Home Cars Bigger Isn’t Better: Massive Engines That Somehow Have Low Power

Bigger Isn’t Better: Massive Engines That Somehow Have Low Power

Vukasin Herbez March 23, 2023

Photo Credit: GM

Chevrolet LG4 V8

Chevrolet’s small-block V8 in Camaro or Corvette was always a recipe for a fun muscle car with enough power to keep you smiling for days. However, you may have an early ’80s C3 ‘Vette or F-Series Camaro. In that period, Chevrolet produced the 305 cid V8 with 180 HP, which had automatic transmission (via Corv Sport).

Photo Credit: GM

Of course, those models didn’t perform very well, and GM was criticized for producing low-performance engines and putting them into cars that symbolized performance.

Photo Credit: GM

GM Diesel V8

Oldsmobile was at the forefront of this new trend with the introduction of the diesel engine in passenger cars. In those days, American buyers were largely unaware that you could use diesel fuel for your vehicle. European customers already had a couple of diesel cars on the market, but in the US this was new. Oldsmobile introduced the 4.3-liter V8 diesel engine as an option for the Cutlass line. And very soon, this model was subject to an enormous amount of recalls and engine swaps. Simply, the 4.3-liter tended to explode and shatter during everyday driving. It had only about 85 HP (via Diesel World Mag).

Photo Credit: GM

Passengers didn’t get hurt, but the car was unusable and suitable only for scrap. Oldsmobile later introduced a bigger 5.7-liter diesel. Which was somewhat better but the 4.3-liter is considered the worst diesel engine in history. The 5.7-liter was also very underpowered with only 122 HP on tap.

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AMC 4.2-Liter

The venerable AMC six-cylinder was in production for an unbelievable 50 years and has outlived its parent company. It started as an economic engine with smaller displacement and decent power and managed to be the best engine option in numerous AMC and Jeep models (via Jeep Tech).

Photo Credit: AMC

The 4.2-liter had outdated construction, but it was an insanely dependable motor. Overall, it required low maintenance and could run on low-octane fuel. During the ’70s, it was common on AMC models. But with low compression, it had only about 120 HP, which was a ridiculously underpowered figure.

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