We all have our preferences for cars. Some like classics, while others prefer JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) cars. Some like exotics, while others prefer boring everyday vehicles. But whatever your niche is, the conversation about the fastest and most powerful engine in a car is fascinating to everyone.
So, what’s the most powerful engine in a car? Does that translate into the fastest car ever made? Well, you’re about to find out. This post is all about power, speed, and large engines. In addition to the most powerful engine, we’ll be talking about other great and notable engines. Anyway, this should be a fun article:
Top 3 Most Powerful Engine In A Car
“Cars” is somewhat of a broad term. Those jet-powered record breakers? Those can technically be classified as cars. So, to make this easier, we have a couple of ground rules: first, we’re only including internal combustion engines. Hybrids are okay, but we’re not including electric vehicles (EVs) in this list.
The second rule is that it has to be a road-legal production car. It doesn’t matter if only a few of them are built or if they’re not legal in the US. As long as they’re road-worthy somewhere in the world, and the car actually went on sale, it’s eligible for this list. So, no track-only monsters, and certainly no jet-powered record-breaking cars.
Yes, squeezing thousands of horsepower out of an engine even for track use only is not easy. But we think doing so with an engine that has to be road-certified is even harder since there are rules and regulations to meet. And besides, it’s more interesting to talk about road cars, no?
With that settled, here are the top three powerful engines in a car:
Most Powerful Engine In A Car #3: 1,341 Horsepower V8 – Koenigsegg Agera RS
Koenigsegg is an independent Swedish supercar maker that’s been around since 1994. Despite not having the financial backing of larger manufacturers such as VW, for example, Koenigsegg is capable of making some of the fastest cars in the world.
Even more impressive is the fact that they develop and manufacture their own engines. Many small manufacturers usually opt to use engines from a renowned manufacturer instead, such as Pagani which utilizes Mercedes’ V12 engines.
Koenigsegg did outsource their engines for a while. The CC—their first production car—had a supercharged 4.7L Ford Modular V8, making a very healthy 655 horsepower. Its successor, the CCX, was the first to use Koenigsegg’s own 4.7L twin-supercharged V8.
The Agera utilizes the same V8, but they upped the capacity to 5.0L. And replaced the superchargers for a couple of turbochargers. The result is 947 horsepower in the standard Agera, and the Agera RS has 1,160 horsepower as standard.
However, opt for the $270,000 1MW option and power comes up to 1,341 horsepower, making it one of the most powerful engines on the road. Albeit not on US roads. We’re not sure why they’re not road-worthy in the US, as details have never been revealed to the public. Although we believe it’s likely something to do with emissions regulations.
Despite being third on this list, the Agera RS holds the record for the fastest production car in the world at 277.8mph. Others have attempted to beat that record and even claimed that they have beaten it. But the Agera RS still officially holds the title.
Most Powerful Engine In A Car #2: 1,578 Horsepower 8.0L W16 – Bugatti Chiron Super Sport
Bugatti is bound to appear on this list. Bugatti’s strategy since its rebirth has been to create ridiculously overpowered cars that break speed records while remaining comfortable for road use. And its latest “mass market” creation is the Chiron, with a W16 engine derived from the Veyron.
Much like the Veyron, there are several iterations of the Chiron. You’ll find the most powerful version of the engine in the Chiron Super Sport and the Super Sport 300+. The latter, as the name suggests, is capable of breaking the 300mph barrier.
However, road-going versions of the 300+ have a speed limiter just like the standard Chiron. So, customers won’t be able to break that 300mph, even if they can find somewhere to do it. Still, that 1,578-horsepower engine will keep you entertained. And the 277mph top speed isn’t exactly slow either.
The 8.0L W16 engine has been around since the early 2000s; it’s the same engine as in the Veyron. Still with the 8.0L capacity, still with four turbochargers, and still with a total of 10 radiators. But while it peaked at 1,184 horsepower in the Veyron, Bugatti engineers have squeezed 1,578 horsepower out of the engine for the Chiron Super Sport.
And in case you’re keen, we’ve previously looked at how much is a Bugatti, if you want to learn more about the brand. Or, if you want to compare just how fast they are, the Bugatti La Voiture Noire and its top speed are rather impressive, too.
Most Powerful Engine In A Car #1: 1,817 Horsepower V8 – Hennessey Venom F5
Oh, it pains me to write this, but the title of the most powerful engine in a car goes to the 6.6L twin-turbo “Fury” V8 by Hennessey, in their Venom F5. I love Bugatti; it’s one of the brands that got me into cars as I was growing up.
As much as I want to give the title to the Chiron Super Sport, the Venom F5 is the winner here. Only 54 units are in plan for production; 24 are coupes and the other 30 will be roadsters or Spyders as they call them.
Unlike one of the cars in the honorable mentions list, Hennessey has built and sold 12 of these. So, they’re road legal, and their production is verifiable. They also happen to be one of the fastest cars in the US right now. Anyway, that most powerful engine then…
The engine is Hennessey’s own V8 design, with 6.6L and twin-turbochargers to produce that 1,817 horsepower figure. The engine transfers its power to a 7-speed single-clutch automated manual transmission from CIMA, and onto the rear wheels.
Despite having the most powerful engine in a car, the Venom F5 doesn’t hold the title of the fastest production car in the world. To be eligible, a production car has to do a two-way run verified by an independent adjudicator, and the car has to have a VIN.
Hennessey hasn’t done a run with the Venom F5, although they claim that the top speed is 301mph. We’ll believe it when we see it. Or rather, when an independent adjudicator verifies it.
Most Powerful Engine In A Car: Honorable Mentions
We have a couple of honorable mentions. These cars are planned for production, so they should’ve been eligible for the list. But for one reason or another—which we explain in each section—they’re not quite eligible yet:
1,750 Horsepower V8 – SSC Tuatara
We’re classifying this as an honorable mention as the SSC Tuatara hasn’t met the regulations to be a road-legal car yet. SSC claims it will be, and they will make a hundred of these monsters. But as of the time of writing, we’ll have to put the Tuatara in the honorable mention section.
SSC, short for Shelby SuperCars, is an American carmaker founded in 1999. And no, it has no relation to the legendary Carroll Shelby. It just so happens that the founder’s last name was also Shelby.
Anyway, if you’ve been a car enthusiast since the mid-2000s, you’re probably familiar with SSC. They make outrageously powerful and fast cars just like Bugatti, but at a much smaller number and don’t quite have the same mainstream success.
They did hold the speed record briefly in 2007 with their SSC Ultimate Aero but were then quickly beaten by Bugatti again with their Veyron Super Sport. Anyway, the car we’re interested in right now is the SSC Tuatara:
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It sports a 5.9L twin-turbo V8, built in partnership with Nelson Racing Engines. The Tuatara’s most powerful engine title comes with an asterisk, as the 1,750 horsepower output is only available when using E85 flex fuel. If you were to use 91-octane, then the Tuatara would “only” make 1,350 horsepower.
One last thing to note, the Tuatara hasn’t broken the speed record. It clocked 295mph at Space Florida’s Launch and Landing Facility, as verified by Racelogic (unlike their awkward 2020 run where they said they broke the 300mph barrier, but then admitted they didn’t).
However, it was a one-way run, and to be eligible for the record, manufacturers need to do a two-way run.
1,700 Horsepower 3-Cylinder – Koenigsegg Gemera
The Koenigsegg Gemera should’ve been second on this list. The Gemera is a four-seater hypercar, with a tiny 2.0L 3-cylinder engine making 590 horsepower. But it also has three electric motors, two for each rear wheel and one for the front wheels and the crankshaft.
It has a total system output of 1,700 horsepower, losing just to the SSC Tuatara. And since we have doubts SSC will deliver the Tuatara to customers, the Gemera should’ve taken the crown. However, the Gemera isn’t in production yet.
Koenigsegg plans production to start in 2024 and is already taking orders, with 300 units planned for production. The Gemera will be road legal, and once it hit the roads, you can take up to three passengers to experience the 1,700-horsepower terror. But since it’s not in production yet, we can’t put it in the top three list.
Highest Horsepower Modified Car
So, what about modified cars then? Since modified cars don’t have to factor in things like comfort, reliability, and even regulations, they’re bound to make more than the average horsepower of a from-factory car. Now, why would anyone modify their car to have outrageous amounts of horsepower? Oh, that’s right! The drag strip.
There are plenty of powerful modified cars out there. But as far as we can tell, this 3,500 horsepower Nissan GT-R by Extreme Turbo Systems (ETS) is the highest horsepower modified car:
The GT-R makes 3,500 horsepower, and about 3,000 horsepower on the wheels (WHP). We’re not entirely sure how ETS squeezes 3,500 horsepower out of the GT-R’s VR38 engine. But we’re guessing large air intakes, racing exhausts, and of course, some big turbos with insane amounts of boost are involved in the process.
This being a drag racer, the car is no longer road legal. But hey, you wanted the most powerful modified car in the world, and there you go, the answer is a 3,500 horsepower Nissan GT-R. If you’re thinking of creating something similar on your own, be sure to check out our guide on how much is a Nissan GTR R35.
Best Engines Ever Made
Pretty much every gearhead will agree, the most powerful engine isn’t necessarily the best engine. Our relationship with cars is complex; it’s not always about power, sometimes it’s about the sound, the vibration, and the power delivery among others. It’s that X-factor.
We don’t want to discuss this as no matter what engines we list, there will be people who are angry that we’ve left out their favorite engines. But let’s do it for the fun of it, here are some of the best engines ever made:
Part of the reason the Toyota Supra is so popular is the engine. It’s a good engine straight out of the factory, especially the US version as it comes with larger turbos and bigger intake ports. Kind of a surprise as US-spec cars tend to lose power instead.
Anyway, the 2JZ-GTE is the one you want. This variant has two turbos, and larger intake ports, and can handle thousands of horsepower worth of upgrades. The non-turbo 2JZ-GE can also handle lots of horsepower, but the 2JZ-GTE is the darling for the tuners.
For the curious among you, we have plenty of resources on the Supra, too. That includes our deep dive into the Mk4 Supra over the years. As well as, how much is a Toyota Supra (a good buyer’s guide, if you’re thinking of getting one). Additionally, we’ve discussed just how much horsepower does a Supra have.
The RB26DETT is the highest-spec version of the RB26 engine that comes with a twin-turbo, as seen in the R34 Nissan Skyline GT-R. It can’t handle as much horsepower as Toyota’s 2JZ-GTE but is still a popular engine amongst tuners and drifters alike.
Additionally, the shorter stroke design makes this car a high-revving monster. Its stock redline is at 8,000rpm. It isn’t the highest-revving engine in the world, but that’s still very high and it’s a fantastic engine. Indeed, this alone makes the GT-R one of the best cars with an inline 6.
This engine is fitted into R32 GT-R, R33 GTR, and R34 GT-R. If you’re keen on learning more about the latter, be sure to check out our guide on how much is a Skyline R34 GTR, as well as whether is a Nissan Skyline R34 legal in the US.
Honda’s K-Series Engine
Think of Honda’s K-Series engines as the 2JZ for front-wheel drive enthusiasts. Okay, so it’s not exactly like that. But the K-Series is another engine with lots of tuning potential and is popular amongst tuners and Honda enthusiasts alike. Look no further than a Spoon-tuned engine to see what it’s capable of.
It’s a small, efficient, and high-revving engine that’s a blast to drive. What more could you ask for? And to this day, the K24A remains the only engine that I like when paired with a CVT transmission. Besides that, it’s a good candidate for a Honda engine swapping project, too.
General Motors’ LS Engine
Need we say more? Even non-muscle car enthusiasts such as myself know that this engine deserves, nay, it DEMANDS, your respect. There are many reasons why it’s so great; it’s compact and lightweight, making it ideal for engine swaps.
Perhaps, the reason why it’s so great is similar to Toyota’s 2JZ engine: it’s very strong and capable of handling plenty more horsepower than the factory has given it. Much like the 2JZ, there are plenty of LS builds (like a Mazda RX8 LS swap) with thousands of horsepower, thanks to its strong engine blocks.
What? Do you think Japan’s biggest automotive company would only make one good engine throughout its lifetime? There are plenty more great Toyota engines that we could do a post just about it. But if we were to squeeze just one more Toyota engine into this list, then it has to be the 1UZ-FE.
Toyota’s UZ engine is a family of V8 engines. Drifters often seek them because of they’re tuning potential, much like the 2JZ-GTE. There have been builds where the 1UZ-FE has 800 horsepower thanks to the addition of a couple of turbochargers, with stock internals, by the way.
But the reason why we think this deserves a spot on this list is because of just how smooth the engine is. An engine so smooth that it won’t rattle, let alone break, the champagne glasses that you put on your car’s hood. Something that has happened to me so often that I find myself wondering why I haven’t bought an LS400.
To be clear, it’s probably not THAT smooth. Nevertheless, the 1UZ-FE is a V8 that will deliver creamy smooth power, and it’s arguably one of the world’s most reliable engines. Matt Farah’s Million Mile Lexus is proof of just how reliable the 1UZ-FE is.
Granted, its focus on luxury and refinement won’t make it the fastest Lexus car around. But, some of them get close enough to being speedy, such as the Lexus SC300, as well as the Lexus IS300 2JZ. And if the 1UZ isn’t good enough for you, be on the lookout for what Lexus has a 2JZ engine.
FAQs About The Most Powerful Engine In A Car
Got any more questions relating to the most powerful engine in a car or about engines in general? Increase your car knowledge with our answers in this FAQ section below so that you can bore your friends with obscure car knowledge:
What Car Has The Most Horsepower
The production car with the most horsepower is the Hennessey Venom F5, with its 1,817-horsepower 6.6L V8 twin-turbo engine. Unlike other Hennessey vehicles—which are essentially modified factory cars—the Venom F5 is bespoke and built from scratch by Hennessey.
What Does Liter Mean In Engine
The liter is a metric unit capacity, equal to 0.125 US liquid gallons or about 61 cubic inches. The liter in an engine refers to the capacity of all the cylinders in the engine combined. The larger the capacity, the more fuel, and air the engine can burn, resulting in more power. Although multiple other factors affect the power output.
What Is BHP Car
BHP stands for brake horsepower, which measures the horsepower figure at the wheel, whereas horsepower measures it at the flywheel. However, the calculation for BHP doesn’t take drivetrain friction loss into account, while wheel horsepower does, making it the more accurate representation of how much power a car has on the road.
What Is PS In A Car
PS stands for PferdStarker and is the metric measurement of horsepower. The calculation is slightly different, and 1 PS is about 98.6% of 1 horsepower. That’s why PS figures will be higher than American horsepower figures.
How Much Is An Engine For A Car
A car engine costs between $4,500 to $6,000 on average. Bigger and more popular engines cost more. And this doesn’t include the transmission or other drivetrain components. Additionally, engine swaps are time-consuming and complex, so they will likely end up costing you tens of thousands of dollars.
What Are Cylinders In A Car
Cylinders are sealed chambers inside the engine where fuel and air are combusted. When the fuel and air mixture combusts, the explosion forces the pistons inside the cylinders to go down. This rotates the crankshaft, which turns the reciprocating energy from the pistons into rotational energy. The engine transfers this energy through the flywheel and a series of rods and gears to the wheels to power the car.
What Truck Has The Most Horsepower
The Ram 1500 TRX is the factory production truck with the most power at 702 horsepower from its 6.2L supercharged HEMI V8. However, if you count the MAMMOTH TRX from Hennessey, then that’s technically the truck with the most horsepower at 1,000 horsepower. Hennessey is somewhat more of a tuning house, rather than a car manufacturer. We’ll leave it to you whether to count the MAMMOTH from Hennessey as a production car or not.
How Much HP Do Twin Turbos Add
A twin-turbo can add anywhere between 100 to 250 horsepower depending on the size of the turbo, the boost it provides, and the rest of the setup. Some turbos may even give more than 250 horsepower. Note that other upgrades will be necessary for the engine and transmission to keep up with the power boost and pressure.
Most Powerful Engine In A Car: Final Thoughts
So, there are plenty of cars with powerful engines. And many of them have gone over 1,000 horsepower now while remaining road-worthy. While the Agera RS officially holds the title of the fastest production car at 277mph, the title of the most powerful engine in a car still goes to the Hennessey Venom F5.
With 1,867 horsepower from its “Fury” 6.6L twin-turbo V8, there’s no denying that this is the most powerful engine in a car. Embarrassing the Agera RS, and even the 1,500 horsepower+ Bugatti Chiron Super Sport. And we’ll wrap up the article with this: enjoy it while it lasts.
It’s no secret that the world is moving away from internal combustion engines to electric drivetrains. Whether that’s because it’s better for the environment or that’s because where the regulations are pushing it, we gearheads will have to live with that.
So, get ready to say goodbye to these ultra-powerful internal combustion engines. Koenigsegg is going the hybrid route with the Gemera, and with Bugatti and renowned electric hypercar maker, Rimac, recently merging, we can also expect Bugatti to turn electric soon enough.
But let’s not be all gloom and doom. EVs have come a long way since the days of the dreadful G-Wiz. They’re hilariously powerful and fast, with drivetrains so powerful that even a four-door sedan like the Tesla Model S Plaid giving the Bugatti Chiron a run for its money.
We’ll miss the sound of the internal combustion engine, but at the very least, the speed machines will live on.