25 of the Best Sounding V8 Cars
Auto journalist seem to have written off the V8, again, saying it is too inefficient of a design to survive much longer. While they’ve been wrong before, we hope they are wrong again, as the V8 provides good power in a compact form, and makes some of the best car sounds anywhere. Who needs a stereo system when your car sounds this good? Here are twenty five of the best sounding stock V8 cars.
The first one is the most obvious, as it has received a lot of attention and hype in the last year. The 6.2L supercharged Hemi is the most powerful engine Chrysler has ever put into a production car. 707 horsepower and 650 lb/ft of torque will shred any tires you throw at it. While idle is a fairly quiet for the neighbors, at full throttle it roars to life, and offers a ton of Go for just $64,000.
Nope, not the LSx. The ‘90s iron block LT1 350 is technically an evolved version of the venerable SBC going back to 1955, whereas the aluminum LS1 is a 346 based on an all new design. While the LSx has massive aftermarket support and crazy potential, it just doesn’t sound as good as a modified LT1. For proof, have a listen. It’s like a NASCAR racer engine in a daily driver.
Way back in the day, even Vanilla Ice knew that the best sounding ride was a 5.0 in a Mustang. Technically a 4.9 liter, the iron block 302 made about 225 horsepower from the factory, but was easily tuned up. One of the most common mods was the addition of Flowmaster exhaust and an X-pipe. While Flowmaster isn’t the enthusiast favorite anymore, they still sound great on an old Fox Mustang.
This engine has a weird history. Buick gave up on their aluminum 3.5 liter V8 after a few years of production and sold it to Rover Group, which used it for nearly 40 years in varying products including wild TVRs. While that’s a nice history lesson, it doesn’t change the fact that it sounds amazing, combining Euro snarl and American thunder. Bowler put a 5.0 liter version in their crazy Tomcat and finished it off with dual glasspacks. I want this as my ringtone. (starts at 3:15)
Maserati makes some of the coolest cars in the world, with stunning looks, luxurious interiors, and Ferrari power. The 4.7 liter V8 makes ~450 horsepower, and while it’s not the fastest car on this list, it is absolutely among the best sounding. The burble at idle and roaring revs mean you will enjoy every drive with the windows down.
The first hybrid on this list, the 918 proves that electric motors can kick ass. The nearly 7-figure supercar boasts a 4.6 liter V8, but it’s no ‘90s Mustang. This V8 (and 2 electric motors) make 887 horsepower and a spine crushing 944 lb/ft. Like most high-end German things, it sounds scary, like a racecar powered by chainsaws. Beautiful, precision built chainsaws. The 918 also gets bonus points for having the coolest exhaust location of any car produced.
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3
If street cars aren’t your thing, why not pick up a track toy? Like Ferrari, Porsche, and others, the GT3 is the high-power track version of the SLS AMG. The 6.2 liter V8 is up to 600 hp now, and the weight is trimmed back under 3,000 pounds. While it’s a stunning performer, it looks and sounds every bit as good as it goes. It’s got the raw brutality of a NASCAR cup car’s V8, but with a refined edge. Sell your house and buy this car.
Jaguar F-Type R
If you have $100,000 sitting around, buy this Jag. If you don’t have a hundred grand sitting around, take out a loan and buy this Jag. The F-Type R features Jaguar’s impressive 5.0 liter V8 with a supercharger turned up to 550 horsepower in one of the best looking GT cars ever made. While there are faster cars for the money (Z06, Viper, GT350R, among many others), the sound is utterly beyond price. It’s like an elephant learning to sing death metal. Turn your speakers up.
When that gets old, take a listen to the same engine in the fantastic Range Rover Sport SVR.
Ford Shelby GT350 5.2L
The GT350 and GT350R have the same 5.2 liter V8 making north of 500 hp. It has a flat plane crank, Ford’s first, as it makes for a louder, rougher idle. We’re okay with this. In this video, a Ford rep demonstrates how the driver an open and close a butterfly valve, for more performance, and more sound. The car starts up sounding pretty good, and you’ll notice how quickly the big V8 revs. When that valve opens though… instant racecar.
One of the fastest cars in the world, the McLaren P1 impresses at every angle, and especially with its crazy other-worldly sounds. Like the 918 above, the P1 uses a V8, this time displacing 3.8 liters, and one electric motor to make a ridiculous 903 horsepower. The V8 sounds like a proper British sports car at idle, but rev it and the twin turbos let you know this supercar routinely eats small wildlife that ventures onto the road. If you own one, just pull it out of the garage and rev it. Your neighbors will thank you.
Here’s a bonus vid of it on track:
Ford GT 5.4L
Ford flat out killed it with the retro GT in every measurable way. Even the immeasurable and opinionated distinction of “best sound” can be agreed upon with the GT. Everyone loves the way this 550 hp 5.4L V8 sounds. It’s one of the few good sounding modular V8s from Ford, and sounds every bit as good as the car looks and performs. It’s useable with a mean but streetable idle, but push the noise pedal to the floor and you will think you are driving a NASCAR worthy racecar.
Chevy Corvette 6.2L LT4
Like Ford, GM had a minor problem where their new V8s didn’t sound quite as good as the old ones, starting with the aluminum LS1 in 1997. More mechanical and soulless, the new V8s offered more performance and efficiency, but lost some street cred. Well, it took almost 20 years, but they figured it out. Direct injection and a supercharger improved the sound (and power, obviously), with the cam providing a chunky idle and baritone roar that’s worthy of a track-only racecar. Seriously, that $80,000 sound would be just fine on a million dollar hypercar.
The R8 is a great car on everyone’s best list, but that’s usually with a V10 in back. The “base model” V8 is no slouch, with a 4.2L producing 424 hp and 317 lb/ft. Interestingly, it makes its power at nearly the same RPM as the V10 (7,900 vs 8,000 rpm), but the torque on the V8 kicks in way earlier. Plus, the price difference between the base V8 and loaded V10 is about $60,000, which is the same as one year at Harvard. Go to school and have the great V8 sound? Win-win!
What the heck is this and why is it on here? Most Americans know this as the sedate V8 from the pretty, but under performing, Lexus SC430. It was designed to be smooth and quiet, kinda the opposite of what this list wants. However, the 3UZ has been a drift car favorite for the last decade, due to its solid power, compact size and great sound. Strip away all the luxury (quietness) built into it and you have a beautiful sounding engine worthy of any classic muscle car, but with the reliability to last for a quarter million miles.
BMW E92 M3
Some Bimmer fans called it a travesty when the V8 replaced the beloved inline 6 in the M3. The BMW M3 was about character and finesse, and so was the six. On the other hand, power went up dramatically, to 414 hp, and torque increased to nearly 300 lb/ft. It’s hard to argue with specs like that, especially when it sounds so good. It combines the American V8 rumble, with European V8 rasp, making a unique and addicting sound. Depreciation is currently hitting them hard, so go buy one!
Aston Martin Vantage V8
It’s amazing how V8s of similar size can sound so different from manufacturers based in the same country. The Aston 4.7L is close in size to its larger English buddy over at Jaguar, but sounds distinct and different. The Vantage makes 420 to 430 hp depending on trim level, and has quick revs, and an exhaust system that could double as a musical instrument. Even though it is thoroughly modern, under load it sounds like a gorgeous WWII era fighter airplane. Powerful, yet classy and timeless. A hundred years from now, people will still want one of these.
Modular Mustangs don’t tend to sound as aggressive as the old Fox 5.0 Mustangs, probably due to the OHC configuration. One notable exception is the 2003 – 04 Ford Mustang Cobra. Equipped with a supercharged, iron block 4.6L V8, the Cobras were rated at 390 hp. Turns out that was closer to the rating at the wheels, and the blown 4.6L took well to mods. 550 hp at the wheels could be had for under two grand, making a stock Terminator rare. While the exhaust sounds good, just listen to the blower whine destroying your ears.
One of the last Ferraris V8s to not have turbos and direct injection, the F360 is old-school high tech. Pack as many small moving parts into a small engine as you can, and let ‘er rip to an 8,700 rpm redline. 400 hp is pretty good for a 3.6L, and moves the light car easily. Sure, later cars like F430 were more powerful, and the current 488 GTB is ridiculous, but something is lost with all the new tech. Turbos and mechanical noise dominate the new cars, with only the exhaust sounding good. On the F360, it sounds like an old Formula 1 car, mixed with a master orchestra brass player. It’s music.
Toyota, and thus Lexus, aren’t generally known for making remarkable sounding engines. Competent, smooth, and reliable, but until recently, power was best left to the German luxo brands. A 5.0L V8 is not what you would expect to find in what is essentially Lexus’s entry model, the IS. Similarities to the Mustang GT don’t end at displacement, as it makes 417 hp in the second gen IS. In the even sportier RC-F (seriously Lexus, use real names), the same displacement is tuned up to 471 hp, with an unreal 12.3:1 compression. It sounds like an angry bomb, because it is.
Bentley L Series
One of the longest lived engine programs on Earth, the L is the result of getting it right the first time, and constantly striving for perfection. Shortly after the Chevy Small Block hit the streets, so did Bentley’s first V8, the 6.25 litre. This was upgraded in the ‘70s to the 6.75L. If you’re a classy British gent, say it “six and three-quarter.” The engines were slowly upgraded over the decades, and now are powerful, hand-built works of art. Don’t expect Hellcat roar in the vid below. This is subtle power.
Not too many years ago, an all-out performance sedan at Cadillac would have been unthinkable. Actually, a rear-wheel drive Caddy would have been unthinkable, much less a high performance version. While the “Art & Science” looks were debatable, everyone agreed that the V8s in the CTS-V kick ass. The first generation used the high strung Z06 engine, making 400 hp, and sounding every bit like a Corvette. The second gen borrowed an engine from the supercharged Corvette ZR1, and detuned to 556hp, and the heavy sedan still ran a flat 12 in the quarter mile. The 2016 V uses a Z06 engine, blasting out 640 hp, making it Cadillac’s most powerful engine ever. And best noise machine ever.
DeTomaso Pantera GT5
The Pantera was the greatest of American and European supercar styles. It looked like the Countach’s American brother, and had Euro steering and handling, with a ‘Murican 351 Cleveland stuffed behind the driver. While it was essentially a Mustang and truck engine, the Pantera sounded chunky at idle, but revved smoothly, with a raucous roar under full throttle. While you won’t find many stock Panteras out there, that’s okay, as DeTomaso changed things year to year, so the community is mod friendly. Including exhaust upgrades that will make the neighbors hate you.
Koenigsegg makes some of the most powerful, fast, and crazy cars on the planet. The engines tend to be every bit as bonkers as the looks, and the CCX is no exception. Earlier cars used a modular Ford V8, but the CCX powerplant was built in-house and designed to meet U.S. fuel and emissions requirements. The 4.7L twin supercharged monstrosity makes nearly 800 hp in original form, or 1,004 hp in the E-85 burning CCXR trim.
Mercedes McLaren SLR 722
Since no one complained about the power of the “regular” SLR McLaren, Benz decided to throw more power at it, with the 722 Edition. The M155 5.4L supercharged V8 now makes 640 hp and 600 lb/ft in a car that is relatively heavy, but still lighter than you mom’s Taurus. It has the titanic German V8 sound; mean at idle, but a sophisticated kind of aggression under power. The M155 isn’t a sledgehammer (that’s the CTS-V), and it’s not the surgeon’s scalpel either (LF-A). Instead, this is the ground equivalent to the Eurofighter Typhoon. Fast, beautiful, precise, and will absolutely kill you if you don’t pay attention.
Ferrari 458 Speciale
Ferrari’s entry model is pretty sweet compared to 99% of most cars on the road. The 458 looks good, and goes pretty well too tanks to the Ferrari/Maserati F136 V8 making a very nice 562 hp. The current model has been in production since 2010, and while awesome, Ferrari likes to keep things fresh. The 2013 Speciale had improved aero, and the 4.5L was given steroids until it made 597 hp at an incredible 9,000 rpm. It makes the usual Ferrari music, but sounds even more insane due to impossibly quick shifts. Have a listen:
That’s the 25 best sounding V8s ever built. Which V-8 car do you think sounds the best? Are there any 8 cylinder cars that we missed? Let us know what engine gets the adrenaline flowing in the comments below.