The story of the American auto industry vs. the Japanese auto industry is a David vs. Goliath story of the auto world. Despite its humble beginnings, the Japanese became industry giants in the second half of the 20th century and overtook Americans and Europeans in various automotive segments. But it wasn’t just the quality, reliability and low prices of Japanese cars that made them game changers. It was the attention to detail in their engines that made the difference.
Today we’re going to focus on five of the most important Japanese engines that have stood the test of time and turned out to be legendary engines. Also, we will present the five American counterparts, who also claim a place in the hearts of enthusiasts. Let’s see how these units stack up and which are the best.
The 2JZ-GTE is one of the most famous Japanese engines of all time. It is a six-cylinder in-line, equipped with two turbochargers and an overhead camshaft cylinder head. The layout is nothing special, but the quality of design, materials and durability of the whole thing have made it legendary, especially when installed in the Toyota Supra Mk4 and tuned to 1000 hp. .
Behind this strange code hides one of the favorite engines of the Need For Speed ââgeneration. This is the legendary unit that you can find in the iconic Nissan Skyline R34. It’s a 2.6-liter in-line six-cylinder, twin-turbocharged, and underrated 280 hp engine. In reality, the engine delivered much more and could be tuned to 600 hp with simple bolted parts.
Apart from Porsche, only Subaru uses the flat-four or six-cylinder engine configuration. Many of Subaru’s iconic driving characteristics flow from this, such as precise handling and a low center of gravity. The engine that really caught the attention of car fans towards this Japanese company was the EJ20K from the 90s. It was a compact 2.0-liter unit that delivered an enormous output of 290-300 hp as a turbocharger and helped Subaru win the WRC title.
Very few car manufacturers have ever dared to mass-produce Wankel rotary engines. Mazda was one of them and the only company to stay true to the concept for decades. It was the iconic powerhouse of several generations of RX7 and RX8 models and an incredible engine, which spun at 9,000 rpm without any problems. Yes, it was not the most reliable unit, but it was unique and full of character.
No list of the best Japanese engines would be complete without a unit from Honda. Known as one of the best engineering companies in the world, Honda has produced many memorable four and six cylinder engines. But the K20A really made a mark on the community. With its 8,400 rpm limit and 11.5: 1 compression, it was a street racing engine and a real screamer.
American: Hellcat Hemi
What could be more proudly American than the supercharged 707 hp Hemi V8? The legendary Hemi is one of America’s most recognizable V8 engines since its introduction in the early 1950s. Since then, it has won thousands of races, powered everything from fire-breathing muscle cars, luxury imperials, dragsters, trucks and motor boats.
American: Voodoo V8
Ford’s Coyote V8 is considered one of the best V8s, but the Voodoo V8 is even better. This is a 5.2-liter flat V8 that you will only find in the Shelby GT350, and it delivers an exceptionally high redline, 525 hp and an incredible soundtrack. This crazy engine shows that Americans can make a V8 crier, which can compete with the best of European exotic engines.
American: GM LS9
Although the all-new Corvette C8 does not use this engine, the C7 ZR1 has the honor of welcoming one of the most powerful V8s ever produced in America – the mighty LS9. With 6.2 liters of displacement and a massive 2.3-liter supercharger on top, this pushrod V8 produces 638 hp with the potential to go even higher. That’s right, the old-school, GM V8 with a dime a dozen horsepower and torque.
American: Ford EcoBoost 3.5 liters
Although the American auto industry is known for its V6 engines, modern times, downsizing and emission regulations have forced domestic engineers to use this setup. Ford was one of the first, and its EcoBoost V6 has found its way into almost everything from SUVs to Raptors and even the sublimely fast, Le Mans-winning Ford GT supercar.
American: Cadillac Blackwing V8
Some critics say that the technology of American engines is behind that of European engines, but the Voodoo V8 and especially Cadillac’s Blackwing reject these claims. It is a unit completely designed according to the latest standards and equipped with two turbochargers, located in the center of the engine. This design, called “Hot V” is very similar to Mercedes AMG engines, but the Cadillac unit is even better built and rarer.
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