because of alcohol fuel, which when eliminated was fine.) I had the ’83 for 35 years and it is still going strong. The addition of fuel injection improved it.

    Dodge Van 318 V8. I don’t know if they are still made yet. I’ve had six of them in my work vans and religiously change the oil and they never failed me. Can’t even say they never got me to work or I had to miss a job. Just routine maintenance and ready to roll.

    I was fortunate enough to drive a Porsche GT3 RS (991.2) on a race track. Four liter flat 6 with over 500 horse power and a 9 thousand RPM redline. As the RPM’s climb, the mechanical melody and rapid acceleration rise with it. Between 8 and 9 thousand RPM sounds like a muffled Porsche cup car. The entire powertrain worked flawlessly. I left the track contemplating driving lessons and Porsche GT cars.

    I haven’t personally experienced much in the way of impressive car engines, but I did enjoy a couple of stirring motorcycle powerplants. My Suzuki TL1000S was a characterful twin – the rumble of a twin at low RPM, but it also spun to over 9,000 RPM. I like stock exhausts and you didn’t need noisy mufflers for that bike to sound distinctive. 125 hp isn’t much in the bike world but it was still good enough for high 10 second quarter mile times in the hands of pros.

    The VFR800 I had afterwards was less torquey, far less rumbly, but a V4 has its own signature sound that I enjoyed. VTEC kicked in with a second set of valves coming online at just under 7,000 RPM (NB: it’s not quite the same as Honda’s automotive VTEC). 12,000 RPM came up quick despite the engine’s relatively modest ~105 hp. I enjoyed that the engine had no trouble running smoothly and quietly at 3,000 RPM or shrieking up to the redline. Small cylinders and a throttle body for each individual cylinder really make for incredible throttle response.

    Been around long enough to have driven cars with most of my favorite engines. I6 from an 07 Bmw was as silky smooth as I’d hoped. Flat6 from a Porsche was awesome. But the best so far is in my 06 Z06. That 7.0 liter motor is just a wall of power everywhere and in such a light chassis (especially by todays sports car standards). It boggles my mind that all you need to own one of these is a valid driver’s license.

    My favorite is the 8.2 liter stroker made by Kaytec for the Pratt & Miller C6RS. I’ve owned car number 003 for the last three years. It generates six hundred horse power and almost 600 lb ft of torque. I giggle every time I drive it. It has immense torque in the mid range!

    7.0L in my Z06. Just a wall of power everywhere. Insane that anybody with the cash is allowed to drive one of these…

    I LOVED my E46 M3 and that S54 motor that went along with it. Absolutely bulletproof and sung like an angel. I wish I had kept it longer!

    Just saw all the Ford 300 comments. I’ve had several of those too. I agree, super reliable. We joked that the truck would fall apart but the motor would still run. Unless you got the distributor wet mudding; only time I remember it dying

    My Backdraft Cobra motor is a 351 stroker 427 Dart block built by Speed Logistics with AFR heads and Trick Flow cam. 565hp/530tq in a 2400lbs car had brutal acceleration.

    1999 Honda CBR1100XX, the engine would pull cleanly from 1500 to the 9500 redline in 6th gear. (About 35mph to 185 or so). Smooth, quiet and reliable. Able to get 50 mpg just poking along on a back road.

    3.6 liter Chrysler Pentastar. Just traded my 2012 Challenger at 205K and only because I wanted another on before they stop making them. Absolutely nothing done to the motor except spark plugs and religious preventive maintenance. Full synthetic oil from the start probably helped too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *