SSC’s 5.9-Liter V8: The Most Powerful Small-Block V8 in Production

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The SSC 5.9-Liter V8 Is The Most Powerful Small-Block V8 In A Production Car
The SSC 5.9-Liter V8 Is The Most Powerful Small-Block V8 In A Production Car (Via SSC)

The SSC Tuatara’s 5.9-liter V8 engine is the most powerful small-block V8 engine ever produced, delivering an incredible 1,750 horsepower. This engine is lightweight, featuring an aluminum block, titanium connecting rods, and aluminum pistons, which helped the Tuatara set a production car speed record with an average speed of 289.2 mph.

In the 1960s, big block V8 engines were the norm for high-performance cars, with models like the Plymouth Road Runner and Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454 leading the pack. However, modern performance cars have shifted towards small-block V8 engines.

These engines are lighter, more compact, and use advanced technology like turbochargers to produce extreme power. Production car history to find the most powerful small-block V8 engines ever made.

The SSC 5.9-Liter V8 Is The Most Powerful Small-Block V8 In A Production Car
The SSC Tuatara Engines Beauty (Via SSC)

The SSC 5.9-Liter V8: A Record-Breaking Powerhouse

SSC North America, an American supercar manufacturer, developed the most powerful small-block V8 for its Tuatara model in 2020. Moving away from the Chevrolet LS6-based engine used in their earlier Ultimate Aero, SSC created a custom twin-turbo V8 engine.

This engine, with a displacement of 5.9 liters, produces 1,350 horsepower on standard 91 octane fuel and a staggering 1,750 horsepower on methanol or ethanol fuel.

Unique Features of the SSC V8 Engine

The SSC 5.9-liter V8 shares some architectural similarities with LS engines but is uniquely designed by SSC and its partners. The engine features a cast aluminum block and a flat-plane crank, which is lighter than common cross-plane layouts but causes more vibrations.

SSC collaborated with Nelson Racing to refine the engine and take advantage of the exhaust scavenging effect provided by the flat-plane crank. This effect helps pull out more burnt gases and bring in more fresh air, boosting power.

The SSC 5.9-Liter V8 Is The Most Powerful Small-Block V8 In A Production Car
The SSC Tuatara Equipped with A powerful 5.9L V8 engine (Via SSC)

Specialty Components

The engine includes aluminum pistons and titanium connecting rods to minimize weight. Nelson Racing designed the turbos with more aerodynamic compressor blades and exhaust turbines to increase air intake and power output.

The engine weighs only 428 pounds and is paired with a seven-speed semi-automatic transmission. To manage the significant heat generated, SSC uses air-to-water intercoolers and an aluminum intake manifold with electronic throttle bodies to keep engine temperatures optimal.

Record-Breaking Performance

The SSC Tuatara, powered by this V8 engine, broke the production car speed record in February 2021 with a two-way average speed of 289.2 mph, driven by Dr. Larry Caplin. This achievement surpassed the previous record held by the Koenigsegg Agera RS by 5 mph.

The Saleen S7 LM: Another Powerhouse

Another notable small-block V8 is in the Saleen S7 LM. Saleen upgraded seven original S7s to create the LM version in 2017. The 7.0-liter V8 engine, based on a small-block Ford Windsor 351, was enhanced with twin turbos, boosting power to 1,300 horsepower and torque to 850 lb-ft. The S7 LM can reach speeds of up to 240 mph.

The SSC 5.9-Liter V8 Is The Most Powerful Small-Block V8 In A Production Car
The SSC Tuatara Craddle has a very powerful engine (Via SSC)

Exclusive and Expensive

Both the SSC Tuatara and Saleen S7 LM are incredibly powerful and exclusive. Only three S7 LMs were built, and one sold for over $1 million. In contrast, the Tuatara is more expensive, retailing for around $1.6 million. However, the Tuatara’s premium price is justified by its status as the most powerful production small-block V8 ever made.

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By Park-Shin Jung

I am Park-Shin Jung. I am a professional content writer for cars.

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