According to the collective imagination, the V8 engine is a typical trait of American cars, and that is true. The V8 was perfected and widely used during the golden era of muscle cars, became mainstream for use in US cars, whether they were performance-oriented or not.
The widespread use and popularity of the V8 hit the European coast like a rolling wave. In fact, several car manufacturers started to adapt this type of engine for use in high-end sports cars. Interestingly, a V-shaped 8-cylinder engine also featured in some cars that weren’t actually intended to have one, and sometimes, it was adopted by car manufacturers you wouldn’t actually expect.
1999 Lotus Esprit (Introduced In 1996)
Everyone, at least once, wished he was James Bond and behind the wheel of his spectacular Lotus Esprit. This British car covered a role of real supremacy over the years; introduced in the late ’70s, considered an icon of the ’80s, and still able to surprise the demanding gearheads audience during the ’90s. How so?
The secret was simply the ability to reimagine and adapt what drivers expected from it was its real strength. When a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder was fitted, drivers could have fun with almost 160 hp under the hood. With time, it adopted a turbocharger to squeeze out even more horses. Finally, a V8 twin-turbo delighted all the lucky buyers who could handle some 350 hp. .
Fiat 8V Supersonic Ghia
You wouldn’t really expect a FIAT coupe to be packing a serious V8 engine. Well, to be honest, we just can’t believe how such a stunning car came out of a FIAT factory! The Fiat 8V Supersonic is a super-rare example of a beautiful Italian coupe and Ghia was responsible for the bodywork.
In 1953, when it was presented in Paris, no one could actually compete with such balance in proportion and class. Designed to appeal to the American market, this FIAT coupe was powered by a tiny 2-liter V8 engine with 105 hp (which was upgraded to more than 120 hp over the years). Only 15 units were made.
If the FIAT 8v Supersonic is the beauty, the AMC Gremlin was the beast! Even though there are some proud owners around who try to defend it, the Gremlin is universally known for being an ugly car. However, in its best trim, it came with a V8 engine.
The car came equipped with a 304 cu in V8 engine, which delivered 120 hp. When the model was first put into production, AMC had high hopes of it becoming the America’s favorite subcompact car. At the end of the day, the Gremlin only proved to be a monstrous car and certainly lived up to its name. And not necessarily in a positive sense.
Imagine cuddling with a tiny little red cat, but then you receive a loud roar in your face. Well, drivers must have felt that way when they approach the tiny and cute Sunbeam Tiger for the first time. The Tiger, in fact, hid under the hood in the shape of a 4.2-liter V8 engine with 164 hp.
The transmission was a manual 4-speed. During the mid-sixties, Jensen Motors — who actually mounted the V8 engine on the Sunbeam chassis — made a tuning kit that could take the feline creature to a maximum power of 275 hp. Today, the Tiger is such an expensive animal: according to Hagerty’s Valuation Tool, a 1967 model in good condition comes in at $105,000.
MG B GT V8
First of all, this car’s name is too hard to pronounce, and this is arguably the reason it didn’t see much success. Well, technically speaking, its peculiar design — which is something like a European cheap coupe mixed with a hatchback — is beyond weird. Again, to complete such a ridiculous profile, an unpredicted V8 engine hides under the hood.
In 1973, on the eve of the November oil crisis, the MG B GT V8 was unveiled. That could be another clue to understand the poor welcome it received back then. Additionally, the engine wasn’t that brilliant: it was a V8 Rover with 137 hp.
No matter from which angle you look at it, the Daimler SP250 looks gorgeous. Produced between 1959 and 1964, this elegant British car came equipped with an unusual 2.4-liter V8 engine that produced some 140 hp.
At a first glance, it looks like this car sits on lowered suspension. The reality is that the nice and low body was stock, anticipating a trend that would be a must on future sports cars. In its elegance, this tiny convertible also boasts some muscular front and rear wheel arches.
Ford Capri Perana
We normally think of a Ford Capri as a tiny sport-oriented coupe, packed with a 4 or 6-cylinder engine. The Capri Perana, though, was a coupe that went off to South Africa to seek fame and fortune and brought with her a 302 Ford Windsor engine.
The small, yet bossy, Capri Perana proved to be such a cool car. The car was puffed up and kinda looked like a Mustang. Actually, its gearbox was derived from the more famous American cousin. The Capri Perana’s performance wasn’t that bad for an early ’70s coupe; 0 to 60 was dealt with in 7 seconds, and the maximum speed was 143 mph.
2007 BMW M3
This was a really controversial topic back in 2007, when the first M3 with an 8-cylinder engine was unveiled. In fact, prior to that, the M3 used to embrace the straight-six engine, and this is why some BMW enthusiasts consider its predecessor, the M3 E46, to be the last M3.
Although purists would turn up their noses, this car was revolutionary and capable of brilliant performance figures. The body presents numerous carbon fiber parts, and the engine, a 4.0-liter V8 with 400 hp, is mated to a double-clutch transmission. The 0-60 mph is taken care of in just 4.6 seconds.
The limited-edition range is available in the three colors of the BMW M Sport logo: Laguna Seca Blue, Velvet Blue or Imola Red.
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