Since Léon Le Vavasseur built the Antoinette in 1904, the V8 engine has been around. Many automakers experimented with engine configurations, but the 1910 De Dion-Bouton was the first V8-engined car to be mass-produced.
Cadillac was the first to mass-produce the V8 engine in its Type-51 L-Head configuration. The V8 engine has been used in a variety of vehicles since then, but it only became widely popular in the late 1950s. By the 1960s, the muscle car war had begun, with American automakers competing to outdo one another. In the late 1960s, Europe joined the party, with British, German, and Italian automakers developing their own engines in a variety of ways. The V8’s popularity dipped slightly in the late 1970s due to the US oil crisis, but quickly recovered in the 1990s and has become increasingly powerful and adaptable. A V8 engine could once be found in family-oriented cars like the Mercedes-Benz R-Class – and this from the sensible Germans.
Today, the V8 is on the verge of extinction as a result of the war on climate change, with many automotive companies already discontinuing their engines in favor of small-engine hybrids or electric motors. In the meantime, many automakers have decided to give the V8 a proper send-off by producing the best examples ever built. Here are ten of the most powerful V8-powered automobiles ever sold to the general public.
The Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing is currently one of the most powerful sports sedans on the market, with a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 producing 668 hp. The CT5-V Blackwing’s best feature is that it is rear-drive only and comes standard with a 6-speed manual transmission.
The CT5-V Blackwing is the final V8 American sports sedan, as future models will be hybridized or fully electric. The Blackwing is also the first Cadillac to feature carbon-ceramic brakes that are 64 pounds lighter than the standard set. The CT5-V Blackwing accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds and has a top speed of more than 205 mph.
The Chevrolet Corvette C8 Z06 is the next higher-performance model to arrive before the ZR1. The LT6 5.5-liter V8 in the Z06 has surpassed the Mercedes-AMG M159 6.2-liter as the most powerful naturally aspirated V8 ever produced. The LT6 generates 670 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque.
The C8 Z06 promises to be one of the most race-focused Corvette Z06s ever built, with larger wheels and tires, improved brakes, and all Z06 models coming standard with adaptive suspension and differential lock. The Corvette C8 Z06 uses the same 8-speed automatic, but with a shorter final-drive ratio, resulting in faster acceleration – 0-60 mph in 2.6 seconds, according to the manufacturer.
The previous generation Corvette C7 ZR1 was one of the most powerful production vehicles available at the time. The C7 generation outperformed the C6 generation, particularly in terms of handling performance. The C7 ZR1 was powered by an LT5 supercharged 6.2-liter V8 producing 755 hp and 715 lb-ft of torque – all of which was routed to the rear wheels only via a 7-speed manual or 8-speed automatic transmission.
The ZR1 was available with a comprehensive aero package that generated 950 lbs of downforce. ZR1s without the aero package had a top speed of 214 mph. Despite the extensive use of carbon fiber throughout the vehicle, the ZR1 is actually heavier than the Z06 due to more efficient cooling systems.
With a massive 707 hp from a 6.2-liter supercharged V8, the Dodge Challenger Hellcat is one of the coolest muscle cars on the market. Dodge went a step further and created a drug-specific version known as the Challenger SRT Demon, which had 840 hp when properly tuned. The Demon accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds and runs the quarter-mile in 9.65 seconds at a trap speed of 140 mph. The SRT Demon was banned from official drag races by the NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) due to the vehicle’s acceleration speed and lack of a roll cage. Because of new rules put in place by the NHRA, this ban will be lifted in March 2022.
The Shelby Mustang GT500 is the most powerful Mustang ever, with its 5.2-liter supercharged ‘Predator’ V8 producing 760 hp. The engine is an evolution of the Mustang GT350’s naturally aspirated 5.2-liter ‘Voodoo V8. The main distinctions are the large supercharger bolted to the top and the return of the cross-plane crankshaft rather than the flat-plane crankshaft. Ford is offering 180 Mustang GT500KR models to commemorate Shelby American’s 60th anniversary, which will take place in 2022. (King of the Road). These models have an upgraded 3.8-liter supercharger and produce more than 900 hp when running on 93-octane fuel. The cost of all this power? $128,000 – or $55,000 more than a standard GT500. For a pony, it’s quite pricey.