Author Topic: Which would be the best engine?  (Read 3325 times)

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Offline Rick

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Re: Which would be the best engine?
« Reply #30 on: April 07, 2009, 08:39:23 PM »
So was the idea that Pontiac built engines that were a compromise of both practicality and also performance potential?  They were building these engines at a period where emission controls forced manufacturers to derate their engines just to pass emissions.  So for a few bucks I can squeeze out alot of ponies without radical upgrades?  If this is so, that is great!  I'll be staying with Pontiac, because of the idea and ingenuity of engineers who were able to forsee what these engines could become.  Why don't we still engineer this way today?  Seems that the status quo is just good enough for manufacturers today.  Maybe that forsight of years past might be what GM and Chrysler needs today.

What happened is that Pontiac engines of this vintage were originally designed for much higher horsepower without consideration of emissions and (to a certain degree) fuel economy.  The original Pontiac V8 design was done in 1954 (for the 55 model year), when gasoline was $0.19/gallon.  Nobody had heard of "smog" (I'm not sure the word had been invented) and the idea that the government could tell you how you could tune your car was something that sounded like it came out of the Kremlin instead of Washington.  As emissions controls came about, Pontiac responded by "detuning" their existing designs and thus retained as much power as they could.  Finally the EPA ratcheted down the emissions requirements to the point that further detuning wasn't possible, so it was "ADIOS" to the Pontiac V8.  They tried again with the 301 engine but never had the chance to develop it before the beancounters at GM decided to use a "corporate" V8 fleet-wide.

Today, it's a different world.  Emissions requirements change at the whim of the EPA.  The wizards in Washington decide how many MPGs cars will get (and now they're firing the CEOs of the car companies).  Designers have no forward vision because you can't outguess insanity.

"And in the real world, they're shuttin' Detroit down..."  - Big John Rich

Offline jphillips3333

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Re: Which would be the best engine?
« Reply #31 on: April 07, 2009, 09:51:43 PM »
What Rick says about the Pontiac engines' demise is a sad, but true story.  Pontiac probably stayed with the block because it saved money vs designing something new.  They had to keep decreasing compression to meet emission standards ... until they were running 7.6 to 1 and had 180 HP motors in the late 70s.  The block and head design was essentially the same from years back.  1978 was the last year of the 400 blocks.  The 455 was finished in '76 ... and the 301 came out in '80/'81 but it never really got off the ground.  Pontiac engineers didn't want to go this road ... this was the dreaded CAFE standards that spelled the end of the muscle car era.  I'm sure there are some people to string up, I mean, thank for that effort.

You mention why don't we engineer with that way today?  We engineer engines far better today than in the 60s/70s/80s - computer design, CFD, materials science, fuel injection and tooling have all gotten engines & technologies to be far more advanced.  You can squeeze 100HP or more out of Corvette motor pretty easily ... and at 505HP out of the gate, they're not exactly slacker engines.  The ZR1 is a 640 HP supercharged 6.2 liter engine speed of 205 MPH. 

That's a production car that could probably run the 24 hours of Daytona and actually hang with most cars with a tire swap.

I hope GM gets their crap together ... I really don't want to buy a Japanese import or a, gasp, Ford, down the road.


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