The Ten Worst "High-Performance" Engines Of All Time

A high-performance engine is what makes a fast car a fast car. Except when it doesn't. These are Jalopnik readers' picks for the ten worst "high-performance" engines of all time.

Welcome back to Answers of the Day — our daily Jalopnik feature where we take the best ten responses from the previous day's Question of the Day and shine it up to show off. It's by you and for you, the Jalopnik readers. Enjoy!

Photo Credit: BMW via http://www.taylorpatterson.com/BMW850/

The Ten Worst "High-Performance" Engines Of All Time

10.) Mitsubishi 6G72

Suggested By: HawaiianKong

Why it only moves us to tears: Not a terrible engine, but a terrible application and the collapse of a reputation. Mitsubishi's third-generation Eclipse foreswore the nameplate's import-tuner terror attitude in favor of a softer, more mature outlook; the clearest example of this change was the move from turbo-4 power to this comparatively big and lazy V6. Streetfighter gone suburban bland, the Eclipse remains a bit lost.

Photo Credit: Florida Mills

The Ten Worst "High-Performance" Engines Of All Time

9.) Porsche 924 4-cylinder

Suggested By: ejp hates automatic transmissions

Why it only moves us to tears: Porsche's four-cylinders are rarely engines to complain about. This one is. Essentially a dressed-up Audi engine back when that wasn't anything special in the first place, the two-liter four was criticized as much for its vibrations as its soft power output. The vastly improved 2.5 liter four in the 944 consigned the 924's motor to the rare dark pages of Porsche engineering history.

Photo Credit: Tom Hodgkinson

The Ten Worst "High-Performance" Engines Of All Time

8.) Subaru/Motori Moderni Formula One engine

Suggested By: GuacamoleFire

Why it only moves us to tears: Formula One is the most ridiculously harsh competition series in motorsports, but every now and then some well-funded Don Quixote finds a way to get in and be openly humiliated. The 3.5 liter flat-12 was significantly down on power, a bitch to package in the car, and suffered repeatedly from klutzy reliability problems. It never got past the prequalifying stage used at the time. (Many more fun details here.)

Photo Credit: spezialmotorer.com (it's for sale!)

The Ten Worst "High-Performance" Engines Of All Time

7.) Ford 2.3 "HSO"

Suggested By: dal20402

Why it only moves us to tears: This is what happens when the marketing department does the work of the engineering crew. Ford wanted to produce a sporty version of the Tempo (yes, really); the end product was little more than blacked-out trim, alloy wheels, a different final-drive ratio, and an imperceptible power bump for the wheezy 2.3 four capped by an embarrassing "high-performance" valve cover.

Photo Credit: Ford

The Ten Worst "High-Performance" Engines Of All Time

6.) Volkswagen G60

Suggested By: SennaMP4

Why it only moves us to tears: Volkswagen's take on supercharging was confusing. The scroll-type G-lader supercharger was an interesting concept, but in reality it combined the worst of both traditional mechanically-driven supercharging and turbocharging: parasitic drag, a peaky power band, soft low-speed response. This motor helped doom the otherwise-capable Corrado and likely made life all that much harder for VW's American marketing people.

Photo Credit: Rowan Harrison

The Ten Worst "High-Performance" Engines Of All Time

5.) BMW M70 V-12

Suggested By: KatzManDu

Why it only moves us to tears: Some high-performance engines are complex, some are heavy, and some have roots in soft luxury-car applications. Few if any others combine these traits to the dizzying heights that BMW achieved with its first production V-12 auto engine. The M70 was huge, heavy, and featured one complete ECU system for each cylinder bank among other gratuitous complexities. The BMW 8-series never shed its lardy image.

Photo Credit: Shane K

The Ten Worst "High-Performance" Engines Of All Time

4.) Ford 4.2 V8

Suggested By: jdoors1

Why it only moves us to tears: Ford's Windsor V8 is one of the really great engines of all time. It's done everything from cruise Woodward to win at Le Mans. However, if you try hard enough (say, when you choke down displacement to 255 cubic inches and force the works to breathe through a miserly head design and a two-barrel carburetor) you can indeed create an effective boat anchor from one. Available in the Mustang in 1980 and 1981 exclusively with, yes, a three-speed automatic.

Photo Credit: ebay.com

The Ten Worst "High-Performance" Engines Of All Time

3.) Cosworth Vega 4-cylinder

Suggested By: ShantJ, resident Citroën fanboi, master of malaise, is mourning Spiegel

Why it only moves us to tears: The Cosworth-tuned two-liter inline-four was an engine ahead of its time — too far ahead of its time. To read the specs it sounds like something designed last month: all aluminum, sixteen valves, electronic fuel injection, and a really nice stainless-steel exhaust header. All of this produced 110 horsepower. Serious numbers and drivability would have to wait until EFI systems evolved with computer tech in the Eighties.

The fact that this engine went into a Vega did it no favors, either.

Photo Credit: Dave Parker

The Ten Worst "High-Performance" Engines Of All Time

2.) PRV/DeLorean 2.8 V6

Suggested By: DasWauto - Stupid electronics, I like mechanical things

Why it only moves us to tears: John DeLorean's eponymous gullwing GT car deserved better. The Peugeot-Renault-Volvo ZMJ-159 V6 coughed out an anemic 130 horsepower, far less than what was intended for that dazzling Giugiaro shape. No one disputes that the car had other issues, but the pedestrian power level was a massive handicap that did no end of damage to the car's desirability.

Photo Credit: Theyoungones1994

The Ten Worst "High-Performance" Engines Of All Time

1.) Chevrolet 305 H.O. V8

Suggested By: retoxified

Why it only moves us to tears: Yes, really, a small-block Chevy. Little modified internally from station-wagon service, the 305 is a harsh lesson in that most important of engine characteristics: breathing. Camaros, Firebirds, and Monte Carlos all received the underachiever small-block in a variety of intake configurations, none of which came close to doing what a five-liter V8 should do. This engine was the visible end point of Malaise compromise.

Photo Credit: en.wikipedia.org