Looking at tuning your V8 or thinking of getting some V8 power in your life? Check out our guide to V8 tuning.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, V8s are without doubt the cheapest type of engine to tune; and who doesn’t like big power for a low price? The thing is, fitting one in your car can be a real mission. And, are all V8s good? Are they hell. So rather than daydream about them or pretend they don’t exist, have a read of this feature and find out the truth about V8 tuning.
1. N/A V8 TUNING
Although not all V8s are big capacity, almost all the ones worth bothering with are. Because of this, tuning that may give you 10bhp on a 2-litre lump will often give 30bhp on a big V8. What’s more, stroker kits, to make your Yank V8 even bigger, are widely available. Want to make your big 5.7 into a huge 7-litre? Not a problem!
2. V8 SUPERCHARGING
Everybody, even Stevie Wonder, has seen a V8 with a massive supercharger bolted to it, but why are they so popular? The main reason is simple: they work. Basic bolt-on kits often give gains of around 50 percent, which in V8 terms can mean you instantly gain over 200bhp. If you’ve got the money and a death wish, some superchargers are good for over 3000bhp.
3. V8 TURBOCHARGING
As good as superchargers are, if you want big power and torque gains, nothing beats a turbo (to two, like above). In the last few years, turbo V8s have become hugely popular due to the ridiculous power possible, even with the most basic-looking setups. The minute you hear the word turbo most people think of lag, but that’s not the case with V8s. Their size means they can spool up even 1000bhp turbos almost instantly.
4. GOOD V8 ENGINES
The current V8 bosses are the LS range, which are found in everything from big Vauxhalls, to Corvettes and even Hummers. They’re ridiculously tunable, high revving, light, and surprisingly compact. If you’re on a smaller budget, 80s and 90s Ford and Chevy small-block V8s are almost as good. Some of the cheapest V8s in the UK are the BMW and Lexus 4-litre V8s. While not as big capacity as the US versions, these engines are real rev monsters. With an added turbo a V8 can make silly power all day long without so much as breaking into a sweat.
5. BAD V8 ENGINES
As mentioned earlier, just because an engine is a V8 doesn’t automatically make it good, as frankly, some are completely pants. You can pick up a Rover V8 from the internet cheaply, but while they’re light and make the right noises, they’re expensive to tune and put out 150bhp on a good day. Many 70s and 80s Yank V8s were useless too, unless you like 125bhp 5-litre engines that is. This was due to stupid American laws. But once you remove all the emissions crap, and maybe add a sneaky turbo or two, they’re as awesome as any other.
6. V8 CONVERSIONS
Swapping your engine for a big V8 is no easy task. Unless you’re insane or insanely rich, you can count out a front- or four-wheel-drive V8; they’re almost always rear-wheel-drive only. Certain cars – rear drive Nissans, Mazda RX-7s, and BMWs for example – can fit V8s in their bays no problem. Some even have fitting kits available. On the other hand, good luck trying to do a RWD V8 conversion on your Fiat Punto…
7. V8 MYTHBUSTING
Half of the problem with V8s are the myths surrounding them, so let’s cut the crap…
“V8s are stupidly heavy”
Bollocks. All small block V8s are as light or lighter than the legendary Skyline GT-R RB26 and Toyota Supra 2JZ engines.
“V8s are massive”
Not always. While V8s can be wide, especially the quad-cam German and Japanese ones, they’re no longer than a 4-cylinder lump. So they can often fit where a long straight six-engine cannot.
“V8s don’t rev”
Not true these days. Granted, old V8s didn’t rev high, but most modern performance V8 can happily rev well over 7000rpm.
“V8s are all automatics”
While it’s common to have an auto box behind a V8. They also have some of the strongest manual boxes there are fitted to them, such as the T56 and TKO600. Unfortunately, some of the manual box setups can cost as much as the V8s themselves!