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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

5 famous V-8s whose displacements stretched the truth | Hagerty Media

We know that the 1960s were full of horsepower hijinks, but did you know that manufacturers sometimes fibbed about the size of their engines? Indeed, that burbling V-8 in your beloved classic may actually not measure up to its promised displacement. We rooted out five of the worst offenders.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/lists/5-famous-v-8s-whose-displacements-stretched-the-truth/
123 REPLIES 123
Dhturk
Pit Crew

Had a Yamaha 850, 3 cylinder, four stroke, shaft drive (1980?), that was 826 ci.
Dhturk
Pit Crew

Ugh. Not c.i., cc. Can’t edit original post.
JimK58
Pit Crew

A Yamaha bike with 826 ci! I'd love to try that out! Only drawback would be weight and handling 😁 but it would great off the line! Probably Rio through rear tires very quickly!
JimK58
Pit Crew

Rip - not Rio... Fat fingers on a phone keyboard...
OkJustOneMore
Intermediate Driver

Wish we still went by Cubes instead of Liters.....
02-orignal-ownr
Detailer

It all depends on how you started out messing with cars. My first car(s) were European, with quoted metric dimensions for bore and stroke, displacement, valve size etc. So that's what I became used to. If I see an engine displacement quoted in cubic inches, I have to mentally divide that by 60 to come up with liters--same with bore and stroke.

But since gasoline and oil come in quarts and gallons here in the US, I have to convert the other way when sump and gas tank capacities are quoted in liters.

The folks in Nicaragua were in a reverse situation up until a few years ago. While Nicaragua went metric many years ago, all the gas stations there sold gas (but not oil or other products) in gallons, not liters. They finally recalibrated their pumps so they now dispense in liters.
TrustyRusty
Intermediate Driver

We went to Ireland, many years ago and gasoline was about 57.9 "pence per liter". When on the road, it was really tricky tying to compute their old fuel costs to $US per gallon. Let's see, "946 ccs per quart and 4 quarts per gallon, then $1.61 to One Irish Punt (Pound)".. Try to figure that one out while driving on the Left side of the road with a right-hand drive Nissan Micra!
dreamingeagle
Intermediate Driver

be interesting to see the stories of the various motors adapted overtly—or in the case of the General, surreptitiously through Texas—for worldwide racing;
TrustyRusty
Intermediate Driver

It really does work; in the late fifties/early sixties, my father drag raced a '27 Model T Roadster by a 302ci GMC inline six. The bore/stroke was 4"x4"...
TrustyRusty
Intermediate Driver

Make that "powered by a 302..."
raduoos
New Driver

Something else that I noticed, by studying dimensions as a teen. When a V8 has a four inch bore, the cubic inch displacement is equal to the stroke, plus or minus 2 inches. For example, a 289 has a four inch bore and a stroke of 2.87. A 351 has a bore of four inches and a stroke of 3.5.
jello67
Pit Crew

Interesting - no mention of small block V-8's. The aluminum small block Buick/Olds/Pontiac 215 (3.5l) was used in a lot of cars - and became the Rover 3.5, 3.9, 4.0, 4.2, and 4.6 - and was also taken to a displacement as high as 5.0 l. It was as light as a cast iron 4 cyl.
cwfritz
New Driver

Jello67, I like the comparison in your last sentence, and it can definitely be looked at the other way around - a cast-iron four-cylinder (for example, the 1,798 cc, 400 lb B-series engine in an MGB) could actually be heavier than the all-aluminum 215 V8 by about 50 lb! British Leyland sold some MGBs with the Rover 3.5l. in the UK market, and there's still a cottage industry in converting 4-cyl. MGBs to these V-8s.

http://www.britishv8.org/Photos-MG-Conversions.htm
Diego
Intermediate Driver

If you look at GM small-blocks from the era (or comparable engines for Pontiacs, as there's no small-block Pontiac), they were not misnumbered except the 326.
TrustyRusty
Intermediate Driver

It is interesting that the 194 CI Pontiac Tempest 4 cyl was actually a 389 cut down the middle. Mickey Thompson became quite famous, running Pontiac-powered dragsters, first with 389s, then 194s, then a 2 Cylinder Tempest engine cut in half, front to back!
TrustyRusty
Intermediate Driver

In about 1964 Buick put a cast iron, 250ci block under aluminum 215 heads. Buick folks can let me know if I am correct.
HondaCollector
Pit Crew

I think this definitely falls under a "distinction without a difference". If all you are talking about is a couple of cubic inches, you must be running out of things to talk about!
Diego
Intermediate Driver

Do you not find it interesting how some famous engines were not as advertised?
GRP_Photo
Advanced Driver

Pick any motorcycle and do the math. This article would become a book.
RedRyder_SFZ
Intermediate Driver

This story is funny and the comments are hilarious. I’m a gear head like the rest of you. And I live by the phrase “There’s no replacement for displacement”.

BUT.....

Does anyone here realize that in most cases we’re splitting hairs over less than the volume of a shot glass?
Lol
rootine4
Pit Crew

My 2013 427 Corvette Collector's Edition roadster was inspired by the 427 Corvettes of 1966 - 1969. It has a big block hood bulge (C3-style, the C2 cue was the stinger hood) with red 427 badging. However, the 505 hp 7.0 liter is technically a 428. Can't have a 427 tribute car with a 428! GM rounded down.
KingofThings
New Driver

My '69 Chevy Nova's 350 was rated at 295hp by Chevy. NHRA said uh uh and refactored it to 305.
mpzz
Pit Crew

'68 Nova SS350 engines were rated 295hp, but '69's were upped to 300hp.
1956meteor
Intermediate Driver

I have been fortunate enough in my life to have owned a 428 CJ Torino, two 440 Dodge's, a 454 Monte Carlo, and a couple 460 Mercs. The Torino was by far the the most powerfull , but also the hardest to keep running correctly. Changing the back plugs was a whole weekend affair.
Tuney-GA
New Driver

I have a 1976 GMC Sprint CS with a Chevy Small block that was in the brochure as a 400. According to numbers on the block it was built as a 402. The Sprint CS is the equivalent of the El Camino Custom or the El Camino SS. Plant of Manufacture was Doraville, GA. I'm leaving the rest of the story to your imagination.
mpzz
Pit Crew

Well, you can just look at it and see if it's a small block or transplanted big block.
Mikesdad1
Pit Crew

My neighbors fiancé in 1969 had a 69 Bonneville, his family owned a Sunoco station, and he was a Mechanic, the 428 in his car was the H/O cause I’ve never seen a luxury car beat Camaros and Chevelles the way this car did, w it’s posi traction rear he could smoke his tires for 2 blocks, I never felt the need to own a true muscle car my entire 60 yrs, because I’ve always owned luxury cars, American and now foreign with the largest displacement, or horsepower as possible while enjoying all the amenities such as that Bonneville had, a/c Power windows, factory 8 track, I remember him shutting off the a/c dropping those 4 power windows, turning up the 8 track and blowing guys doors off
Manease
Pit Crew

The 66 Pontiac GTO has nameplates, such as on the interior door, identifying 6.5 litres. The 389 cid engine in liters is 6.4 liters. I often thought that Pontiac engineers/marketing just made a mistake.
Manease
Pit Crew

Actually 389 cid = 6.375 liters. So, rounded up, it’s 6.4 liters. But certainly not 6.5 liters.
dooscoop32
Intermediate Driver

Regarding the 2nd version of the 326 Pontiac engine, I checked your math and it doesn't add up. Your figures of 3.71875" for the bore and 3.5625" for the stroke would yield a cubic inch displacement of 309.55.

So, it appears you guys are fudging on your engine displacements as well!! LOL

However, checking your stats for accuracy, I found that the stroke for the 2nd-design 326 was actually 3.750" and the math equation with those figures equals out to 325.84 cubic inches.
Diego
Intermediate Driver

I'll take a look to see if something happened along the way. Thanks for the feedback.
Diego
Intermediate Driver

Hi, as an update, I think you're conflating the 336 truck engine numbers with the 336 passenger car numbers. You're using the car's bore with the truck's stroke.
Maestro1
Advanced Driver

I think is was someone named Ray in the comments below who wrote and asked why this is important and why this was done when there are other issues better addressed with more immediacy. Example: Car manufacterers are hysterical about going all electric in 11 years. What about a national charging infrastructure, parts, and training wrenches everywhere to fix the damned things when they fail, and they do. The life cycle of a battery pack in a car so far is about five years and no one will admit it. It's all BS and nonsense. Drive old cars. They are real.

mpzz
Pit Crew

What about all the mining necessary to dig up all the highly toxic lithium needed for batteries? What about what to do with all those highly toxic dead batteries? What about Porsche's announcement they have created a synthetic gas that pollutes less than electricity?
lesrof2evils
Pit Crew

For fun. A 1.8 petrol (actually 1773 cc) holds a world record.
DynoDoug
New Driver

Wow, I thought I was bored.
🤔
Bchj01
New Driver

The only conclusion for this discussion is that engine displacement numbers were created by men! They have a habit of saying 5 inches is really 6 inches!

Diego
Intermediate Driver

Still average.
TransAm-forever
Pit Crew

LMAO.
Packman
New Driver

You mention the 1963 Pontiac Tempest 326 engine actually measured 336 ci and that the reason was the rumored 330 GM limit for mid size cars. I was a new Pontiac District Service Rep at the 1964 new model convention and at the service meeting the Pontiac Chief Engineer, Pete Estes, took questions at the end. Someone in the back asked "How many cubic inches are in the 326 engine?" I my thought was OMG, where did we get this moron but Estes immediate answer was 336ci. The reason was that the new Pontiac 326 engine line was not ready but it could be built on the GMC engine line as a 336 till Pontiac could build it for the following years. No one would complain that they got extra ci.
The rumored 330ci GM limit may be the reason for the 326 design but was not the reason Pontiac downgraded the 1963 Tempest designation.
Goluscombe
New Driver

And to think all I was worried about was the true size of a 2 x 4!
Mike_E_V
Intermediate Driver

I believe the "427" was born out of the 1962 "406" six-barrel. the 406 wouldn't hold together under Nascar conditions. The 427 side oiler was Ford's answer to that issue.
JeepDave
Pit Crew

So is it just the cylinder B x S or do they measure the whole combustion area including the head? Just say’n, there are cubes hidden in there too.
wtkern
New Driver

Only the bore and stroke are considered. The reason they call it "displacement", and not "cylinder volume", or something like that, is because the reference is to the volume of air "displaced" in a full cycle of all cylinders. So it's simply piston area x stroke x cylinders; or cylinder radius, squared, times pi, times stroke, times number of cylinders. Go try it on the numbers in the article. 

OldTooly
New Driver

For me the lost engine from the 60's was the Oldsmobile 330ci 320hp. I had one in 1971 in a 1967 Cutlass Supreme and it would run with the 400 of the 442 all day long , often beating it when both were stock. But what it did do was run smooth as silk up to 7,000 rpms and hold it without apparent stress on a top end highway run in 3rd gear. When the car had a rear end ratio around 3.0 to 1 ( I forget the actual ratio which may have been 2.76 or 3.08) you could attain a higher top speed in 3rd than 4th gear. I also made a few bucks betting the big money boys and their fancy engines that I could hold that 7 grand for 15 minutes going down the road. Back then a few guys making $20 bets would supply my gas and beer for the weekend. She never did have a single engine problem, but I did tear the side off the car brushing a sign post at 117mph. That engine was superb delivering a tried , measured and true 20mpg running 60 to 70 mph between Connors Chevrolet in Long Island, NY to our affiliate in New Jersey. Boy were those better times.
Diego
Intermediate Driver

It is interesting how much standard horsepower was available in a mid-sized car that wasn't a performance model. I don't think anyone had it better than Olds in that regard.
Joee383
Pit Crew

Now that we are using liters to one decimal the resolution is 6.2 ci. These examples are well within that.
zachary
Pit Crew

This not about the factory Chevy small block but about the drag racing group's displacement claim. In the fifties, drag racer would bore the 283 out to a full 4" bore. They called the engine a 301. Chevy built the same combination for the DZ Z-28, they called it a 302. The actual displacement is 301.59. Chevy is correct, the racers are not.

Additionally, Chevy built a 400 small block which measures 400.92 cu in. Racers started boring this engine out 0.030" and called it a 406. The displacement is actually 406.77 or correctly a 407.
mpzz
Pit Crew

Technically, and accurately, 301.59 cubic inches is only 301 cubic inches, since it does not equal 302 cubic inches. It's accepted to round up or down, but it is not accurate.
ed
Detailer

The 396 in my 71 RS/SS Camaro is really a 402.