Cars parked in Fairviews senior lot.
Cars parked in Fairview’s senior lot.

The Best Engines in Car Culture

According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 87 percent of daily trips take place in personal vehicles. In the United States, cars are the largest method of transportation and come in many shapes and sizes.

For most people at Fairview, high school is when they get their first car. Everyone usually remembers their first car, no matter its prestige. According to, 77% of people’s first cars are pre-owned, so they aren’t as “nice”, per se.

Each car has a method of turning energy into spinning motion, which turns into distance traveled. Within all gasoline cars are spinny mechanisms called engines. These use the energy inside the chemical composition of gasoline to make cars move. But which one of these engines is best? This article seeks to put the question to rest. To do so, it is best to divide this into five categories. Within each category, an aspect of car culture has been harnessed. Every engine that could be put into a Mazda Miata has gone through thousands of imaginary tests. All to determine – with the least possible amount of bias for a car nerd, which engine is the best.

Best Power to Efficiency Ratio

A significant part of car culture is motorsport. In motorsport, power and efficiency are the name of the game. This is because you can go faster for longer. In everyday driving, this is very important as well. In a 2021 national telephone survey conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 50 percent of drivers reported going over the speed limit by 15 mph in the past month on a freeway. Meaning the power in a car is significant to most people. But no one likes using a lot of gas, especially with gas prices hovering around $3.40 in the United States, & around $5 in California. So what engine could best fit this category?

The answer: The Koenigsegg Tiny Friendly Giant. Not to be confused with the BFG, this engine will come as an option in the Koenigsegg Gemera. Granted, this car isn’t released until 2024, so verification of the exact ratio of this HyperCar is difficult. But the numbers aren’t important because of something else in this car.

The Koenigsegg Gemera will come with a 3-cylinder engine making around 600 horsepower (hp). It also has electric motors that will almost double the car’s power. A 3-cylinder engine making 600hp seems unrealistic. The reason for its power is a new technology called Free Valve.

To understand Freevalve, it is best to understand what it is replacing. Inside most engines, is a camshaft. This camshaft handles the timing of many valves inside the engine. These valves let air into and out of the engine. This camshaft spins to keep up with the engine, to increase the rate at which these valves open and close. The problem with this setup is that the engine is stuck with one timing. This is inefficient, as the space inside the engine isn’t used ideally.

Freevalve switches the camshaft out for electric pistons that can vary valve timing. In simpler terms, the valve opens and closes through electronic magic. This electronic magic allows the engine to get closer to a more perfect fuel-to-air ratio. This gives the car more control over the air-fuel ratio. This means the engine makes more power since each combustion cycle is more efficient.

With this technology, the engine outclasses many engines twice its size. Paired with an electric motor, it will consume very little fuel. With this higher efficiency, you can save money on gas and lose money on insuring whatever car has this engine.

In comparison to VTEC, Free Valve technology will be more efficient, even without electric motors. This engine will outclass every engine in this category, even without the numbers on hand.

Best Sounding

While not a critical part of a car, many devoted enthusiasts value the sound of engines. Lots of engines have very distinct sounds. Some of the most popular are V8s, Inline 6s, and even two-strokes commonly seen in motorcycles. But when comparing the sounds of all engines, one stands out: the Wankel Rotary Engine.

Mazda has been known for their Wankel Rotary engines since they released the Cosmo Sport in 1967. Since then they have made many improvements to its design. Currently, they are hinting at releasing another rotary-powered car with their RX-Vision Concept. But the Mazda Rotary Engine which is the best sounding is not from this concept. Rather it is the 2-Rotor, 13B-REW found in the RX-7. With its high RPM limit and horsepower capability, it is unlike many other engines on the road. These properties make it sound a lot like racing engines in motorsports like Formula One. Because of this, the Wankel Rotary Engine is deserving of this title.


For this category, power is the name of the game. What engine will get you from A to B with quick acceleration, high torques, and high speeds? In this category, it only makes sense to talk about the engine in the Venom F5. This Engine is a 6.6L Twin Turbo V8 with 1817 Horsepower according to their website. This is one of the highest horsepower production car engines on record as of November 2023. This makes the power-to-weight ratio 1,298 hp/ton, one of the highest for supercars on record

Not only is this engine overpowered, but it is the highest-powered production engine. There have been higher-powered engines in cars, but they were never mass-produced for use in cars. The engine is best showcased by the Crown Victoria, as seen in an article published by Top Gear. This Crown Vic had a twin-turbo TANK engine, which was not in the car when it rolled off the production line.


This category is for all the weird engines that stand out. These engines take inspiration from everything while making something new. For this category, there are two main contenders, the VR and the Opposed Piston-type engine. First is the VR engine, The V in VR stands for the V-type engine, While the R stands for the Inline-type engine.

There is a slight problem with that acronym. Inline doesn’t start with the letter R. The reason for this isn’t because someone was bad at spelling. The reason for the R is its German origin. VR stands for “verkürzt” and “reihenmotor,” meaning “shortened inline engine”. The engine is laid out in a compact zigzag, making it perfect for smaller cars.

The other engine, the Opposed Piston,  is exactly what it sounds like. It has pistons opposed to each other instead of a cylinder head. This allows the engine to be more efficient by turning more of the energy into movement. The only problem with this engine is that it isn’t seen in cars often, but rather on trucks or boats.

But which engine is better? When looking at usefulness in cars, The VR6, specifically the VW VR6, is the winner of this category. This engine takes the best of both worlds –  the Inline Engine and the 60-degree V engine, and combines them into one. This engine is simple, sharing a cylinder head for each bank, and uses two camshafts. This simplicity is like an Inline-6 engine. It also is very compact in comparison to the Opposed Piston engine. This makes it a lot more versatile, with it fitting into a ton of cars. The simplicity also makes it reliable (unlike the rotary engines that are plagued with reliability issues from the factory). This VW design was most notably used on the MK4 and MK5 VW Golf. VW Golfs hold an important place in car culture. Especially in the hot hatchback area, and the MK4 & 5 are no exception in the lineup.


In most situations, a large engine is inconvenient. It doesn’t fit into a car easily, and it is heavy. This means you have to have a more powerful but heavy suspension system that ends up costing more. But sometimes larger is just cooler, as demonstrated by a Jeep or Hummer. Are those cars efficient or practical? No, not really, but it is very American and very cool, at least according to the 10-year-old part of me. 

So what engine is the largest, most American, and the coolest? None other than the engine in the most American car of all time: the Dodge Viper. Inside the Dodge Viper is Chrysler’s 8.4-litre V10. That V10 is the largest in displacement of all modern production cars on the road. Lamborghini designed the engine for use in the Dodge Viper. Originally it had only 8 liters of displacement. It wasn’t until the 4th generation of the engine that it became 8.4 liters. This change allowed the engine to go from 600hp to closer to 650. The Viper was discontinued in 2017 but still deserves the largest spot on this list. 


In short, these are the 5 engines. The Koenigsegg Tiny Friendly Giant is an insanely power-efficient engine because of the Freevalve Technology it uses. The  2-Rotor, 13B-REW is one of the best-sounding engines, which you can listen to for yourself. The engine in the Venom F5 is one of the most powerful engines, with 1817hp. The VW VR6 is a Frankenstein-like engine, which tries to take the best of Inline and V style Engines. The Chrysler’s 8.4-litre V10 is one of the largest and most American engines found in the very American Dodge Viper. 


So what engine is best for you? Well, unless you have money burning a hole in your pocket, none of these. They also aren’t that suitable for everyday driving. Usually, the best engine for a person wanting to get from A to B is a car with good gas mileage and high reliability. Toyota engines are good since they are known for their reliability. Hybrids are also a good option, since they allow the engine to do less work, increasing gas mileage. As it turns out, most engines are good for everyday driving if you treat them well, and it isn’t a gas-guzzling V8 

Every engine is good at something. The engines listed here were best at very specific things that are praised in car culture. It seems nonsensical to others, but these engines all have places in someone’s heart. These engines may not have been the best at keeping money in your wallet, but they are good to nerd out about.

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About the Contributor
Jack Dunderdale
Jack Dunderdale, Staff Reporter
Say hello to Jack Dunderdale! He considers himself a nerd in many categories, including cars, computers, Dungeons and Dragons, math, photography, science, and writing. While some of these are worse for his wallet than others, he is enthusiastic about all his interests. This is Jack's first year as part of the Publications team, and with his computer, his Nikon D3400, and the companionship of Michael Nedd, he plans to make the most of it.
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  • J

    Joey ChristensenNov 28, 2023 at 6:47 PM

    Great insight into cars and engines that I have never heard of! Jack I am happy to have found your article. –

  • T

    Totally Addison not anyone elseNov 28, 2023 at 3:47 PM