The Great V8 Debate


"There's no replacement for Displacement"

I've heard it from many of the traditional American gearheads, Muscle Car enthusiasts and Hot Rodders I've talked to. Usually, while at car shows when the inevitable World-Rally Blue WRX rolls in with a beat Honda Civic and sometimes an Evo. Sure, High-Displacement V8's are cool, and they make a noise that can only be described as Nasty, but seriously, this statement isn't exactly relevant anymore. Sure, a big GM 572 Big Block makes 720 (in some variants) out of the box, and, sure, can double that with bigger injectors, a cam and a big supercharger....but horsepower and torque isn't everything.

If straight-line speed is your thing, and you spend your weekends at the Drag Strip or Salt Flats, than yes. a high-horsepower V8 is good. But, as it's been proven over and over, a 4-cylinder turbo car with half the power and weight can be just as fast.

What it all boils down to are, in my opinion, is 4 key points. Weight, Gearing, Traction and Balance. In a Drag Race, 2000hp is useless if the car won't hook. On a road course, 2000hp will just get you killed.
But, with the proper setup, a 2000hp drag car will run in the 6 second range or better. And, as crazy as it sounds, a properly setup 1000hp 4-cylinder car can run the same ET's as a car with double the power.
I'll post videos later, as I'm at work now, and, for reasons including Productivity and such, YouTube has been blocked.

Having never owned a vehicle with more than 6 cylinders or 173hp at the crank, I'm not exactly an expert on drag racing or making big power. What I do know, I've learned from countless hours of research, talking to people in my car club, and watching various Motorsports.

As most of you know, it is potentially less expensive to make power on a V8 car than something with a smaller engine. I'll use a Stock Nissan 240sx as an example. In factory form in the US market, it's KA24DE engines (2.4L I-4) made about 165hp stock. A very popular engine swap into the Nissan S-Chassis is either the Japanese-Market SR20DET Turbocharged 2.0L I-4 engine, or, more commonly, the GM LS-series V8's. Swapping in an all-aluminium, completely stock 5.3L LS1 or 6.0L LS2 engine, would about double the power levels, and nearly triple the torque output, making the 240SX into a rather capable Drifting car or track car, without offsetting the handling too much.

But overall, Each setup has it's merits. I'm not going to lie, if it was financially feasible, and I had a second car to drive, I'd totally LS2/ RWD-swap my Forester. But that's not going to happen. I think, at this point, the EJ-series engines are a better bet, simply because they'll bolt right in with minor modifications.

Let me know what you think in the comment section.

-Phil