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BangShift Question of the Day: What’s the Biggest Underdog Engine?

BangShift Question of the Day: What’s the Biggest Underdog Engine?

There are a slew of engines that have come and gone over the years that were good runners, yet largely underappreciated by the masses. In today’s world hot rodders have an insane number of options to choose from regarding power plants. Old engines have developed niche followings large enough to support the building of weirdo aluminum heads and other components for mills that have been set aside for decades. More than one engine family has been schluffed off by the public but performed admirably.

Hell, looking back into the 1940s and 1950s there was the infamous Hudson “Twin-H” six cylinder that had all the engineering sexiness of a claw hammer and still managed to mop up on the NASCAR circuit, that engine, mostly forgotten today was certainly a huge underdog back when. There were people running those things in NHRA stock eliminator into the 1970s and by the time most of them quit they were down into the low 14 second range and that is with the restrictive rules of stock!

Maybe entries from Buick, Olds, AMC, etc? We want to know what your opinion is regarding the most underrated, under estimated engine of all time. That 390ci AMC mill shown in the lead photo was a thumper that made big torque and helped shove many finely tuned Super Stockers down the track in record time, but is big time short on love!

So, what is the most under rated/under estimated factory engine of all time? 

Olds 403



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19 thoughts on “BangShift Question of the Day: What’s the Biggest Underdog Engine?

  1. DanStokes

    I think the big block Buick (430, 455) are really underappreciated. They need oiling mods to live at high HP levels but the heads flow GREAT and after the oiling mods are tough as nails. The Nailheads are fun too but restricted by the heads which were never designed to flow well.

    The Studebaker V8 can make power, too. They share lots of their design with the early Cadillac (some have said that they stole the engineering) but hey can make HP. Look up The Chicken Hawk.

    The Packard V8 interests me though to be candid I know little about it. I just think it’s a cool old engine.

  2. Maxwell Smart

    Keiser Jeep six cyl. Tornado. Factory overhead cam. Holly carb. and cast headers. Whats not to like?

  3. Matt Cramer

    Good call. I remember looking through some of the rules for various import compact racing events where they specifically said “Air cooled Volkswagens are not allowed.” I suspect the people they wanted to attract would have a collective hissy fit if a 1960s era Bug curb-stomped their new Civics… and whoever organized the event was aware that was a VERY real risk.

  4. PonchoRocket

    This likely isnt going to be a popular, but the Oldsmobile 350/403s. Those big bore motors could have been very good, provided they were given heads that could flow better and a bottom end that wasnt windowed. That really limited the high RPM potential.

  5. BeaverMartin

    My vote is for the AMC V8s, esp. the little 304. I’m also quite fond of the Pontiac V8s. Both engine families respond well to basic hot rodding tricks, make great torque, and have a nice bit of interoperability within the family.

  6. Just Gary

    Another vote for the 455 Buick.
    Loads of torque and less weight than the big block (396/427/454) Chevys.

  7. Ron

    The Buick Nailheads weren’t given a lot of respect back in the 60s. And in something like an Electra they weren’t the best performers in the word. But in the Skylark GS and they embarrassed a whole heap of Chevy drivers as well a some of the other makes.

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