Five small cars with ridiculously big engines

1y ago


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Comments (69)

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realise the ingredients needed to make the fastest car from a company's range - find the smallest car you can and somehow cram the biggest engine you produce under the bonnet.

It can be quite a risky move for a manufacturer, considering the amount of potential engineering trickery that might have to go into the design just to get the engine to fit. Take Jaguar with its latest XE SV Project 8 - the car has been forced to only come in left-hand drive because the V8 is simply too big when trying to get the all-wheel drive system alignment to work.

These cars however have managed to perfect the formula, resulting in some true production hotrods for the road.

Aston Martin V12 Vantage S

Whoever at Aston decided to put the largest modern day engine the company has produced into its smallest car deserves one hell of a steak dinner. And if creating a V12 Vantage wasn't enough, the engineers fettled the car further to create an 'S' variant - the fastest regular production car Aston has ever made.

The hottest Vantage somehow manages to caress the 6.0-litre V12 from the Vanquish into its sumptuous body, resulting in 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds and a 205mph top speed - only the Aston Martin One-77 and Vulcan have gone quicker.

Sunbeam Tiger

Go to any classic car show in the UK and you'll notice that whenever a knowledgeable gentleman strolls past a Tiger, he will almost always give it a nod of respect before proceeding to the jumble sale to find a rear taillight for his 1969 MGC GT.

Designed in-part by none other than Mr Carroll Shelby and manufactured at the Jensen plant in England, this Sunbeam Alpine had its puny little in-line four replaced with firstly a 4.3-litre and then subsequently a 4.7-litre Ford V8. To cement its hotrod status, the Tiger was the American Hot Rod Association's national record holder over the quarter-mile back in the day.

Daimler SP250

Another '60s classic that couldn't resist a monstrous powertrain to offset its quintessentially British looks, the Daimler SP250 is now a favoured classic that again looked to the V8 for the biggest engine it could find.

It was the last car launched by Daimler before the company was sold to Jaguar in 1960 and featured a 2.5-litre iron block V8 developing in the region of 140bhp. That's a lot in a '60s vehicle weighing just 940kg. The twin SU carburettors provided enough grunt to see the Daimler to 60mph in 8.9 seconds and onto a top speed of 124mph.


The most insane car ever to be released from the Renault factory floor, the rear-engined Clio V6 is the definition of not giving a crap about anything apart from sheer lunacy and automotive-based fun. The placement of this engine into where the rear seats and boot used to be led to some interesting weight distribution for those brave enough to get behind the wheel.

A lack of steering lock also didn't help, leading to the car being seemingly unsaveable once the back stepped out. All-in-all, it's a type of engineering endeavour that we wish was emulated more often these days.

Ford Capri Perana

Sold exclusively in South Africa, the Perana was an attempt at maxing the Mk1 Capri's potential by sliding a Mustang V8 in place of the usual four-cylinder and V6 engines. Put together by Ford specialists Basil Green Motors in the 1970s, the Perana utilised the 302 Ford Windsor V8 to great effect, winning the 1970 and 1971 South African touring car championships.

We didn't get a V8 over here, but we'll let the South Africans have this one.

Have we missed any small cars with huge engines? Comment with your suggestions below!

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