Chevy has produced amazing big-block engines ever on the market, but many forget just how terrible some of its smaller power mills used to be.
While modern Chevrolet engines are some of the most powerful and reliable, the automaker produced a fair portion of choked-down disappointing engines. Chevrolet is one of America’s oldest and best automotive manufacturers. Throughout its history, the automaker boasts some of the best engines in the industry, from the small displacement four-pots to the big-block V8 engines with insane horsepower figures. Its long engine lineage is popular in the automotive scene thanks to the engines’ performance, reliability, and tunability.
However, there were a few times when the automaker produced underpowered engines while others suffered from reliability problems. Most of Chevy’s worst engines are those produced during the “malaise era,” a period when the automotive industry suffered from emission restrictions and gas shortages. Consequently, Chevrolet’s attempt to conquer the automotive frontier with new technology resulted in some real duds. Here are 5 Chevy engines that belong in the junkyard and 5 that will annihilate anything.
Junkyard: 1979–1982 Chevrolet 267 4.4-Liter Small-Block V8
Produced between 1979 and 1982, this V8 small block from Chevy is arguably one of its worst. First, it was massively underpowered, producing a mere 120hp and 215lb-ft of torque. Even worse, by 1982, Chevy had detuned the 267-cubic inch V8 to under 100hp. According to ProfessCars, the engine managed 0-60mph acceleration in a sluggish 13.2 seconds.
As if that’s not enough, the engine suffered from poor quality and reliability issues. Many users reported engine breakdowns at very low mileage, resulting to engine changes. Spare parts availability was another headache as the engine shared no parts with any other small block engine. As a final nail on the coffin, the 4.4-liter V8 had a relatively poor fuel economy for a small block engine.
9. Annihilate Anything: 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 Supercharged 6.2-liter LS9 V8
In an attempt to surpass the performance of the Z06, GM needed something special in the C6 ZR1 Corvette. So, they developed the supercharged 6.2-liter LS9 V8 engine that puts out 638hp and 604lb-ft of torque.
This supercharged LS9 was General Motor’s most powerful production engine at its debut. Gearheads praised it for its remarkable tractability and civility. And thanks to the twin-rotor Eaton R2300 supercharger, the LS9 continues to set enviable performance benchmarks.
8. Junkyard: 1980-2005 Chevrolet 3.4-Liter (3400) V6
Chevy’s 3.4-liter V6 is a variant of the 60-degree V6 engines produced between 1980 and 2005. And although it received several improvements throughout the years, the engine was plagued with several engineering flubs. But there is one that stood above the rest, responsible for countless cases of engine malfunction and failures.
Cars powered by the third-generation engine experienced cooling system problems that, if not taken care of, led to overheating engines. This notorious problem arose from the new DexCool super-coolant that corroded engine components, most notably the intake manifold gasket.
7. Annihilate Anything: 2023 Chevrolet Z06 5.5-liter Naturally Aspirated LT6 V8
While purists disregard the 5.5-liter naturally aspirated LT6 V8, a member of the small-block engine family, the team at General Motors insist that the Gemini carries the small-block badge besides featuring the trademark 4.400-inch bore spacing. And going by Corvette standards, any engine with a 5.5-liter displacement is in the compact category.
Dubbed the Gemini, the 5.5-liter flat-plane crank V8 engine produces 670hp and 460lb-ft of torque without forced induction, making the Z06 the most powerful naturally aspirated V8-powered production car in the world. This power bests the 622hp Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series’ 6.3-liter V8.
6. Junkyard: The 2.5-Liter “Iron Duke” Engine
While the 2.5-liter “Iron Duke” engine was durable, it was also underwhelming as it was a victim of the then emission regulations and fuel economy. Sure, it wasn’t designed to be a performance engine, but Chevy used it even on notable performance nameplates in the 80s and 90s. A quick search on the internet reveals the 1982 “Iron Duke” Camaro as one of the worst cars of all time.
Yeah, that’s right, GM had the audacity to fit the legendary sports car with a 90hp engine that left nothing to desire about the car. The on-road performance of the engine was so bad that it took the Camaro under 20 seconds to get from a standstill to 60mph.
5. Annihilate Anything: Chevrolet Performance ZZ572/720R Deluxe Crate Engine
Chevrolet offers both small and big block engines, and the ZZ 572/720R crate engine is one of the most powerful big block engines from the American automaker. Produced to dominate the drag strip, this nasty monster churns out a resounding 720hp and 685lb-ft of torque.
General Motors engineers basically took the otherwise popular ZZ572/620 engine and added a hotter camshaft, 12:1 compression pistons, and aluminum Bowtie heads. Regarded as the king of Rat engines, the ZZ572/720R Deluxe crate engine is capable of rocketing your challenger or racer on the drag strip in under 9 seconds.
4. Junkyard: 1971-1977 Chevrolet 2300 Inline-Four
Chevrolet produced this 2.3-liter 139 cu-in four-pot from 1971 to 1977 and stuffed it under the hood of the Chevy Monza and Chevy Vega. True, it was massively underpowered, producing 110hp and 107lb-ft of torque, but that’s just the beginning. The engine suffered from overheating and vibrations that were so catastrophic that the engine could literary destroy itself.
Vibrations loosened the carburetor, thus leaking gas into the cylinders and the hot engine block. Valve seals would crack and leak oil into the engine cylinders, which scuffed the silica coating. Consequently, overheating destroyed the head gaskets, and Chevy made it even worse by installing a small radiator (citing cost factors) in addition to a deleted coolant overflow tank.
3. Annihilate Anything: 2019 Chevrolet Corvette C7 ZR1 Supercharged 6.2-Liter LT5 Engine
General motors pulled the plug on the Supercharged 6.2-liter LT5 engine in 2021 for reasons unknown. Regardless, it is the most powerful engine in a chevy production car, rated at 755hp and 715lb-ft of torque. Based on the LT4 and LS9, the engine features a few improvements such as a larger supercharger, stronger crankshaft, larger throttle body, and an all-new dual-injection system.
While it retailed for $19,995, we think that dismal sales were some of the reasons why GM discontinued the LT5 engine. However, it remains exclusive in the 2019 C7 Corvette ZR1. Its demise leaves the 670hp LT6 as Chevrolet’s most potent performance engine.
2. Junkyard: 1976-1992 Chevrolet 305 V8
The Chevy 305 V8 engine is another victim of the 70s oil embargo. Gas prices were high, so GM built this small displacement V8 with efficiency in mind, like other automakers. The result was underwhelming performance figures that persisted up to the early 90s. Depending on the year, the engine produced between 160hp and 230hp.
Due to its efficiency and reliability, the 305V8 engine found its way into many Chevy vehicles, from trucks and SUVs like Blazer, the C10, and vans to cars like the Nova and Chevy Camaro. Its application also extended to GM vehicles like Grand Prix and Pontiac Firebird, as well as GMC vans and trucks.
- Annihilate Anything: Chevrolet Performance ZZ632/1000 Big-Block Crate Engine
Chevrolet has mastered the art of producing big-inch and powerful crate engines. The new 632-cubic-inch monster that sits at the top of Chevy’s crate engine lineup churns out over 1,000hp (1,004 to be precise) and 876lb-ft of torque when running on 93-octane pump gas, making it the most powerful crate engine.
Insane, right? And the fact that it achieves such figures without a turbo or nitrous makes it even more impressive. Another notable feature of the ZZ632 is the RS-X symmetrical port cylinder heads that ensure all cylinders produce equal amounts of power. And as you guessed, getting this 10.35-liter V8 won’t come cheap; the retail price is a whopping $37,758.
From Camaros to Corvettes, Chevy has made some thrilling cars …and it’s all thanks to these amazing engines under their hoods.
An engine is the most important component in any car, whether you’re working on a Restomod project in your small garage or constructing a standard racing car for your racing team. You probably know that the options can be overwhelming at times if you’re considering using a Chevrolet engine.
Chevrolet is a brand of automobile manufactured by General Motors in the United States. On November 3, 1911, Louis Chevrolet and William C. Durant, the ousted founder of General Motors, founded the Chevrolet Motor Car Company. As you may be aware, Chevrolet is one of the original bad boys in the sports car market. Year after year, this American automaker has produced some of the most powerful vehicles ever.
Everything changed in the fall of 1954, when Ed Cole’s lightweight, ground-breaking V-8 arrived, covered in a magnificent ’55 design that was completely new from the tires up, amid the intense fight between Chevrolet and Ford. When speed-obsessed enthusiasts discovered the delights of this small behemoth, it quickly displaced the flathead Ford as the performance world’s sweetheart. Today, the Chevy V-8 engine has salvaged the Corvette from oblivion and established Chevrolet as the provider of the most dominant domestic engine in automotive history.
The LS9, with its 638 hp and 604lb-ft of torque, will provide a whole new dimension of potential to the company’s LS-series of motors, which are already a huge favorite with people who like to swap the light but powerful V8s into everything from early Mazda RX-7s and more.
GM Corvette restored itself as one of the world’s performance leaders with the supercharged 6.2-liter LS9 V-8. The LS9, coupled with the LSA in the Cadillac CTS-V and the 2012 Camaro ZL1, served to consolidate Chevrolet’s position as a global performance pioneer.
9. 7.0 Liter Corvette C6.R
The golden age of the Corvette Racing C6.R would be marked by stunning achievements from the touch of the first starting grid, including 39 wins in the GT1 class, championships from 2005 to 2008, 12 consecutive wins from 2005 to 2006, and 25 consecutive wins from 2007 to 2009.
Without the restrictions, the LS7.R has a rev limit of 8,000 RPM, and Katech estimates the power would exceed 800 hp. In the early 2000s, the LS7.R engine was an unstoppable force.
The LS7 was not just the latest in a long line of classic small-block V-8 engines, but it was also the engine used by Corvette Racing in its C6.R cars in the American Le Mans Series. Because of its outstanding performance, the LS7 has become a legend in the automotive world.
They made it for the Corvette Z06 and 427 convertible from the sixth generation, as well as the Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 from the fifth generation. The baseline Z06 had 505 horsepower, which was 75 horsepower more than the base Corvette.
It wasn’t the first engine with 300 horsepower or more, but it was one of the first that they priced economically. The naturally aspirated LT1 V-8, which is also 6.2 liters, has an aluminum block and either wet-sump or dry-sump oiling.
This 11.5:1-compression small block delivers 460 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 465 pound-feet of torque at 4,600 rpm in the Chevy Corvette C7 Stingray. This resulted in the automobiles having a better level of performance than the base Corvette.
The LT5 was a brand-new engine that broke away from the small-block mold; it was truly a global effort that resulted in this amazing Vette. They used the LT5 in the first Corvette ZR-1 in 1989, however; They did not build it in the house. GM hired lotus engineering to create the engine.
Lotus originally planned to build the LT5 from the ground up to produce 400 horsepower. On the other hand, GM intended to use the engine block from an existing small-block V-8, so Lotus tweaked their design to match their needs.
5 L78 396 TurboJet
The L78 396 cubic-inch V8 was Chevrolet’s big kahuna big-block V8 performance engine for mid-size and smaller muscle cars from 1965 to 1970. The Chevrolet performance parts used in and on the L78 had Chevrolet racing DNA written all over them, although this engine was never used in professional racing.
Two Turbo Jet 396 “big-block” engines replaced the pair of 409s in February 1965: RPO L35, a 325 hp torque engine with oval-port heads and high-velocity pistons. What matters is that it’s one of Chevrolet’s strongest engines ever. Interestingly, Chevrolet understated the actual power of the engine for some reason.
4. 265 V8
It was brand new for the 1955 model year, and it powered more than half of all new Chevys sold. In 1956, it was the same. Its real production run ended in mid-1957 when it became unavailable. The small-block V-8 Chevrolet engine changed the course of automotive history.
Small-block V-8 engines have been employed in European cars, JDMs, race vehicles, off-road trucks, boats, and even custom bikes over the years. The small-block Chevy has been the forerunner of the current V-8. Its basic design has proven to be adaptable enough to accommodate multiple advancements over time and is still in use today.
3. 427 “Mystery” Engine
GM disowned the Chevy 427 Mystery engine, which was built by Chevrolet and incorporated design characteristics that would later grow into the Big Block family, and became a legend in its own time. Watch the folks from Motor Trend take this Mystery Motor to the Dyno.
The Chevrolet Mystery Motor, which Junior Johnson utilized to crush the field in the first 100-mile qualifying race at the 1963 Daytona 500, is a source of controversy. It was planned to replace the existing 409ci W-motor and was only intended for NASCAR racing.
2. 409 V8
The 409 V8 is fascinating and more than worthy of closer attention, perhaps a dead end in the high-performance Chevrolet tale. Here’s an almost forgotten engine downhill. Introduced in 1958 with the 348 W-Series V8 cubic-inch.
The classic song of the Beach Boys is best remembered today, strangely enough. The 409 was about 425 horsepower in its heyday. It was a no-brainer for any GM fan who aspired to win in the NHRA Stock and Super Stock drag racing classifications.
- 302 Small Block
Chevrolet’s DZ 302 cubic-inch engine is widely recognized as one of the company’s most iconic small blocks. It has certainly garnered recognition for its unusual design and long history in both road racing and drag racing. It won the Manufacturer’s Championship back-to-back in 1968 and 1969. Chevy even launched an all-new crate engine in the small-block’s 65th Anniversary!
To compete with the Mustang of the time, it used the block from a 327 cubic-inch engine and the crankshaft from a 283 cubic-inch engine, resulting in a 302.4 cubic-inch displacement. We got an awesome rivalry between Ford and Chevy’s 302 engines as a result.
Some of the most memorable and iconic Chevys were built in the ’80s. Here’s a reminder about all the cool cars the brand has built in that decade.
The ’80s were a great period for Chevrolet. Like other American car manufacturers, some of the cars it designed and made in this period were a function of the Oil crisis of the ’70s, the increasing emissions of the period, and the increased competition from the more compact, more fuel-efficient Japanese cars manufacturers. Here are 10 of the best Chevrolets of the 80s and how much they cost today.
10. 1984 Corvette C4 – $10,000
The Corvette C4 which started production in 1984 was an improvement on its predecessor Corvette C3 in terms of sleeker styling – which includes the first full glass hatchback for Corvette and the L98 V8 engine that produced 330 hp. The Corvette had always been coveted since its inception hence it was one of the most stolen cars back in the 80s, the C4 was the first Corvette to introduce an anti-theft system that disabled the car in an attempt to start the vehicle with the wrong key was made.
The 1984 Corvette was designed for fuel efficiency and rigidity as it was fitted with lighter aluminum parts such as the brake calipers and suspension. These resulted in enhanced performance as this Corvette could go from 0-60 mph in under seven seconds and has a maximum speed of about 150 mph. The 1984 Corvette was the second highest production year for Corvette with about 52,000 units made, it was different in many ways and that difference can still be enjoyed today at a reasonable price.
9. 1980 Chevrolet EL Camino – $12,000
The El Camino is a special hybrid of a car combining the passenger capacity of a two-seater coupe car and the utility of a pickup truck. This was Chevrolet’s response to the successful Ford Ranchero which debuted the car truck idea and proved to be a success. The 1980 El Camino features a 3.6-Litre V6 or a 5.7-liter V8 diesel engine which delivered up to 300 horsepower.
Since its release, the El Camino continued to evolve its design every year which led to some exceptional designs over its history, this awesome styling and the solid performance of the vehicle continues to generate interest amongst petrol heads. It is not uncommon to see modified El Caminos around as the automobile world just won’t let this classic rest.
8. 1983 Monte Carlo SS – $14,000
The Chevy Monte Carlo SS is a performance version of the base model of the Chevy Monte Carlo first produced in 1970. The SS badge was suspended for a while and resumed in 1983 featuring a 5-liter V6 engine. The 1983 SS wasn’t just built for the roads, Chevrolet also designed an aerodynamic nose to enable it to compete in NASCAR, which improved its popularity amongst fans. The Monte Carlo SS cost only an extra $420 over base Monte Carlo, thus it was a luxury car that many found affordable.
7. 1985 Camaro IROC-Z – $9,000
The Camaro IROC-Z was the 1985 edition of the third generation of the impressive Chevrolet Camaro. Built originally to compete with the dominant Ford Mustang in the 60s, Chevrolet named the car IROC-Z as it replaced the Porsche Carrera RSR as the standard car for the International Race Of Champions (IROC) in 1985. The Camaro IROC-Z was an impressive vehicle in every way with better performance and handling than any Camaro before it. It featured bigger wheels and tires to handle the increased performance and a sleek lower body than the original Z/28.
The IROC-Z was very much celebrated in its day and although it was discontinued in 1990, it still has a lot of fans around the world that recognize and celebrates its class.
6. 1986 Corvette Indy 500 Pace car – $13,000
The fourth-generation Corvette of 1986 was named the Indianapolis 500 Pace Car. The original Indy car was painted yellow, however, the replicas made and marketed as Indy Pace Cars could be ordered in different colors. 1986 was only the second year the Corvette featured as a Pace car after its first in 1978, this is a testament to how good the 1986 Corvette is.
This fourth generation of Corvette was powered by a small block 5.7L V8 engine for 230 horsepower that proved reliable, the engine is paired with an automatic transmission, that has the electronically controlled auxiliary gear set in the top three gears which provide an overdrive reduction. The 1986 Corvette is a simple but very stylish car with some pedigree and history that will not be forgotten for a long time.
5. Chevrolet C10 truck – $13,900
The Chevrolet C10 trucks were the forerunners to the relatively newer Sierra trucks. With four generations across four decades of production that goes back to 1960, the C10 trucks remain iconic today (changed to Chevrolet C/K for the fourth generation). The C10 trucks of the 80s saw a more aerodynamic design to improve fuel efficiency following the energy crises of 1979.
The C10 “square-body” trucks were very well built and as a result of the space available under the hood, it remains a popular vehicle for modification and “hot rods”. These pickups still run great and are relatively affordable for the ruggedness and quality they offer.
4. 1987 Sprint Turbo – $4,000
Hot hatches were indeed really hot in the 80s, and Chevrolet was not going to be left out of the action, so, in 1987 the Sprint Turbo was introduced to the market. The Sprint turbo was really a Suzuki redressed as a Chevy, nevertheless, it was and remains a fun drive. The small hatch was powered by a 1.0 liter 3-cylinder engine, turbocharged and intercooled to produce 70 horsepower. The Sprint turbo is surprisingly quick for its small engine, going from 0 – 60 mph in 9.5 seconds, and completes a ¼ mile in 17.2 seconds.
A well-maintained Sprint turbo is difficult to come by, but if you do it shouldn’t take breaking the bank to get your hands on one, and you will be guaranteed a fun drive.
3. 1981 Corvette C3 – $13,000
The 1981 Chevrolet Corvette C3 was the first Corvette to the produced in the GM Bowling Green, Kentucky plant where all subsequent Corvettes have since been manufactured. It is also the last generation of Corvettes to be fitted with a manual transmission. The 1981 Corvette had only one engine option – the L81 – producing about 190 horsepower. Tightening emissions regulations in the 80s led to other firsts for the 1981 Corvette, including a Computer Command Control for controlling fuel consumption emissions as well as a fiberglass rear spring which led to reduced weight and consequently overall mileage.
2. 1984 Chevrolet Citation II – $3,000
The original Chevrolet Citation was the first set of cars with front-wheel sold by Chevrolet, unfortunately, it was a resounding flop as its reign was marred with technical issues and recalls. The issues involved the suspension, the transmission, and even the brake, this led to very low sales and confidence levels on the Citation. However, GM re-engineered the Citation and fixed many of its problems in the later 1984 Citation II, although sales increased following the new release, the damage had been done and the Citation II never truly reached its full potential, making a good car that was never truly enjoyed. The Citation was discontinued just a year later with important lessons learned.
- 1982 Chevrolet S10 – $6,000
The Chevrolet S10 was a result of the oil crisis of 1979 which changed the paradigm of Americans about what kind of cars and trucks to buy. There was a sudden reduction in demand for traditional bulky American cars and the lighter, more fuel-efficient JDM vehicles were desirable. Chevrolet reacted to this change by developing a light compact pickup truck – the S10. The 1981 S10 offered no unnecessary option but instead focused solely on the job of being a pickup truck. It was more fuel-efficient, lighter, and smaller than the C10 and still could do comparable hauling tasks. All of these made it cheaper and it was no surprise it became a commercial success.
The S10 is still very much around and you can own one of these rugged vehicles at no great cost.
The 1990s gave us some insane performance cars. Some of them are even fast by today’s standards.
Anyone asking which is the fastest car will undoubtedly arrive at a list of modern cars from the last decade, modern technology in both power trains and construction has created a new niche of hybrid hypercars, and gearheads cannot get enough of them.
Turning back the clock to the ’90s, a decade widely recognized as one of the greatest periods for car production, an era when 200 MPH was common practice and carmakers still used good old-fashioned engineering to go faster. Would cars today be as fast now if the ’90s boom in supercars hadn’t happened? Remember, this was a period when carmakers traded higher top speeds and faster acceleration times on what seemed like a monthly basis.
In terms of maximum speed, McLaren had this one sewn up, but acceleration times throw up a few surprises from brands you might not normally expect to be fast. Here then are the fastest accelerating cars from the ’90s.
9. Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR
A common practice of homologation of racer cars for road use and vice versa during the ’90s gave rise to several thinly disguised racing cars that with a set of number plates could be used on the local grocery run.
At least Mercedes attempted to give the CLK GTR a hint of “normality” with a common styling theme easily identifiable with its production cars of the time. Under the skin, things are a little more bespoke, adopting for road use, a larger 6.9-liter Mercedes V12 pumping out 604 HP with drive via a 6-speed manual transmission going to the rear wheels. At the time of launch, one of the fastest cars with a top speed of 214 mph, springing to 60 mph in a mere 3.8-seconds.
8. Porsche 911 GT1
Picking up one of these rare GT1’s might make the casual gearhead think it’s just a highly modified 911, in reality, the two product lines couldn’t be further apart, sharing less than a handful of nonessential items and the name alone. Porsche knew the 911 faithful would clamber to buy one of these rare racers for the bragging rights alone.
Built on a custom designer tubular frame chassis with all wishbone suspension, the 911 GT1 was all about race-winning performance, the road car only existing to meet FIA regulations. In tamer road specification, European emissions laws dictated the 3.2-liter twin-turbocharged flat-six was detuned to a greener 536 hp, even with this power drop the 911 GT1 would still crack 60 mph in 3.8-seconds.
7. 1999 Lamborghini Diablo GT
The Lamborghini approach to building fast cars doesn’t differ from any other carmaker, reducing weight and adding more power. Essentially the same process as all over special Lamborghinis, the Diablo GT designed to compete on European race tracks.
The Diablo’s profile might be familiar to most, but a dramatic weight-saving program encompassing lighter, stronger, and more aerodynamically efficient carbon-fiber bodywork shaved 140 lbs over standard VT cars. When it comes to power, nothing beats a Lamborghini V12, enlarged to 6-liters in the GT boasting 575 hp driving the rear wheels via a customizable transmission giving the GT an incredible 0-60 mph time of 3.7-seconds.
6. 1994 Bugatti EB110 SS
In recent years, Bugatti has firmly been rooted at the top of the world’s fastest production cars, both with their Veyron and later Chiron hypercars, but the brand also had a stint t the top during the ’90s. Long before the outrageous 8-liter W16 monsters we are used to reading about today, Bugatti used a more common V12 layout for the EB110, albeit one sporting four turbochargers.
Unveiled in 1991 this was a highly ambitious project to resurrect the Bugatti name, launched 10 years to the day in recognition of founder Ettore Bugatti’s birth. Naming nostalgia aside, this was a modern technology-packed supercar boasting all-wheel-drive, carbon fiber chassis, and active aerodynamics. An early production life update produced the SuperSport with 603 hp setting an improved 3.2-second 0-60 mph time.
5. 1994 TWR Jaguar XJ220S
Sales success might have been lower than originally planned with a final tally of 281 cars of the original scheduled 350 units, but the XJ220 remains the fastest production Jaguar to date with its verified top speed of 217 MPH. Those remaining unsold cars didn’t end up on the scrap heap, TWR transformed a handful into the more powerful XJ220S variants, claiming victory at Le Mans in 1993, briefly.
Visually differing with faired-in headlamps and a taller fixed rear wing, the XJ220S also received a lighter carbon fiber body, keeping only the production cars door skins for the project. Retaining the original 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6, tweaked by TWR to output 690 hp boosted performance, recording an improved 0-60 mph time of 3.2-seconds.
4. 1995 McLaren F1-LM
Possibly still the greatest hypercar of all time, McLaren’s F1 raised the performance bar to new levels at launch in 1991 both for top speed and acceleration, and still ranks highly among the fastest production cars today. Only 106 cars were produced in total, including prototypes and later special editions.
Among these specials, the incredibly rare F1 LM of which just 5 were completed boasting the same BMW sourced 6.1-liter V12 engine tuned to deliver an extra 53 hp, now pushing out 680 hp, which, when combined with a weight saving of 132 lbs, slashed the F1s 0-60 mph time to 2.9-seconds.
3. 1991 Audi Avus Quattro Concept
More of an engineering exercise and development project to showcase both Audi’s expertise with all-wheel-drive and aluminum construction ability, the Avus Quattro Concept never got past the concept stage resulting in the German automaker claiming the Avus could hit 60 mph in 2.9-seconds, topping out at 212 mph.
Despite the impressive finished concept, the Avus was a non-functional static model envisaged to use Audi’s 6-liter W12 engine producing in the region of 500 hp, the Avus actually had a wooden mock-up painted to represent the then as unfinished powertrain.
2. 1994 Renault Espace F1
Unfortunately, Renault only built one of these mean minivans in celebration of the automakers racing success with the Williams F1 team. Built on a largely standard Espace body, the front-mounted engine making way for a more potent 3.5-liter V10 engine lifted straight from the championship-winning FW15C Formula 1 car.
Wearing wider bodywork to accommodate the fatter tires and allowing the use of the FW15Cs transmission provided the Espace F1 with its more purposeful stance, topped with a huge roof-mounted rear wing. If only Renault had produced a handful of customer cars, the lure of blitzing all comers over the quarter-mile would be hard to resist, with 789 hp and a claimed 0-60 mph of 2.8-seconds making this unusual concept one of the fastest cars of the ’90s.
- 1994 Dauer 962 Le Mans
From Group C origins to road-legal racer required surprisingly few modifications, most of which are hidden from view, making it near impossible to tell the two apart. The most obvious giveaway being the addition of leather upholstery and a passenger seat. Probing the 962 a little further reveals a smattering of carbon fiber panels and a new flatter floorplan for greater stability.
Thankfully regulations didn’t necessitate changes to the 3-liter flat-six turbos explosive performance, with 730 hp on tap the 962 could blast its way to 60 mph in 2.8-seconds and given enough space reach a top speed of 251 mph.
The Maserati Shamal Was Stunning But Horrible
Even being biturbo couldn’t save the Maserati Shamal from being a bad car.
Maserati’s Shamal is a gorgeously sleek, two-door grand tourer coupe that is deliciously ’90s. On paper, one might consider this Italian rear-wheel drive car a slam dunk – complete with an impactful V8 engine underneath the hood.
The truth of the matter is, the Maserati Shamal is the definition of a dream car; at least, from the outside. But, over 30 years later we are starting to learn that even though this car is a looker, its issues leave much to be desired.
The Shamal is a part of the Biturbo family of Maseratis, and aimed to solve many of the problems that OG Biturbos faced. Designed with the help of mastermind Marcello Gandini (whose designs graced the automotive world in the form of the Lamborghini Countach and Diablo), Maserati poised the Shamal to conquer the grand tourer sect – but this never happened.
The Maserati Shamal is a pretty polarizing car in the world of sports cars. In one camp, gearheads think that the pros of this little coupe outweigh the cons. On the other side of the spectrum, you’ll find gearheads who think that the Shamal’s stunning looks aren’t enough to save it from itself.
The Maserati Shamal isn’t that great of a car, no matter what way you slice it. But that doesn’t mean that the Shamal isn’t iconic in its own right!
Stunning yet horrible, Maserati’s Shamal still has some specs that deserve attention.
Is The Maserati Shamal Rare?
Maserati produced the Shamal between 1990 and 1996. Over that seven year model production run, only 369 Maserati Shamals made it into the hands of drivers. The Shamal does appear on the market from time to time, but if you’re looking to pick one up yourself you may need to wait awhile.
Over a year’s time, you may see a couple Shamals grace the market from different parts of the world. Average starting price for a Maserati Shamal is about $70,000 and up to around $90,000. If you’re in Europe you will have an easier time finding a Shamal, as most models were snatched up in the EU. For those gearheads in the states, you may be having to knock on some doors.
Maserati Shamal’s Problems
With the Maserati Biturbo line running a reputation of issues, the Shamal also shared some of those same issues.
The engine, while impressive, may potentially suffer from some overheating because of the two turbos. On top of that, the quick creation of the Shamal using borrowed parts from previous cars meant that there was some exposed metal that could leave it especially prone to rust. A Frankenstein car, at THAT price point? No thanks.
Generally speaking, the quality control wasn’t great from Maserati given the price point of their car. For as gorgeous of a number the Shamal can be, Maserati’s lack of attention to what could have been a home run makes the Shamal downright horrible.
Biturbo Vs. Twin Turbo Explained: The Maserati Shamal’s Engine
The Biturbo line from Maserati was an executive grand tourer with 2 doors and 4 seats produced from 1981 to 1994. The Biturbo had a 2 liter V6 with twin-turbochargers. While the Biturbo line had many issues; one of the most common being smoke coming from the engine.
The Maserati Shamal shared a lot of similar parts from the Biturbo, but the Shamal took the good and reworked the bad. The Shamal engine was almost identical to the Biturbo, save for the addition of a pair of cylinders added. This new 3.2 liter V8 engine, expanded from the Biturbo, was twin turbocharged.
Twin turbocharged and bi-turbo are actually the same thing, just different names depending on the manufacturer’s preference. The bottom line is two turbochargers working together to compress air, thus creating a more powerful engine. And the Shamal’s engine was very good – with 322 horsepower to its name. The Shamal put those horses to the test to get from 0 to 60 in just over 5 seconds.
What Maserati Got Right With The Shamal
It isn’t much of a secret that the Shamal and Biturbo share a lot of parts in common. The Biturbo was popular with high sales, but later became well known for having issues. Problems plagued the Biturbo, from reliability issues to performance issues, and was even named the worst car of 1984 by Time magazine.
Maserati, while using these similar parts, upgraded electronics in the suspension as part of a collaboration with world-renowned suspension company Koni. Also introduced to the Shamal was a system that kept all tires for this sports car on the ground. This was to improve the response of the vehicle, which also provided better stopping power from the brakes. The Shamal’s engine was also much improved with the reworked V6 that grew up and became a V8, which was the right call for selling the Shamal as something other than a glorified Biturbo.
Style wise, a lot of the Shamal was still in the theme of the Biturbo with the doors, interior, and the overall shape. But the Shamal brought in its own style of headlights that was then later used by the Biturbo line. What was made was a familiar look of the Biturbo but far sportier and much more appealing. The Shamal was a stunning version of a Biturbo…too bad it just didn’t live up to more successful Maseratis.
Sources: Maserati, Torque, Hemmings, Get Jerry, Ultimate Specs