Photo of a good engine credit: Nissan. Math credit: The 5-Electron case of Thomson’s Problem, by Richard Evan Schwartz. Image credit: Raphael Orlove.

Engines! Some – too big. Others – quite small. Whatcha need, my friend, is the Good Engine. The Goldilocks Engine. But how do you know which engine is just the right amount of engine? I have figured it out, and now I share my simple formula with you.

It goes a little something like this:

One (1) Cylinder : 500 Cubic Centimeters of Engine Displacement

Got a six-cylinder engine? Swell, it’s gotta be 3.0-liters. A big stonking V8? Maximum of 4.0-liters. A gorgeous V12? 6.0.


I do hope you’re understanding. It’s an easy concept, and is easily scalable. It works for all sorts of engine configurations, from four cylinders up to infinite cylinders.

If you don’t believe me, consider some greatest engine/car pairings of the past. The BMW M60B40 4.0-liter V8, of the BMW E34 540i. The Ferrari F140 6.0-liter V12, of the Maserati MC12. The famous Toyota 2JZ was crafted around the concept of a 3.0-liter straight six, which is the ideal engine configuration.

Why? Because this, dear readers, is beautiful symmetry. It just makes sense.

There you go. Simple enough, and yet so many manufacturers misunderstand this Good and Perfect rule.


Next time I will tell you why 300 horsepower is the Objectively Good Amount Of Power, and why everything else is Wrong.

Deputy Editor, Jalopnik. 2002 Lexus IS300 Sportcross.

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