Can You Identify This Engine?


By: Dave Davis

7 Min Quiz

Image: Frank Albrecht on Unsplash

About This Quiz

Most members of the car-buying public pay more attention to the outside of their vehicle than what is waiting for them under the hood.

This quiz is not for those people.

True gearheads can appreciate a finely designed auto body, the comfort of a well-crafted interior, and the latest and greatest versions of an infotainment system. Where their hearts truly lie, however, is with the engine. Without the engine, the car is just a beautiful box. It's the engine that puts the "mobile" in "automobile." For this quiz, we've found photos of the engines of 40 different vehicles from various decades — along with some clues in the questions — and it's your job to either give us the name of the engine or the car it powers. How well do you know your engines?

Some of these engines are known to those with only a passing interest in motors, while others will require an expert's knowledge to identify. But one thing is true about all of them: someone depends — or has depended — on them to get from place to place. Let's see how much you know about the monster lurking in the engine bay.

Are you an engine whisperer? Can you ID a powerplant from a glance? We're about to find out!

This 1953 Red Ram engine was the first Dodge motor that could be described by what term?

The 1953 Red Ram engine was the first Dodge motor to use hemispherical (Hemi) combustion chambers. This dome-like structure produces more power than its "flat" cylinder cousins. Chrysler's first Hemi motor was the FirePower engine, developed a few years earlier, but the Red Ram was the first for the Dodge brand.


Can you give us the name of this engine, which is also a name that many believe is a well-earned title?

The original Ford Boss 302 — named for its cubic-inch displacement, which also works out to 4.9 liters — is a high-performance small block engine that was on the market from 1969 through 1970. It was used in the Boss 302 Mustangs and Cougar Eliminators.


This GM engine was named for the flow it created inside the combustion chamber. Can you name it?

Used in GM trucks beginning in the 1985 model year, the Vortec engine was named for its "vortex technology" that atomizes the air/fuel mix in the combustion chamber. It's come in many shapes and sizes, ranging from the inline-four Vortec 2200 to the Big Block Vortec 8100 V8.


Tried and true, where would you find this 1.2-liter engine?

Used without a lot of modification from 1936 through 2006, the Volkswagen air-cooled engine has moved a lot of people to a lot of different places all around the world. The engine has four horizontally opposed cylinders and has been sized from 1.0 liter to 1.6 liters throughout most of its production run. The engine pictured here is a 1953 1.2-liter engine, which was used from 1950 to 1991.


What is the name of this unique motor used for many years by Mazda?

Between 1963 and 2012, Mazda used a version of the Wankel rotary combustion engine. Developed by German engineer Felix Wankel, this motor allows the parts to rotate in one direction, which is different from the motion of the standard reciprocating piston engine, where the pistons change directions. The Wankel motor is known for high power-to-weight ratio, but also for its poor fuel efficiency. The 2012 Mazda RX-8 was the last car to be powered by the Wankel engine.


A famous movie version of this engine had one job — to get up to 88 miles per hour. Can you name it?

The engine in the DeLorean Motor Company's one and only produced vehicle was a 2.85-liter Peugeot-Renault-Volvo (PRV) V6 that was rated to generate 130 horsepower. Unfortunately, this powerplant was underpowered for the expectations people had for the vehicle. This is one of the reasons the DMC DeLorean didn't succeed. The car, of course, became famous later for its star turn in the "Back to the Future" trilogy of films.


This 10-cylinder engine went into the second generation of one of the most iconic muscle cars Dodge ever made. Can you name the model?

The Dodge Viper has seen five generations of production, from 1991 through 2017, with occasional pauses. The racing motor pictured here is a V10 GTS-R engine from the first generation. The engine was designed by Lamborghini, which was then a part of Chrysler.


This supercharged monster was found in which pony car in 2003?

This 32-valve supercharged V8 was found in the 2003 Ford Mustang Cobra, a high-performance variant of the famous pony car that was built from 1993 to 2004. This was the top-of-the-line Mustang until the Shelby GT500 came along in 2007.


Porsche has long been known for what peculiar-sounding engine, like the one pictured here?

The flat-six engine — where the cylinders are horizontally opposed, with three on either side of the central crankshaft — has been used in a number of vehicles. Still, it's most famous for its inclusion in the famous Porsche 911, where it's been used exclusively since 1963.


The British maker of this engine fills the needs of both a spy and a prince. Can you name the company?

Long associated with the comings and goings of film superspy James Bond, Aston Martin has also held a Royal Warrant as the official purveyor of cars for the prince of Wales since 1982. Aston Martin, founded in 1913, has long been known for its luxury sports cars and touring vehicles.


What space-age name did this American engine go by in the 1950s?

Built between 1949 and 1990, the Oldsmobile V8 "Rocket" has powered a great many automobiles over the years. The engine has come in many different sizes, ranging from a 5.0-liter small block version to an incredible 7.5-liter big block bully. There was also a turbocharged version of this engine, which was rightfully called the Turbo-Rocket.


What does "TDI" stand for when used in conjunction with a Volkswagen engine?

Since the Volkswagen Group owns many different automobile manufacturers, you'll find the term "TDI" used not only by Volkswagen but also by Audi, SEAT and Skoda. Whatever the company, the letters are the company's acronym for "Turbocharged Direct Injection," first used in the 1989 Audi 100 TDI sedan.


Although he was best known for his work at Ford, Carroll Shelby also worked for a company that produced this engine. Can you name it?

He was best known for his collaborations with Ford, particularly his work with the Mustang, but there were periods when auto design legend Carroll Shelby worked with other companies, such as Dodge. In 1987, he worked with the automaker to develop the Shelby Lancer, which offered a 2.2-liter intercooled turbocharged inline-four that could produce 175 horsepower. Only 800 were ever made.


What two letters are the designation of this 1959 Jaguar engine?

The XK inline-six is the engine that made the world take notice of the Jaguar brand. Introduced in 1949, the engine led to several victories for the company at Le Mans, and it powered Jaguar's E-Type vehicle. The engine also had lasting power; it was used until 1992.


This engine comes from a high-performance variant, known by what name?

Ford engines and vehicles made for the rigors of law enforcement are called "Police Interceptor" models and variants. The motor shown here is a Ford FE 428 Police Interceptor that was found in a 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500.


What animal could you say this engine from a Chevrolet Corvair was named after?

The Corvair Monza Spyder Turbo Six from Chevrolet was released in 1962. The Corvair was a rear-engined car, which was (and still is) rare for an American-made vehicle. The Corvair came under scrutiny in Ralph Nader's ground-breaking consumer advocate book "Unsafe at Any Speed," but the modern age of turbocharged engines started here.


This DOHC flat-six engine was used to make which of these vehicles the fastest of its time?

The Porsche 959, released in 1986, used a 2.8-liter twin-supercharged flat-six engine to make it the world's fastest production car when it first hit the streets. The engine could power the car to 197 miles per hour, with some high(er)-performance variants able to reach 211 miles per hour.


Which American automaker built this engine in the mid-1950s, powering the Metropolitan Series III?

The Nash Metropolitan was built from 1953 through 1961, in four series. Series III, built between 1955 and 1958, offered the 1.5-liter B-Series inline-four engine, as pictured here.


This powerful V8 engine was found in which Dodge vehicle from 1970?

The Polara first hit the streets in 1959 as Dodge's top-of-the-line full-size vehicle, but it was eventually changed to a mid-size car to compete with Ford's Galaxie 500 and Chevrolet's Impala. Made in four generations, the last iteration of the vehicle had one inline-six and five V8 engine options, the largest of which was a 7.2-liter monster.


The M20 engine, like the one pictured here, was used in which of these automaker's vehicles?

The M20 engine is a straight-six-cylinder engine used by BMW from 1977 through 1993, first in its E12 5 Series and E21 3 Series. The first M20 models were 2.0 liters, with later models having a displacement of up to 2.7 liters. The M50 models succeeded this engine.


Which model car did this 1987 engine call home? (Hint: this vehicle's variant took its name from a racing competition.)

The Chevrolet Camaro first hit the streets in 1967 as the automaker's response to the Ford Mustang. The car soon blazed its own trail in the automotive world. In 1985, Chevy put out an edition named after the International Race of Champions (IROC) as a performance variant. The Camaro IROC engine in this photo is a 1987 5.7-liter V8.


This 406 TriPower is an example of which famous engine type?

The Ford FE (Ford-Edsel) engine was made for vehicles in the North American market from 1958 through 1976, replacing the Y-block engine design that was becoming too small for the power requirements of modern vehicles. The engine shown here is a 405.7-cubic-inch (or 6.6-liter) TriPower from a Ford Galaxie.


Which company made the CVCC engine, which offered reduced emissions?

Engineered to meet stricter emissions standards in the mid-1970s, Honda's CVCC (Compound Vortex Controlled Combustion) engine used a three-valve combustion chamber as a way to minimize emissions without the use of a catalytic converter.


This engine was Ford's answer to Chrysler's Hemi dominator in the 1960s. What's the nickname given to this motor?

Ford’s 427 CID SOHC V8 engine, nicknamed the "Cammer," was built in response to Chrysler's 426 Hemi, which had allowed Richard Petty to dominate the 1964 Daytona 500. Ford developed the Cammer in just three months. NASCAR didn't allow the overhead cam engine to be raced on the track, however, and the engine was never released for showroom models either, making it a bit of a legend in the gearhead community.


This "B" engine, made in the mid 1960s, was a big block model for which automaker?

The Chrysler "B" engine was a big block V8 that took the place of the first-generation FirePower Hemi engines in 1958. The engine shown here is a 383-cubic-inch (6.3-liter) version of the "B" engine that was built in the mid-1960s, able to generate 330 horses.


Can you identify this engine, which helped its car win the 1966 Motor Trend Car of the Year?

The Oldsmobile Toronado was a personal luxury car made from 1965 through 1992. Its first generation, produced until 1970, had a unique design and a powerful engine — the 425-cubic-inch Super Rocket V8 pictured here. The Toronado could generate 385 horsepower and 475 foot-pounds of torque!


Which company came up with the J motor in 1928, basing it on their previous racing motors?

The Duesenberg Model J engine was developed based on the company's racing engines of the 1920s. They used this engine in the Duesenberg Model J, which was made from 1928 through 1937. A straight-eight-cylinder motor, the engine could produce 265 horsepower and had a top speed of 119 miles per hour — the most powerful on the American market.


The Lampredi V12 engine pictured here belonged to which of these sports cars?

The Ferrari 375 Plus, built only in 1954, was powered by the 5.0-liter Lampredi V12 engine. It could produce about 325 horsepower and put up a top speed of 174 miles per hour. The car, developed for racing, competed in races such as Carrera Panamericana, 24 Hours of Le Mans and Silverstone.


What type of engine, found in the Corvette ZR1, is pictured here?

The LT5 engine found in some models of the fourth-generation Corvette wasn't made by GM, but rather by Lotus Engineering, using GM's existing small block V8. The 5.7-liter LT5 could generate up to 375 horsepower.


The name of this engine's vehicle is synonymous with luxury. Who stamped their trident onto this motor?

Maserati, headquartered in Modena, Italy, is a name long associated with luxury performance cars — and hefty price tags. Founded in 1914, the company first got into the automobile game to make racing cars, and that need for speed never left their design sensibilities.


The L24 engine powered which "lettered" vehicle in the 1970s and '80s?

The L24 is part of Nissan's "L" family of engines, which were used from 1967 through 1986. This engine, the L24, was used in the first generation of Nissan's "Z" cars, the 240Z or Fairlady Z. This 2.4-liter engine could produce 148 brake horsepower and was built from 1969 through 1984.


This 7.0-liter monster belongs to which muscle car that was built to take on the Mustang?

The Plymouth Barracuda was designed to take on the yet-to-be-released Mustang and actually hit the road a couple of weeks before Ford's preeminent pony car. The 'Cuda was built in three generations, between 1964 and 1974, with the second and third generations offering a 7.0-liter Hemi like the one pictured here.


Ford developed this type of engine in 1991, largely for the European market. Can you identify it?

The Zetec engine, which debuted in 1991, was originally called the Zeta engine, but the company was forced to change it because the Italian automobile manufacturer Lancia owned the trademark on that name. The Zetec is an inline-four family of engines that has evolved over the years and found a home under the hoods of many European cars.


This Ferrari engine is known in part by what name, meaning "type" in Italian?

The Ferrari Tipo F140 is a V12 engine that started production in 2002 and is used in both Ferrari and Maserati cars. The F140C engine pictured here is a 6.0-liter version from a 599 GTB Fiorano, able to produce 612 horsepower.


This 1933 Chevrolet engine was copied by which automaker a couple of years later?

The Toyota Type A engine, produced from 1935 through 1947, was copied from the first-generation Chevrolet Stovebolt engine — so much so that the two engines had parts that could be interchanged. The Type A was Toyota's first production engine.


Room for the engine AND the spare tire? What type of vehicle did this Honda engine power?

A kei car, or city car, is a very small vehicle, as designated by the Japanese government, made for urban errands. This particular engine powered a 1969 Honda N360, which was a two-passenger automobile. It wouldn't be great for highway driving, but it was fine for the stop-and-go traffic of a city.


This engine is German-made for a Spanish automaker. Can you tell us which one?

SEAT — Sociedad Española de Automóviles de Turismo — is a Spanish automobile maker and a wholly owned subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group. This particular engine is from a SEAT Toledo.


The engine for the third generation of the Honda Fit goes by which nickname?

Built for the third generation of the Fit — built on Honda's new "Global Small Car Platform" — the Earth Dreams 1.3- or 1.5-liter hybrid engine is still being made today in factories around the world.


This engine was found under the hood of which generation of Chevrolet Corvette?

The Chevrolet Corvette was introduced in 1953, and it's gone through a lot of design changes through the passing generations. In 1958, when the engine shown here was installed, the car was still in its first generation.


Which of these is the correct term for this engine, found in a 1969 Buick Skylark?

Chevy's small block engines are a family of V8 motors produced by the company from 1954 through 2003. They used the same basic engine block and ran from 4.3-liter to 6.6-liter sizes — big block engines took over from there. The engine in this particular picture is a 350-cubic-inch (5.7-liter) small block from a 1969 Buick Skylark GS 350.


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