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The worst engine ever?

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Blazer, Oct 31, 2013.

  1. Blazer


    Nov 27, 2003
    The Netherlands
    Rogue luthier employed at Knooren Handcrafted bass guitars
    Well seeing how everybody is really into talking about motor vehicles, planes and the likes and the powerplants that (No pun intended) powered them and how everybody has an opinion about what is the best engine ever thread, I figured it to be interesting to talk about the opposite.

    Let's talk about the engines that were turds from the outset or made by people who should have known better.

    I'll start with the Triumph V-8 engine.
    Now this is an engine that came from a manufacturer that should have known better.

    Triumph came up with the Stag as a competitor to the Ford Mustang and it sure looked the lot.
    Now Triumph's parent company British Leyland had the licensing rights to the Buick 215 V-8 engine, which was built and continues to be produced by Rover. The Triumph Stag was designed with that engine in mind but shared parent company or not, the people at Triumph did have some stubborn pride and decided they did NOT want to incorporate Rover parts. It was a real "No we're not having that lot, it's from THEM!" kind of deal.

    So instead they developed an engine which basically was two Dolomite straight four cylinder engines put together. But to make this work it required the development of a new fuel injection system but extra funds for that development was denied by the high command of BL. So instead they fitted carburetors, to maintain the required power output the capacity was increased to 3-litres, which then entailed modification to the Stags other drivetrain systems included the gearbox, back axle and brakes. This relatively 'last-minute' capacity increase was achieved by expanding the bore of the engine instead of the stroke, which explains the Triumph V8's unusual 'oversquare' internal dimensions. This widening of the bore also meant that the water galleries surrounding the cylinders were narrower than originally planned, thus creating the engine's major weakness.

    -Overly long single link chains with poor automatic tensioning that only last about 25,000 miles (40,200 km). The damage is extensive if they fail;
    -Inadequately sized main bearings - these have short lives as a result;
    -The aluminium heads warp due to poor castings which restrict coolant flow, leading to overheating;
    -Water pump failures relating to the drive gear shearing.
    -As a legacy of the V8's beginnings as a straight-4 design the sender unit for the temperature gauge is located in one cylinder head (rather than a point of the cooling system common to both heads as on other multi-bank engines). This means that problems can go undetected in one head until enough damage and/or overheating has occurred to affect the one fitted with the sender unit.

    Okay then, my second contender is actually a kind of engine, not really a brand or type. and that kind of engine is the Rotary engine.
    First of all, do not confuse the Rotary engine with the contemporary wankel engine and although it looks similar it's not a radial engine although it uses the same configuration.

    Now the Rotary is designed with an odd number of cylinders per row in a radial configuration, in which the crankshaft remained stationary and the entire cylinder block rotated around it. Rotarys were maily used in aircraft but were originally designed for motorcycles.
    A 1897 Felix Millet motorcycle fitted with a very early rotary.
    Now, as an aircraft power plant, the things that spoke to the Rotary's advantage was that it offered power in a limited package, it kept the nose of the plane short as opposed to an in-line engine, and it was light in weight.
    A Fokker Dr-1 Triplane with its rotary clearly visible.

    In world war one both sides used Rotary engines in their frontline fighters because of the power-to-weight ratio they offered but it quickly became apparent that as an aircraft engine the rotary was a disaster, the fact that it spun around made that it flung leaking oil all over the place, usually ending up in the face of the pilot flying. Also the fuel consumption of the rotary was around 20% higher than that of a contemporary in-line engine.

    But a much more serious flaw became more apparent as higher performance was demanded from rotarys and such engines were developed. The egines became so powerful that the torque of the spinning actually began to pull the plane around and many pilot crashed when a fast maneuver unwillingly upset the balance of his plane. Also the torquing effect was making take offs and landings a hassle. Flying a plane powered by a rotary engine is a constant fight.

    It is telling that the most advance fighter of the day, the Fokker D-VII had an in-line engine, Manfred "The Red Baron" Von Richthofen was consulted by the development of that plane and the first thing he told Anthony Fokker and his R&D team was to get rid of the rotary engines.

    There you have my contenders for the worst engine, one contender that suffered from ego at the workshop, high command that didn't want to shelve out cash to develop the engine properly and was made by a company that should have known better.

    And the other because it made it a dangerous engine to work with from the outset and was built in the millions because of the simple reason that they were needed.
  2. Tony Flow MMMM

    Tony Flow MMMM

    Dec 4, 2012
    Back to your triumph engine, it's a good thing they didn't use the 215 Buick, the land rovers are notorious for horrible head gasket issues and slipped liners, I don't believe rover produces these anymore they were last used in the 4.6l discovery's of 2004. While it doesn't seem to be as flawed as the triumph, it wasn't much better
  3. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    I blew the Wankel in two 1980 Mazda RX-7's back in the day. They performed really well, but if you ever flooded them, the gas thinned out the oil, and you had to do a complete oil change, or you might blow the engine. I know, believe me.

    The engine is made up of alternating slabs of aluminum and iron, which have differenent expansion rates. I always thought this was a great idea, as well.
  4. mimaz


    Mar 1, 2005
    Wheeling WV
    Endorsing Artist: Crook Custom Guitars
    Cadillac 4100 V8....they were so bad, you couldn't even buy a warranty for them!
  5. Spector_Ray


    Aug 8, 2004
    2003-2007 Ford 6.0 Power Stroke Diesel engine. This thing had a myriad of problems from the get go.
  6. Those are all honorable mentions compared to the aluminum block Chevy Vega.
  7. Catbuster

    Catbuster Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2010
    Louisville, KY.
    I'll chime in on diesels.

    It made by Navistar, to start, and put in Ford trucks. Like Isuzu makes the Duramax Chevy puts in their truck. Also, after 2004, it had the kinks worked out and was just fine. My friends in industry all run 2005-2007 6.0 engines in F4-550 trucks and they're fine.

    Navistar 6.0 Powerstroke-Tons of injector problems, EGR, overpressure and overheat due to EGR, those engines were a mess. I had a 2003 F450 service truck with one for... Six months before I had all those issues which were common for those years of that engines. They were designed for medium duty trucks, not pickups. The dynamic from medium duty to pickup engines changes massively. There's a reason the ones in the F450 and F550 chassis cabs, even in between have their engines rated 325/625 instead of 400/800.

    Cat 3208. It's a great marine or water pump engine, but it can't cope with spurts of high RPMs or torque requirements. It's a large displacement V8, which is always a no-no. It was very underpowered for trucks. The cylinders were sleeveless, which meant no in-frame rebuilds. These things lead to short life. As in 80,000 mi in a dump truck.

    And as much as the 7.3 Navistar is revered, before it was a turbo diesel with the HUEI injectors, was essentially a slightly smaller 466 which was a tractor/bulldozer engine. It was terribly unsuited to be a pickup engine.

    And finally, the Chevy 6.5... Dear god. No. The worst diesel engine ever made. Ever. Ever.

    And while I seem to be a Ford/Navistar hater, I can assure you I'm not. I have a 2002 F350 with a 7.3, a 2010 F550 with a 6.4 and now a 2013 F450 with the 6.7. And they're all great. I don't one anything else. And I probably won't
  8. GlennW


    Sep 6, 2006
    That was the pits.
  9. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    The Chevrolet Vega 4-cylinder engine. Programmed at the factory to blow up at 50K miles.
  10. Naw, that's not true...
    None of them LASTED 50k!
  11. The marriage of Ford pickups and the 7.3 Powerstroke was a bad idea?

    How do you feel about an L10 Cummins ?
  12. Philonius

    Philonius Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2009
    2k W of the Duwamsh
    My parents had one with [DEL]Three On The Tree[/DEL]. Worst. Car. Ever.

    Edit: no, it was a floor mounted shifter, but still god-awful.
  13. OldDog52

    OldDog52 Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 1, 2011
    Can't forget the Oldsmobile diesels!


    "Production of the Olds diesel lasted only from 1978 and 1985, and it caused a class-action lawsuit that saw owners reimbursed for up to 80 percent of the cost of a replacement engine upon failure. The engines were so bad, they spurred legislators in several states to draft early lemon laws. In the long run, Olds diesels also ruined the American consumer's appetite for diesels for 30 years or longer. Only now are diesels tentatively beginning to reenter the U.S. car market in small numbers—and most of those are from German manufacturers. "

    Or... 1981 Cadillac Fleetwood V-8-6-4


    "These days, cylinder deactivation, or variable displacement, is relatively common — the 2008 Honda Accord V6 has it, for instance. And it's a beautiful idea. When the engine is running at light loads, it's logical to shut down unneeded cylinders to save fuel, like turning off lights in unused rooms. But in 1981, when semiconductors and on-board computers were still in their infancy, variable displacement was a huge technical challenge. GM deserves credit for trying, but the V-8-6-4 was the Titanic of engine programs. The cars jerked, bucked, stalled, made rude noises and generally misbehaved until wild-eyed owners took the cars to have the system disconnected. For some it was the last time they ever saw the inside of a Cadillac dealership."
  14. GlennW


    Sep 6, 2006
    I always liked the looks of the 71-73 Vegas...reminded me of little Camaros.
  15. Clark Dark

    Clark Dark

    Mar 3, 2005
  16. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2011
    The Honda 360 vertical twin.

    The only thing remarkable about this cam chain eating anomaly from the HMC was it pushed Honda to finalize development and testing of their 400 twin many years ahead of schedule.
  17. Rickengeezer


    Feb 25, 2005
    Central Texas
    Endorsing Artist: Steve Clayton Accessories
    I think they just wanted to match the engine to the parts in the rest of the car, all of which failed quickly. My early 70's Triumph couldn't go 20 miles without a debilitating breakdown. It's as if the engineers at British Leyland were intentionally being cruel.
  18. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Whatever in-line 4.0 V6 and V8 that Jeep was putting in Cherokee SUV for over a decade has to be right up there. I think the V8 Cherokee was the least reliable car and the V6 Cherokee was the 2nd least reliable car in Consumer Reports for well over a decade. I mean like the least reliable of ALL CARS and TRUCKS RATED.
  19. viper4000


    Aug 17, 2010
    My first car was an 83 Chevy Caprice that had a similar motor. It was a gasoline 350 ci, but was converted to a diesel. Mine was actually pretty good. My grandfather put 80K miles on it, and I got it up to 120K on it before moving on. The car itself was showing signs of age, but the motor was okay. I think I might have had the only good one.
  20. 1958Bassman


    Oct 20, 2007
    And yet, they have had very dew unexplained failures. Flooding it is user error, unless the carb was set up wrong, IMO. ANY engine will fail if the oil is diluted by gas, it's not just a rotary that has this problem. Might not fail in the same way, but rings, bearings, guides/seals and gaskets all die fast when gas is in the oil. The apex seals may have worn, too. That was about the only major complaint for a while, then they changed the material and solved it.

    I had an '81 and the only problem I had was the kick-down valve, which was stuck because of carbon deposits. My friend had a '79 that he stuck a 13B and 5 speed from a GSL-SE in and drove it like he was on a track. Never had a problem and by the time a semi pushed it diagonally into a concrete curb, it had close to 200K. The original engine had over 100K on it and the 13B went in because he wanted more, not because the OEM failed.

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