In the late ’80s when Dodge started the Viper sports car project, the company didn’t have a proper, high-performance, high-output engine. Back in the day, American car manufacturers just started producing engines with substantial power. The biggest power plant Dodge had was the 5.9-liter V8 that produced 230 HP. The Viper project demanded a bigger, more powerful engine. The Dodge engineers produced a couple of prototypes using the 5.9 Magnum block with two more cylinders, creating the V10 configuration. This engine proved to be promising, so Chrysler decided to develop it for sports car use and for the truck division as well.
The final version grew to an enormous 8.0-liters or 500 CID. Also, the V10 configuration was quite exotic for a mainstream American carmaker. The truck V10 had an iron block and internals to provide torque as well as power along with durability under hard working conditions. The sports car version had an aluminum block and more power for better performance. You may have heard that the V10 in the Viper is the same engine Dodge used in its trucks but that’s not true. They are similar in construction and architecture, but the materials and output are not the same. Also, not many of the components are interchangeable. The first-generation Viper engine produced 450 HP and 490 lb-ft of torque, which were impressive numbers for the early ’90s.
Dodge presented the next generation of the Dodge monstrous engine along with the second generation Viper in 2003. The basic construction was the same, but they updated the cylinder heads, along with the cooling and valve train. The displacement grew to 8.3-liters or 505 CID, and the power climbed to 510 HP. This engine went to the Dodge Viper and also the Dodge Ram SRT-10 pickup, making it the fastest truck in the world.
In 2008, Dodge introduced a slightly improved version of the same engine which now produced 600 HP with a slightly bigger displacement at 8.4-liters. In 2013 with the introduction of the last generation Viper model, the 8.4-liter V10 returned but with 640 HP. Unfortunately, Dodge Viper production stopped in 2017, which meant Dodge also stopped producing this fabulous engine as well.
Although the GM powertrain division is among the best in the world, most drivers were surprised to learn about Cadillac’s new Blackwing V8. This is a clean-sheet design and the first twin-turbo unit Cadillac has ever produced. It’s an all-aluminum engine with a modern cylinder head construction. The “Hot V” configuration means the turbochargers are between the cylinder banks.
The engine has a displacement of 4.2-liters and a nominal power output from 500 to 550 HP. This engine is available in only one model, the Cadillac CT6-V, starting from the 2019 model year. This is a limited-production model that magazine testers called one of the best American sedans ever built.
You probably know about the Coyote 5.0-liter in the Mustang and the fantastic Voodoo 5.2-liter V8 in the Shelby GT350, but what’s the new 7.3-liter Godzilla? It’s one of the hottest new V8 engines designed especially for heavy-duty trucks and towing. The 7.3-liter is famous for its unique characteristics and distinctive old-school approach in a modern package.
The 7.3-liter Godzilla V8 is a push-rod, small-block, gasoline V8 engine that looks like it came from the ’60s. But with the latest technologies, state-of-the-art fuel injection systems, modern castings, and electronic engine management, it’s far from vintage. The new 7.3-liter is brutally-dependable, tough, and easy to repair. Surprisingly, it is also economical, powerful, and can last millions of miles. The nominal power figures are 430 HP and 475 lb-ft of torque, but the Blue Oval guys are sure to offer much more from this package.
These 20 influential American engines helped change the car world. Even nowadays, they’re still making an impact on how the major car manufacturers produce engines. While newer engines are coming, the older ones are still powering many cars on the roadways today.