Boasting boatloads of brawn and ferocious exhaust notes, here are the best new and used cars that we could think of which pack eight cylinders under the hood.

V-engines have been around for as long as the car itself. Way back in 1889 Daimler were nailing together pop-popping V-twins, and the first V8s arrived on the scene not long after in 1903.

In simple terms, a V-engine is so called because if you crack it open, crouch down and peer along the crank, you’ll see the pistons being pushed diagonally up in two banks, forming a V shape.

See, it’s not a clever name, just logic. An engine in this configuration can be less lengthy and less tall, which means that they tick a lot of boxes when it comes to packaging, but we love them because they invariably make awesome noises.

Trouble is, because there are so many fantastic V8s out there, it’s hard to narrow it down to a handful of superstars. Nevertheless, we’ve given it a go anyway. Here’s our shortlist of the best V8 engined cars around.

Best V8 engined cars

Dodge Demon drag spec

Dodge Demon

The V8 is such an apple-pie icon of Americana that we could have easily filled this list with Detroit muscle and nothing else. However, the Dodge Demon is one particular example which stands out above the rest.

If you thought the Hellcat was nuts, this is just on another level. The ultimate version of the new-wave Challenger, the Demon is basically a road-legal dragster that you can buy from a dealership with a warranty. Its 6.2-litre Hemi has a sodding great 2.7-litre supercharger added on top, giving it peak power figures of 840hp and 770lb ft of torque. On a drag strip, that translates into 60mph after just 2.1 seconds, while the quarter-mile flies by in just 9.7.

If it wasn’t already abundantly clear what sort of personality this car has, the development team actually designed it to pull wheelies from a standing start. There’s only one seat too – unless you pay a dollar to add the others back in. Quite possibly the angriest car ever built.

Ferrari 458

Ferrari 458 Italia

Going from the Dodge Demon to a Ferrari 458 Italia is like being flung from a Slipknot concert into a Milanese opera house. Whereas the American dragster is an all-out assault on the senses, this Italian supercar is a much more refined experience. That said, when it reaches the high notes, it’ll still leave you with goosebumps.

Indeed, the sound of the Ferrari’s 4.5-litre F136 V8 is a much higher pitched affair, thanks to its flat-plane crank and 9000rpm redline. The way the car actually performs couldn’t be more different to the Dodge either. Sure, its 562 horses will get you to 60mph in just 3.4 seconds, but the 458 is more of a precision tool with which to tackle apexes, not drag strips.

The Prancing Horse has plenty of V8 engined cars in its back catalogue though, so why this one? Well, to put it simply, the 458 raised the bar for the whole supercar genre. A marked improvement on the already commendable F430, the 458 won group test after group test.

Since then, nobody has really been able to knock Ferrari off their throne. Truly, a supercar for the ages.

Ariel Atom 500 - best V8 engined cars

Ariel Atom 500

The Ariel Atom is a hilarious creation. Whoever thought of bolting the engine from a Honda Civic Type R onto the back of a tangle of scaffolding to form an ultralight road-legal track car was some kind of twisted genius.

But even more ingenious than that, and far more twisted, is the Atom 500. This features a bespoke 3.0-litre V8 which is basically two Suzuki superbike engines running off a common crank (sort of – it’s fiendishly complicated), and this gives it 475hp. In a car that weighs 550kg. How bonkers is that?

It’s got a power-to-weight ratio of 864bhp-per-tonne, which is double that of a Bugatti Veyron, and it’ll do 0-62mph in 2.2 seconds. It’s basically a GP2 race car with number plates. Though, whether it’s got the plates or not, there probably aren’t many public roads where you wouldn’t feel at least a little bit exposed. Definitely one for the adrenaline junkies amongst you.

AMG Hammer W124

AMG Hammer

Before every street in average suburbia had an AMG of some sort on its corner, those three letters stood for something quite special.

The German tuning house has been around since 1967, but in the late eighties it brought us the ‘Hammers’. Based on the W124 saloon, coupe or estate, these cars earned the nickname for their blunt power, which was provided by a 6.0-litre V8. 385hp maybe doesn’t sound like much today, but it was enough for drivers to hit speeds of 188mph on the Autobahn. In an eighties saloon!

And then there’s the way it looks. There’s a plethora of modern V8 AMGs that undoubtedly perform better than this one, but none of them look as menacingly desirable as the Hammer (to our eyes at least).

White Shelby Cobra 427

Shelby Cobra 427

It would be wrong to craft a list celebrating the best V8s without picking something from the ’60s – the dawn, and arguably the golden age, of classic V8 muscle cars.

However, instead of going down the Mustang route, or the Camaro one, we’ve opted for this: The Shelby Cobra. Ok, so in the eyes of some it might not be a ‘true’ muscle car. After all, it’s effectively a British AC roadster that’s been given a heart transplant. But in a way, that’s part of the appeal.

Under the bonnet, its 7.0-liter (427 cubic-inch) V8 propelled the Cobra to 160mph, or around 185 in S/C ‘semi-competition’ spec. Meanwhile, its European underpinnings ensured it could make good use of all that American power when the roads got twisty. So, while it wasn’t as accessible pricewise, the Cobra would have all of its muscular rivals beat on track.

For that reason, the regular Cobra is dream car material. In fact, it’s the most replicated model amongst kit car manufacturers, and as they say, imitation is the highest form of flattery.

Jaguar XE SV Project 8

Jaguar XE SV Project 8

The Jaguar XE SV Project 8 is a car which doesn’t make sense. Even with the support from Tata, and the success of its sister company Land Rover to lean on, Jaguar is a company which constantly seems to sway in and out of financial security. Yet, even in that context, they manage to build a special car every so often that triggers stress amongst the company accountants, but sparks joy in enthusiastic drivers. This limited-edition hyper sedan is exactly the sort of car I’m on about, and its unlikely existence should be celebrated.

To give you an idea of just how mad this project is, despite looking very similar to a regular XE sedan, the only significant common parts between the two are the front doors and the roof! So much for cost saving, eh. For example, at the front of the car, Jag planted a 5.0-liter supercharged V8 under the hood (which goes and sounds just as well as you’d imagine). Then, to counteract the increased weigth at the front, Jaguar redesigned the entire front body panels – hood, arches, bumper; the lot – in carbon fiber, so that the big engine wouldn’t be a detriment to the car’s handling.

Everywhere you look around this vehicle, you’ll find similar stories, and when you add all those stories together, what you’re left with is arguably one of the best performance sedans of the century. And yet, if Jaguar weren’t so silly with their finances, it probably would never have existed. Let’s just hope that Jaguar itself continues to exist, so it can keep giving us gems like the Project 8.

orange McLaren 720S on track

McLaren 720S

If unbeatable performance and everyday usability is what you’re after from your supercar, then the only answer is the McLaren 720S. The Woking-based company’s top-of-the-range mass product spent the latter half of the 2010s enjoying never-ending praise from motoring journalists all around the globe, and unusually, that nerdy forensic-level opinion was matched by consumer behavior. This isn’t a media-only darling like the Alpine A110, the 720S was a car that the rich actually went out and bought in their droves. In fact, the McLaren market is so saturated, that if you’re hunting for a used supercar right now, you should definitely check out how much these have depreciated.

It’s not hard to see why these cars rode on a wave of popularity though. It looks exotic without being inelegant, it’s surprisingly comfortable, it hugs apexes like a clingy toddler, and as for the performance, well, that’s otherworldly. Having driven one, I can confidently say that to feel its full power, you’ll need your own private airfield – when it picks up and goes, it REALLY goes. And yet, on the road, it also feels at home. Sure, you won’t have foot to the floor everywhere, but the 720S still makes for a wonderful spirited back-road car, if you use its power sparingly. The one downside? Well, for a V8, the 720S’ 4.0-liter twin-turbo unit just doesn’t sound as magical as it ought to.

Overall though, the McLaren 720S isn’t just one of the best V8 engined cars of recent times, it’s one of the best cars of recent times, period.

Enjoyed this shortlist? Why not check out our favorite V6 engined cars while you’re at it!

Words by Dan Bevis & James Bowers