Reader Submitted: 5 More Unkillable Gas Engines With Bulletproof Reliability
We had an amazing response to our series of articles this summer that highlighted the unkillable engines of the automotive world. It's no surprise that the most reliable motors of all-time have a dedicated fan following from those who appreciate the hundreds of thousands of miles of trouble-free service that they have provided over the years.
Many of you wrote to us and commented about your own specific experiences with engines that might not have made our first two lists. We waded through the thousand-plus replies we received to each article and picked out another 5 of the best bulletproof engines, based on the experiences of you, our readers, as well as their history among enthusiasts and commuters everywhere.
It's almost impossible to count how many iterations of the Chevy small-block V8 have been produced, but of these the 350 cubic inch engine in production since 1967 remains perhaps the most cherished and most common version out there.
There's a good reason for that: exceptional parts interchange between all Generation I small-block Chevrolet V8s means it's relatively cheap to keep these motors going for decades. More importantly, however, it's a V8 with no real design flaws engineered into it, which means with proper maintenance and a good cooling system it's feasible to just add oil and gas and run a 350 forever.
All of this while producing good power and exceptional torque, making it the default engine of choice for vehicles as varied as the Corvette and Chevrolet's full-size pickups until the beginning of the 2000s.
Ford 2.3L Lima
Ford's secret weapon in the European market was a decidedly plain, but a remarkably reliable 2.3L four-cylinder motor that was eventually imported to the United States to be stuffed under the hood of the Pinto.
While that 70s compact didn't have the best reputation, it would eventually escape its budget roots and find itself powering vehicles as diverse as the Ford Aerostar, the Ranger pickup, the Mustang, and even the early small-body Ford LTD and Mercury Marquis. Turbocharged versions of the Lima also ended up in the Mustang SVO and the Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe.
Given its continental origins, it's no surprise that the Lima featured an overhead cam design rather than the overhead valve setup that was more familiar in American cars. The Lima would surpass 30 years of production, evolving into a 2.5L for further duty in the Ranger at the end of the 1990s. It has also become one of the most popular kit car engines in the U.K.
Toyota's 4A engine architecture delivered a popular 1.6L, four-cylinder engine that was almost impossible to kill.
The original GE first appeared in 1983 as a 16-valve, high-performance motor that also featured dual overhead camshafts. It would be revised in 1987 and again in 1988, with a 20-valve versions appearing in 1991. The 4A-GE could be found motivating vehicles like the Celica, the Corolla, and the MR2.
The 4A-FE was a similar motor, with a bend towards economy rather than high-revving performance. Corolla-bound, this fuel-injected version of the 4A was offered from 1987 to 2001. Properly maintained, it was just as unkillable, if significantly more boring to drive, as its GE cousin.
Ford Australia 4.0 Barra
Ford's history of straight six engines running forever is already well-established in America, but Down Under there's another famous I6 that typically flies under the radar.
Ford Australia's 'Barra' engine appeared in 2002, and their dual overhead camshaft design modernized the brand's six-cylinder line-up, a mainstay for over 40 years.
Several versions of the iron-block Barra are out there, ranging from naturally-aspirated to turbocharged, with the latter pushing out more than 400 horsepower in certain versions of the Australian-market Falcon (and known to readily double that power without complaint when modified). It's the more basic Barra that's typically thought of as the million miler, however, as it enjoys a fantastic reputation as the best taxi and fleet motor available.
Nissan L Series
From the late-60s to the mid-80s Datsun then Nissan, hung its fate on the L Series. These inline 4 and inline 6 cylinder engines were found in almost every model the brand produced, including the Roadster, the famous Z sports cars, the Maxima, the 510, the Skyline, and the 620 pickups.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the L Series was its versatility. In high-revving four-cylinder form it would power the original Skyline 2000GT as well as dominate showroom stock sedan racing in the 510, while six-cylinder versions would help the 240Z, 260Z, and 280Z establish the brand as a legitimate sports car force in America.
Each version of the L Series is dead simple overhead cam design, in addition to being overbuilt with an iron block matched with an aluminum head.
More From Driving Line
- Eager for more ultra-reliable engine action? Here's our previous feature discussing four additional unkillable motors from around the world.