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Enormous Engine

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This car's got only two speeds. 'Fast' and 'Whoo! What was that?'

One way to show off a vehicle, such as muscle cars, is by having some really big engines on it. May be used for Compensating for Something.

While there are actual instances of vehicles that for some reason have to use monstrous engines — modern high speed trains, for example, need at least 15,000 hp to move hundreds of tons of steel at 350 km/h — in practice it usually won't work for other things than showing off: even 3000+ hp World War II aircraft engines are not that big, and they still need a transmission strong enough to cope with their torque. Heavy truck and tracked vehicle gearboxes are immensely heavy, the same weight as small cars themselves; supercars and racing vehicles, which can't afford the luxury of just making the transmission bigger, must resort to exotic alloys and laser-cut gears with nanometric precision that can cost by themselves as much as a mass-produced luxury car.

See also Unnecessarily Large Vessel. Does not refer to a very large locomotive. Or fire truck.

Do not confuse with Eternal Engine.


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  • Ed "Big Daddy" Roth was famous for his drawings of cars with engines almost half the size of the car. That is, just about everything in his drawings was out of scale. Big supercharged dragster engines in small carbodies on big axles and wheels, and out of the roof (if there is one) sticks the huge driver with a giant shifter in his hand.

    Comic Books 
  • Holgi - Räum das Feld, Mann! is the comic answer to Werner requested by Brösel's former "manager" Holgi, and it also contains a story that's the answer to the "Metülisator": Holgi yoinks a Rolls-Royce jet engine from a recently crash-landed airliner and bolts it to the roof of his 1972 Porsche 911 S. If that other comic character can have a car with an aircraft engine, Holgi wants one, too, and besides, he has always wanted to own a Rolls-Royce. The result: As Holgi opens the throttle for the first test drive, the engine rips the roof off the Porsche.
  • S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarriers are usually shown with four enormous propellers or turbine engines.
  • Muscle cars in Sin City pop up sometimes, engines exposed and all. Sometimes, the engine is not shown but described in explicit detail.
  • Werner:
    • Germany's favorite motorcycle outlaw, eventually grew tired of "production" bikes (despite already owning a custom four-engine Horex dragster (that was actually built in Real Life as well). So he built a bike from scratch including the engine. The "Satte Literschüssel" is powered by a single-cylinder, 1,000ccm engine that's so big that it's part of the frame. When this bike was made real, too, its turned out to be actually above 1,400ccm.
    • Even before that, Werner and his brother Andi built the "Metülisator", a propeller-driven "car" that's powered by a gigantic 1,500hp radial engine originally from a warbird. They run it on home-brewn methylic alcohol because it needs extremely high-octane fuel. Nonetheless, a Bentley 4½ Litre Blower can keep up with it in the comic.
    • And then there is Ørg who wants to soup up a small Renault R4 with a V8 engine. Werner gives him the 455cui big block engine out of his customized 1975 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Regency in exchange for Ørg drawing a woman for him.
    • "Hannibal der Gewaltige" (sidecar motorbike with a 3,034ccm single, see the Real Life section) makes a quite underwhelming cameo in the comics, too.

    Film — Animated 
  • Snot Rod (an orange drag racer) from Cars has a large engine sticking out from underneath his hood.
  • The one-liter, one-cylinder "Satte Literschüssel" and the propeller-driven, 1,500hp "Metülisator" from the Werner comics also appear in movies (Volles Rooäää! and Das muß kesseln! respectively).

    Film — Live Action 

  • Two Russians, an old WWII veteran and a rich oligarch, are both in hospital for a traffic accident.
    The oligarch asks the veteran:Why are you here? What happened to you?
    The veteran answers: Well, I had a war booty Messerschmitt fighter engine and I decided to install it on my Lada. Everything went fine and I decided to go to the motorway to test how fast it can do. I had just hit 350 km/h and overtaken a Ferrari, when I lost the control of my car and crashed. Why are you here?
    The oligarch replies: I was cruising on the motorway on my Ferrari when I saw a Lada overtaking me like crazy. I deduced my engine must had stalled, so I opened the door and stepped out. Turned out I was still doing 120 km/h

  • The fusion engines of the Greatship - a ship the size of Jupiter - are large enough to engulf the Earth. It has fourteen of them. The interior of the Greatship is full of hundreds of liquid hydrogen fuel tanks large enough to fit entire worlds.
  • In "The Last Run", a short story by Alan Dean Foster, street racer and wizard mechanic Bill Switch races in a stock (apparently) Plymouth station wagon with a 454 Chevy engine under the hood driving the front wheels, and a Pratt & Whitney light airplane engine in the back to drive the rear wheels. The car's top speed is well over 250mph.
  • Mortal Engines: the engines required to get a Traction City moving are so huge that it takes the remains of entire towns to fuel them.
  • The Sun Eater: Dorayaica's worldship is truly planet-sized, unlike most other Cielcin worldships which are carved out of asteroids and comets. So his worldship has continent-sized antimatter engines. This is actually grave threat for humanity, as the sheer size of the engines make these ships much faster in FTL speeds than human ships despite humans' far more advanced technology.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Power Rangers / Super Sentai has had a few over the years, typically when the Combining Mecha are Cool Cars. The most prominent example would be Speedor / the Eagle Racer, whose big giant engine block becomes the head of the robot.
    • The earliest example wasn't a mecha, though; the Turborangers' V-Turbo Bazooka was powered by one of these. It would descend into the cannon housing and lock into place; Red Turbo would then crank an ignition lever, causing the entire thing to start shaking, spewing steam and gathering energy.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The only way Orks know how to build anything in Warhammer 40,000. Their space transports are nothing but hollowed-out asteroids with a minimum amount of life support and a maximum amount of engine so it can can be rammed into the enemy planet to unleash troops or explode trying (both results equally acceptable).

  • Jetrax T6 from BIONICLE has two huge engines.
  • Hot Wheels loved and still love to shoehorn ridiculously over-sized, usually chrome-plated engines into some of their cars. Sometimes not even only one (Twin Mill was Hot Wheels' first original design in 1968 and had two supercharged V8s sitting side-by-side). Tuning beyond street legality is a standard, too, such as blowers higher than the car's roof. Matchbox didn't stand back and did the same with certain models of the Superfast line.
  • Some Transformers feature these. Perhaps the most notable are the Turbomasters, especially the smaller quartet of Boss, Flash, Hurricane, and Scorch, who all turn into cars featuring large, prominently exposed turbine engines.

    Video Games 
  • Eddie's car, the Deuce, in Brütal Legend is upgraded with progressively larger engines as the game goes on (because "more powerful" equals "bigger" in this setting), to the point where you start to wonder how Eddie manages to see the road behind the hulking motor.
  • The Fast and the Furious arcade game allows you to upgrade your car with improved engine power which has the side effect of installing a larger engine (even on tuner cars). The Drift update takes this even further.
  • The engine powering Figaro Castle in Final Fantasy VI is small compared to the castle, but the characters dwarf in comparison (and they even have a boss battle on top of it).
  • The Gullwing's Airship in Final Fantasy X-2 has an engine big enough that you can walk inside.
  • The Schpeltiger, Travis Touchdown's badass scooter from No More Heroes, is painted to look like an X-Wing from Star Wars. Definitely compensating for something. This is Travis, after all.
  • Both versions of the Normandy from Mass Effect contain engines that are stupid big for the size of the ship. Called the "Tantalus Drive Core" it not only allows the Normandy to be very fast for its class, but also acts as a Reactionless Drive and lets the ship fly without visible emissions for a short time, making it the stealthiest ship in the known galaxy.
  • Pokémon Colosseum: Wes probably stole the engine for his hovering motor-unicycle thingy from a Greyhound bus...or a Top Fuel dragster...or a diesel locomotive. It's mounted at the very front of his vehicle, and the single solitary wheel is mounted at the very back; only the Rule of Cool keeps the machine from nose-diving forward and catapulting Wes and Rui face-first into the sand.
    • Rule of Cool and possibly technology, considering the Cool Sidecar clearly has some sort of propulsion system pointed downward to keep it up.
  • Pokémon Scarlet and Violet introduces two sentient engine-like Pokemon, Varoom and its evolved form Revavroom especially. Larger versions of Revavroom are used by all five leaders of Team Star on their starmobiles.

    Real Life 
  • The Soviet BT series of light tanks used the V2, a 38.8L diesel V12 delivering 500hp and approximately a fucktonne of torque. This 14t light tank had an engine which made 50t heavy tanks years later quite mobile. Suffice to say the BT could move.
  • As a publicity stunt, diesel engine manufacturer Cummins put a 78 liter V18 engine into, well more accurately onto an original Mini.
  • The Packard Straight Twelve is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. As you can see, the only way to build a car with an in-line (and therefore extremely long) 12-cylinder engine was to make more than half the vehicle the engine compartment.
  • The German Mercedes-Benz tuner Brabus has gained quite some fame for their outlandish engine swaps: They upgrade vehicles with just about the biggest engines they can fit in there somehow, not without tuning the engine first, that is.
    • Ever since Mercedes-Benz started producing V12 engines again with their new S-class in the early 1990s and Brabus tuned them, they also started shoehorning them into the E-class. The 1996 Brabus E V12 featured an M120 engine stroked and bored from 365 to 443cui, thus increasing the power output from 394 to 582bhp. However, it was horribly out of balance with a weight distribution of 56:44, it practically couldn't move without traction control which didn't shut down before 55mph were reached, and even the maximum speed had to be governed to 205mph because that was the maximum the tires could withstand.
    • When the Mercedes-Benz V12 engines had shrunk in size but grown turbochargers instead, they fit into even more models. In 2004, the Brabus Bullit was introduced, a C-class with a twin-turbo V12 and 730bhp.
  • Back in the day, the M120 was already considered quite a large engine. After all, the BMW 750i had to be outclassed hard. But Mercedes-Benz had plans for something even bigger. The same engine, one third longer. A 487cui, 540bhp V16. The Mercedes-Benz 800 SEL would have been the most powerful serial production car by a huge margin, beating both the Shelby Cobra 427 and the Porsche 959 with 25% more power. Prototype engines were made and tested in the previous S-class generation. The actual production run was canceled on short notice a few days before it would have started because the 12-cylinder 600 SEL got quite some bad press for its enormous consumption.
  • Of course, since Auto BILD had teased the 800 SEL, BMW decided, "We need a V16 in the 7 class!" So they designed and built a prototype engine, but they Didn't Think This Through: Unlike Mercedes-Benz with their ginormous new S-class, BMW didn't have a vehicle with a large enough engine compartment. So the only way to squeeze that V16 into the 7 class was by relocating components such as the water cooler to where the trunk would normally be and cutting an additional grille into the right rear fender. It was clear that this abomination was nowhere near serial production.
  • The first-generation Maybachs came with the original Mercedes-Benz M270 twin-turbo V12 engine. Early studies, however, saw them with Mercedes' reaction to the W16 and W18 engines that Bentley and Bugatti had teased with: Maybach wanted to couple two naturally-aspirated Mercedes-Benz M120 V12 to one huge V24 engine. Plans were made from using almost bone-stock M120 to stroking and boring them to a whopping overall 915cui which would have produced some 1,300bhp. The reason why this monster didn't enter production was because it was too loud.
  • Oftentimes, Cobra replicas are considered lame in comparison to the real deal. Granted, many in Europe are with their Rover V8s, Ford V6s, or even Volkswagen four-bangers (American ones most commonly use the Ford 5.0 engine from the 1987-94 Mustang that's a more modern, EFI version of the original Cobra's 289). But the German-made Weineck Cobra 780 makes a genuine Shelby Cobra 427 S/C pale. The V8 engine is custom-made for Weineck as opposed to a rebored stock big block. The displacement is 780 cubic inches, enough for way more than 1,000bhp (1,500+ with nitrous). Don't ask for performance data, for this thing is undriveable.
    • Nevertheless, Weineck offers the Cobra with V8 engines up to a good 1,000 cubic inches.
  • Schubeck 904 DOHC. Yes, a V8 engine with more than 100cui per cylinder. This beast delivers 1,200hp out of the box on regular pump fuel, naturally aspirated. Both NHRA and NASCAR outlawed this engine already. In fact, it wouldn't fit under the hoods of most cars anyway because it's simply too big.
  • Sonny's SAR 1005 a.k.a. The Godfather. Another 1,000+cui V8 mill. It produces 2,100hp naturally aspirated. But again, you pretty much have the choice between mounting this engine and mounting a hood.
  • Paul Jameson and John Dodd's The Beast is a street-legal car with a Rolls-Royce Merlin V12 engine.
  • And then there's Quad Al, the probably most overpowered hot rod ever made. It used to be powered by four Allison V12 warbird engines and required eight slicks to get the sheer power of 12,000hp onto the blacktop.
  • There is a video of a big-block 454 powered Acura Integra... with a blower on top of it that's about as tall as the engine itself, making it nearly as tall as the car.
  • Jay Leno has a few of these, including the Blastolene Special, a hot rod containing the engine from a Patton tank, and a Rolls Royce Phantom fitted with a Merlin engine, which powered most of the notable allied planes from WWII.
  • And then there is Brutus, the concept of a newly-created early-20th-century-style high-speed racecar taken up a notch. It is powered by a World War I BMW V12 aircraft engine almost twice the displacement of a Rolls-Royce Merlin, combined with a chain transmission made in 1907. 750bhp may not sound like much from such a huge engine, but they're enough to accelerate a car on a more than 100-year-old tech level and classic narrow diagonal tires with no front wheel brakes beyond 120mph. Needless to say that it drew the attention of a certain Jeremy Clarkson.
  • But wait, there's even more! Namely the Packard-Bentley vintage racecar nicknamed "Mavis". It has only 2,563cui while Brutus has 300 more, but its engine is from World War II and delivers a hefty 1,500hp and 2,000lb-ft. Nobody at Top Gear has been insane enough to test-drive it yet.
  • In the late 1990s, there was a kind of tendency in Germany to build motorcycles with crazy huge one-cylinder engines.
    • From the Northern German cult comic Werner came the "Satte Literschüssel". In the comic, it had exactly one liter of displacement. When it was actually built, the displacement turned out to be 1,444ccm (88cui). The engine was so big that the frame had to be built in V-shape and mounted against the back of the engine which thus carries the bike.
    • Previously, Fulda-based NSU OSL fan Franz Langer had made it into the Guinness World Records: His 958ccm (58cui) NSU was the motorcycle with the largest one-cylinder engine in the world. When he found out about the "Satte Literschüssel", he first threw a fit and then began to build the "NSU Bison 2000", a classic NSU-style 1,975ccm (121cui) one-cylinder motorcycle to beat the Werner bike (German article with pics about this bike). It still looks pretty normal despite the enormous engine.
    • Around the same time, also in the very north of Germany, and unbeknownst to both Franz Langer and the people behind the "Satte Literschüssel", an even huger one-cylinder bike was made: "Hannibal der Gewaltige" ("Hannibal the Enormous") with a whopping 3,034ccm (German article with pics again). It was built by Claus Mees, blacksmith in the small town of Schuby who also made the leaf spring for the "Satte Literschüssel"'s shovel seat without knowing what exactly it was for. The piston alone weighs 13.5kg (30lbs), four times as much as the piston that Franz Langer had deemed too heavy for the "NSU Bison 2000". The entire engine (part of the frame again due to its size) weighs some 250kg (550lbs), more than many entire bikes. And the entire bike clocks in at 600kg (1,320lbs), also because it'd be unrideable without a sidecar. Now why would someone even build such a monster (as if you need a reason for building crazy bikes in that corner of the world)? It was a bet. Upon viewing Langer's one-liter NSU in the Guinness World Records, Claus Mees was something like, "One liter? Ridiculous. I bet you I can build a three-liter single and a motorcycle around it." He won, and he has been holding the world record ever since.
  • As for multiple-cylinder engines, a certain 48-cylinder Kawasaki takes the cake. It might have less displacement than a typical Boss Hoss V8, but six inline-8 engines in one motorcycle are beyond crazy. That is, the bike actually has 49 cylinders: The starter is a small one-cylinder internal combustion engine.
    • A milder but not much less crazy example, also based on a Kawa, is the KH606 with an inline-seven (!) engine. The bike started out as a stock Kawa with a three-cylinder, two-stroke engine. However, it was too weak for the owner, so he got himself another engine of the same type and grafted one of the cylinders onto the engine in his bike. Now, while he was already at it, the next step was to get a third engine and glue the whole thing onto the original, now four-cylinder mill. With an engine three times as wide as the rest of the bike, it looks like a challenge for those who manage to take tight curves on a Honda CBX 1000 or a BMW boxer without grinding the engine on the asphalt.
    • The Boss Hoss V8 started out as a chopper motorcycle powered by a 350cui Chevy small block V8. It was usually sold as a kit. Without an engine. Even though the standard Chevy engine developed enough power for the Boss Hoss to not even need a gearbox (so it didn't have one at first) and still too much for the fat rear wheel (the Boss Hoss was probably the first motorcycle on which you can do a burn-out while sitting upright), it's easy to imagine what kinds of engines people would mount in that thing.
      • Apparently, those customers who bought ready-to-run Boss Hosses weren't satisfied with the power. So a new version came out with a Cadillac 502cui big block. And a rear wheel like the ones they put on Pro Street dragsters. And a two-speed transmission. At least you can put it into neutral now.
      • There are pictures of a downright ludicrous Boss Hoss floating around the Web. It's fitted with a pair (!) of 6-71 blowers and NOS.
    • Another bike with a bigger-than-necessary engine would be the Dodge Tomahawk, which took the V-10 engine from a Dodge Viper (originally designed as a truck engine, but then repurposed for the car) and put it on a special four-wheel motorcycle frame.
  • The American M4 Sherman tanks of World War II are known for their particularly tall hulls. This is due to the use of the robust and powerful but also extremely sizable aircraft engines which provide the vehicle with its power. Between engine, fuel tanks, and transmission, the motive system occupies well over half the internal space of the vehicle.
    • A would-be successor, the M6 heavy tank, was even longer and taller than the M4... this was because the hull had to carry the enormous Wright R-1820 Cyclone engine, which is the same engine found on B-17 Flying Fortresses!
  • The Thrust SSC has not one, but two Jet engines, each roughly as large as the rest of the car. Of course, when one intends to break the sound barrier in a car, one has to go to really ridiculous lengths.
    • The Engine in question is the Rolls Royce Spey, used in the British variation of the F-4 Phantom. Note that the Phantom's nickname is "The triumph of thrust over aerodynamics." Yeah, they took the engines from a Jet Fighter that's already known for solving its aerodynamic problems with brute engine power and attached them to a car. While yes, the Spey is an inferior engine to the original Phantom's General Electric J79, it's still incredible overkill for a car.
  • Trains actually do have giant engines. That engine they stuck on a Mini above? Modern mainline trains make around 4400 horsepower at the crank with less cylinders (12 vs 18). Some older engines make 6000 hp with a single engine. And then there's the GE Gas-Electric Turbines, which made over 8000 hp. It was so much power that they had to spread it over two semi-permanently coupled units, also because turbine and generator didn't leave much space for anything else, so they had to be built into their own section.
    • The Union Pacific "Big Boy" model steam locomotives - among the largest ever built - deserve a special mention: a Big Boy makes over 6000 horsepower and is essentially one giant external combustion engine.
    • The Soviet Union was known for building diesel locomotives with power ratings somewhere between decent and Awesome, but Impractical, but they did so with a minimum of maintenance in mind. In other words, they didn't squeeze as much power out of an engine of any given size as possible, they just built the mill big enough to produce that amount of power under East Siberian conditions, an undetermined time after its last shop visit. So in spite of their already massive loading gage, the Soviets actually managed to build a locomotive engine that was almost too big for locomotives. It's called the Kharkiv 10D100, a 10-cylinder, two-stroke, opposite-piston engine that's pretty much an old Fairbanks-Morse design blown out of proportion to produce 3,000bhp at any given condition. It was made for the TE10 locomotive family which had to be built around that hulk. The bottom crankshaft is pretty much hanging in the locomotive frame because there was no way that they could put that engine onto the frame and still fit it inside the carbody, and the top one is somewhere in the roof, leaving no space for mufflers. Let's say the TE10 family isn't referred to as "rolling earthquakes" for nothing. Nevertheless, a five-digit number of TE10s and 2TE10/3TE10/4TE10 sections was built.
    • The Prussians pulled this off with electric locomotives. Electric traction usually means you have one motor on each driven axle. That was technically possible and had been done in those days already, sometimes even with two motors per axle. But the Prussians didn't trust that kind of drive in large passenger locomotives yet, and conservative as they were, they wanted to keep things simple. So the local train locomotive prototype EP 235 and the express train locomotives ES 51 through ES 57 were to be equipped with only one motor driving the axles via rods. And since it was rods only because gears stable enough for such amounts of power and small enough for use in a locomotive were still impossible to make, the motor had to rotate with the same speed as the wheels and therefore had to be quite big. So the industry shoehorned one electric motor with a diameter of 11 feet into the express train locomotives. EP 235 had smaller wheels, a lower frame and thus enough space (still requiring a hood where the motor peeked through the roof) for a single 12-foot, 48,500-pound motor, the largest one ever built into a locomotive. In fact, this motor is all that's left of EP 235 nowadays.
    • Modern high speed trains, which are literally 450 tons of steel flying at 300 km/h, require massive engines to reach these speeds. The earliest successful electric high speed train, the Japanese Shinkansen Series 0, could push 15,877 hp to accelerate to about 220 km/h (although an original Series 0 doesn't have one engine but 64 of them); the next successful high speed train, the French TGV, used 11,800 hp to accelerate to 300 km/h. To serve the highly congested trade route between Paris and London, the Eurostar train can push 21,000 hp to move thousands of people at 300 km/h between Paris and London within a couple hours.
  • When the Airbus A380 passenger jet was under development, Airbus tested its mighty Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine by mounting one of them under an A340-300, leaving the other three engines stock. The test engine barely fit between the wing and the ground. The plane looked wacky enough in that state for Dragon Wings to make a model of it.
  • Compared to the payload that actually makes it into orbit, the engines and fuel tanks that make up the launch vehicle of a satellite or manned spacecraft and do most of the heavy lifting are enormous. Compare, for instance, the massive Saturn V rocket to the relatively tiny Apollo orbiter and lander — the vast majority of the former's mass didn't even make it into Earth orbit.
    • The proposed Sea Dragon rocket would take this up a notch. If built, it would have been nearly half again the height of a Saturn V, over thrice as wide, had only one massive engine (most large rockets have multiple), and had to be launched from the sea, as it would destroy any launch pad it was placed on. Small-scale tests of this sea-launch technique were successful, but it was never built after it was determined that there weren't enough payloads that needed something that powerful.
  • The A-10 Thunderbolt's engines are both needed in order to prevent the recoil from its Fixed Forward-Facing Weapon making it fly backwards.
  • American unlimited-class puller tractors are usually powered by up to five run-of-the-mill dragster engines. A few have a number of V12 warbird engines. In comparison, European puller builders go completely bonkers with their power plants. In Luxemburg, for example, one engine is enough. The engine in question is a 4,000hp double radial engine from a Super Constellation.
  • The AGM-28 Hound Dog cruise missile for having its engine strapped below it in a pod instead of buried in the body like most missiles. This emphasizes the large size of the J52 turbojet compared to the missile itself.