Audi Will Reportedly Buy Back 25,000 Vehicles

Reports have surfaced that Audi will buy back 25,000 vehicles that have the 3.0-liter TDI V-6 in the U.S. This buyback would only apply to older models that can’t be brought into exhaust emissions compliance, the German newspaper Der Spiegel reports.

While the initial Volkswagen Group Dieselgate focused on the 2.0-liter TDI four-cylinder, it was discovered that the 3.0-liter TDI V-6 used by the Volkswagen Group also employed this emissions test-cheating software. Audi is currently in talks with U.S. regulators regarding close to 85,000 vehicles equipped with the 3.0-liter TDI V-6, according to a Reuters article. Approximately 25,000 of those vehicles cannot be brought into emissions compliance.

Audi has been facing less-serious-than-Volkswagen litigation in a U.S. District Court regarding the emissions scandal, nicknamed “Dieselgate,” regarding its 2.0-liter TDI four-cylinder and 3.0-liter TDI V-6 engines. In a statement to Automotive News, Audi said:

“We are working hard with U.S. regulators to reach an agreement an approved resolution for affected 3.0-liter V-6 TDI vehicles and thank our customers for their continued patience. The Court has scheduled a status conference for November 3, 2016 to discuss the matter further.”

Way back in April, the Volkswagen Group agreed to buy back some 482,000 vehicles of the approximately 600,000 vehicles with the 2.0-liter TDI four-cylinder engine affected by the emissions scandal. This decision did not include the 90,000 vehicles equipped with VW’s 3.0-liter TDI V-6 engine.

Why the 85,000 and 90,000? Because approximately 85,000 Audis are affected by the recall, and an additional 5,000 VW Touaregs are lumped in there as well.

Here’s my scoop on what it’s going to be like going forward for the VW Group regarding diesels:

I wonder how true the horsepower/torque ratings, fuel economy ratings, etc., are heavily re-evaulated by U.S. regulators and EU regulators – Volkswagen is required to send vehicles to both. In 3-5 years, which is likely when the VW Group will send cars to the EPA and EU, the regulations are going to be much stricter and more heavily enforced than today’s CARB (California Air Resources Board; VW Group has to get all of their vehicles to pass U.S. testing, plus CARB) regulations. VW and Audi will almost certainly try to re-certify their vehicles in the next few years to try and recover their losses.

While the 2.0-liter TDI engine might have gone 40 times over the regulatory maximum, the regulatory maximum in the U.S. is one of the lowest in the world. It’s still low levels of emissions. Yes, it’s disgusting that the VW Group had to do this, but we still don’t know the real reason why. It could have been reliability issues with the engine or cost-cutting measures. Let’s say that the regulatory maximum is 0.0001 parts per million, why don’t we? 40 times over that is still not very much.

West Virginia Tech’s test results found that the Volkswagen vehicles they tested (a Jetta and a Passat) were within carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, particulate matter, and total hydrocarbon (THC) emissions compliance. In diesel vehicles, carbon monoxide and THC is never really an issue because of it’s nature of combustion. THC is usually found only in cold starts. NOx always has been the primary concern. Any modern diesel vehicle that hasn’t been tuned to “roll coal” have diesel particulate filters, so rolling coal (particulate matter) isn’t much of a concern. This regulation, however, is not separated for diesel-powered and gasoline-powered vehicles, which means that gasoline-powered vehicles will have higher carbon monoxide emissions than diesel-powered vehicles.

European regulators are saying that numerous other diesel vehicles would fail the same tests that the VWs tested went through. The team at West Virginia Tech is currently testing other diesel vehicles, and are combing through massive amounts of data to quantify what the differences are between real-world driving and certification testing. Just because the certification levels may be low does not necessarily mean that the real-world driving will churn out the same results time-after-time. That difference is always going to be there – whether it be with diesel-powered vehicles, electric vehicles, or gasoline-powered vehicles.

Volkswagen Engineer Pleads Guilty for Involvement in Dieselgate

A VW engineer pleaded guilty today in a federal court in Detroit for his involvement with the automaker’s diesel emissions cheat device. This makes him the first person to face any criminal charges in connection with the emissions scandal.

According to Bloomberg, Volkswagen engineer James Liang is being charged with “conspiracy to commit fraud against U.S. regulators and customers and to violate the Clean Air Act.” He will be sentenced in January, and he could face up to five years in prison. Bloomberg‘s report states that Liang’s guilty plea comes after a year-long investigation by the Justice Department, which has faced tremendous pressure to hold more individuals accountable in high-profile cases, such as this diesel emissions cheating scandal, which has been dubbed “Dieselgate” by the automotive community.

James Liang is a long-time VW employee who reportedly worked on the team that developed the diesel cheat device for the VW Jetta back in 2006. He is also accused of assisting Volkswagen in its attempt to deceive U.S. regulators during their investigation into how the cheat devices worked.

Liang told the judge, “I know VW did not disclose the defeat device to U.S. regulators in order to sell the cars in the U.S. That’s what makes me guilty.”

His plea comes after VW has agreed to pay at least $16.5 billion to settle a whole host of claims. They also face ongoing investigations in Europe where the European Commission is encouraging consumer groups to take legal action against VW.

Here’s my opinion on what’s going on so far:

In addition to fines, if VW executives are to be paid for the responsibility of overseeing the manufacturing and sales of products, then they should be held fully responsible for such gross negligence. They have already been caught not telling the truth numerous times. James Liang is just a scapegoat for VW executives, who use a lot of money, power, and influence to get off squeaky clean.

This scandal comes amid the Takata airbags scandal and the GM ignition switch scandal, among other things. How many people have died from those? Far too many. Millions of people a year die from respiratory ailments, while millions more are diagnosed with asthma. How many asthma attacks have been triggered by Volkswagen’s emissions cheat device?

Liang is essentially saying “I would have gotten away with it, if it weren’t for those meddling kids!” The judge and attorneys were soon seen peeling out in a green van marked “Mystery Machine.”

In my eyes, it should be former VW chairman, Martin Winterkorn, who should be dragged off to prison. James Liang was following orders given to him by greedy pricks on the other side of the Atlantic. He was ultimately the one who gave the emissions cheating project a green light, but he’s got enough money and influence in the European Commission to stay out of court. Winterkorn must surrender his golden parachute and his gigantic pension, and serve the rest of his life in a federal prison for the crimes he and Volkswagen committed against governments and consumers.

I’m wondering how much VW is going to pay Liang’s family in exchange for his agreeing to fall on the sword for the emperor. It certainly isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

It seems that VW was on top of the world, and now their empire is going to slowly come crashing down on their heads. It was a wicked and wild wind (filled with the emissions their cars spewed out) that opened the doors that has brought down the end of an era. It’s only a matter of time before VW is forced to sell off their many assets – they own Porsche, Audi, Lamborghini, and other automakers. They’re a true giant in the world’s automotive market, but it’s only a matter of time before they’re a shell of what they once were.

The First Recorded Crash Involving Tesla’s Autopilot Feature and Why It Is So Important

While I know that this crash has been highly publicized in the past few days, I find it only fitting that I should publish a blog post on this.

On May 7, in Williston, Florida, a fatal accident occurred. While this shouldn’t come as a surprise to many, it should It doesn’t matter that the deceased driver of a Tesla Model S became one of the 3,287 daily deaths from automotive crashes every day. It certainly doesn’t make it any easier to digest.

This incident was the first self-driving car death on record. Between Tesla’s extensive testing of the semi-autonomous Autopilot feature, and owners’ use of the feature, there are 130 million miles of Autopilot being used.

The fatal accident occurred when a tractor-trailer made a left turn at an intersection without a traffic light in front of the Tesla. The driver, Joshua Brown, died of injuries sustained in the wreck.

Tesla published a blog post saying that the Model S was travelling on a divided highway with Autopilot engaged when the tractor-trailer crossed its path.

“Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied. The high ride height of the trailer combined with its positioning across the road and the extremely rare circumstances of the impact caused the Model S to pass under the trailer, with the bottom of the trailer impacting the windshield of the Model S. Had the Model S impacted the front or rear of the trailer, even at high speed, its advanced crash safety system would likely have prevented serious injury as it has in numerous other similar incidents.”

Tesla went onto say that they were saddened by the loss of Brown, who was a “friend to Tesla and the broader EV community,” as well as stating that the risk of injury will decrease as Autopilot gets better over time, as it is currently in a public beta stage. Whenever Autopilot is engaged, a warning is displayed to remind the driver that the technology is in public beta and that the driver should have both hands on the wheel at all times, in the event of an emergency such as this.

Per company policy, Tesla notified the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration when they heard of the incident. NHTSA has since launched an investigation into the crash and Autopilot.

The AP (Associated Press) reports that the driver of the truck, Frank Baressi, says that he heard a “Harry Potter” movie playing in the Tesla following the crash, however he was not able to see where it was coming from. NHTSA investigators do not believe it was playing on the massive infotainment screen in the Tesla (which would require hacking into the operating system of the car). However, the report does state that a portable DVD player was found in the car following the crash, but it is unclear whether it was playing at the time of the crash.

Baressi could face charges for making an unsafe maneuver, but he claims that he was unable to see the Model S, as it was travelling at a high rate of speed. It appears that Baressi failed to yield to the right-of-way when making a left turn, especially in something large and heavy enough that he could not accelerate quickly enough to get out of the way.

It is understandable to me why Tesla, ever the perfectionist, would not want to release Autopilot as a final product just yet. To me, Tesla should not have named Autopilot as such. It implies that the car can fully drive itself without ANY control from the driver (it can do about 75% of that).

The co-developer of the Autopilot technology used in the Model S, Mobileye, said that the technology was not designed for such circumstances. The automatic emergency braking feature built into Autopilot is specifically designed to avoid rear-end collisions, and the incident was one that it could not have prevented. Mobileye went onto say that by 2018, there will be a Lateral Turn Across Path detection capability in it’s systems, and said feature will be included as part of the Euro NCAP safety ratings in 2020.

While we will have to wait for the official NHTSA report to come out, we can only speculate. Here’s my two cents:

This was a clear case of user error. Whether Brown was watching Harry Potter at the time of the crash or not, he obviously did not see Baressi’s tractor-trailer pulling out in front of him. It doesn’t matter how fast he was going – the crash would have likely happened regardless. That’s not to say that speed wasn’t a factor in the crash. If Brown had been going slower (the speed he was travelling is not currently released to the public), he might be alive. Baressi clearly did not see the Model S, or he would not have made the turn.

2016 Tesla Model S

Vintage Look, Modern Rubber

Chances are, if you own a Porsche, or have owned one, it’s still being enjoyed. Porsche estimates that 70% of all of their cars are still on the road. If you have an earlier-model 911, chances are you’ve gone through more than one set of tires.

Porsche, the ultimate automotive perfectionists, believes that not just any tire will do for your 1974 911S 2.7. Porsche collaborated with Pirelli to create a whole new line of tires inspired by the original original-equipment (OE in car-people speak) offerings, but with modern technology. Porsche/Pirelli went a step further and properly tuned the tires to the specific vehicle generation they’re offered for.

What’s so cool about that? A lot, actually.

The tires are designed to look like the originals in profile design and looks, but meet the requirements for modern tire performance. Porsche and Pirelli have created 32 tires for model years 1959-2005, for models including the 356 (B and C), Boxster (986 generation), and 911 (G model, 964, 993, and 996 generations). The tires will also be available for front-engine models including the 924, 928, 944, and 968.

How did Porsche and Pirelli create the tires? The team used a rubber mixture and additives used in modern tires to offer greater grip and rolling resistance. Classic Porsches are a hoot and a half to drive, and these new tires should only make them two hoots to drive!

Former world rally champion and current Porsche test driver Walter Röhrl helped tune the tires. “The driving properties in the early years were not as full or balanced as they are today. The new generation of tires is more fitting than ever to the driving style of a challenging sports car.”

Every one of the newly developed classic tires will feature the quality seal of Porsche, along with the “N” certification designator that identifies them as special Porsche release tires. It’s a bit of a stringent process to earn that designation: the tires have to go through testing to fulfill 33 very strict criteria before release.

If you would like to purchase these tires, you can buy them from any Porsche Classic Center.

FBI Alerts America to the Dangers of Car Hacking

Earlier this week, the FBI issued a public service announcement warning drivers of the dangers of car hacking. The announcement tells drivers how to prevent cybersecurity attacks, and what to do if the vehicle is hacked.

According to the statement, vehicles have become “increasingly vulnerable to remote exploits” thanks to connectivity features. What connectivity features? Keyless entry and ignition, tire pressure monitoring, infotainment, navigation and diagnostic systems. All of these allow the bad guys to easily access cars. The FBI cautions drivers about the dangers of connecting a third-party device to ports in their vehicles.

The FBI also tells you to be on the lookout when installing updates recommended by the manufacturer. Criminals may send illegitimate emails to owners and trick them into downloading malicious software. This happens with computers and phones, so it should come as no surprise that automotive computers are just as vulnerable. How does one prevent this? Be very careful downloading software from third-party websites or file-sharing programs. Always check the manufacturer’s website to ensure that a software update is truly needed. It’s always a good idea to use a trusted USB or SD card when downloading and/or installing software on a vehicle. Basically, the same precautions you would take with your computer.

What happens if you believe your vehicle has been hacked? First of all, don’t take it lightly. If you think your car has been hacked, check for outstanding vehicle recalls. You should also contact the vehicle’s manufacturer or an authorized dealer. You should also contact NHTSA and the local FBI field office.

Several security scares have come to light in the past few months. A pair of hackers has already demonstrated how they were able to remotely control a Jeep Cherokee via it’s Uconnect infotainment system. Different hackers also were able to hack into a Tesla Model S. Both Jeep and Tesla have taken steps to fix these vulnerabilities. Another security scare was with the Nissan Leaf. The mobile app for the Leaf was shut down by Nissan after a massive security breach.

I guess the solution is to build an old-school hot rod without any electronics on it!

How Porsche DNA is in Your Car

Porsche and the rear window wiper are forever linked in the annals of automotive history, and for good reason.

While rear window wipers were accessories as far back as the early 1940s, they never became commonplace for a variety of reasons that I’ll talk about in a bit.  Italy became slightly interested in them in the mid-1950s.  Ferrari installed a pair of them on a 1955 Ferrari 250 GT Europa by Pinin Farina.

Interest had picked up sufficiently that, in 1957, rear wipers made their next public appearance at the 1957 Salon de Genève on the new Lancia Flaminia Berlina, another Pinin Farina creation.  While they were highly praised for their functionality by the press, nobody quite caught onto the idea.  This should come as no surprise: outside mirrors, which greatly aid rear visibility were considered superfluous to Italians.

Eight years later, a wealthy German industrialist contacted Porsche with a request.  He wanted a wiper installed on the rear window.  Porsche set about developing a rear window wiper.

You can only imagine what other Porsche enthusiasts thought when they saw this fine gentleman cruising the boulevards with his fancy new car and it’s rear window wiper.  The factory began to receive an increasingly large number of requests for similar installations. The demand was so great that Porsche offered a dealer-installed or DIY retrofit kit. This wasn’t even enough – Porsche decided to make it a factory option in 1966.

The early rear wipers were rudimentary at best, but they did the job.  The early wiper arm pivot shafts had bushings angled inward and outward, which enabled it to be mounted to the edge of the air intake recess on the existing engine lid.

In 1967, as the rear wiper option gained massive popularity, engine lid pressing dies were slightly modified to incorporate integral mounting pieces for the rear wiper installation. This eliminated the need for the angled adapter bushings.  These were included on both sides of the engine lid to accommodate both left-hand-drive and right-hand-drive applications.

Volvo took note of Porsche’s little invention, and added one to the 145 in 1969.  The time for rear window wipers had finally arrived.

By the time the OPEC oil crisis arrived in the mid-1970s, rear wipers had become commonplace on hatchbacks, station wagons, and off-road machines like the Chevy Blazer and Ford Bronco.  These body styles were perfect applications for the rear window wiper: because of the lack of a rear deck (a trunk), a rear window is bound to collect more dirt and grime than a sedan or pickup truck’s.

Since 1965, Porsche has remained a devout follower of the rear window wiper, offering it on every single fixed-roof production car after the 911, with the exception of the 914, as it had a recessed rear window and long rear deck, which eliminated the necessity of a rear window wiper.

It doesn’t matter how old the Porsche is to make this option desirable.  It goes far beyond a functionality statement.  It’s a perfect visual metaphor of the classic Porsche essence and character that has carried through today.

You can still feel the original Porsche character today.  The 356 and 911 (through the 993 generation), with their air-cooled reliability (their engines were souped-up VW Beetle engines), rear-engine traction, fully-independent suspension with incredibly long travel, and generous ground clearance meant that these were not cars to be taken lightly.  They were not smooth-road sports cars like the Triumphs of the same era.  They were truly all-weather, go-anywhere-on-any-road cars.  This set them far apart from the other sports cars of the era, which generally had low ground clearance, borderline-at-best weather sealing, limited traction, horrifically unreliable everything, and marginal-at-best cooling systems.

It should come as no surprise to you that early Porsches were even better for all-weather capabilities than most standard sedans when the weather got yucky.  Those early Porsches don’t care about the meteorological conditions or terrain.  They will get a driver and their passenger to almost any destination in comfort.  They truly have the functionality of a Swiss Army knife.  The stark functionality of a rear window wiper expresses this.

Almost every Porsche that went rallying was fitted with a rear window wiper until high-speed rallying and weight reduction made them somewhat obsolete.  Anybody who has ever gone rallying or bombing up and down a fire road knows just how important a rear window wiper is, especially after a big slide.

Most Ferraris, Jaguars, and Corvettes are taken out when the weather is nice.  It’s always been that way.  Porsche owners have never been afraid of taking their Porsche out when it’s rainy or snowing.  A rear window wiper, in addition to it’s functionality, signals to the casual observer that they are gazing upon a car that earns it’s keep.  While it’s great to have a car that wins trophies, how often is that car driven?

To the uninitiated Porsche enthusiast, a rear window wiper would seemingly ruin the looks of the car.  Let me explain it this way: a Porsche with a rear window wiper is like seeing Sean Connery as James Bond in black tie slipping a steel Rolex Submariner onto his wrist.  It’s a seemingly incongruous functional instrument that seems out of place, but it hints at capabilities at his beck and call.

1955 Ferrari 250 GT Europa

 

1957 Lancia Flaminia Berlina

1965 Porsche 911

1967 Porsche 911

 

1969 Volvo 145

 

VLUU L200  / Samsung L200

1976 Chevy Blazer

 

Porsche 914-6

James Bond

The Best Older Muscle Car Engines Ever!

The best engine ever would be free, make gobs of horsepower and torque on demand, be the easiest thing in the world to work on, sound amazing, look good (so good that you’d HAVE to take the hood off), and have a legacy that makes people pray to it for guidance (sorry God!).  Those are some pretty strict criteria, but with those in mind, let’s go into depth of the engines that really are just THAT good.  Since everybody has their own ideas of which engine goes where on the list, I’m simply going to do them as bullet points and let you all squabble in the comment section as to what engine goes where.  Have fun!

This is going to be the first in a series of blog posts for different types of cars:  Economy cars, trucks, vans, etc.  This post is dedicated to the cars that just begged us to floor it – muscle cars!  In all of these posts, I will have a YouTube video of these engines revving for pure aural trauma.

  • 1961-1980 BOP General Motors V-8 (215 c.i., 300 c.i., 340 c.i., 350 c.i.):  BOP stands for Buick-Oldsmobile-Pontiac.  GM originally invented this small-block all-aluminum V8 for their “advanced” line of “compact” vehicles for 1961- the Buick Special/Skylark, the Oldsmobile F-85/Cutlass, and the Pontiac Tempest.  That path went off of a cliff in 1963, but the tiny 215 c.i. engine soldiered on to become the cast-iron 300, 340, and 350 c.i. V-8 engines that powered the full-size Buick’s until 1980.  England’s Rover bought the rights to manufacture the engine in 1966, and mass-produced it as an aluminum engine until 2005.  Today, the lightweight 215 c.i. V8 is a popular engine swap for small British sports cars, flatfender Jeeps, Chevrolet Vegas, and other small, lightweight vehicles.  It’s light, reliable, fuel-efficient, and can take one hell of a beating.  Oh, and Sir Jack Brabham won the 1966 Formula 1 world title with a Repco-modified BOP V-8; the only American V-8 to ever accomplish that title!  It’s got some performance potential, it’s somewhat historically significant, it looks halfway decent, it’s something that can be built on something of a budget, it’s relatively easy to work on, and it’s pretty cool.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VxYcT1lZzc
  • 1968-1984 Cadillac 3rd-Generation V-8 (368 c.i., 425 c.i., 472 c.i., 500 c.i.):  When Cadillac’s redesigned V-8 arrived on the market in 1968, it was America’s largest engine displacement at 472 c.i., yet was somehow overlooked by hot rodders.  Why?  Ford, other GM manufacturers, and Chrysler all offered smaller, less expensive V-8’s with more performance potential.  The big-block Cadillac V8 was largely overlooked until the mid-late 1980’s, when budget-minded hot rodders saw the big-inch V-8’s sitting in junkyards.  As the age of the big Cadillac’s declined through the early 1980’s, so did the displacement.  It shrunk from a whopping 500 cubic inches to a still-gigantic 368 cubic inches.  Some cool facts:  Cadillac apparently wasn’t content with a big ol’ V-8, so they were developing a V-16 for what would become the Eldorado.  Alas, cooler heads at Cadillac management prevailed.  The 500 c.i. V8 remains to this day the largest-displacement, production-line, passenger-car V-8 ever.  What about the Chevy/GMC 502 c.i. V-8 of the early 2000’s?  That was trucks only.  It’s got some performance potential, it’s got some historic significance, it looks decent enough, it’s somewhat affordable, it’s easy enough to work on, and all you need to know is that Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top built CadZZilla in 1989 with a Cadillac 500 c.i. V-8!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ZvRrO_KF7o
  • 1949-1964 Oldsmobile Rocket V-8 (303 c.i., 324 c.i., 371 c.i., 394 c.i.):  Introduced alongside the Cadillac “nailhead” V-8 in 1949, Oldsmobile’s “Rocket” high-compression V-8 took advantage of the high-octane fuel refining technology developed during WWII.  In 1957, the legendary 370-371 (it depends on who you ask – a hot rodder or a mathematician) cubic inch J-2 V-8 debuted with 312 horsepower, three vacuum-operated, two-barrel carburetors, and quickly became a legend in NASCAR and the gasser wars.  We often think of this engine as a show-car engine, but it was definitely a show-stopper engine when an old 1941 Willys gasser idled up next to you.  It’s got some performance potential, it’s fairly historically significant, it looks nice, it’s something you can build on a large enough budget, it’s easy enough to work on, and beware of it if you see a gasser!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adRWaLKkpL8
  • 1953-1966 Buick “Nailhead” V-8 (264 c.i., 322 c.i., 364 c.i., 401 c.i., 425 c.i.):  “Nailhead” was never an official factory designation for Buick’s first in-house V8, but it certainly stuck like the first nail in the coffin.  It’s got one of the most recognizable engine shapes ever, thanks to it’s completely vertical valve covers, and quickly became one of the most popular engine swap choices ever.  It offers plenty of cubed inches in a somewhat light, narrow package.  Power was somewhat limited due to the flimsy valves that had a tendency to break apart, and a rather unusual valvetrain placement, but that certainly didn’t stop drag racing legend TV Tommy Ivo and road racing legend Max Balchowsky from being the winners multiple times.  Because of the valve problems, you can’t get that much power from the engine, it’s got a lot of historical significance, it looks really cool, it’s pretty affordable to work on with a normal budget, and it won’t cause wrench throwing and cussing – at least not THAT much…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQPKBnS0rOE
  • 1965-1990 Oldsmobile V-8 (260 c.i., 307 c.i., 330 c.i., 350 c.i., 400 c.i., 403 c.i., 425 c.i., 455 c.i.):  One of the most legendary engines from the muscle car era was the 455 “Rocket.”  The smog-happy 307 cubic inch V8 was introduced in 1973, and stayed in production until 1990.  Chances are, if you had an Oldsmobile sedan or station wagon, or even a Buick, it had a 307.  When this whole series of engines was introduced in 1965, it used the latest thin-wall casting techniques, as well as the somewhat revolutionary saddle-style rocker arms.  These V-8’s were used by every GM division except for Chevrolet during GM’s corporate V-8 period, during which time the Pontiac Trans Am used an Olds 403 cubic inch V-8.  Wanna know a cool song fact?  Kathy Mattea wrote a song called “455 Rocket,” which sung the praises of a 455-equipped Oldsmobile.  It’s got a great deal of performance potential, it’s got some historical significance, it looks like a big-block V8, you can build a good one on a budget, it will cause some wrench throwing and cussing, but so does every engine.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQ29D-Zlpok
  • 1964-2003 Chrysler LA Series V-8 (273 c.i., 318 c.i., 340 c.i., 360 c.i.):  Very loosely based on the LA Series (LA stands for Light A in Mopar lore), the LA V-8 displaced a somewhat skimpy 273 cubic inches when it debuted in the Dodge Dart in 1964.  However, stroked versions of this V-8 followed.  This engine was used in everything from trucks, vans, cars, and motorhomes.  It can be found in many Chrysler, Dodge, or Plymouth products from 1964-2003.   It’s one of the longest-lived American V-8’s ever, having lived a couple of years into the 21st century as the slightly revised 5.2 and 5.9-liter Magnum V-8’s.   The most famous cars to utilize the LA V-8’s?  Undoubtedly the Dodge Challenger T/A and the Plymouth Barracuda AAR.  They both used a 340 cubic inch LA V8 with three two-barrel carburetors (hence the Six Pack moniker).  It became wildly popular among street and strip enthusiasts, thanks to the largest cylinder bore of the engine group.  It’s got lots of performance potential, some historical significance, looks OK, it’s relatively affordable to build, any gearhead can work on it, and it offers muscle-car power in a small, convenient package.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfmClbUX4fM
  • 1967-1976 Buick Big-Block V-8 (400 c.i., 430 c.i., 455 c.i.):  Buick’s big-block V8 shares essentially a basic engine block shape with a Chevy big-block V-8, but that’s where the similarities to any Chevy big-block V-8 end.  It first appeared in 1967 as the successor to the “nailhead” V-8 that had enjoyed hot-rodding success for many years.  Designed to give lots of lugging torque on demand, not high revs, this engine showed little to no performance potential until the 455 c.i. Stage I and II muscle car versions arrived in the Skylark packages in 1970, surprising just about everybody.  This engine has been shown to keep up with the legendary 426 HEMI in match races that began in the 1980’s and continue today.  It makes 510 lb-ft of torque at about 3500 RPM, which means that you really don’t need to floor it to get power.  It’s got a lot of performance potential, some historic significance, it looks like another big engine, you can build one on a budget today, and yeah, you’ll probably wreck a few tools as you scream at it.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NgH1BwMPqZI
  • 1968-1997 Ford 385 Series V-8 (370 c.i., 429 c.i., 460 c.i.):  This big-block Ford engine was designed for three things in mind:  1) Beat the 426 HEMI in NASCAR and drag racing 2) Be easy to stroke out 3) Be easy to work on.  This short-skirt, thin-wall engine design V-8 moved in to replace the legendary FE and MEL series V-8’s of the early-mid 1960’s.  Ford, Mercury, and Lincoln land yachts used the gigantic 460 c.i. V-8 throughout the 1970’s, before being replaced with the smaller, more fuel-efficient 370 cubic inch V-8.  The 460 Ford V-8 was used in trucks and vans through 1997, so finding engine cores is relatively easy.  These under appreciated engines can easily be stroked out to 514 cubic inches.  The biggest 385 series V-8 one can get is 828 cubic inches, which is popular in Top Fuel drag racing.  They can make cheap, easy power.  The best of this engine series?  Unarguably the Boss 429, which powered the Ford Mustang Boss 429, and was a hemi-headed design based on the 385 series engine architecture was Ford’s big-block warrior during the NASCAR wars of the 1970’s.  It’s got so much performance potential I don’t know where to start, it’s got some historical significance, it looks like yeah, another big engine, it’s somewhat affordable to work on, and you’ll probably bust a few knuckles working on it.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9ZGx4YtYf0
  • 1997-Present Chevrolet LS Series V-8 (4.8L, 5.3L, 5.7L, 6.0L, 6.2L, 7.0L):  In much the same way that the original Chevrolet small-block V-8 turned the performance industry on it’s head in 1955, the LS Series V-8’s that replaced the old small-block revolutionized the affordable performance industry.  In 1997, one could easily believe that the American V-8 had reached it’s maximum performance potential.  Had it?  Not even close.  The LS Series engines redefined the words state-of-the-art for pushrod V-8 engines.  It’s been shown time and time again that an LS V-8 is the go-to choice for most hot rodders.  It’s got a lot of performance potential right out of the crate, it’s got some historical significance, it looks like a new V-8, it’s affordable enough to work on, and you don’t need to do much to it to get performance right out of the wood crate it comes in.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IpQlD-FLZMU
  • 1970-1982 Ford 335 Series V-8 (302 c.i., 351 c.i., 400 c.i.):  While this engine series shares the same bore and head-bolt patterns with the much-loved Windsor V-8 that it replaced, but that’s where any similarities between the two engines end.  The key difference is that the Cleveland V-8, as the engine is known as, has specially canted valve covers.  While production of the most coveted Cleveland V-8 ended in 1974, two much less popular variants (the 351M and the 400 c.i.) stayed in production until 1982.  Australia built a 302 c.i. version of this V-8 that is rarely seen here.  It’s got a lot of performance potential, some historic significance, it looks good enough, it’s relatively affordable to work on, and it’s going to cause wrench throwing and cussing.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KX_lVHoBnh8
  • 1932-1953 Ford Flathead V-8 (221 c.i., 239 c.i., 255 c.i.):  This is the one that started it all.  John Lennon once said, “If you wanted to give rock and roll a name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry.'”  If you wanted to give hot rodding a name, it might be Ford flathead V-8.  Henry Ford’s L-head V-8 was the engine that started the 1940’s hot rodding frenzy.  Flathead experts like to differentiate the engines by the 21-head stud 1932-1937 flathead V-8’s from the 1938-1953 24-head stud flathead V-8’s.  These engines use two water pumps, which were located in the cylinder heads until 1936, when they were moved into the V of the engine block.  It became obsolete in the early 1950’s with the advent of overhead-valve engines from GM and the early hemi engines from Mopar, but it is still the go-to choice for many classic Ford enthusiasts.  It’s got some performance potential, it’s one of the most historically significant engines around, it looks really cool, anybody can build one on a budget, and it’s going to bust a few knuckles.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-IevaW2lLY
  • 1958-1976 Ford FE Series V-8 (332 c.i., 352 c.i., 360 c.i., 361 c.i., 390 c.i., 406 c.i., 427 c.i., 428 c.i.):  Ford’s legendary FE Series V-8 made it’s debut in 1958 as the 332 c.i. V-8 found in the 1958 Ford Fairlane.  Some oddball FE engines included the 361 c.i. V-8 found in the Edsel and the 410 c.i. V-8 found in fullsize Mercury’s from 1966-1967.  Undeniably king of the hill was the 427 cubic inch single overhead cam engine introduced for NASCAR in 1964, and known as the S.O.H.C. (sock) or Cammer.  However, the most famous FE engine was the 427 Carroll Shelby stuffed into the Shelby Cobra in 1964-1965.  One version of the Cammer had a 6-foot-long timing chain and hemispherical combustion chambers, and was outlawed from NASCAR, but became a big winner in drag racing in the late 1960’s.  It’s got gobs of performance potential, almost as much historical significance, it looks pretty darn cool, it’s going to need a big budget to build up, and it’s somewhat of a knuckle-buster.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-Q8PBknCDc
  • 1955-1981 Pontiac V-8 (265 c.i., 287 c.i., 301 c.i., 303 c.i., 316 c.i., 326 c.i., 347 c.i., 350 c.i., 370 c.i., 389 c.i., 400 c.i., 421 c.i., 428 c.i., 455 c.i.):  This gigantic series of V-8’s from Pontiac might just be the most versatile V-8 to ever come from GM.  It was produced in even more displacements than the small-block Chevy V-8!  Other manufacturers have based their engines off of multiple “small-block” and “big-block” platforms, but all of these Pontiac V-8’s have the same 4.62-inch cylinder bore, meaning that finding speed parts for any one of these engines is not going to be a massive headache (hem, hem 1996 GMC Yukon).  The cars that carried these engines are the ones that made them famous – the Super Duty factory drag cars of the early 1960’s, the Pontiac GTO, and the Bandit-era Pontiac Trans Am.  Talk about performance potential to the nines!  These engines can be built any way you like them, they are pretty historically significant, they look nice, you can build one on a decent budget, and it’s somewhat of a wrench-thrower.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e26LT5DkGeQ
  • 1951-1958 Chrysler/Dodge/DeSoto Hemi V-8 (331 c.i., 354 c.i., 392 c.i.):  The 331 cubic-inch Hemi-headed V-8 Chrysler introduced in 1951 was their first overhead-valve V-8 engine.  This was the original Mopar Hemi.  The Hemi name came from the hemispherical shape of the combustion chambers.  The trade name was FirePower.  I’m going to avoid any Buzz Lightyear jokes.  After a few years, drag racers found out that these engines worked really well huffing nitrous oxide and burning nitromethane.  A new kind of drag racing sprang into being.  It’s hard to imagine Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars without a Chrysler Hemi V-8.  These engines have remarkable performance potential, you’ll be hard-pressed to find other engines that radically changed drag racing so much, it looks really, really cool, you can build one on a small enough budget, and they are easy enough to work on.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGXMh_8p3n8
  • 1958-1965 Chevrolet W Series V-8 (348 c.i., 409 c.i., 427 c.i.):  These Chevy V-8’s are more of a historical footnote than anything else, but they have three good things going for them:  1) Their cool valve covers that form a shape somewhat resembling a W 2) The song that immortalized this engine, 409, by the Beach Boys.  Once you listen to it, you’ll never get it out of your head.  For those of you who have watched the Nicholas Cage movie, Bringing Out the Dead, remember that scene when he had the paradoxical reaction to the “Red Death” drug?  That’s gonna be you…3) The W Chevy motor could really make a car haul, especially with the 409/409 horsepower mill.  It had a four-speed manual, dual four-barrel carburetors (dual quads), a Posi-traction rear end, and a good, big engine.  The 1963 Chevrolet Z-11 Impala with the 427 cubic inch V-8 that pumped out a massively underrated 430 horsepower as a drag-strip special didn’t hurt either.  These engines were technological dead ends for Chevy, but they are forever immortalized by the Beach Boys.  Nowadays, there is a lot of power you can squeeze out of them, they are almost too historically significant (thank you Beach Boys!), they look really cool, you can build one on a budget in your garage, and they are definitely not the easiest engines to work on.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLkMMkK_a1s
  • 1958-1977 Chrysler/Dodge/Plymouth B/RB V-8 (350 c.i., 383 c.i., 400 c.i., 413 c.i., 426 c.i., 440 c.i.):  Chrysler’s first entry in the big-block muscle car wars was a 350 cubic inch V-8 in 1958.  Of course, the best-known Chrysler big-blocks are the 383 c.i. and 440 c.i. V-8’s, as well as the 426 c.i. Max Wedge HEMI engines that ruled NASCAR and the drag strips well into the 1970’s.  The Max Wedge HEMI is so easy to squeeze power out of that it’s not uncommon to see them make 900 horsepower with mostly stock internals.  Check them out on YouTube.  These days, the smog-era 400 c.i. V-8 is the most prized engine, thanks to it having the largest cylinder bore of the group (4.340 inches) and their low deck height.  This means that these engines can be easily stroked out to 500 c.i. and above.  The engine one step below the 426 HEMI “Elephant Motor” is the 440 Six-Pack V-8, which has three two-barrel Holley carburetors, an Edelbrock intake manifold, and other speed goodies from the factory.  These engines have some of the biggest performance potential out there, they have almost as much historical significance as the 409 Chevy, they look really cool, they can be built on a budget, and wrench throwing will ensue.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGLkn66h66U
  • 1962-2001 Ford 90-Degree V-8 (221 c.i., 255 c.i., 260 c.i., 289 c.i., 302/5.0L c.i., 351 c.i.):  Better known to hot rodders and Ford enthusiasts as the Windsor V-8, the 90-degree V-8 is the blue oval’s most popular small-block engine offering.  The K-Code High Performance 289 c.i. engine (1963-1967) was the first of these engines to really make a dent in the high-performance world.  The first Shelby Cobra’s first used Ford 260 c.i. V-8’s and then 289 c.i. V-8’s.  Today, these engines are nearly as common as a small-block Chevy V-8 on the street-rod scene.  However, it was the advent of the fuel-injected 302 c.i. Mustang that really got the attention of enthusiasts and hot rodders worldwide in 1986.  Those Fox-Body Mustang’s created one of the biggest marketplaces for performance parts, and Fox-Body Mustangs always seem to make up at least a third of the field at any given drag strip weekend or autocross event.  There are so many performance parts for these engines that you could spend months picking out what parts you want!  So, they have lots of performance potential, they are almost as historically significant, they look like another small-block engine, you can build one up for some money, and they are pretty easy to work on.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfcuyUpI0W8
  • 1964-1971 Dodge/Plymouth 426 HEMI (426 c.i.):  Among enthusiasts, it’s known as the “Elephant Motor.”  Dodge and Plymouth engineers were searching for a way to produce more horsepower during the NASCAR and drag racing wars of the 1960’s, Dodge and Plymouth’s engineers decided to update the original Hemi head design from earlier in 1964 and update it to the short-block Max Wedge V-8 engine.  This is how the 426 HEMI was born.  It was the most powerful engine of the muscle car era, dominating the tracks and the streets until 1971, when rising gas and insurance prices shot the elephant dead.  I definitely think it’s the best looking engine of the muscle car era – nothing looks quite like it.  It’s defining moment was it’s 1-2-3 finish at the 1964 Daytona 500, with Richard starting 2nd and coming in 1st.  It’s got probably as much, if not more performance potential as a big-block Chevy V-8, it’s probably the most significant engine of the muscle car era, it looks drop-dead-gorgeous, it’s not at all affordable to build (not only due to it’s rarity, but due to the fact that too much power makes it go boom), and it’s nowhere nearly as easy to work on as a Chevy V-8.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9JiN6qlcnw
  • 1965-2009 Chevrolet Big-Block V-8 (366 c.i., 396 c.i., 402 c.i., 427 c.i., 430 c.i., 454 c.i., 496 c.i., 502 c.i.):  While people often call Chevy’s W-Series motors talked about earlier here the first big-block Chevy V-8’s, but the big-block Chevy (BBC) as we know it first appeared as a 396 c.i. V-8 in the 1965 Chevrolet Chevelle.  It appeared in various Chevelles and Corvettes that same year, but my personal favorite is the 1967 Chevrolet Chevelle SS396.  It’s got an understated elegance to it, and it’s really muscular at the same time.  Yes, I’m still a fan of the 1970 El Camino SS454, LS6.  Chevy’s official name for the engine was the Mark IV V-8, but it quickly picked up nicknames like Porcupine, Rat, semi-hemi, or big-block.  I like Rat.  Ever since it’s inception, it’s been a fan favorite of the go-big-or-go-home crowd.  If you’re going to build a super-powerful 454, look for one that was based off of a truck 454 – it’s made out of forged steel, so it’s better than bulletproof.  It’s got nearly as much performance potential as the 426 HEMI, it’s almost as historically significant, it looks almost as cool (talk about a show engine – for looks, quality, and affordable performance), you can build one for a few grand, and it’s extremely easy to work on.  If you want to build one on a budget, go to a junkyard and look for a heavy-duty Chevy truck or van.  It might have a 454 in it, and you can take it home, rip the smog stuff off of it, and buy quality parts for it, and make whatever car you have waiting for it a total sleeper.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIJstg1Jwx4
  • 1955-2003 Chevrolet Small-Block V-8 (262 c.i., 265 c.i., 267 c.i., 283 c.i., 302 c.i., 305 c.i., 327 c.i., 350 c.i., 400 c.i.):  Affectionately known as the “Mouse” motor (I prefer to call it the rat baby!) among enthusiasts, the Chevrolet small-block V-8 is probably the most versatile engine in hot-rodding.  It’s been said by many that it’s been produced in greater numbers than any other V-8 in history, and it’s been raced everywhere from the high banks of Talladega to the Brooklands corner of Le Mans to the rectangular shape of Indy.  While it’s just a legendary V-8 today, the small-block Chevy was ground-breaking when it was introduced in 1955 in the Corvette, Bel Air, and the Cameo/Apache pickups in Chevrolet’s lineup.  Why?  It was cast upside-down, and it’s rocker arms were made out of sheetmetal.  The last production version of this engine rolled off of the production line in a Chevrolet cargo van in 2003.  That same engine will undoubtedly power a street rod sometime in the 22nd century.  The fastest V-8 in the world is a heavily-modified Chevrolet small-block!  The king of the hill for production small-blocks is certainly the 327 c.i./375 horsepower L-84 with Rochester mechanical fuel injection offered in the 1964-1965 Chevrolet Corvette.  However, many say that the 1970 LT1 with 350 c.i., 11.0:1 compression, 370 horsepower in the Corvette, as the best.  I think both are great.  My personal favorite Chevy with a small-block V-8 is the 1967-1969 Camaro Z/28 with the 302 c.i. V-8.  It blends power with style, light weight with muscle car 1/4 mile numbers, and it’s still a formidable car on the race track in stock form.  It’s got tons of performance potential, almost as much historical significance as the 426 HEMI, it can look pretty good, it’s incredibly affordable to build today, thanks to masses of cars/trucks/vans all over the place, and it’s something that anybody can work on.  I have a 1996 GMC Yukon with a 350 c.i. V-8 that’s blown.  How much does an engine cost, one might wonder?  About $1,500.  If I had a Dodge Polara with a 426 HEMI, it would be about $16,000.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZDAHMPmIAk

If your favorite muscle car engine from this era wasn’t mentioned here, tell me what it is.  I’d love to know, and I would be happy to do a Part 2, if needed!  The next in this series will be diesel engines!  They are built to take more than a huge beating, so you can tune one to within an inch of it’s life without worry.  Remember that the Forum is coming up on Friday!  Come up with some questions!