With more and more cars going turbocharged, the much loved naturally aspirated engines days are numbered. Technically, turbos make for more effective and better performing cars, but there is always a place for the emotive nature of a good N/A engine with its throttle response, sound and reliability. Here are 5 of some of the greatest naturally aspirated engines of all time.
Ferrari 458 V8 F136
Packing the most punch in the speciale version, the V-8 in Ferrari’s best selling supercar breaks through the 130 horsepower per liter and 85 lb-ft per liter thresholds. Despite not receiving the same fanfair as examples like VTEC engines, the high revving 4.5 litre produces a whopping 597 bhp, approaching the same territory as its turbocharged competitors. The pistons average 24 mean piston speed at their peak. Although now phased out by its replacement, the turboed 488, the 458 speciales engine will remain one of the finest naturally aspirated engines ever made.
Honda Integra B18C5
You certainly don’t need a supercar budget to enjoy one of the best N/A engines. This one surprised a lot of people when first released in 1997. The VTEC 1.8-liter B18C5 four-cylinder—which produces 195 horsepower at 8000 rpm has got to be one of the finest naturally aspirated 4 cylinders of all time. 6000 to 8000 rpm is really where the magic happens, engaging the famous second cam. Famed for its throttle response and ability to rev, the B18C5 is a fantastic engine, offering great performance and reliability. Fuel economy is decent too. Critics may say the engine lacks torque, but that’s not what this engines about.
E30 M3 Sport Evo S14
Yes they have become stupidly priced, fetching around about $150,000 for a good one but that doesn’t change the fact that the S14 in the M3 is one of the all time greats. Derived from an m10 block and a chopped m88 head with two cylinders removed, the s14 is a bit of a mongrel. When BMW chose to enter motorsport, like touring car racing, they decided against the 6 cylinder for being too heavy and long, leading to the 4 cylinder being commissioned. The car of course had to be homologated, meaning that customers were able to purchase it. The s14 went through a series of iterations over its lifespan, finally resulting in the S14B25 EVO3. This engine has a 2.5 litre displacement, a higher lift intake and higher exhaust camshafts, which produced 235 bhp.
Lexus LFA 1LR-GUE
Taking more than 10 years to produce, the lexus LFA was almost outdated by the time the project was finished and the car was released. This didn’t seem to take the edge off the cars reception however, being praised by journalists across the world. The heart of the LFA was always it’s engine. The 4.8 litre naturally aspirated unit had a lot of input from Yamaha. Internally named as the 1LR-GUE, it put out 550bhp and 480 newton metres of torque. To top it all off, the redline is at a whopping 9000rpm!
Corvette Z06 LS3
The LS3 is a 6.2L, 430-hp engine that features in the Chevrolet Corvette, Camaro and SS. The LS3 is often swapped into many other vehicles, primarily because of its versatility. The LS3 comes available as a crate engine package, direct from the manufacturer ready to swap into your project car. It’s not a particularly advanced motor, but with solid power and linear torque levels, it’s ideal for many applications. It also sounds great too. Simplicity and reliability are often underrated!
So there they are. Do you think I made the right choices or are there others that should be considered? Let me know in the comments.