We often find cars that have big engines, yet they don’t perform on the same level as smaller ones. This goes for V8s in particular. Throughout history, there have been a significant amount of V8 engines that are completely slow despite most people thinking they are fast cars.
Today we are going to go over 20 cars that prove just that. There isn’t necessarily a lot of performance, even though you have a massive V8 engine under the hood. There actually are going to be a few surprises in this one as well.
Ranging from American muscle cars to German made luxury vehicles, there have been numerous instances to where a V8 has been produced, and it doesn’t have any sort of performance features despite what is thought of most of the time. This gives us a false sense of power, even when they are trying to live up to legend.
Each of these cars might be a legendary muscle car and everything in between, but when we look into the numbers and the actual power levels of some of these, you will see that even though there is a big V8 under the hood, it doesn’t mean the car is fast at all. This leads us into the first car on the list. This one is a car that we all know and love, however, there have been a few generations that have completely missed the mark. We even will touch on 3 of these models in the list.
For a car that is as legendary as the Ford Mustang, the V8 powered SN95 Mustang brings us some surprisingly low numbers and performance. From the car with a small 4.6L V8 with only 215 horsepower, this Mustang is one that isn’t quite a muscle car at all.
From the success that the Ford brand saw from the Fox Body Mustang of the previous generation, you would think this car would be a bit faster than it is.
One of the most legendary muscle cars in the world is the Chevrolet Corvette. In fact, the 1967 Corvette is a car that isn’t quite the same level of head turner as many other muscle cars of the same era.
This car was given the treatment of a 300 horsepower V8 that netted a 0-60 time in nearly 8 seconds. This makes this muscle car, as fast as your average commuter car of the modern era, which is unfortunate for such an iconic car.
Another Mustang on the list and another disappointing performance. This one is the 1970 Ford Mustang Mach 1. This one was equipped with a V8 engine, of course, however, this one made a low 300 horsepower from the big powerplant.
Unfortunately, the performance followed suit, with a 0-60 time coming in at over 8 seconds. Which in turn makes this not quite the iconic muscle car that you might have thought. During this time, there also wasn’t a Cobra version of the car.
If you know of muscle cars, you surely know of the 1967 Chevrolet Camaro SS. This car is one that we all know and love, mainly due to its sleek body designs, and rumbling V8 engine. However, this V8 didn’t quite put out the power that this engine should have.
With a mere 295 horsepower coming from this small block engine, we saw a 0-60 in over 8 seconds as well. This is surprising considering this is a car that is completely iconic as well.
The Plymouth Barracuda of the late 1960s was a car that most people would know of in the street racing scene. During the time, having a Barracuda was something that most people would have been afraid to race. However, this car wasn’t the powerful V8 that was quickly becoming legend.
Producing 275 horsepower and coming in at over 8 seconds to 60 miles per hour, this car isn’t quite as intimidating as the looks might indicate.
During the same era, Plymouth produced the Fury as well. This one during the 1962 model year was also given a big V8, which was slightly different than the one that was placed in the Barracuda. However, the Plymouth Fury engine still brought 305 horsepower and saw nearly an 8 second 0-60 time.
This plus being paired to an automatic transmission gave this car underwhelming performance for the big muscle car that it was.
Another iconic car of the 1970s was the Dodge Charger. This car even to this day is produced on the premise of it being a muscle car. However, during the 1970s the Dodge Charger was equipped with a big Hemi V8 engine that produced a subpar 300 horsepower from the factory.
This netted the Charger with a 0-60 time in over 8 seconds, which put it lower on the list than we would have hoped.
You might know of the famous 1968 Mustang GT500. This was Eleanor from the movie Gone in 60 Seconds. However, its counterpart the Mustang GT of the same year wasn’t quite the performance machine that the GT500 was during the time.
With an engine producing 335 horsepower out of the V8 and a 0-60 time coming in at nearly 8 seconds, this Mustang wasn’t quite as stunning as the GT500, even though it had a “powerful” V8 engine up front.
In 1970 Chevrolet produced another version of the Monte Carlo SS. However, where it might have seemed like it was quite powerful, it actually had performance that didn’t perform quite like one would want, especially from the big engine that came along with it.
This car produced 360 horsepower from the factory and still ended up being nearly 8 seconds to 60. However, this was largely due to it only being offered in an automatic transmission.
Another car that during the 1960s which was one that was considered more luxury- and performance-oriented was the Buick Skylark. This car was a big, heavy car that sported around a huge V8 engine and many people thought they would have luxury and performance from it.
However, this car wasn’t quite that. It came with 340 horsepower, automatic transmission and nearly an 8-second to 60 miles per hour time, which gave the Skylark not as many positive looks even among the owners.
There is another manufacturer from the 1960s that isn't quite around anymore in Studebaker. They produced some of the coolest cars during the time, and that included the Studebaker Avanti. This car was powered by a V8 engine, that netted it 280 horsepower.
Unfortunately, due to the weight and automatic transmission of this car, it still ended up being slower, having an 8 second to 60 time. This gives us an idea of what ended up hurting the brand in the future, especially since they were sought after during the time.
The 1992 BMW 540i was another luxury car that was equipped with a factory V8 engine. However, this one is German built, and it didn’t have a lot of the same qualities that the other cars on the list had. Sill, this didn’t make it extremely fast by any stretch.
Being a 7.8 0-60 car, it was given the V8, and even with the smaller displacement, it didn’t perform on the level that the car would have been expected to.
Another rendition of the Dodge Charger was the one released in 2006. This one also would be offered with the Hemi V8 engine, however, it didn’t quite live up to some of the hype that the car would normally have gotten.
With a weak base model engine, the Hemi - despite its V8 power - still produced around 300 horsepower for a modern V8. This, along with the sedan configuration that was released, and sporting solely an automatic transmission, didn’t quite perform like a normal V8 car.
Another car that came out of Germany with a V8 is the Audi A8. This car was built with performance in mind, however, it still ended up being underpowered compared to some of the other cars that were on the market.
Unfortunately, in order to get the most out of this platform, you would have to bite the bullet and spend significantly more on the S8 or S7 which came equipped with the twin-turbo V8. However, the A8 still ended up giving poor performance numbers due to the underpowered V8.
The 1997 Jaguar XJ was a car that’s body lines are still some of the best ever made. However, this car was equipped with a V8 engine that was largely based on a Ford engine of the time. As we saw with some of the Mustangs during this era, it was underpowered.
The Jaguar XJ was still a luxury car on the inside, however with the higher trim you didn’t get a performance boost as you would expect from a car such is it.
A more modern car that is still making us scratch our heads is the Genesis Sedan 5.0. This one is from the Hyundai line of Genesis models and was initially released in 2015. However, this car, even when paired with a V8, is much slower than its counterparts in the 5-series BMWs.
With a 0-60 time coming in well over 7 seconds, this car didn’t quite get up to speed like a big 5-liter V8 should, especially considering the price tag of one of these cars.
Another BMW hitting the list is the M5. This one is the 1994 model which actually was one of the only M cars of the time to pair itself with a V8 engine. However, much like its base model trims, the M5 didn’t quite have a performance boost like you would want.
Though it fetched a price of around $50,000 during the time, the M5 ended up coming in with a 0-60 time that was nearly 7 seconds. Considering this is a performance model of BMW, this was underwhelming to say the least.
Stepping a bit further back, we are going to look into another Chevrolet Camaro. This time it is going to be the 1982 model. Keep in mind that this was the time where Chevrolet was scrambling to catch back up to its competitors as well.
However, the Camaro was introduced with a V8 engine that was 5 liters and produced 165 horsepower. Unfortunately, this didn’t sit well with many owners and is considered one of the worst generations of Camaros ever.
During the same time as that Camaro, GM introduced a few other vehicles that were completely underwhelming for having V8 engines. One of which is the Pontiac Firebird. This one, just like the Camaro, was gifted with a big V8 engine. However, was completely underpowered.
It did, however, did see a slight boost in power and torque, coming in with 192 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque. This gave the car a slight edge, yet still the same lack of performance as its Chevrolet counterpart.
Rounding off our list is another car produced by Chevrolet during the 1980s. This one is actually one of the most recognizable cars in the world, the Chevrolet El Camino. Where you might see this car/pickup anywhere and know what it is, during the time its engine was completely underwhelming.
This one ended up being a massive 5.7-liter V8 engine that only produced around 170 horsepower from the factory. That gave it a huge performance loss in just the engine alone. Fortunately today you can find these with more modern, powerful V8 engines that have been swapped into them.
Sources: Wall Street Journal, Mecum Auctions, Hemmings, Classiccars, Car Gurus