When muscle cars first ruled the world back in the 60’s and 70’s there was no emissions regulations. Most massive engines found in muscle cars produced a ton of power, but also made a ton of pollution. All that changed after the clean air act was passed in the 1970’s, putting a regulation on emissions, the introduction of the catalytic convertor and the end of the muscle car era, for the time being that it.
It took car manufactures quite some years to figure out how to make clean horsepower and torque. In the process they built a bunch of clunky V8’s that were less than impressive. Most of the muscle cars went through a rough patch in the 80's, some didn't even make it through the 80's.
Now a days more and more car producers are moving away from V8’s and moving towards packing more power and torque into smaller engines. Some of the fastest and most powerful trucks on the market today come standard with a V6; with some added forced induction that is. Here are 20 vehicles with V8’s that couldn’t even out run a 4-banger.
20 Chevy Camaro
When most people think of a Chevy Camaro they think of a fast, tough looking sports cars. Back in the early 80s that wasn’t really the case for the Camaro. While the Camaro looked like a muscle car, but it lacked its muscle car DNA it once had. In 1982 the Camaro had a plethora of different engine options to choose from.
According to Motor Trend, there were two V8 options; one that was carbureted and the other fuel-injected.
While the Camaro had a 5.0-liter V8, it could only make a measling 165 hp; even with fuel injection.
19 Pontiac Firebird
In 1982 Pontiac released its third generation of their Firebird. The Firebird came with three different V8 options; all being very unimpressive. According to Auto Evolution, the fuel injected 5.0-liter V8 was only good for 192 hp and 240 lb/ft of torque. The carbureted version didn’t perform much better making only 210 hp and 269 lb/ft of torque. Lastly, the 5.7-liter only improved the Firebirds numbers to 238 hp and 330 lb/ft of torque.
18 C3 Corvette
The early 80s was a tough year for most muscles cars, as it was for the Chevy Corvette. The last year that the C3 or the Corvette’s third generation was produced was in 1982.
According to Automobile-Catalog, the C3 packed a 5.7-liter V8 under the hood, but it was only good for 200 hp and 285 lb/ft of torque.
Chevy took 1983 off to redesign the C4 generation that was released in 1984, that came with the same 5.7-liter that made a bit more power but was still unimpressive; making 205 hp and 290 lb/ft of torque.
17 Ferrari Mondial
The Ferrari Mondial was a four-seater car that was introduced to the world back in 1980. The Mondial’s inspiration was from a race car from the 50’s named the 500 Mondial. Sadly, there wasn’t much about the Ferrari’s Mondial that resembled a race car. According to Top Speed, the V8 was small, it was also very unimpressive; cranking out just 214 hp and even less 181 lb/ft of torque. Considering the Mondial would have ran you 64k back in 1980, you could find a much better bang for your buck.
16 Lamborghini Urraco
The Urraco, which means little bull in Italian, may have looked fast; but sadly, it wasn’t. The Urraco was built with the intention to make a more affordable Lamborghini. According to Top Speed, the Urraco came with three different engine options; all V8s, all terribly underpowered.
The P200 came stocked with a. 2.0-liter V8 that made a sad 182 hp.
The next best was the P250 that had a 2.5-liter V8 that made 220 hp. Lastly there was the biggest engine option with the 3.0-liter in the P300 that only had 250 hp on tap.
15 Ford Thunderbird
In 1980 Ford introduced its eighth generation of the Ford Thunderbird. According to Edmunds the 2.5-liter was one of the worst V8’s that ford ever built. The 2.5-liter was only capable of making 115 hp. The eighth generation lasted just two years, but the ninth generation didn’t get much better. The V8 option now being a 5.0-liter V8 but only made a bit more power at 130 hp. Even by the standards of the 1980s, that is simply not enough juice to haul this great boat of a car.
14 Ford Mustang
The Ford Mustang has always been all about the horsepower; their logo is even a horse.
The second generation of Mustangs was redesigned to be more economical in regards to the oil crisis, and when it was initially released in 1974, there wasn't even a V8 option.
Luckily that was short lived and there was a V8 option the very next year, the same one found in the 1978 King Cobra. The King Cobra came standard with a 4.9-liter V8, but it looked much faster than it was. According to Automotive Catalog, the 4.9-liter was only good for 133 hp and 243 lb/ft of torque.
13 Mercury Capri
Mercury was a sister company of Ford, and their Capri was essentially a rebadged Mustang. The 1986 Mercury Capri came with a 5.0-liter V8, so one would assume it was fast, but it wasn’t. According to the Automobile-Catalog, the 5.0-liter was extremely underpowered making only 200 hp and 285 lb/ft of torque. That actually wasn't too bad considering the car's weight, but many enthusiasts have since pulled so much more power from this engine. If only Mercury tried that they might still be selling cars today.
12 Cadillac Allante
Cadillac has always been known for making large luxury cars, but back in the 80’s it decided to try something different. The Cadillac Allante was much different as it was more a sportier 2-door coupe that kept that luxury Cadillac DNA..The Allante was also a convertible, that came with both a canvas soft-top and an aluminum hardtop which was a nice added perk. According to Hemming, the Allante may have looked sportier, but it only came with a 4.1-liter V8 that made a sad 170 hp.
11 Oldsmobile 442
The Oldsmobile 442 is a still loved muscle car among enthusiasts, being a true to form muscle car in the 60s and 70s; but after it took a 5-year hiatus in the 80s it came back less than impressive.
Making its return in 1985, the 442 may have looked like a mean muscle car, but sadly it no longer performed like one.
According to Hemmings, the 442’s biggest and most powerful engine option was a 5.0-liter V8 that could only manage to make a measly 180 hp.
10 Monte Carlo
The SS Monte Carlo once ruled the streets back in the 60s and the 70s. The 80s on the other hand wasn’t the greatest, as it wasn’t for many car manufactures as we have read so far. The Monte Carlo came in a slew of different powertrain options in 1980, the largest being the 5.0-liter V8 was only good for 155 hp and 230 lb/ft of torque. Luckily there was a more powerful turbocharged V6 option that was available, having 170 hp and 265 lb/ft of torque on tap.
9 Chevy El Camino
The El Camino was the best of both worlds; it was a muscle car with a pickup bed. In the late 70s the El Camino could be upgraded to either a 4.4-liter, 5.0-liter or a 5.7-liter V8; all being extremely underpowered. According to Motor1, the small block 4.4-liter was only good for 125 hp, while the big blocks didn’t seem to do much better. The 5.0-liter was only good for 145 hp and the 5.7-liter for only 170hp. The 5.7-liter was eventually dropped in 1980.
8 Ford Ranchero
Before the El Camino was introduced to the world there was a different muscle car with a bed known as the Ford Ranchero; even though most people have never even heard of it.
In 1957 Ford released the (now as we know it) first crossover vehicle, but at the time it was considered a pickup truck.
Rightfully so, as it could handle up to a half ton load in its bed. The El was designed as a direct competition a few years later in 1959.
7 Plymouth Volare Road Runner
The Plymouth Volare Road Runner made its debut back in 1976 coming in all sorts of trim and engine options available. According to All Par, the Volare was available as a coupe, sedan or wagon and had 6 different powertrain options. The biggest engine option was a 360 that was good for 220 hp and 280 lb/ft of torque, but sadly by 1979 it was making significantly less at 195 hp at its best and was eventually dropped as an engine option in 1980.
6 Cadillac Fleetwood
Deactivating engines, or engine that will shut off cylinders in order to save gas when not needed are nothing new in this day and age. According to Hemmings, the technology isn't very new, and was first used by all the way back in 1905. Cadillac decided to give it another shot in the 80’s when they put their V8 6-4 in their Fleetwood. The name representing that it could run on either four, six or either cylinders, but even with all 8 cylinders running it could only make 105 hp and 140 lb/ft of torque.
5 Hummer H2
The H2 made its debut to the world back in 2003, a much more luxury pedestrian version of the original military used H1. The H2 was extremely underpowered with its 6.0-liter V8 that was only good for 316 hp and 360 lb/ft of torque, which may not sound terrible but considering the massive H2 weighed over 6400 lbs; it was very slow. How slow?
It took the H2 over 10 seconds just to get to 60 miles per hour.
Getting to the top speed might have taken the whole trip!
4 Lincoln Blackwood
Lincoln decided to take a stab at making a pickup truck back in 2002. To put it nicely it was a big letdown. The truck wasn’t at all practical as you wouldn't want to put much in the carpeted bed, not to mention it didn't even come with 4WD, even with its steep price tag. The Blackwood wasn’t fast either. According to Cara and Driver the underpowered 5.4-liter V8 was only good for making 300 hp. The Blackwood was discontinued after just one year of production.
3 Lamborghini Jalpa
Back in 1981 the Jalpa was Lamborghini’s entry level vehicle. According to Top Speed, the Jalpa was the best selling V8 in all of Lamborghini history. The Jalpa was actually the last Lamborghini vehicle to be fitted with a V8, as they moved on to bigger and better things; now stocking their cars with V10s or better yet V12s. The Jalpa’s 3.5-liter V8 only made 255 hp and 225 lb/ft of torque, now we see why they did away with them.
2 Chevy SSR
The Chevy SSR was a strange looking vehicle, a modern version of the El Camino or Ranchero if you would. The SSR was considered a truck, but it towing capacity was maxed out at only 2,500 lbs, which means it could tow a jet ski at best. The SSR wasn’t fast either; even though it did come with a V8. According to Motor Trend, the 5.3-liter was only good for 290 hp, which meant it took over seven second just to get to sixty.
1 Rolls Royce Corniche
The Rolls Royce is one of the most luxurious cars money can buy. According to Classic and Performance Car, the Corniche coupe was discontinued in 1982 and then solely available as a convertible. Its massive 6.75-liter V8 engine could only make 215 hp and 325 lb/ft of torque. It wasn’t until 1995 that the Corniche was fitted with the turbocharger it needed so badly. That definitely helped, but these old boats always seemed underpowered out of the gate because of their heft.