Have you read the latest Wheel’s magazine? The January 2010 edition has a wonderful section on the wonderful history of the V8 engine that we know and love today. I will share some of the hi-lights from the magazine as well as my own personal comments, so read on…
The automotive vee-eight as we know it had its birth with our friend Henry Ford with the arrival of the ‘L-Head’ flat head vee eight of 1932. We must remember that he was not responsible for inventing the 8 cylinder engine in the V format as we know and love. But he was responsible for ensuring that it was available to the masses, ie the likes of you and me! It was pretty basic and simple, no complicated overhead valves or the like, hence the term ‘flathead’.
A company called Duesenberg, back in the 20’s had a straight 8 cylinder engine and this was probably the first mass produced 8 cylinder automotive engine (it also had fancy overhead cams and multi-valves!). Unfortunately the company did not stand the test of time.
Some suggest that the longest ‘living’ V8 engine is the 6.75 litre V8 belonging to our British friends Roll-Royce and Bentley. Based on an American design it was released in the 1959 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud (as a 6.2 litre with OHV and 90 degrees V angle). Later it was enlarged to its current size of 6.75 litres and continues in production today inspiring Bentleys.
Of course technology has allowed the V8 to develop just like all things automotive and we now have every V8 arrangement possible across the automotive spectrum. Usually only limited by our imagination (and our wallet). Turbocharging/supercharging, direct injection, mulit-variable valve technology along with massaging of the engine ancillaries are all available on your Ferrari down to your humble home grown Falcon or Commodore.