Not all V-8 engines are equal. These nine cars pack sub-3.0-liter V-8sby Dim Angelov, on LISTEN 11:05
For as long as most of us can remember, V-8 engines are associated with big power and big displacement. Although this is true for most of them, there are those that don’t share their bigger counterparts’ performance capabilities. Nevertheless, some of these engines pack a surprising amount of punch for their size. On top of that, you can find a lot of them in some pretty epic vehicles.
Ferrari 208 (1980)
Whether it’s the GTB (Berlinetta/coupe) or GTS (Spider), the Ferrari 208 always came with a variety of small V-8 engines. The smallest of them was produced between 1980 and 1981 and had a 2.0-liter (1,990.64 cc) or 121 cubic-inch, normally-aspirated, V-8. The engines were fed from four Weber DCNF carburetors, which resulted in 155 horsepower (114 kilowatts) at 6,800 RPM and 125 pound-feet (170 Nm) at 4,200 RPM.
Over 300,000 Ferrari 208 were produced with this engine. Its successor – the 1982 Ferrari 208 Turbo used the same engine, but now produced 220 horsepower (162 kilowatts) at 7,000 RPM and 177 pound-feet (240 Nm) at 4,800 RPM, thanks to the addition of forced induction. Less than 700 of them were made.
Lamborghini Urraco (1972)
Ferrari’s arch-nemesis – Lamborghini – also had its fair share of small-displacement V-8 engines. The smallest of them was put to work in the Urraco P200 and it didn’t even have 200 horsepower. The 2.0-liter (1,991 cc/122 cubic-inch) V-8 was the smallest of three versions used in the Lamborghini Urraco.
Understandably, it was the least desirable of the bunch and, out of 791 Urraco made, only 66 had 2.0-liter V-8. The engine produced 182 horsepower at 7,500 RPM and 130 pound-feet (176 Nm) at 3,800 RPM. Lamborghini claimed a 7.2-second time from 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) and a top speed of 134 mph (215 km/h).
Fiat 8V (1952)
Yet another Italian classic makes the list. Although Fiat is nowadays perceived as a company that makes affordable mass-produced vehicles, they had a few good hits. The Fiat 8V scored an impressive design and a few renowned coachbuilders, among which Vignale, Zagato, Ghia, and others. This resulted in a few different versions, each of them beautiful and unique in its own right. A total of 114 units were made.
The engine was a 2.0-liter (1,996 cc/122 cubic-inch) normally-aspirated V-8, which made up to 127 horsepower (93 kilowatts) at 6,600 RPM and 103 pound-feet (140 Nm) at 4,500 RPM. The twin-carbureted unit was initially intended for a luxury sedan, which never happened. The Fiat 8V weighed 2,198 pounds (997 kg) and had a top speed of 118 mph (190 km/h). Despite it not being a sales success, it had great tremendous success in GT championships between 1952 and 1959. Its V-8 engine was also used in many Siata models.
Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale (1967)
Manufactured between 1967 and 1969, the Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale is considered one of the first true supercars. With only 18 produced the stunning mid-engine Alfa is also one of the most sought-after models of the brand. The Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale was derived from the Tipo 33 racing car, hence the name.
The engine was a 2.0-liter (1,995 cc/122 cubic-inch) normally-aspirated V-8, which was quite similar to another V-8 on the list. Among its distinctive features were the chain-driven DOHC design, dry sump, two spark plugs per cylinder (16 total), and a 10,000 RPM limiter, thanks to a flat-plane crankshaft. This resulted in 233 horsepower (172 kilowatts) at 8,800 RPM and 152 pound-feet (206 Nm). The car was also extremely light, at just 1,543 pounds (700 kg), which contributed to a 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) time in around 5.0 seconds.
Ford Convertible (1937) & Ford Vedette (1948)
Yes, there is an American on the list! It seems downsizing was a thing even back in the 1930s. The Ford Convertible was the Blue Oval’s main product at the time and, in 1937, it received a smaller 2.2-liter (2,228.64 cc/136 cubic-inch) engine with a side-valve design. It was actually the second “flathead” unit after the more popular 3.6-liter Flathead V-8. However, the small 2.2-liter variant produced only 60 horsepower (45 kilowatts) and 94 pound-feet (127 Nm).
Although the small Flathead was not very popular, it was also used in another Ford model. It was the Ford Vedette - a full-size sedan produced by French subsidiary Ford SAF, in the Poissy plant, near Paris.
Simca Vedette (1954)
In the 1950s, Simca wanted to expand its operations. This was in tune with Ford’s desire to separate itself from Ford SAF – their French subsidiary from earlier. The Poissy plant had a great production capacity and it previously produced the Ford Vedette. The Simca Vedette started production just as Ford SAF stopped making the Ford Vedette. It was the French marque’s biggest model, by far, and shared more than just name with Ford’s sedan.
The Simca Vedette was powered by a 2.4-liter (2,351 cc/143 cubic-inch) V-8 that was based on the 2.2-liter Flathead V-8. In this variant, the V-8 made 80 horsepower (60 kilowatts) and 110 pound-feet (149 Nm). The second-generation Simca Vedette continued using the same 2.4-liter V-8, but it received a bump in power to 100 and later to 140 horsepower.
In some markets, like Germany, Sweden, and Norway, the Simca Vedette was actually called the Ford Vedette.
Daimler SP250 “Dart” (1959)
The small lightweight roadster is a perfect representation of the British sports car. Light, nimble, and with sufficient power. The Coventry-based company produced just over 2,600 of these “HEMI”-powered sports cars. Yes, the 2.5-liter (2,458 cc/150 cubic-inch) V-8 had hemispherical combustion chambers, hence the mentioning of the HEMI moniker. It also had twin SUV carburetors and an 8.2:1 compression ratio.
The result was 140 horsepower (104 kilowatts) and 155 pound-feet (210 Nm). With a curb weight of just 2,070 pounds (940 kg), the 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) sprint was possible in under 9.0 seconds. The “Dart” nickname came from the SP250’s pre-production version and transitioned onto the production car.
Tatra 603 (1956)
The 603 was a full-size luxury sedan, manufactured by the Czechoslovakian company Tatra. The car featured a rear-mounted 2.5-liter (2,545 cc/155 cubic-inch) air-cooled V-8 engine. It produced 100 horsepower (74 kilowatts) and 112 pound-feet (152 Nm).
There was also a rally version called the Tatra 603 G, which had a 2,477 cc (155 cubic-inch) version of the same engine that produced 104 horsepower (77.5 kilowatts) and 122 pound-feet (166 Nm). The engine featured a shorter stroke (70mm vs 72 mm) and had an increased compression ratio, from 6.5:1 to 8.2:1.
The Tatra 603 made up for the lack of power by being very aerodynamic. The car was easily capable of speeds of over 100 mph (161 km/h). At the same time, the 2.5-liter V-8 was very light, at just 397 pounds (180 kg), which allowed for a 47/53 weight distribution.
Alfa Romeo Montreal (1970)
The Alfa Romeo Montreal is another iconic car from the Italian marque. Styled by Marcello Gandini from Bertone, the 2+2 coupe had a stunning and distinctive design. The engine was a 2.6-liter (2,593 cc/158 cubic-inch) normally-aspirated V-8.
The engine shares a lot with the one found in the Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale. However, Montreal’s engine was tuned more for street use and featured a cross-plane crankshaft as opposed to the 33 Stradale’s flat-plane crankshaft. The result was a still respectable 200 horsepower (147 kilowatts) and 173 pound-feet (235 Nm).
Performance was further enhanced by the ZF five-speed manual transmission.
The Montreal wasn’t that heavy either, at just 2,800 pounds (1,270 kg). The 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) time was in around 7.0 seconds and the top speed – 139 mph (224 km/h).