Home Engines Ranking The Most Powerful V8 Engines In Car History (Buckle Up For Number 3)

Ranking The Most Powerful V8 Engines In Car History (Buckle Up For Number 3)

Cameron Eittreim August 22, 2023

In the world of automotive engineering, few innovations have left a mark on the industry as the V8 has. Revered for its power and performance, the V8 has been a driving force behind some of the world’s most iconic cars. This mechanical marvel has a rich history that stretches back over a century through a labyrinth of technological advancements and fierce competition. In this article, we’ll embark on a journey through time to explore the fascinating history of the V8 engine.

We’ll trace its evolution from its humble beginnings to the pinnacle of its power. The V8 engine owes its existence to the relentless pursuit of speed by early automotive pioneers. Its story begins in the late 19th century when inventors and engineers were in a race to develop more powerful combustion engines. As we delve deeper into auto history, we’ll take a close look at the most powerful V8 engines ever created. From classic muscle cars that roared to life in the mid-20th century to modern supercars that redefine the limits of speed, these engines represent the zenith of V8 engineering. Join us on this thrilling journey here.

Oldsmobile Tornado
Photo Credit: Hot Rod

Oldsmobile 455 CI V8 (7.46 L) – 350 Horsepower

Remember when Oldsmobile used to rule the roost in the auto world? Probably not. But for those who do, there was a time when Oldsmobile was one of the most prominent auto brands in the world. Oldsmobile built cars that people wanted to drive and they also innovated in the world of engines. The Toronado had one of the most influential and powerful V8 engines at the time. The Toronado’s 455 cubic-inch V8 (7.46 L) was rated at 350 hp (via Hot Cars).

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In terms of performance, the 455 V8 was an absolute powerhouse. Its 350 horsepower rating may seem modest by today’s standards, but in its time, it was a true marvel. This engine was known for its remarkable torque output, making it a tire-shredding force to be reckoned with. This is why many old-school enthusiasts still talk about the 455 V8 today, and it’s become a popular engine to modify and modernize.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

Plymouth 440-cid V8 – 375 Horsepower

Plymouth was an important part of the muscle car era and even more so for the performance movement. The brand showcased the very best engine Chrysler had to offer at the time. Plymouth also held its own in the racing world, where there were some great engines to choose from. The 440 V8, also known as the “Six Pack,” was a very popular option on the Hemi V8 (via RK Motors).

Photo Credit: Mecum

This formidable engine, known as the “Super Commando,” represented the zenith of American V8 performance. With its massive displacement, it delivered unbridled torque and acceleration, propelling iconic Plymouth muscle cars like the GTX and Road Runner to breathtaking speeds. The 440 V8 was celebrated not just for its raw power but also for its reliability and durability, making it a favorite among drag racers and street enthusiasts alike.

Photo Credit: Hagerty

Pontiac 421 H.O. – 410 Horsepower

Pontiac was a major player in the muscle car era as their engines were the fastest on the road. There is an engine that completely changed the game and it was under the hood of the “Swiss Cheese” Catalina. Although it wasn’t the most notable car of the muscle car era, it still had a very powerful engine under the hood. The Swiss Cheese was one of the most iconic muscle cars of the 1960s as well as one of the most iconic race cars (via Bang Shift).

Photo Credit: Hagerty

This high-performance powerplant was a testament to Pontiac’s commitment to pushing the envelope. This engine was built for speed and dominance on the drag strip. Generating upwards of 410 horsepower, it was equipped with high-flow heads, a radical camshaft, and a robust bottom end. This combination of power and lightweight construction gave this Catalina a remarkable advantage in drag racing.

Photo Credit: Mecum

AMC 390 V8 Engine – 420 Horsepower

AMC was at one point a real player in the American auto industry. Nowadays, you have the big three, but back then drivers had the big four. AMC had a rough time in the 1960s and ’70s but the company still managed to build some good rides. The AMX was a car that was designed for serious performance, and the engine under the hood wasn’t bad either. The AMC 390 V8 engine had a whopping 420 horsepower (via Street Muscle Mag).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

This car was a popular choice for gearheads because of its short wheelbase and great design. The car had the power people were looking for and a relatively affordable price tag. Unfortunately, it never sold well enough to stay on the market and didn’t compete with the big three. Nevertheless, there was some serious horsepower under the hood of the AMX that only a select few wanted to harness.

Photo Credit: Mecum

Chrysler 426 CI Hemi V8 – 425 Horsepower

The Hemi is one of the most well-known engines in the world and still proves to be a popular choice. Dodge had some of the best examples of the Hemi under the hood, and the Charger R/T was the most notable. The 426 Hemi had a whopping 425 horsepower, taking on just about every competitor effectively. The thing that most enthusiasts enjoyed about the 426 Hemi was the relatively easy process of upgrading it (via Driving Line).

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The Charger R/T was an excellent muscle car and its Hemi was at the forefront of reasons why. Chrysler’s design and engineering gave us some of the best rides on the road. During the muscle car era, this was especially true. V8 engines redefined the automotive era, and for a long time were the only thing powerful enough to propel such heavy vehicles. When it came to steady American power and performance, the Hemi was an awesome choice.

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Yenko Camaro L78 396 CI -8 – 425 Horsepower

The first generation of the Camaro is one of the most iconic cars on the road. But even rarer were the Yenko editions of the car known for their serious horsepower and notable speed. Yenko was an outfitter that gave the cars increased power and performance. The L78 V8 engine under the hood of the Yenko changed the game. It wasn’t the average engine that you were used to seeing in one of these cars (via Motor Trend).

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The crew who put the Yenko models together went all-out, and the horsepower was evident. The stellar look and feel of the car were impressive enough, but it was the feeling you got when you were behind the wheel that changed the game. The Camaro itself is a car that redefined the muscle car era by adding some serious power into the mix. As a result, this V8 was the stuff of legends.

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COPO 427 CI V8 – 430 Horsepower

The COPO Camaro was a special car indeed, but it was the engine under the hood that made it extra special. Its 427 cubic inch V8 engine was bored out and tuned to the max. The performance that the COPO had broke all kinds of records when it came to off-the-line speed. Enthusiasts loved the way that the car handled and drove, but the power plant made all the difference (via Hot Cars).

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The COPO Camaro wasn’t the first Camaro to break the performance barrier but it certainly changed the game. For people who want serious power, this engine is delivered in strides. GM built several great engines back in the day, although its special partnership with COPO changed the game.

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Ford Super Snake 427 CI V8 – 650 Horsepower

Ford built a lot of great muscle cars back in the day, but it was the engines under the hood that truly transcended the car industry. Although the Mustang wasn’t considered the most powerful, this one was. The 427 cubic-inch V8 engine had a specific tune and design that delivered a serious amount of power (via Motor Authority).

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Although this Mustang is an extremely rare one, it broke the mold for performance. There are very few powerful V8 engines from this era that changed the game like the Super Snake. Every inch of the engine was designed to perform better than the competition. Of course, Carroll Shelby was at the helm, so that helped the cause in a massive way.

Photo Credit: GM

Chevrolet ZZ572/720R – 727 Horsepower

GM is known for selling some of the best racing crate engines drivers can buy. The ZZ572/720R is a relatively powerful engine that GM has been marketing for a while now. The 727 HP comes from the factory and offers some of the best performance numbers you can get out of a crate engine (via Jegs).

Photo Credit: GM

If you’ve ever wanted to build a muscle car, you can’t go wrong with this, one of the best V8 engines of all time. This engine is a powerhouse with a great design. Using an excellent design is only one part of a great engine design, and GM knows how to do it.

Photo Credit: Auto Journal

Chevrolet Supercharged LT5 V8 – 755 Horsepower

The C7 Corvette is probably the most underrated generation of the Corvette and it had a lot of power. The LT5 V8 was one of the most well-designed modern V8 engines on the road. GM spared no expense when it came to the design and implementation of the engine (via GM Authority).

Photo Credit: Auto Journal

The LT5 was an excellent engine that took GM design and engineering to the next level. The period the C7 Corvette was on the road didn’t last long. But the engine will go down as one of the best power plants that GM ever put into a modern sports car.

Photo Credit: Ford

Ford Predator 5.2-Liter V8 – 760 Horsepower

The Ford Predator is one of the most notable new V8 engines to recently hit the market. In recent years, Ford has been developing EV-powered cars but there are still a few great V8s left. The Predator V8 pushes out a whopping 760 hp and is one of the most powerful V8 engines on the road today (via The Mustang Source).

Photo Credit: Ford

The Ford Predator was one of those engines that completely changed the game. It offered some of the best performance for the price, not to mention a stellar design. Ford doesn’t strive to create a groundbreaking performance that often, but when they do, the engines are some of the best.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

Dodge 6.2-L Supercharged Hemi V8 – 807 Horsepower

The past couple of years have been a wild ride for Dodge fans as the engines have been some of the most powerful around. The Dodge 6.2-Liter Supercharged Hemi V8 was used in the Charger and Challenger models. The great design gave the car a serious amount of performance (via Hot Cars).

Photo Credit: MOPAR

The 6.2 Liter supercharged Hemi does things a bit differently than the previous generations of the car. Dodge went all-out with the design of this engine and it performed well. Even though the company is moving onto an electrified future the last couple of gasoline engines were great.

Photo Credit: GM

Chevrolet Performance ZZ632/1000 – 1,004 Horsepower

GM Performance is a stellar division that builds some of the best engines around. The performance ZZ632 was one engine that completely changed the game. With a whopping 1,004 hp, it had the type of power that you wanted in a beastly motor. This is the engine that put the new generation of GM performance on the map (via Enginerene).

Photo Credit: GM

It’s no secret that automakers are moving away from gasoline-powered engines, but GM is staying in the game. Although the engine is pricey it does have the type of performance that you’d want. These engines have a bulletproof reputation for reliability and the type of engineering.

Photo Credit: Mecum

Dodge Hellephant A170 – 1,100 Horsepower

When it comes to a crazy all-aluminum power plant with a ton of power, the Hellephant A170 is that engine. Developed as a way to send the Challenger off with style, this engine broke the mold. With a whopping 1,100 hp at the wheels, this is a more powerful engine than anything else Dodge has produced (via Hot Cars).

Photo Credit: Mecum

The Challenger had a great run and the performance of this engine was a game-changer. The notable design of the car coupled with the great performance of the engine broke the mold. Overall, if you want a powerful V8 engine, the Hellephant is unlike anything else on the road.

Photo Credit: Motor Trend

Saleen S7 LM 7.0-Liter V8 – 1,500 Horsepower

Saleen has always been a performance powerhouse as they’re a company that truly takes things to the next level. The 7.0-Liter V8 has some of the biggest horsepower numbers on the road. The engine was developed in partnership with a few different companies and offered the type of performance that you can only dream of (via Slash Gear).

Photo Credit: Car Gurus

The Saleen 7.0-Liter V8 did a great job of cementing the brand as a performance powerhouse. Although there were more powerful options to come later on, this was the engine that changed the game. Saleen will always be one of the most well-known performance companies on the road.

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