For automotive service technicians, choosing a favourite engine can sometimes feel like being forced to choose a favourite child. There are so many excellent engines out there that have broken new boundaries and demonstrated bold new innovation—each having combined performance, reliability and versatility into their small, but powerful, packages.
While many great engines have won over the hearts of drivers everywhere, three top contenders have had some of the biggest impacts on automotive technology to date.
If you are planning to pursue an automotive career, read on to find out which engines have stood the test of time, and how they have inspired many new developments in auto technology.
The Small Block Chevrolet 350: A Car Mechanic’s Ideal Engine
There are many reasons why car mechanics love the Chevrolet small block engine. It’s versatile and reliable, and gaining access to spare parts for repairs is both easy and affordable—in many ways, it’s a car mechanic’s dream engine!
The first Chevrolet small block V8 made its debut in 1955 as a 256 cubic inch (4.3-liter) engine for the Corvette. It was small but powerful, and spurred innovative new developments in auto technology.
The engine first appeared in the 1967 Camaro, and was capable of producing 295 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque. The engine also offered a new crankshaft with a 3.48-inch stroke. And, while it was often found in muscle cars, the 350 was also used in trucks, custom motorcycles, and even boats.
Model T Inline-4: Cutting-Edge Development in Early Car Mechanics
While this engine’s 20 hp and top speed of 72 km/h are more than a little modest by today’s standards, it was still a ground-breaking engine of its time. Students completing their auto repair training likely know that the Ford Model T was recognized for its affordability, reliability, and for being very easy to repair—all of which was complimented by the engine’s impeccable design.
The inline 4-cylinder engine was a monobloc engine. This means that all four cylinders were cast into one engine block, making the engine easier to mass produce. It was the first to include a removable cylinder head, which was a cutting-edge development in car technology back in 1908. The removable cylinder head made cleaning and replacing valves was much easier, and helped contribute to the Model T’s reputation for durability and commercial success.
Cadillac 1915 V8 Type 51: American Car Mechanics Contribute to the Auto Industry
Students taking automotive service technician courses at a mechanic school will learn how to reassemble many different types of engines, including V8s. What they might not know is that the V8 engine has a long history that dates all the way back to 1915.
While the first V8 engine wasn’t made by Cadillac, it’s important to note that the American auto company certainly played an important role in introducing the engine to mass markets.
The 1915 Cadillac Type 51 was the first V8 engine to go into a series-produced, mass market car. Before then, V8 engine prototypes were built by the French company De Dion-Bouton; however, they hadn’t caught on.
After years of careful research, Cadillac produced the Type 51 engine. It had a 90-degree L-head design and offered 70 hp, which made it one of the top engines of its time and an important part of automotive history.
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