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2011 Ford Mustang GT V8 engine – Click above for high-res image gallery

Last year, the state of Washington contemplated a tax that would be placed on vehicles dependent upon the displacement of its engine. The displacement tax was eventually discarded but not forgotten. Automakers noted the possibility of this tax cropping up again in the future and marked it in their books.

Mini Cooper four-cylinder engine - Click above for high-res image

Turning the past completely upside down, four cylinder engines marched up ten percent to further solidify the market dominance of lower cylinder count powertrains. According to Ward's Automotive, nearly 62 percent of cars produced in 2009 carried four bangers, up ten percent in just a year from 2008's 51.7 percent. Despite the V8 engine's precipitous fall from a high of being fitted to 88 percent of all cars sold in 1969, there's a sweet spot for the smaller powerplants, too.

The new BMW 7-Series has just stepped out from behind the curtain, and it's taken the stage to a house only half full. Demand for BMW's big engines has dropped so low that the house of the roundel says it can make enough 8-bangers to satisfy the world's demand using just one shift for four days.

Click above for high-res gallery of the 2009 Ford F-150

It's not often that consumers choose a V8 engine for its low fuel consumption, but that seems to be exactly what is happening with the Yamaha F350 outboard motor. This sixty-degree engine is a rather high-tech design, featuring 32 valves and double overhead cams to produce some 350 horsepower at the prop shaft. One reason cited for its ability to save fuel is that the engines don't need to work as hard as smaller, high-strung engines.

Are we living in the twilight years of the V8 engine? It seems possible, considering that General Motors has already canceled their newest high-tech V8 engine program and Ford is planning on a switch to EcoBoost engines for their high-end vehicles. Even performance car stalwarts such as the Camaro, Mustang and Corvette, could, some time in the near future, lose their V8 engine options. We should remember, though, that similar performance numbers can be achieved with other types of powerplants. A

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