- Number 10: 2006-Present Chevy Impala SS
- Chevy's small block V8 engine has lived a long and illustrious life since its introduction back in 1955, which coincided with the launch of the classic "shoe box" Chevy. Since then, the mouse motor has been under the hood of nearly everything the General has offered, including the current front-wheel-drive Impala since 2006. The LS4 engine displaces 5.3-liters (325 cubic inches) and offers up a willing 303 horsepower - enough to pull this uninspiring barge to 60 mph in well under six seconds. Unfortunately, the rest of the car is a complete bore. The SS badge may not mean what it used to, but these days it is most out of place on the tail-end of the current-gen Impala.
Number 9: 2003-2004 Mercury Marauder
- Number 9: 2003-2004 Mercury Marauder
- Mercury first used the Marauder nameplate back in 1963, just before the official start of the muscle car age, and later graduated the name to NASCAR duty in the late '60s when it re-emerged as a "personal luxury" model for the 1969 and 1970 seasons. Back then, Ford dropped its 390 and 429 cubic-inch V8s under the Marauder's long, flat hood, so when the nameplate was again revived in 2003, the motoring world was expecting great things from the blacked-out full-sizer. Unfortunately, the actual product was a bit of a letdown, but it wasn't the fault of the powerplant, a fully modern DOHC design that wound out 302 horses from its relatively meager 4.6-liters of displacement. The Marauder was big, heavy and ponderous, having inherited the aging Ford Panther platform from its Crown Victoria stablemate. The four-speed automatic transmission - the only option available - only compounded the high-revving powerplant's low-end torque deficiency, making the new-age Marauder rather slow off the line for a modern muscle car and leaving us to wonder what might have been possible with an equally modern chassis.
Number 8: Dodge Caliber SRT4 and Dodge Neon SRT4
- Number 8: Dodge Caliber SRT4 and Dodge Neon SRT4
- Truth be told, these are fun little cars with powerful turbo fours that produce way more oomph than their front wheels can handle. There's definitely a place for inexpensive performance cars in the American market, as contenders from Ford (SVT Focus), Honda (Civic Si), VW (Golf GTI/R32), Mazda (MazdaSpeed3) and most recently Chevy (Cobalt SS Turbo) can attest. So, why do the Neon SRT4 and its replacement, the Caliber SRT4, earn a spot on our list of machines undeserving of their engines? Balance, or really the lack thereof. Having peers like the modern GTI fighting alongside for the same set of buyers just goes to show how crude these two machines happen to be. Regardless, we'll always have a soft spot for 'em, which is why they sit at number 8 on our list.
Number 7: Dodge Spirit R/T
- Number 7: Dodge Spirit R/T
- Long before the SRT4 badge was even thought up, Chrysler served up an enticing sedan that was powered by a force-fed four-cylinder powerplant of its own: the Dodge Spirit R/T. We have no qualms with its engine, as ensconsed underhood of this particular A Body was the ultimate expression of the venerable 2.2L four banger that almost singlehandedly saved Chrysler from its first-ever crisis. Other machines borrowed this engine, including the Consulier GTP. The problem was with the Spirit platform itself, which handled like a pig and had horribly unbalanced braking. What's more, its woeful interior makes Chrysler's current products seem like true luxury items - fine Corinthian leather this was not. Still, if you happen to run across one of the 1,208 Spirt R/Ts built at an attractive price, 13-second quarter mile times are little more than a quick tune away.
Number 6: Ford Taurus SHO
- Number 6: Ford Taurus SHO
- The Ford Taurus SHO, which stands for Super High Output, holds a special spot on our pages. Ford actually flew Taurus shells to Japan to have the Yamaha 3.0L V6 installed and then flown back. Why Yamaha? Perhaps because the company best known for supremely fast motorcycles knows how to make an excellent engine. Plus, as a maker of fine pianos, the Japanese company knows a thing or two about beautiful music - something else that the SHO's 220-horsepower V6 is well known for. So, why's it on the list? The engine is way better than the rest of the car, that's why. It's a little known fact that the SHO V6 was actually capable of revving up to about 8,500 RPMs, but Ford's accessory systems couldn't handle it, so the redline was dialed back to 7,300 so the engine didn't destroy the rest of the car. Imagine what this engine could have been in a different wrapper.
Number 5: Oldsmobile Achieva SCX
- Number 5: Oldsmobile Achieva SCX
- General Motors has never had a problem coming up with innovative and powerful engines. Proof positive is the Quad 4 powerplant that saw duty in various machines from 1987 until 2001. The ultimate expression of the Quad 4 debuted in 1991 under the hood of the Oldsmobile 442, but it was more common to find it in the 1992-1993 Achieva SCX. Although 190 horsepower might not seem like much these days, that much power from a naturally aspirated four-banger was practically unheard of at the time. Unfortunately for enthusiasts, that gem of an engine was placed in a turd. Although it had much cleaner lines than its Pontiac Grand Am cousin, which also used GM's N platform, the Achieva's front struts and solid axle rear suspension were tuned for boulevard cruising and left the Achieva wallowing in the wake of less-powerful competition such as the Ford Contour, Acura Integra, Mazda 626 and Volkswagen Jetta.
Number 4: Lamborghini LM002
- Number 4: Lamborghini LM002
- Most of us here at Autoblog HQ actually like the Lamborghini LM002. The Italian company, which is much better known for soul-stirring supercars like the Countach and Diablo, actually began building tractors and started the "Cheetah" project with the intent on selling off-road vehicles to the U.S. military, a contract ultimately won by AM General and its HMMWV. When Lambo initially began work on the LM project, a V8 engine supplied by Chrysler was to be used, but when it became obvious that the LM002 was going to be marketed more towards rich sheiks than various military forces, Lamborghini chose to install its own V12 engines in either 5.2- or 7.2-liter guises, mounted amidships. As cool as the Rambo Lambo may be, it'd be better off with the plain ol' American V8 than the expensive Italian 12-cylinder powerplant that was topped with 6 temperamental Weber carburettors. This is an engine that would be much better off sitting just aft of the driver in a low-slung wedge-shaped supercar.
Number 3: Saab 9-7X Aero
- Number 3: Saab 9-7X Aero
- Saabs are supposed to revel in their quirkiness, though that historic image has dwindled somewhat since General Motors purchased a controlling stake in the Swedish automaker in 1990. Perhaps no single model has served to diminish the brand's identity more than the 9-7X "Trollblazer" SUV (though the 9-2X "Saabaru" would certainly serve as a close second). Based on GM's GMT360 platform that's shared with the Chevy Trailblazer and GMC Envoy, the 9-7X is pretty egregious in all of its guises, but we're specifically waving our fingers at the Aero model, which is powered by the same LS2 engine that could be found nestled under the fiberglass bodywork of the 2005-2007 Chevy Corvette. Yes, it's fast, and yes, this is the best Trailblazer ever. Regardless, what's a Corvette engine doing in a Saab? Darned if we know.
Number 2: Dodge Omni GLH-S
- Number 2: Dodge Omni GLH-S
- The fact that Chrysler has three separate machines on our list may mean that the automaker happens to be very adept at designing great engines. Unfortunately, it may also mean that the Pentastar brand wasn't quite able to deliver a truly well-rounded performance car during the '80s and early '90s. Whatever the case, this is the last Chrysler on today's list - but it also happens to be a Shelby. Though the man behind the Cobra may be best known for the time he spent with Ford during the muscle car heyday, Carroll Shelby also collaborated with Dodge on such timeless classics as the Omni and Shadow. Today, these cars are well known amongst true enthusiasts as econoboxes that are able to blow the doors of what may seem like much more sporting hardware, but that's almost solely due to the 2.2L turbocharged four-cylinder engine. A brief stint behind the wheel of one of these bad boys quickly reminds you that it's impossible to hide the humble K-car origins of the Omni, regarldess of the GLH-S (that'd be Goes Like Hell Some more, we're told) badge on the hatch's rump.
Number 1: GMC Syclone and Typhoon
- Number 1: GMC Syclone and Typhoon
- General Motors has proven to the world that it has the engineering talent and chutzpah to challenge the best automakers around when it comes to supercars. In fact, The General can make just about anything go really fast, a fact proven first in 1991 with the GMC Syclone pickup truck and its follow-up, the equally amazing GMC Typhoon SUV. That's right, GMC dropped an awe-inspiring turbocharged and intercooled 4.3L V6 engine between the flexible frame rails of its compact pickup truck and body-on-frame SUV. All-wheel-drive was thrown in for good measure and the four-speed automatic transmission borrowed from the Corvette made bracket racing the SyTy duo an extremely attractive propsect. At first, the idea of a Corvette-trouncing supercar in plain-Jane trappings makes some sense, but that theory fails to hold water. Despite the practical body style, neither of these vehicles was useful as a means of hauling goods, saddled as they were with a ridiculously low cargo weight rating thanks to their complicated suspensions. No matter, SyTy: We still love you and you'll always have a spot reserved in our fantasy garages.