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Some of the Worst V8 Engines Built by US Manufacturers
In the perception of ordinary people around the world, American manufacturers are responsible for creating some of the best V8 engines ever. While it's true that so many great designs came from this country, some were really awful, mainly because of a phenomenon called cost-cutting.

Some of the Worst V8 Engines Built by US Manufacturers

Some of the Worst V8 Engines Built by US ManufacturersCadillac V8-6-4 engineOldsmobile 5.7 Diesel V8 engineOldsmobile 5.7 Diesel V8 engineOldsmobile 5.7 Diesel V8 engineChevrolet 262 Small Block engineSome of the Worst V8 Engines Built by US ManufacturersChrysler Lean Burn engineSome of the Worst V8 Engines Built by US ManufacturersPontiac 265 V8Pontiac 265 V8Ford Flathead V8Ford Flathead V8
Most of these engines are from the "Malaise Era," a very dark period for the American automotive industry. Tightening emissions standards, oil embargoes, unleaded fuel, and many others had a bad influence on the market.

Cadillac V8-6-4 (1981)- Dubbed the L62, the V8-6-4 was an engine with displacement-on-demand. These terms also translate as cylinder deactivation, so the cars using this power unit could alternatively run as a 4.5-liter V6 or as a three-liter V4. The engine had a wide array of sensors and solenoids with an ECU that would evaluate signals and perform accordingly. However, the computer was too slow to keep up with the quickly changing driving conditions. In addition, the throttle body injection system tended to over or under-fuel the engine.

Cadillac released no more than 13 software updates for the system, and even after that, they couldn't manage to resolve the problem. Finally, after a single model year, the entire powerplant was discontinued, and the American manufacturer replaced the awful L62 with a much smaller 4.1-liter V8. As a result, Cadillac's reputation suffered for many years afterward.

Oldsmobile 5.7-liter Diesel V8 (1978-1985) - The words V8 and diesel just don't sound right together in a regular sedan. Despite its huge sales, the Oldsmobile LF9 was a disaster. To hurry a diesel V8 onto the market, the engineers basically converted the gas engine into a diesel one, which is not how things work in the automotive industry. As a result, they were not great performers, providing only 120 hp (121 PS) and 220 lb-ft (298 Nm) of torque.

Because the engineers from GM used the same head bolt pattern as the gas engine ones, they were failing due to the much higher compression required for a diesel. Oldsmobile didn't provide the 5.7 with a water separator in order to cut costs. The problem was that poor quality fuel was standard in that era, and as a result, water contamination made the injection pumps corrode. To make things even worse, GM dealership mechanics were unfamiliar with diesel engines and did not know how to repair them properly.

The cars with this unit could not obtain certification from CARB (California Air Resources Board) because all the test vehicles suffered significant engine breakdowns. By 1985, Oldsmobile discontinued the engine due to poor sales.

Chevrolet 262 Small Block (1975-1977)- Trying to find a solution to the high gas prices, GM created the smallest and weakest first-generation small block Chevrolet ever. As a result of a tiny bore and short stroke, the engine displaced 262 cubic inches (4.3-liter) with a power output of only 110 hp (112 PS). There were many smaller powerplants with more horsepowers than that one. As a result, it proved highly unpopular amongst owners, and GM scrapped it late in 1976, the surplus engines finding their way into a few 1977 Pontiac Venturas.

Chrysler "Lean Burn" V8S (1976-1979)- While Ford and GM were using smaller displacement in order to meet emissions and fuel economy regulations, Chrysler was trying something new. In 1976 they released their latest "Lean Burn" technology on 6.5-liter V8s in their mid and full-size machines.

The system was a computerized ignition system that carefully controlled the engine's timing curve using a special carburetor and a lot of different sensors. The computer could allow the engine to run significantly leaner fuel-to-air ratios without the detonation problem by monitoring essential factors like air intake, coolant temperature, and others. As a result, the emissions were reduced significantly.

However, this system had a lot of problems. The engine's computer was exposed to vibrations and heat since it was mounted on the air cleaner box instead on the car's bodywork. In the end, better technology and fuel injection replaced the "Lean Burn" system.

Pontiac 265 V8 (1980-1981)- In 1980, engineers from Pontiac used the typical General Motors formula and reduced the bore diameter of the 301 engine. That's how the 4.3-liter 265 engine was born. Much like the competitors, the V8 from Pontiac had an improved fuel economy, but with only 120 hp (122 PS), it severely lacked power. A year later, GM scrapped all Pontiac powerplants in favor of Chevrolet and Oldsmobile ones.

Ford Flathead V8 (1932)- With the Ford Flathead entering the market in 1932, a V8 engine was available in a car for the masses for the first time in America. However, the first 3.6-liter Flathead was full of severe problems. The water pumps were poorly designed because they were new to Ford power units. As a result, overheating was a widespread problem for customers. Besides water pumps, fuel pumps were also new and were prone to freeze up in the cold and vapor lock in the heat.

Due to piston failures, extensive engine repairs were needed in the first year of production. Despite all these issues, the 65 hp (66 PS) Flathead V8 engine caught on with the public, and after 1932 Ford made the Flathead more reliable and powerful.

While American car manufacturers made some of the greatest V8 engines, sometimes awful ones came up from the production line. These engines were some of the awful ones.


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