8 Cars You Didn’t Know Had a V4 Engine
Ever since the automobile was invented in the 1880s and became a consumer machine in the early 1900s, manufacturers have tried to create something unique with their designs. The early years of the automobile were filled with experimentation, with the emergence of many different engine configurations, some of which are still in use today.
One of these configurations was the V4 engine, with the 4 cylinders arranged opposite each other at an angle, like a V8. The first recorded use of the V4 engine was in 1898 with French Grand Prix cars. The V-configuration was chosen for its near-zero vibration – which was also its biggest selling point. The V4 engine returned in 1907, in the form of a 20.0 liter (1220 cui) V4 – the largest engine to ever race in Formula 1. The first production V4 engine was fitted to the Lancia Lambda of 1922, and Lancia used the configuration until 1976 when it was replaced by flat-4 engines. Some Soviet-era Russian cars like the ZAZ Zaporozhets – among others – used these engines because they were small and could easily fit in the back of the car. The 1960s saw the production of many V4 engines, from the Ford Taunus V4 to the SAAB Sonett classic cars.
The most recent use of a V4 engine dates back to Porsche 919 hybrid LMP 2014-2017, which used a 2.0-liter turbocharged V4 with a hybrid system. So, although the V4 engine is not used as much in the automotive industry, it is still common on motorcycles. With that, here are 8 cars you didn’t know were powered by a V4 engine.
8 Lancia Lambda 1922
The Lancia Lambda was a car of many firsts. The V4 engine in Lambda models was the first mass-produced V4 in the automotive world. It was available in three different displacements – 2.1 liters, 2.4 liters and 2.6 liters – with outputs ranging from 49 to 69 hp.
The Lambda was also the first car to feature a unibody or monocoque chassis, was the first to install brakes on all four wheels, the first to use independent suspension all around and Vincenzo Lancia even designed a hydraulic shock absorber only for Lambda. All of these parts made the Lambda surprisingly modern and great to drive compared to competitors.
seven 1965 Ford Transit
The Ford Transit is probably the most famous van model in the world. The Transit has been around since 1953 as the Taunus Transit, before becoming its own model in 1965. The first generation Transit was in production between 1965 and 1986, with only one major refresh in 1978.
The pre-refresh Transit was powered by a range of engines, including a few versions of the taunus and Essex V4. In addition to the interesting engine configuration, the Transit had a sad reputation. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Transit accounted for 95% of bank robbers’ escape vehicles because it had good performance, plenty of room in the back, and since there were so many of them, it was hard to track .
6 1968 SAAB Bell
The SAAB Sonett started life in a barn in Trollhätten, near the SAAB headquarters. The three engineers wanted to create a lightweight sports car that could be used on the European racing circuit because it had a high top speed, but unfortunately the rules changed and the Sonett never competed.
A few years later, in the 1960s, two engineers built a car from SAAB parts, which SAAB approved and put into production. The Sonett II had a 2-stroke straight-3, which was changed for the US market to a Ford-made V4 engine to comply with emissions regulations. The V4 continued to serve in the Sonett II until it became the only engine option in the Sonett III.
5 1969 Ford Capri Mk1
The Ford Capri was a compact fastback coupe built by Ford of Europe as an alternative to the hugely popular Mustang in the United States. The Capri was based on the Cortina platform, which meant a correct front-engine and rear-wheel-drive layout. The Mk1 Capri had many engines to choose from including an i4, V4, V6 and a V8 (South Africa only).
The V4 was either the chopped version of the Essex V6 or a slightly improved version of the taunus V4. The Capri was hugely successful, selling over 400,000 units in its first two years of production, with the 1,000,000th Capri rolling off the assembly line in 1973, just 5 years after production began.
4 Lancia Fulvia HF Rallye 1970
The Lancia Fulvia range was exclusively powered by V4 engines. The Fulvia was offered in three different body configurations – Berlina (sedan), Coupé and Sport (fastback). All versions of the Fulvia were front wheel drive and were available with a 4 or 5 speed manual transmission.
Engines for the Fulvia ranged from a 1.1 liter which produced 57 hp to a 1.3 liter which produced 91 hp. The the most sought after version was the 1.6 HF Rallyewhich had a tuned 1.6-litre V4, producing a whopping 130 bhp in 1970. It was this version that became legendary thanks to its races in various rally championships.
3 Ford 20M 1970
The Ford 20M, also called the P7, was the evolution of the popular Taunus. The 15M, 17M and 20M were different versions of the Taunus, but the Taunus name was eventually dropped and the 26M was added. The 20M was available with a range of engines, starting with 1.5-litre and 1.7-litre V4s, moving to 1.8, 2.0, 2.3 and 2.5-litre V6s from the Cologne engine family.
The 20M was in production from 1967 until 1971, when it was replaced by the Ford Consul and Granada sedans. The P7 range was primarily built for the German market and failed to keep up with sales of Ford’s British Escort and Cortina models. Yet nearly 800,000 Ford P7 models were produced in just 4 years.
2 1971 SAAB 95
The SAAB 95 was a strange vehicle. It was built as a station wagon, but only had two doors and seven seats. The model was introduced in 1959 to replace the 93 – on which it was based – and remained in production until 1978. The 95 was initially fitted with a 0.8-litre 2-stroke inline 3-cylinder, but this engine was replaced by a 1.5-litre V4 in 1967.
For cars imported from the United States, the engine was replaced by the more powerful 1.7-liter V4, also from Ford, which produced 73 hp. The 95 had a rear-facing third-row seat, but this was dropped in 1967 for safety reasons, so the 95 became a normal 5-seater. A total of 110,500 95s were produced in 18 years.
1 2014 Porsche 919 hybrid
The Porsche 919 Hybrid was exclusively designed for racing at Le Mans, so it belongs to the LMP1 category. The 919 Hybrid was equipped with a 2.0-liter turbocharged V4 engine developing 500 hp. The engine was mated to electric motors which, combined, produced 400 hp. This meant that the car’s total output was just over 900 hp, with the 2018 919 Evo producing 1,160 hp.
The 919 Hybrid weighed just 1,929 pounds – without a driver or fuel – creating a rather high power-to-weight ratio. The car finished on the podium at every Le Mans it entered, including wins in 2015, 2016 and 2017. The 919 Hybrid was the most recent car to feature a V4 engine and with the ongoing war against the internal combustion engine, it will most likely be the last.