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Autoshite's Iconic Engines

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While on the toilet during a short break in Wales this weekend I thought I'd have a quick browse on the Pistonheads forums for a change. While it is generally the place where all that is wrong with the world congregates I did find one thread that could be plagarised for these hallowed pages: affordable iconic engines. In the case of the original, it stands at 7 pages of largely factually-incorrect chelp and dick waving (well, £30k is affordable isn't it...?) the likes of which I am in no hurry to see again. But I like the idea for a thread, so will start with a few that stand out from my limited first hand experience.

 

Honda E series

I'm probably on my own here, but I had a Rover 213 as my first car. The little alloy 12 valve screamed like a pig near its lofty redline, gave plenty of performance for a new driver and was ace on petrol. But to me it's here because of the abuse it took: I managed to put the new cambelt on a few teeth out but being non-interference it survived; I rebuilt the carb with some new parts on a trial and error basis; it ran even though there was hardly any metal left in the rotor arm, the list goes on. It went from being owned from by a couple of old dears (covering 48k in 20 years) to being asked to carry more than its allocated maximum passengers, being thrashed through the middle of nowhere, and countless other abuses that will remain unmentioned. The poor bastard had never been above 50mph and actually stopped working for a few minutes the first time it had to go on the motorway. I have never since known of an engine having to take a deep breath and then carry on as normal, and for that along with everything else it earned a place in my heart.

 

Alfa Romeo Busso V6

I've always had a strange aversion to V6 engines; there's something a bit off-putting about them unless they're in an Alfa. Not had one of my own but my dad had a 2.5 12v  (155) at the same time as my unlce having a 3.0 12v (164). They were both standard but the noise they made going up the A653 was astounding: my child-self was unable to resist cracking into a broad and gormless smile. The song 'bittersweet symphony' by The Verve had a similar effect a few years before, but I've heard it too many times now. That isn't possbile with a Busso. The 155 was followed (via a few others) by a 156 24v. It was probably a much better car but didn't sound nearly as good. Plus it ate its belt and fucked 6 pistons and 24 valves, forcing me dad into £500 shitters for a few years. Which leads nicely on to:

 

SAAB turbo

After getting burned with the Alfa, me dad decided to get something cheap that he didn't have to take a loan out to buy, and was therefore disposable should anything go wrong. The best* option in the local area was a wonderfully scruffy 5 door hatch 900S turbo, with the lower boost 140 ish bhp engine and a burbly exhaust. It was a lovely place to sit like all SAABs but the 16v slant 4 under that odd shaped bonnet was the star of the show. It took me to Leeds festival 2004, some of the journey sat on the roof, and, crucially, didn't break down or overheat like the newish Renault Espace my mates got a lift in. A small, albeit important detail an I realise I'm getting a bit sentimental but it was the first of many with the same basic motor and it's a fucking good engine: lots of shove when you need it but very refined and 100% reliable. 

 

PSA XUD

I don't think there's much I can say that hasn't already been said about this one, but I'm one of the fan club. Transforms the character of whatever it's in without making it less enjoyable to drive (compared to petrol versions)

 

BMW M42

Just because the purists seem to think a BM without a straight six is not worth mentioning, and I adored the 1.8 twink in my E30. It is denounced generally as being gutless and needing to be screwed to the redline to get anything out of it, but in the real world I found it to be very flexible and better on fuel than it had any right to be. It also made a better noise than any BMW 6 pot I've ever heard, M3s included. This of course is purely subjective...

 

Mercedes OM-6xx

Precisely the sort of thing Pistonheads users in the main would denounce, but an iconic engine to me at least. Years of forced progress in diesel engine technology has yet to produce anything as refined as these old lumps. I've only owned 2, a 3 litre 6 pot in a w124 wagon and a 2.5 5 pot in my 190, but have been in plenty of taxis in various places where they've still run like clockwork. Slow, but sure. The 1.6 million mile W123  taxi we hired in Marrakech felt tighter than my old 80k mile 280ce. They are capable of massive power outputs when turbocharged, but I honestly can't think of a better way to get around day to day than being behind an NA Merc diesel.

 

As I said, my own experience is very limited. I could go on about the power delivery of the Nissan RB26 but there's another forum for that sort of thing, and I don't plan on joining it any time soon so I'll keep it to myself. Over to you  ....

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Can't comment on some of these as I've no experience of them but the one's I have:

 

Alfa V6 - agree but the 24V sound improves with a decent (decent doesn't mean loud-ass stupid) exhaust. Had no mech bother with my 156 V6, great motor if serviced properly but an arse to work on.

 

Pug XUD - again agree, drove to work in one tonight, not as powerful/frugal/clean/blah blah as a C/Rail fancy-nancy new dizzle but then again you can fix an XUD and it won't cost you a couple of months mortgage payments unlike the latter. Plus they'll still be around in another 25 years when most CR'ers will be long dead & buried.

 

I'll add here, the Pug XU petrol, esp those used in GTi's - again, like the Renault Cleon equivilent, is one of the best small engines ever IMO.

& while in hothatch land, the Vaux RedTop is another cracker, despite me not liking Vauxhalls.

 

Beemer M42 - as fitted in the 318iS I briefly owned many years ago, yes, most BMW fours are a bit meh (M3 excepted) but the 16V M42 is a stunningly good engine. Would buy another E30 318iS tomorrow if I could find an unmunted one.

 

One from the past: The BMC A-series, can be tuned to buggery and give insane power while staying in one piece, will smoke on almost endlessly but still for it's time (designed in the late 40's) a great engine used in a wide variety of cars.

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Citroen flat four as in GS, Oltcit, Ami Super.
I know it doesn't make that much power and is not very fuel efficient, but I really like direct air cooling and this engine has so many wonderful details. The last all new air-cooled car engine.
post-17481-0-85617300-1441663747_thumb.jpg

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I'll second the k series. Brilliant engine. I've had a fair few in both 8 and 16v versions well ahead of their time. Even with the OMGHGF.

 

Also partial to the old Vauxhall 8 valve lumps as found in corsa, astra etc. The smaller displacement ones are simple rugged old lumps.

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small block ford V8

in std form 4.2-5.0 litres

£300-500 will get you a useable eng & box.

there roughly the same size as rover V8, weigh approx. 70LBS more than the 3.0 Essex V6.

if fitted with tubular exhaust & ali inlet manifold they weigh nearly the same.

they weigh over a 120 Lbs less than the lauded sb chevy V8 but give similar power!

significant power increases can be had for the price of a 4 pot cosy eng in need of a rebuild.

like the uk Essex V6 they powered everything from vans to sports cars via boats & luxury saloons.

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+1 for the a-series.

 

what a great little motor, it started out in life as 803cc and 30bhp in the austin A30 to the metro turbo's 95bhp. in testing they had it running at 120bhp, but the greabox could not handle that so the wick got turned down. a bit.

 

then on to various increases, 949cc, 1098cc and 1275 as an inline engine, and also 848cc, 997 & 998cc, 1098cc and also 1275cc as a transverse engine sat on top of its gearbox.

 

21million produced, it got used all over the world in all sorts,Minors,  Spridets, the A40, mini's mokes, ADO16, Allegro, Marina maestro and montego and all the others that i have missed out!.

 

a run from what 1952 to 2001, thats no mean feat!!

 

what a great little engine.

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Commer TS3 - the ultimate in bloody-minded 'why the hell not' innovation. Could only have been designed in Britain.

 

Marshall Tractor engine - 6 litres, 2-stroke, single-cylinder. Oh, and you start it with a shotgun cartridge.

 

XUD - not just one of the best diesels, one of the best engines of EVAH. Peak of TD design, it's all gone downhill since.

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After yesterday's antics the PSA TU engine has earned my respect as the wee TU9 in the biscuit tin did 70+ at very noisy RPM for hours and happily did the A road fun too.

Why has no one mentioned the Volvo OHC Redblock? Bar the odd head gasket they'll run pretty much indefinitely.

See also the Gardner 6LXB.

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Honda F20C - The sensation of revving the keks off an engine and then keeping your foot down as it goes from 6000rpm to 9000rpm is addictive. Paying for a new set of shity soft Bridgestones after every 6500 miles isnt.

 

cars29-9-13008_zpsfa782b21.jpg

Honda J30 - Silky V6 in my Accord coupe that's quiet and smooth most of the time but takes off like a scalded car over 3500rpm with a pleasing bark, shame it's mated to a really shit auto box, would be epic with a slick 6 speed manual. Standard Honda epic thirst for pez.

 

cars29-9-13006_zps8dd4d9cf.jpg

Love the A series as well from a misspent youth blezzing about in various slightly scabby minis, loved the noise the induction and fan made as you worked on hard round some back roads, Isuzu 2.5td in my brava gets a mention as well, never needed to top up oil in the 7 years I had the pick up, faultlessly reliable as well.

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British Leyland's O series has to be another strong contender here.  Many torques per litre, many miles per gallon and used in applications as diverse as the Princess, Marina and Sherpa to name but three.  It had a reasonable production run and is a good tough old lump, cheap to work on and mostly easy to get parts for, can survive multiple OMGHGF incidents.

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renner 1.4 energy for that "oh i cant be funkin bothered to change down to 2nd" attitude to corners that auld shitters have

austin rover s series about same powa as 2.0 pinto and non interference for "oops there goes the cambelt AGAIN"

o series efi for mid life crisis on a shoestring budget

 

*modern alert*

hunda 1.8 ivtec for its back to front vtec for giffers and stingy bastids mpg

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I'd have to add the Indenor XD series of engines, which Peugeot first bought out in the 403 I think, subsequently developed for the 404, 504, 604, 505. P4, Citroen H, Talbot Tagora, Ford Sierra, Ford Granada, Mahindra Jeeps, LDV vans, Volga GAZ, and Volvo Penta had them as 6 cylinder versions too!

 

Sounds delicious in XDP6.90 form: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26kU2J9yP5k

 

But best in original XD 4cyl : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFOxT5IldcY

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I'm sorry but I don't get the XUD love, to me the equivalent VAG unit is better, more economical & more powerful. I wouldn't swap the motor in the boring for any other, it is the reason I own and drive the thing. See AHF and the mildly changed pre-pd, veg loving variants in late 90s VAGs. My dream car is one of these lumps in a mk2 Scirocco, and if the boring dies that may well happen.

 

Fiat/Lampredi twink, sounds lovely and 100+bhp in the 70s was a decent score from a stock 2l motor.

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Land Rover OHV units. 2052/2286/2495cc NAD, and the 2286P. Bulletproof. I have seen them run with about a third of the recommended coolant and oil levels for a couple of hundred miles before giving up the ghost.... (Mine has had a cracked block for 3 years) Also, the related, but so much more fragile/nicer sounding 3412cc P and D Santana 6 cylinder units. Basically the 2286 with another half lobbed on one end.

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One from the past: The BMC A-series, can be tuned to buggery and give insane power while staying in one piece, will smoke on almost endlessly but still for it's time (designed in the late 40's) a great engine used in a wide variety of cars.

THIS.

There are two engines I love for their relative mechanical simplicity, reliability, versatility and ability to be tuned. The A series and the XU-D. The A series has a particular soft spot in my life however.

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I'm sorry but I don't get the XUD love, to me the equivalent VAG unit is better, more economical & more powerful. I wouldn't swap the motor in the boring for any other, it is the reason I own and drive the thing. See AHF and the mildly changed pre-pd, veg loving variants in late 90s VAGs. My dream car is one of these lumps in a mk2 Scirocco, and if the boring dies that may well happen.

 

Fiat/Lampredi twink, sounds lovely and 100+bhp in the 70s was a decent score from a stock 2l motor.

 

God the Fiat 2.0 twink, I had a late 131 estate with the Supermirafiori Twin cam in it, it wouldn't idle but fecking hell did it shift, sounded epic as well, gunmetal grey with alloys.

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