The V8 needs no introduction. It’s a gloriously loud, grumbly engine that has been effortlessly powering everything from European exotics to American muscle since it first appeared in a Cadillac in 1914.
But all good things must come to an end. Fears over global warming and rising fuel bills make the typically thirsty V8 look outdated next to smaller, turbocharged engines. Even Formula One has phased them out.
The V8 will probably live on in some form until eco-friendly cars take over, but its days are certainly numbered. Luckily for you (though not the polar ice caps), there are still plenty of ways to get your V8 fix. Here are some of our favourites you should try before the V8 goes the way of the dodo.
Jaguar F-Type R
The Jaguar F-Type is a remarkable car in its V6 and V6S guise, but once you have experienced the V8 it is hard to go back. The F Type R‘s quad-exit exhaust system pours forth one of the most glorious symphonies you will ever experience, with all manner of booms, bangs, pops as you tease the accelerator pedal. It’s ludicously quick, too, obviously.
2015 Ford Mustang
The Ford Mustang is fast and great-looking, but it’s the price that really stands out. Sure, the version with the 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine is cheaper still, to the tune of £10,000, but the 5.0-litre V8 will only set you back £38,495. That’s pretty astounding for a 412bhp muscle car. The American dream has never been within easier reach.
Lexus RC F
The RC F may not be as capable as its German competitors, but it is hard to dislike this car, thanks to that front grille you measure in acres. What’s behind it is even more impressive – the 5.0-litre V8 sends 450hp and 383lb/ft of torque to its 19-inch rear wheels. This is a V8 brute we are rather fond of.
Vauxhall VXR8 GTS
The replacement for the Vauxhall Monaro had big shoes to fill and what better way to fill them than with an even bigger V8 that roars in harmony with the whine of a supercharger? In terms of bang for buck, the VXR8 GTS is unrivalled. For putting a smile on your face, it’s also a winner – if you can cope with the brash styling.
Radical SR8 RX
The Radical SR8 RSX V8 may have a relatively small displacement of 2.7 litres, but don’t let that fool you. That ‘tiny’ engine pumps out a whopping 430bhp, a ludicrous amount in a car that weighs 680kg. No wonder 0 to 62mph takes less than three seconds.
Ariel Atom V8
500hp and 550kg kerb weight. That’s pretty much all you need to know about the Somerset-built Ariel Atom V8, a car that literally melted James May’s face on Top Gear. It’s not exactly cheap, given it’s a bit of scaffolding with an engine welded on, but 0 to 100mph in 5.4 seconds makes it one of the fastest production cars on the planet.
The Shelby GT500 has heritage and horsepower in abundance. A Whipple supercharger helps elevate the 4.0-litre V8 from its usual 662hp to a massive 850 horses, reminding us just how tuneable a V8 lump can be. Built to celebrate Shelby founder Carroll Shelby, this is how American muscle is done.
Range Rover Sport
Jaguar Land Rover loves a good-old V8 and the Range Rover Sport with its 5.0-litre supercharged lump is a prime example. Not only is it capable of screaming like a ‘deranged banshee’, to quote Rory, it pulls you and your passengers as effortlessly as a shire horse pulling a Twix. Hardly surprising when this engine is also used in the equally spirited Jaguar F-Type and XKR-S.
Two versions of the Mercedes-AMG GT 911-beater exist. Both use the same hand-built twin-turbo V8 monster, which develops 462hp and 600Nm of torque in standard form and 510hp and 650Nm with the S variant. Either way, the ‘M178’ engine means 0 to 62mph is deliciously fast and wonderously loud. A car to watch out for this year.
Audi R8 V8
The Audi R8 V8 may play second fiddle to the R8 V10, but it has a lot of pluses. For one thing, the engine roar is a howl everyone deserves to hear. The V8 car’s exterior design, meanwhile, benefits from less clutter and the performance is still blistering on real roads. Second-hand it costs around £20,000 less, too, making it extremely tempting for those wanting a cheap supercar.
Aston Martin Vantage V8
The Vantage is undeniably one of the most beautiful cars on the road today, but even more stunning is the hand-built 4.7-litre V8 rumbling below the bonnet. It’ll tear your head off with 420bhp and 470Nm of torque. It might be a bit common by supercar standards, but that’s because it has an army of fans, all of whom have fabulous taste.
Koenigsegg Agera One:1
There are plenty of supercars that deserve to be on this list, but the ultra-exotic and ludicriously fast Koenigsegg One:1 is among the cream in this crop. Its 5.0-litre V8 twin-turbo outputs 1,341hp – the same number of kilograms it weighs, hence the name one to one. Very few cars are as bonkers as this. 270mph and 0 to 300kmh in 12 seconds, anyone?
Morgan Plus 8 Speedster
Not all modern V8 engines are wrapped in modern-day clothes. Morgan’s Plus 8 Speedster uses a 4.2-litre unit that produces 373bhp and 370lb/ft of torque. That means 0 to 62mph in 4.2 seconds and a top speed of 148mph – plenty fast for a car with a comically small windscreen and looks from a time that cars forgot.
Bentley Continental V8 S
Beneath the Bentley’s stately bonnet lies a hooligan of an engine, a 4.0-litre V8 with 521bhp. 680Nm of torque is generated from just 1,700rpm, helping the British grand tourer hit 192mph and 0 to 62mph in 4.3 seconds. The fuel economy is terrible, but what do you expect for a car that weighs 2,750kg?