Poll: Great American V8s

As we continue with our selection of Americana-themed reader polls this month, it’s only appropriate that we square off the most iconic American V8s against each other. We’ve gathered up ten different V8s engines which span several different brands and over 80 years of automotive history.

Which will rise to the top? That’s for you to decide.

Ford Flathead

A proper place to start is with the Ford Flathead V8. Originally introduced in 1932, the Flathead was a groundbreaking piece of engineering. It’s considered the world’s first affordable eight cylinder engine andwas in production for more than 20 years. It also became the engine of choice for early hot rodders and it’s cult following continues to this day.

Oldsmobile Rocket

The 303 cubic inch Oldsmobile Rocket V8 was introduced in 1949 and is considered the first mass-produced overhead valve V8 engine. It was a powerful piece by 1949 standards, and was idolized in the early rock ‘n roll song “Rocket 88″. The introduction of the Rocket also helped to fuel the horsepower war that would unfold in the years and decades to follow.

Small Block Chevy

What needs to said about the small block Chevy? It was (and is) one of the most popular engines of all time. The first iteration of the long-running SBC was the 265, which was introduced in 1955. The venerable small block would be continually updated and was available in GM cars and trucks through the early 2000s. Not only that, but enthusiasts have dropped SBCs into just about every sort of vehicle imaginable.

Chrysler Hemi

The Hemi. While it’s not nearly as common as the small block Chevy, it’s reputation is just as strong. These hemispherical induction chamber motors first appeared in the early 1950s, but it was in the ’60s with the introduction of the 426 that the Hemi truly came into its own. Besides being available in a number of Mopar muscle cars, the Hemi also established itself as competition powerhouse – both in NASCAR and on the drag strip. Chrysler continued the lineage with the reintroduction of the new “Hemi” V8 in the early 2000s.

Small Block Ford

Ford’s small block contribution is not to be overlooked. In the 1960s the 260 and 289 cubic inch V8s appeared not only in standard Ford vehicles, but also in competition-bred vehicles like Carroll Shelby’s Mustangs and Cobras. The small block Ford also made waves in the 1980s with the introduction of the fuel injected 5.0 HO, which helped launch the modern muscle car era.

Pontiac V8

Today it can be hard to fathom that GM’s brands once had their own unique powerplants completely different from each other. Of these, some of the greatest were Pontiac’s series of V8s in the 1960s. It was the 389 cubic inch motor that made history in 1964 when Pontiac decided to drop it in the mid-sized Tempest and create the first real “muscle car”.

Ford FE

Ford’s FE series big blocks could be found not only in hot street cars, but on the race track as well. The famous 427 powered winning drag cars, sports cars, stock cars, and was the heart of the Ford GT40 during its run at Le Mans. There was also the experimental SOHC “cammer” 427 that became a favorite among drag racers after it was outlawed for NASCAR use.

Big Block Chevy

While GM’s factory race presence in the ’60s paled in comparison to Ford , Chevy’s take on the big block was equally potent. On the street, these big displacement engines became the top dog choice for muscle cars like the Chevelle and Camaro, as well as the Corvette. Besides hot street cars, these motors could also be found in Can Am machines as well. To this day, the BBC is still a top choice for racers seeking outrageous amounts of power.

GM LS Series

In 1997, GM replaces the original SBC with the new all-aluminum LS1. In the following years, LS motors have only gotten better – increasing in displacement, technology, and also adding superchargers to the mix. With lightweight, high power, and proven reliability the LS series has redefined what’s possible with an OHV V8. There’s a reason why there are so popular with enthusiasts across the world.

Ford Coyote

While GM has stuck with the pushrod design for its V8s, Ford moved to overhead cams beginning in the mid 1990s. The latest in Ford’s line of DOHC V8s is the 5.0L “Coyote” that powers the current Mustang. With horsepower figures well above 400 and all the smoothness and drivability you could want, the Coyote is truly a symbol of just how far American V8s have advanced since the Flatheads of yore.

So, which of these all-American motors will it be?

Make your vote and discuss below.

-Mike

[polldaddy poll="6981489"]

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88 comments

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1

Where's the LT5?

2

Where's the LT5?

3

ZL-1 variant of the Chevy Big Block.

4

ZL-1 variant of the Chevy Big Block.

5

no Buick nailhead?

6

no Buick nailhead?

7

Of course the LS is leading with all the drifting goons on this site...

8

Of course the LS is leading with all the drifting goons on this site...

9

No Buick love? The Stage 1 455 in the old GS had the highest torque in a production vehicle till the Dodge Viper came along. I guess we can't have EVERY engine up there though.

10

No Buick love? The Stage 1 455 in the old GS had the highest torque in a production vehicle till the Dodge Viper came along. I guess we can't have EVERY engine up there though.

11

the LS of the last 10 years is the 350 SBC of 1965-1995, it gets stuffed in everything because it makes reliable power, is dirt cheap and easy to source and they're effing everywhere.it isn't just drift goons that run LS engines, a lot of guys building a lot of different things are looking at the LS engines (4.8-6.0, iron or aluminum) as the most consistent option to make decent pump gas power.imaginative? no.easy, cheap and dependable? yep.and I don't even like GM stuff.

12

the LS of the last 10 years is the 350 SBC of 1965-1995, it gets stuffed in everything because it makes reliable power, is dirt cheap and easy to source and they're effing everywhere.it isn't just drift goons that run LS engines, a lot of guys building a lot of different things are looking at the LS engines (4.8-6.0, iron or aluminum) as the most consistent option to make decent pump gas power.imaginative? no.easy, cheap and dependable? yep.and I don't even like GM stuff.

13

@ssbeane I agree, no Buick?  The nailhead is not the 455 but it is nice to look at.

14

@ssbeane I agree, no Buick?  The nailhead is not the 455 but it is nice to look at.

15

@ssbeane agree too! no Nailhead no party. Well give my vote for good old Flathead!

16

@ssbeane agree too! no Nailhead no party. Well give my vote for good old Flathead!

17

while I love the history of the older motors (the rocket in particular), I had to vote for the coyote.

18

while I love the history of the older motors (the rocket in particular), I had to vote for the coyote.

19

Could this in the future be done by some panel of experts? im sure you could combine this into a good interview too. That would be awesome.
And a lot more interesting than the average joe votes.

20

Could this in the future be done by some panel of experts? im sure you could combine this into a good interview too. That would be awesome.
And a lot more interesting than the average joe votes.

21

Drifting goons ?. Id nail it down to people with no imagination. When all else fails LS or 2J it ..

22

Drifting goons ?. Id nail it down to people with no imagination. When all else fails LS or 2J it ..

23

@kkurtz That's a variation of a SBC.  So in essence it's already there.

24

@kkurtz That's a variation of a SBC.  So in essence it's already there.

25

@kkurtz yeah...expect it's not an SBC in anyway other then the bore spacing

26

@kkurtz yeah...expect it's not an SBC in anyway other then the bore spacing

27

@MatsNorway Agreed. Most these are just so damn legendary as is, it's hard to decide!

28

My favorite chevy engines are the Ls7 and Ls9. Ford s its has to be the cammer and the coyote.

29

Compared to a 2j or an LS everything else is a fail. Some of us use our cars more than we polish them.

30

Leaving pushrod for ohc is a win in my book.

31

The Coyote is my vote. Light weight with all modern tech, growing aftermarket, very high potential for power on stock internals, and still has the reliability of a standard American V8. All while being relatively inexpensive. Truly a step forward.

32

Dudes! If you stopped to consider the profound impact the small block Chevy had on the world - there would be no votes for anything else. Unless you were brainwashed toward another marque.
Yes the LS family is the absolute winner by means of brilliant cam-in-block engineering. It is an outstanding testament to new American engineering refinement. Face it - the bottom end is crazy stiff and re-enforced - and dry sump for a street car! Hells hea! The LS hasn't yet had the impact to the car hobby/motorsprts its 265-400 small block has. Sorry.

33

The fact that the Flathead is so far behind is both sad and depressing. The LS is a very good engine, but it's nowhere near as iconic or groundbreaking as the Flathead. You can sure tell this is a drifting fanboy site.

34

Even though the GM LS-series is lightweight and able to fit into almost anything, the Coyote got my vote because some real effort went into making it an efficient engine. All that effort is worth something; I can't find an American production V8 with a better specific output (hp/litre)... Probably because most of them resort to such a barbaric way of valve actuation as pushrods.

35

what about 351c cleveland? definitely a great engine then and now.??

36

SO HARD TO CHOOSE JUST ONE BUT HEMI IT IS

37

wow, way to forget about the Chrysler Wedge motors guys.

38
Edumucate yourself

Which is ironic, because NASCAR pushrod V8 motors actually operate at roughly the same BMEP as F1 engines:
 
http://www.epi-eng.com/piston_engine_technology/comparison_of_cup_to_f1.htm
 
Read that and I bet you we don't see another comment from you about "barbaric pushrods." 
 
Cheers mate.

39

@milkplus LOL, sure.

40

LS series no contest as far as performance and reliability in concerned.   2nd is Small Block Chevy (SBC).  I love how universal they made SBC parts, where pretty much ANY SBC part will bolt directly to ANY SBC motor.

41

Small block ford for my vote what engine revived performance in the 1980s the sbf.So many options for cid cheap parts are every where thanks to the 5.0.

42

Lol it drives me nuts when people talk about OHV engines like they're from the stone age. Plain ignorance and childishness.

43

Hi, little s13 nuthuggers. LS engines have been destroying the track/drag/street WAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYY before poor kids started shoving them into drift buckets.kthnxbye

44

Grew up under Ford thanks to my grandfather and dabbled with Chevy's before Honda's started fartin up the streets. Gotta love real American muscle.

45

where is the BOSS 302? An engine that dominated Trans Am in its prime. Or the 427 Cobra Jet!!! The engine that beat Ferrari at its own game in LeMans in the absolutely legendary GT40 Mk2s, not to mention being the motor that put Carroll Shelby and his Shelby Cobra in the history books. Why no ford love? SBF? is that a 289, 302, 351 Windsor or 351 Cleveland u guys are talking about... all very different motor in very different cars. Just because its cheapest to buy and swap an LS motor into a drift car doesnt make it a great engine.

46

A HEMI for me

47

That was easy... Big Block Chevy offcourse.

48
Roger_the_Engineer

I love y'all's poles! However I would like to make one suggestion, clarify the question. Fore example, is this asking "what's the most iconic American built V8" or "what classic American V8 would I like to have" or "Which of these American V8's is the most aesthically pleasing" or "which of these represents America the best"? Thanks again y'all and keep up the great work!!

49

The GM Engines, it's the best world engines!

50

I'll go with the engine snob's choice the Ford 427 cammer. Rare as unicorn semen

51

@Paizuri_4g63 Excellent choice! but rarer still is the all aluminum 494 Ford Can-Am motor. Or a Flathead with Ardun heads... mmmm yummy.

52

SPEEDHUNTERS Working for Ford I have spent a lot of time with the Coyote. Easily the best. #epicrevs

53

@Roger_the_Engineer The simple answer to all of your questions is the ls...ha

54

@IvanSafranek Hell Yea brother...'Murica

55

Dukes of Hazard knew what's up... HEMI.

56

Its funny because im a fabricator / engine builder. I have nothing against the 2JZ (Have one in my own JZA-80 Supra) nor the LS1, but there are so many fantastic motors, 3S / 1JZ / 1UZ / 3UZ, RB / CA / SR / VH / VG, 4G etc etc. Im building a drift car, but im not just getting a S13 and dropping in a LS ... and ive got nothing against anyone that does. But its incredibly naive to think that there is nothing but that or a 2JZ, and all else "is a fail". One of the coolest drift cars in the world, doesnt even have a piston engine to begin with.  The part that does get me about the kiddies who drop 2j's into cheap rollers is commonly they dont make much power anyways (ie 400-500, meaning they are no where near the engines limits), and would have made just that in a RB25 anyways and kept it all Nissan. Nissan with a Toyota ... is like putting a 302 into a Camaro, you wont get any love from Chev nor Ford fans :) But each to their own.

57

You probably meant the 428 Cobra Jet, which wasn't that great. From the Ford FE Series, the 390 and the 428 had major oil passages problems and they were not as strong as their competitors from Chrysler and GM. I have to agree for the BOSS 302 though ... and the BOSS 351 for that matter, they were absolutely great engines. 
 
I think the best bang for the buck nowadays for street/strip performance is probably the 351 Windsor, not to be mistaken with the 351 Cleveland with HUUUUUGE ports.

58

I liked this poll. You guys should definitely do it for other categories.

59

@IvanSafranek so, what are you building?

60

Definitely LS series. Thing is used in muscle cars and all the way to the Le Mans Prototype Challenge cars!

61

@IvanSafranek In all seriousness I'm a Nissan fanboy so a KA, SR, RB, VQ, or a VK would suit just fine with me(but this poll is about American V8's). I also love the LS motor just for being so user friendly(power, tuning, efficiency), and since I live in the southwest they are way easier and cheaper to get than to try an source an RB and then tune it.

62

No Rover V8!?
 
Only kidding.

63

Surprised  no Buick motors made the mix! No love for the Nail Head V8s of the 60s, or the 500ft lbs making stump pullers like the GS Stage 1 and 2 455s or even the MONSTER GSX Stage 1&2 455s?
 
There is a reason the American 60s-early 70s cars and engines just won't die when it comes to enthusiast. Every GM mark has it's own V8s. from small displacement aluminum turbocharged oddities (the FIRST production turbo engine [1962 Oldmobile F85/cutlass]), to sliky smooth 500c.i. Cadillac V8s in the Eldorado. Every brand had it's own flair and take on how a proper V8 should be built and run. From Frenzied and high revving (Chevy small block, and on occasion the Big blocks as well) to lazy and effortless power like Mopar 440s or the Oldmosbiles and Buicks. 
And many where in another league all together, like the 409,427,396, and 402 Chevy Rat motors, or the King Kong high winding 426 Hemi, which had NO business being run on the street.
 
But if I was honest; the King of all American V8s is the motor which was passed the torch from it's grand father of yore; LS Engines for the win! NOTHING packs the same amount of power, compactness, light weight, efficiency, reliability, adaptability, and even tech into such an affordable package as the Gen 4 small block!  Now I'm curious to see what this new LT has to offer.

64

like stated earlier the Boss 302 is certifiably BOSS, but the rest, while cool, tended to have more "potential" than performance when it mattered.

65

My grand father used to street race back in the day, and he and his pals swear a Hemi couldn't hold a candle next to a nonchalantly tuned "Wedge" head Mopar on the street. The Hemi was just to temperamental and finicky for "non pro" use. Besides it didn't make power till it was over 5 grand. By then a Wedge  Big block powered car was already long gone. At the track with short gears and slicks whole different story.

66

yet again, another "no nothing" getting side tracked by pushrods and failing to understand it's actually a far newer and elegant packaging solution to operating the valves.

67

hardly. I love the flat head V8, and yes it put the idea of American V8 motoring on the map. but other than being offered in the low priced market, there is nothing "revolutionary" about the Flat head V8. it was merely the same side valve operated design that everyone else had, except it was a V8. 
 
Sure it's Iconic, but the OHV GM V8s ( especially the SBC) were the ground breaking upsets of performance motoring. And continue to be.

68

Definitely meant 427, in the Cobra Mk3s it dominated GT racing around the world in the 60's. And I cant stress the importance of it being the first American V8 to win at LeMans in the GT40 Mk2. I agree about the 351W, great easily strokable engines, although I have always had a soft spot for the Cleveland because of how cool they look in a Pantera.

69

Some of this engines look like were from  some agricultural appliance's or some sort of tractors. Were they?

70

@IvanSafranek  "Like putting a 302 into a Camaro" = 67-69 z/28. Small detail, I knew what you meant. I love swaps like the Top Secret 3S or 1GZ cars, but a car being built on a budget and used for a dynamic purpose (not car shows) will have pretty limited choices. Contrary to the old addage, you can have something cheap, fast, and reliable but it's not going to be very original... and stuffing large american V8s in small cars has been a recipe for glory since the 50's.

71

@WoutdeJong Hey mate, a Nissan LM-3248 ... basically a R32 Skyline with a Nissan TB48. While im between jobs on that ive also got a Toyota Echo (Yaris / Vitz) im building as a time attack for a bit of fun, with a ZX14 turbo plant in it.

72

@milkplus "but a car being built on a budget and used for a dynamic purpose" . That i agree with, and understand. My point was that there are many options out there. I have a customer who wants parts to be made for his IS200 2JZ-GTE project. He doesnt want much more than 450/500 and as a result the project is now heavily stalled with the sheer cost of the setup. My advice was a 1JZ, with less torque it will be far more driveable for his wants, but also would have been running now, as a 1JZ / R154 setup is far cheaper than a 2JZ / Getrag when all he wants is 450. Anyways, to add, my V8 love affair was with a 378 SBC with TPI in my '86 Camaro. But my next motor will be a 332w in a 67 Mustang with a pair of GT-3076R's perhaps ... if i win lotto, or by then there is oil to run such a engine. I still voted SBC tho ...

73

not even gonna vote on this one due to american v8's being horribly inefficient N/A engines....... a 6.0 liter ls2 only making 400 horse power out of the box is terrible........

74

why is the LS series so popular? their large amount of litres with small horsepower makes me sad. I voted for the flathead because it is the one that made the legendary v8 platform so popular. although my Favourite is the Ford 351, used in so many of my favourite cars, such as the XY GTHO Falcon.

75

why is the LS series so popular? their large amount of litres with small horsepower makes me sad. I voted for the flathead because it is the one that made the legendary v8 platform so popular. although my Favourite is the Ford 351, used in so many of my favourite cars, such as the XY GTHO Falcon.

76

As a kid bench racing, hp numbers were king. As a grown man ease of installation, fuel system, and ignition are just as important because those are real headaches. For those reasons I choose the SBF. The 302/5.0 is small, light, plentiful, and cheap. The SBC has more aftermarket but the lack of a cheap and easy manual transmission and the early head design make me choose ford. That being said I still want to buy a scoggy dickens lower and a junkyard TPI for the Vortec in my tahoe.
 
I watched a stock ZL1 Camaro run 12 flats and an 11.98 at Atco yesterday so those LS's are popular for a reason. The two GT500's couldn't touch it.

77

As a kid bench racing, hp numbers were king. As a grown man ease of installation, fuel system, and ignition are just as important because those are real headaches. For those reasons I choose the SBF. The 302/5.0 is small, light, plentiful, and cheap. The SBC has more aftermarket but the lack of a cheap and easy manual transmission and the early head design make me choose ford. That being said I still want to buy a scoggy dickens lower and a junkyard TPI for the Vortec in my tahoe.
 
I watched a stock ZL1 Camaro run 12 flats and an 11.98 at Atco yesterday so those LS's are popular for a reason. The two GT500's couldn't touch it.

78

@Roger_the_Engineer  "I love y'all's poles!" I think you meant polls. I hope you meant polls...

79

@Roger_the_Engineer  "I love y'all's poles!" I think you meant polls. I hope you meant polls...

80

AMG. Enough said!

81

AMG. Enough said!

82

AMG. Enough said!

83

AMG. Enough said!

84

Chevypower!

85
Roger_the_Engineer

@RcStreetSource haha, yes I meant polls, however I do like the Poles ladies as well! haha :)

86

LS is super popular due to Formula Drift...

87

LS is super popular due to Formula Drift...

88

TurboZ envyxf  nice. V8s got equal number for its hp and torque.

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