Car Engine Types

The types of engines you'll learn about in this section include diesel, rotary, HEMI, stirling and quasiturbine, to name a few. You'll also see photos and animated images of the technologies we explore.


After doing surprisingly well in a 500-mile race at the Daytona International Speedway, the 396 Chevy V-8 was created as a high-performance option for the Chevelle and Corvette. Learn more about one of Chevy's milestone performance engines.

Available for the Corvette and full-size Chevrolet in 1967, the 427 Chevy V-8 superseded the 396 with its aluminum cylinder heads with enlarged ports, hotter crankshaft, and bigger carburetor. Learn about one of Chevy's milestone performance engines.

Chevy engineers had to bend some of their rules to get as much power out of the Chevy 454-cid V-8. America's "fuel shock" would ultimately sentence big-inch high-performance cars to oblivion. Learn about one of Chevy's milestone performance engines.

The quasiturbine engine takes the Wankel concept and improves on it: Instead of three combustion chambers it has four and the setup of a quasiturbine allows for continual combustion. Learn all about the quasiturbine.

Even if you don't know much about cars, the word "HEMI" might still mean something to you. It's become a synonym for big, powerful engines.

This may sound silly but on the back of my car there is a little sign that says "2.4 liter" and every morning I see that and wonder "What does that mean?" So what does it mean?

The Stirling engine is a heat engine that is vastly different from the internal-combustion engine in your car. It has the potential to be more efficient than most types of engines, but it hasn't made it into mass production yet. Find out why.

A rotary engine is an internal combustion engine, but it's not like the one in most cars. Learn about the unique rotary setup and how it compares performance-wise to a piston engine.

Is there a way to compare a human being to an engine in terms of efficiency? For example can you calculate the equivalent "miles per gallon" (kilometers per liter) rating for a person riding a bicycle?

Diesel powered Humvees are capable of running in "extreme" conditions, and these conditions can include deep submersion during river fording. Is it only possible to go underwater with a diesel powered vehicle?

I have read the articles on diesel and gasoline engines. Several of my friends drive Mercedes turbodiesels and I have seen several diesel hummers. I was wondering that if diesel engines are more efficient and use cheaper fuel why don't all cars use diesel?

There are three different engine configurations commonly used in automobiles -- inline, V, and flat. Learn the difference and find out what designers look at when deciding which configuration to use in a car.

It's the reason you can put the pedal to the metal and go from zero to 60 in seconds. But to the uninitiated, an engine can look like a jumble of metal and wires.

Mazda has been using this type of engine in some of its cars for several years. Learn what a Miller-Cycle engine is and how it works.

Take diesel-engine technology, throw in a two-stroke cycle, and you've got the basis for the huge engines found in trains and big ships. Learn about the diesel two-stroke engine!

Ever wonder what the difference is between a gasoline engine and a diesel engine? Diesels are more efficient and cheaper to run than gasoline engines. Learn what makes diesel engines different!