Home Engines Strange But True: The Weirdest Engines In Automotive History

Strange But True: The Weirdest Engines In Automotive History

Cameron Eittreim April 6, 2023

The combustion engine is arguably the single most important part of the modern automobile. Without it, cars simply wouldn’t function. There have been hundreds of different engine designs throughout the modern automobile era. Some have been much weirder than others. Several automotive companies have tried to reinvent the wheel time and time again. Cars like the Oldsmobile Jetfire and the Chrysler Turbine car were proof of that and contained some of the weirdest engines ever made as a result.

But the basic design of engines like the GM 350 Small Block has undergone minimal changes over the years. We took a look at the weirdest engines ever installed in a car. These engines were a mix of conceptual designs. The interesting history of these engines is worth noting and something that every automotive enthusiast can enjoy. Check out the weirdest engines ever installed right here.

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Oldsmobile F-85 Jetfire

The F-85 Jetfire engine was a special kind of engine used in some cars in the 1960s. It was different from other engines because it used a special kind of fuel called “turbo-rocket” fuel. This fuel made the engine more powerful and faster than other engines. The Jetfire was a performance engine with a lot of pep in its step. Its engine displacement was a crucial part of its performance (via Hot Stuff Works).

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The F-85 Jetfire was also one of the first engines to use a turbocharger. That helped the engine run better at high altitudes. The Jetfire engine was a popular choice for people who wanted a faster car in the ’60s. It put Oldsmobile on the map with consumers. Oldsmobile was once a pioneering force in the automotive world long before Tesla and the other automakers we see today.

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Cizeta V16T Engine

The Cizeta V16T engine was a unique and powerful engine in the Cizeta V16T sports car. What made this engine special was that it had 16 cylinders arranged in a V-shape. This arrangement made the engine very powerful, and capable of producing up to 540 HP. The Cizeta V16T isn’t the sports car that you’ll see at your local Starbucks. But it is one of the most underestimated performance cars (and engines) in the world (via Car & Driver).

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The Cizeta V16T engine was also designed with a unique cooling system that used two radiators; one at the front and one at the back of the car. This helped keep the engine running cool even at high speeds. The V16T engine was rare and exclusive. Only a limited number of Cizeta V16T sports cars were ever produced. In contrast to cars like the Ferrari Testarossa, the V16T is a beast.

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Chrysler Turbine

The Chrysler Turbine was an experimental engine developed by Chrysler in the 1960s. What made this engine unique was that it used a turbine instead of a traditional piston engine. This turbine was powered by burning fuel and spinning a rotor, which then turned a shaft to create power. The Turbine was also designed to run on a variety of fuels including diesel, kerosene, and even vegetable oil (via Car & Driver).

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This made it a versatile engine that could operate in different environments and conditions as a result. However, the Chrysler Turbine was not widely adopted due to its high cost and complexity and only a few prototypes were ever produced. Despite this, the Chrysler Turbine remains an interesting and innovative piece of automotive history.

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Adams-Farwell Rotary Engine

The Adams-Farwell Rotary Engine was a unique type of engine used in some cars and airplanes in the early 1900s. This engine was different from traditional piston engines because it used a rotary design, which means that the engine spun around a fixed crankshaft. This design allowed the engine to run more smoothly and produce more power for its size. Although it had a small size, it also had great power (via Smithsonian).

Photo Credit: Popular Mechanic

The Adams-Farwell engine was also known for its fuel efficiency and could run on a variety of fuels, including gasoline and kerosene. Despite its innovative design, the Adams-Farwell engine was not widely adopted due to its high cost and complexity, and it was eventually phased out in favor of more traditional piston engines.

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Volkswagen VR6

The Volkswagen VR6 engine is a unique engine design used in some Volkswagen cars. Unlike traditional engines that have a V-shape or inline cylinders, the VR6 engine has a narrow-angle V-shape with all the cylinders on a single cylinder head. This design allows the engine to be more compact and fit into smaller engine bays while still providing a lot of power. The raw power that comes from the VR6 provides excellent performance and throttle response. The VR6 doesn’t get the credit that it deserves for its contribution to the performance car world because of several reasons. In effect, it is an innovation in rally car performance as well (via The Utopian).

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The VR6 engine is also known for its smooth performance and distinctive sound. Since its introduction in the early 1990s, the VR6 engine has become a popular choice for Volkswagen enthusiasts who want a powerful, unique engine in their car. The VR6 is the definitive Volkswagen performance engine. The excellent design and performance were ahead of their time in terms of technology and reliability.

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Wankel Rotary Engine

Felix Wankel, a German engineer, invented the Wankel rotary engine in the 1950s. Unlike traditional piston engines, the Wankel engine uses a rotor that spins inside an oval-shaped chamber to create power. This design allows the engine to be more compact and lightweight, while also providing smooth and high-revving power (via How a Car Works).

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However, the Wankel engine has some drawbacks, including lower fuel efficiency and higher emissions compared to traditional piston engines. Various vehicles have utilized the Wankel engine, including cars, motorcycles, and airplanes, and its distinctive technology continues to captivate and intrigue enthusiasts of the automotive industry.

Photo Credit: Inside Line

Bugatti W-16

The Bugatti W-16 engine is a powerful and unique engine used in the Bugatti Veyron and Chiron hypercars. What sets this engine apart from others is its W-shape, which means it has 16 cylinders arranged in four banks of four cylinders each. This design allows the engine to produce an incredible amount of power, up to 1,500 horsepower in some versions. The engine had quad turbochargers, direct injection, and variable valve timing (via Bugatti).

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The engine is considered one of the most powerful and advanced production engines in the world and has contributed to Bugatti’s reputation as a leader in performance cars. Although there have been other great engines that came out of the Bugatti factory, this engine above is one of the best. The sheer energy and precision that went into the design of the engine are above the craftmanship of other cars from the same era.

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Cadillac V8-6-4 Engine

The Cadillac V8-6-4 engine is a unique engine from 1980. With this engine, the driver could switch between using all eight cylinders, six cylinders, or only four cylinders depending on driving conditions. As needed, cylinders were deactivated or reactivated through a complex computer system. Several drivers reported that the engine performed poorly and was unreliable, and the system was plagued with issues (via Hemmings).

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Despite its flaws, the V8-6-4 engine remains an interesting piece of automotive history, as one of the first attempts at creating a variable displacement engine. GM added fuel management to the V8 engine lineup in 2007.

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Porsche Fuhrmann

As one of Porsche’s first air-cooled boxer engines, the Porsche Fuhrmann engine, also known as the Porsche Type 547 engine, has played a significant role in its development. Porsche engineer Ernst Fuhrmann oversaw its development and powered the iconic Porsche 550 Spyder and 356 Carrera. What made the Fuhrmann engine unique was its advanced design and technology, which included four camshafts and two spark plugs per cylinder (via Porsche).

Photo Credit: Patrick Motor Sports

This allowed the engine to produce more power, rev higher, and run smoother than previous air-cooled boxer engines. The Fuhrmann engine is reliable and durable. The simple design of the engine is what makes it special. It was a popular choice among sports car enthusiasts and racers. The Type 547 engine set the foundation for the air-cooled Porsche engine design. The engine design continued to evolve and improve over the years.

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Tucker Type 335

The Tucker 334 engine was different than any other engine from the period. It incorporated a direct drive torque converter, which eliminated the need for a traditional transmission. A torque converter transmits the engine’s power directly to the rear wheels. The design allowed the car to start and accelerate smoothly without the need for shifting gears (via Motor Trend).

Photo Credit: Automobile

There are only a few prototypes in existence. Nevertheless, the Tucker 334 engine remains an interesting piece of automotive history. It showcased the innovative thinking and technology of its time. There are only a few prototypes of this engine yet it was still a notable addition to the market. The technology that went into the engine is the stuff of legends and you seldom see it now.

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