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The greatest engine of all?

4 months ago

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Colin Goodwin | Journalist


13 March 2024

Volkswagen’s iconic air-cooled flat-four has to be a contender. Twenty-one million Beetles used it, plus six million Type 2 vans and almost half a million Karmann Ghias. Numerous other VW vehicles used the engine including the Type 3 saloon and estate with many engines also used for industrial purposes and in aircraft. The Toyota Corolla is the most mass produced vehicle of all time at 50 million units sold but it has used many different engines since its introduction in 1966. The question we’re asking, as you might have guessed, is what is the most mass produced engine of all time?

The answer is the Chevrolet small block V8. Pedants might now be digging out the sales figures for Honda’s Cub and its air-cooled single cylinder motor. It’s close: by the end of last year Honda had sold 108 million Cubs. However, by 2020 Chevrolet had sold 108 million small blocks. That’s an incredible number for what in many of its forms is a high performance engine.

But it’s not only the raw production numbers that makes the small block Chevrolet (or SBC as it’s known) an amazing engine, or that it has brought affordable horsepower to hot rodders, drag racers, muscle cars and to motor sport, but also its amazing evolution from a 162bhp motor when it was introduced in the 1955 model year to the high tech package in the latest Chevrolet Corvette E-RAY hybrid supercar.

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