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My Perspectives On The Many Engine Placements

Engines are the heart of each automobile, but their heart can be located in different areas. Which ones are best? Which are my favorites?

3w ago
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Front Engine

The front-engine placement has almost always been the most popular decision for a manufacture to place their engine. Its easily the most common among the millions of cars that glide the asphalt around the world. Because of it's simple concept, it is the cheapest way to make cars. This keeps the MSRP of cars down and is thus why we see almost every daily driver with a front-engine design. Even many performance cars have their motor in the front because they have stable traction (generally) because the weight is in the front. The Front-engine design allows more space for cooling appliances such as radiators and intercoolers, for supercharged and turbocharged vehicles. I think that the front engine design is by far one of the best for its practicality and there is a good reason as to why it is the most popular.

Lexus

Lexus

Front-mid engine

The Front-mid engine layout is uncommon and almost always featured in a high-performance car such as the Ferrari 812, Mercedes-Mclaren SLR ,or Cord 810 (high performance for the time). Often, but not always higher output engines are of larger displacement. For example, The Ferrari 812 Superfast has 700 horsepower and has a displacement of 6.5 L, which is on the larger scale. Pushing the engine farther into the car allows for better weight distribution and power distribution. Because it is uncommon, it can be fascinating to decide whether a car's engine is more front engine or front-mid engine and sometimes it can lead to arguments. Overall it is a fun design to study and can be beneficial for cars with larger mills.

Car Throttle

Car Throttle

Mid-engine

Many will debate that this is the all-out best design because of its excellent handling benefits and exotic character. It sure as hell is an expensive and less practical design as it takes up lots of room for cabin space and other equipment that could be placed in the engine bay. Many mid-engine cars don't even store the battery in the engine bay and instead, a place where you can't easily access it. However, thanks to the low center of gravity and having the motor by the rear axle, mid-engine cars can turn quicker with less steering input. And yet again we have a layout that improves the distribution of weight. And if you ask Lotus, they will tell you that managing weight is the key to having the perfect performance car. If the weight of a mid-engine car is about evenly distributed, braking can be improved which is great for safety and for slowing down fast and speeding back up quickly. Just to name a few mid-engine cars we have the Mclaren F1, Lamborghini Gallardo, Corvette Stingray (C8), Benz Tropfenwagen, Toyota MR2, Porsche Carrera GT, Lancia 037, but I could name hundreds more. Because while it is rare to spot a mid-engine car, car manufactures have made plenty of them. This platform is loved for being seductively exotic and just plain badass. Take the C8 Corvette for example. Up until the C7, the Corvette always had its engine in the front. But to better compete with modern exotics and to improve the drive-ability of the Corvette, GM decided to push the engine back to the middle. Was this the right decision? I will let you decide.

Motortrend

Motortrend

Rear mid-engine

Now here is a unique layout. Not quite a mid-engine, but not quite a rear-engine. In this layout, the rear wheels are propelled by the motor, which is placed right in front of them. Since the engine is in the rear the weight being back there improves braking and it offers a low moment of inertia, which is the torque (force) required for angular acceleration. Some cars that use this application include the Mclaren 720s, Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale, Lamborghini Countach, Ford GT40, Koenigsegg CCX, Ferrari F8 Tributo, and tons more. This is a unique form of engine placement that is not discussed as much as some of the other platforms. Is this the coolest engine placement?

Mclaren Automotive

Mclaren Automotive

Rear-engine

We have finally made it to the most glorious, yet flawed engine placement. For a car to be considered to be rear-engine placed, the engine must be located behind the rear axle or on it. The most well-known car to apply this location is the legendary Porsche 911. Every single one has a flat-6 engine behind the rear axle. Generally, there isn't enough room for turbochargers without shrinking the engine and even the naturally aspirated engines are of low displacement. But these engines can be very light and they don't require lots of torque and power to go scary fast really quick. Porsche is the only company to technically perfect the rear-engine layout and many who have tried, have failed. Such as the deadly Chevy Corvair. Now let me explain the pros and cons of this placement. Because the motor is on or behind the rear axle, acceleration is great and thrilling. However because the weight is so far back, this setup is prone to oversteer. Oversteer can be good if you want to be a little naughty and you know how to handle an out-of-control car. However, this factor could also lead to death. Which is not ideal. And oversteer is especially risky in lightweight and/or powerful rear-engine cars such as the 911 GT2RS. The Porsche 930 Turbo was named the widow-maker for its very difficult-to-correct oversteer. It was light and 256-296 horsepower was plenty to cut it loose. This is by far my favorite layout as it is just something very different and uncommon. And I don't know how to explain it, but it's fascinating.

Team Speed

Team Speed

Finale and one last engine placement

One last engine placement is transversal. They can be mid-engine or front-engine they are just flipped transversal. Many economical cars use this placement to save room. Volvo has been known to do this often with their cars as well as Mini. So there you have it. The facts and my subjective thoughts on all of these engine placements. They all have benefits and sometimes negatives, but overall they had another unique side to the mechanical field of automobiles and create more diversity among the cars we love. Which layout is your favorite? Is the most common the most dominant? Comment down below. Thanks a ton for reading!

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Comments (17)

  • What about side engine? The engine is literally seated next to the driver, like in this STP-Paxton Turbocar.

      23 days ago
    • That’s too cool for school!

        23 days ago
    • Ahhh, the good old days when you got to try something new and out in the open before you got banned.

        16 days ago
  • Great article. Personally, front engined is my favourite, but there isn't a single layout I dislike. One comment though, rear engined cars are also prone to understeer (into a corner) as there is not a lot of weight at the front and the oversteer only happens mid or on the exit to the corner if the tyres spin up due to too much power.

      23 days ago
    • There's 3 main ways to place an engine

      Front engined

      Mid engined

      Read more
        23 days ago
    • Are you saying Porsche is wrong?

        23 days ago
  • Maybe you didn't quite talk enough about the transversal engines as they are after all, the most common, though that can also be a reason not to talk too much about them.

      16 days ago
  • I don't know why, but whatever rear-engined car that isn't a 911 feels wrong to me. 😂

      22 days ago
  • And then you have my car with a tiny front mid engine that makes changing the spark plugs feel like an act of Congress. The RX-8 is truly an amazingly fun bastard of a car

      23 days ago
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