Video: Seven Of The Highest-Revving Domestic Production Engines

When high-revving production engines are discussed, it’s not usually domestic V8 powerplants that come to mind. At least, you wouldn’t really think so. This video covers seven US production engines – surprisingly, all from Ford and Chevrolet – which spin north of 7,000 rpm right off the showroom floor.

Another surprising part of the list, is that V8 engines makes up a majority of the high-revving production engines, with only one four-cylinder, and two V6 engines making up the non-V8 contingent. Usually when you bring up high-RPM factory engines, small-displacement four cylinder engines are the first thing that generally pops to mind.

Conspicuously absent from the list is the 3.5L Ford EcoBoost engine from the GT, with its 7,000 rpm factory limiter setting. On that note, the list uses the factory limiter setting as the gauge. While surely most of the engines are capable of singing much higher in the RPM range with an unlocked ECU, that’s not the metric this list chose to use.

For the sake of brevity, we’re only going to discuss the V8s from the list, but make sure to watch the video for details on all seven engines.

Chevrolet LS7

Undoubtedly one of the most impressive factory LS engines to ever grace the showroom floor, some of the LS7s awesomeness can probably credited – at least in part – to the fact that it’s hand-assembled at GM’s Performance Build Center. With a factory rev limit in both of its domestic applications (there were a number of other global production applications) of 7,000 rpm, the LS7 is the highest-revving pushrod engine on the list.

While it is common knowledge that the LS7 is quite capable of surviving at far more than 7,000 rpm, in its production configuration, the camshaft profile and intake manifold configuration become limiting factors. In aftermarket configurations, the LS7 has proven that factory-ish pushrod engines can really spin.

The V8 SHO was a continuation of the V6 SHO program, with Yamaha-designed heads, and a block that can trace it’s lineage to Cosworth.

Ford SHO V8

The successor to another engine on this list (in the video) – the Ford SHO V6 – the 3.4L V8 model was an over-square 60-degree engine that was based loosely on the Duratec architecture. While developed with Yamaha, like the V6 SHO, the four-valve dual overhead cam V8 variant employed a different valvetrain design, which, while allowing the engine to spin to 7,000 rpm with ease, ended up being problematic.

Due to a poor cam-gear attachment method, and the new “interference” valve design, catastrophic engine damage became far more common than was acceptable, and the engine was only in production for four model-years, ending in 1999. While this engine was capable of high-winding performance, the actual power output was far from amazing, making only 235 horsepower.

GM-Lotus LT5

While not entirely domestic (in the same vein as the Ford SHO’s collaboration with Yamaha and Cosworth), General Motors’ LT5 was created in conjunction with recently-acquired Lotus, to power the 1990 Corvette ZR-1. In a radical departure from the previous small-block Chevrolet design that was powering Corvettes, the LT5 was a 32-valve, dual-overhead cam engine, that, like the L98 it was replacing, displaced 350 cubic inches.

While the displacement and bore-spacing were identical to the L98, that was about where the commonalities ended. With a 7,200 rpm factory rev-limit and significantly increased output of 375 horsepower, the LT5 was an all-aluminum overhead cam engine built by Mercury Marine for GM. It was a top performer of the time and its production lasted through 1995, with a power increase in 1993 to its final output of 405 horsepower, and 385 lb-ft of torque.

While the current Gen-V LT5 holds the title of most powerful engine ever offered by GM, it had some mighty large shoes to fill. The original LT5, powering the 1990 Corvette ZR-1 was an absolute beast in its day. Photo courtesy of General Motors

Ford 5.2L Voodoo

The GT350 variant of the already-high-revving Coyote engine, the 5.2-liter Voodoo, has the highest factory rev-limiter of anything on the list, at 8,250 rpm. Utilizing a 32-valve dual overhead camshaft Coyote cylinder head that has been worked over to increase flow and bring static compression ratio up to 12:1, making 526 horsepower at 7,500 rpm, and 429 lb-ft of torque at 4,750 rpm.

Unlike the Coyote, the Voodoo uses a flat-plane crankshaft to achieve such high-rpm performance, along with increased bore and stroke – 3.700 inches x 3.660 inches – to achieve the increase in displacement.

It’s worth noting that the “base” versions of the Coyote in the S197 and S550 Mustang GT, deserve to be on this list in their own right. The Gen-1 and Gen-2 5.0L Coyote engines had a rev-limiter of 7,000 rpm from the factory, and the Gen-3 variant released in 2018 spins to 7,500 rpm off of the showroom floor.

About the author

Greg Acosta

Greg has spent fifteen years and counting in automotive publishing, with most of his work having a very technical focus. Always interested in how things work, he enjoys sharing his passion for automotive technology with the reader.
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