Ask a group of 10 petrolheads what their favourite engine is and you can bet that five of them will reply that it is the V8. V10 and V12 engines might be more powerful, but the V8 holds a special place in every enthusiast’s heart.
The V8 is special because its sound is unique. In an American muscle car, they growl deeply and sound as if they are trying to clear their throat. In a Ferrari, the V8 screams dramatically as it nears its redline. Maseratis let out intimidating bellows while the Jaguars sound like caged cats spoiling for a fight.
Part of the V8 motor’s allure is its offbeat burble – it does not have the inherent smoothness of a straight-6 or flat-6 motor. Jaguar has managed to make their supercharged V6 sound fierce, but without those missing two cylinders, it just doesn’t sound as magical.
Petrolheads who have “trained” their ears can always tell if an approaching high-performance car has a V8 engine. There is something guttural about their exhaust notes that one cannot experience in other motors. Look at what happened after Formula One cars went from using V8s to turbocharged V6s. One of the reasons viewership went down is because the V6s are too quiet and fans want to hear engines wailing again.
The realm of high-performance cars is occupied by machines that are powered (at the very least) by V8 motors. Any vehicle with fewer than eight cylinders is somehow deemed to not have met the minimum requirements to be part of this club.
Despite environmental regulations (which seem to grow more stringent every year), I am heartened to know that carmakers haven’t given up on the V8. Mercedes-Benz, for example, still utilises a V8 (albeit a smaller displacement, turbocharged unit) in its autobahn-storming C63 AMG.
Long live the great V8!