For many automakers, it isn’t enough to engineer a powerplant that’s smooth and reliable; the block needs a name that inspires. Engines from yesterday and today often invoke themes of long-lasting economy, like Thriftmaster, Thriftpower, Ecotec, or Duramax. That’s all well and good, but what about power?
Some of our favorite engines brag about their power not only by way of output figures emblazoned on air cleaners, but also with bold names alluding to how violently they could propel a car forward. Many of the most colorful engine names represent the Space Age, with all of the rocket-related nomenclature you’d expect.
Of course, not all engines had flashy names—and even some of those found in wild muscle cars were only known by displacement. Surely names didn’t make engines any more powerful, but did they make their respective models cooler and more desirable? AMC didn’t have interesting names for its 390 and 401, and where are they now?
Here are some of our favorites, with apologies to AMC fans.