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.
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.
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M88/3 in my BMW M635. Stock they are a little more powerful than when fitted to the original M1. Mine has had some Dinan work to further enhance it.
I love V8’s (and have a 440 in my Jensen Interceptor convertible) but this is a pretty good straight 6.
2.8 V6 from my 1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme International. Loved the look of the intake manifold. Really miss that car!
“Best” is pretty ambiguous, and I’ll assume we’re talking street cars; my 2 favorites were my 426 Hemi – awe-inspiring merely to look at, life-affirming at full throttle – and the 2.4L Porsche 911, whose song varied between a smooth mechanical growl to an angry metallic harmony depending on RPM. Neither gave me trouble, though the Hemi did require some initial tuning work.
Not exotic, but my three favorites: 327 in my parents’ ’63 Impala; 2.8L VR6 in my Corrado SLCs; and 3.0L inline sixes in my BMWs.
I’m old school and I really enjoy the 302 in my 69 Z28. I had another Camaro it had L78 and it was was a blast too.
ThIs may not be common, but I had a 2011 Nissan Altima 2.5L 4 cylinder with over 275,000 miles on it when it got rear ended and totaled. It was still running strong. My first experience with CVT tranny, which also amazingly lasted for 201,000 miles. I did like the smoothness of the ride without the usual shift points. It also had a manual shift gate which actually made it a rather peppy car, considering.
Being Old School, there nothing like the look of a Nailhead with 6 x 2s…
However, my 19’ – ZR1 can sure get the juices raging too …
I have been around so many great engines, my Rheer & Morrison built Chevy 439ci Big block that made 821hp @11600 rpm in 1984, only 1 carb and gas that we raced NHRA A/ED was amazing. The Yamaha 100cc Kart engine is a remarkable engine for Go Kart power. The Ram Aircraft TSIO 520NB Ram VII that can make 350hp @ 25000ft is still super impressive piston power.
But the ole naturally aspirated gen 2 Dodge 8.0 V10 in the Viper is the ultimate piece of engineering that can push a Viper over 200mph without a huffer or No2 and zero tinkering with it, has A/C and can still drive to a dinner out with my wife of 2 decades is the winner in my book!
I agree fully with your take on this engine. I owned a ’91 when new, a truly awesome performer and it was a bullet proof engine. Took a few trips with it, Corvette Museum opening and Last Days of Thunder in Stillwater OK, where the engine was made. That was a great event put on by Chevrolet to celebrate Mercury Marine having made all the LT5 engines, this was just prior to the facility closing down manufacturing for good. I was able to get 30mpg on the highway with that mighty motor. Drag raced it Beech Bend Raceway in Bowling Green, pulling high 12’s.
I also love the ZR-1’s LT5 engine
I love the Toyota 2JZ-GTE 3.0 liter Inline 6 turbocharged. Smooth, torquey, reliable. Able to be boosted to way beyond stock reliably.
The Toyota/Lexus 2UR-GSE 5.0L 32-Valve V8. 7300RPM naturally aspirated V8 with 472hp. Smooth, torquey, makes great noises.
My 65 Mustang has the 200 I6 with 5 main bearings. Bulletproof bottom end and the engine will never die. Easy to work on with easy-to-find parts make it a home run.
A runner up is the GM LS-1, specifically in C5 Corvettes. Aftermarket support ‘o plenty and they can be built to suck you back in the seat. Again, easy to work on/upgrade and even better to drive!
1969 Z/28 302 bad to the bone back in high school
My choice, late 60’s early 70’s Mopar 340 small block. I put 95000 miles on my 70 Challenger, 4 speed, which I reluctantly sold during the oil embargo. Every mile with that high revving small block was music to my ears. I missed it so much I got another in 1985 which I still have to this day.
Mercedes Benz – M113 K…………….M/B doesn’t make them like they use to make them…….and soon they will not make them at all…LOL.