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Bench Racer with Steve Turner Eight Lives

Posted By: Evan J. Smith
Bench Racer with Steve Turner Eight Lives
From the moment I heard whispers that a new 5.0-liter V8 engine was in development at Ford, I felt a mixture of excitement and trepidation. It was exciting that the Coyote engine would continue the lore of the 5.0 Mustang that began in the ’80s, but even back in 2010, I had an uneasy feeling that we might be witnessing the last new Ford V8 engine. 
Even then it felt like the movement was toward smaller, more efficient engines at Ford with the EcoBoost family, and this was long before the modern push toward electric vehicles. Yet the momentum for big V8 engines seemed to be waning. That said, the Coyote was a massive hit that evolved from 412 horsepower at its birth to 500 horsepower in today’s Mustang Dark Horse.
Moreover, Ford surprised this scribe by not only creating a new V8, but one that returned to the classic pushrod valvetrain architecture. While it was only installed in Super Duty pickups from the factory, the 7.3-liter Godzilla V8 became a popular option for engine swaps and performance-car applications, showing that interest in V8 engines remains strong among enthusiasts.
“If people don’t want them anymore, it’ll go away, but I personally believe people are going to want this vehicle for quite some time,” Ford CEO Jim Farley said last year of the V8 engine. “…That day will come with a tear in my eye.”
Outside the Blue Oval, the Dodge Hemi and GM LS engines also saw big performance and long runs of popularity. Today, however, the Challenger and Camaro took their bows and the era of the big eight-cylinder engine seemed like it might be riding off into the sunset.
Recently there was more than a ray of hope that the V8 engine might not have used up its nine lives just yet. With the introduction of the 2024 Mustang, Ford revealed an ambitious plan to race the new Mustang across the globe. In January of this year, the company hosted a Season Launch event that offered even more detailed information about those plans. During that event, Farley addressed the media on hand, one of which was the eight-cylinder shot heard around the world, as he seemed far more confident in the platform’s future.
"A lot of our competitors have left. And if we’re the only one on the planet making a V-8 affordable sports car for everyone in the world, so be it,” Farley said during the company’s season launch event in January.
He went on to stress that the tech transfer created by racing V8 Mustangs would provide benefits to the production versions in the future. That is the kind of talk that is exciting to any automotive enthusiast, as the win on Sunday, sell on Monday mantra evolved to blend the development seen in racing with the engineering of production vehicles and engines.
While racers can surely keep building fast machines using aftermarket powerplants for years to come, the pipeline of performance and racing fans is filled through those formative experiences with fast production cars. The longer there are new V8-powered machines the more potential fans and racers there will be in the future.
There are certainly other ways to go fast with fewer than eight cylinders, but for the fans of that brand of muscular performance, the continuation of Ford V8s is exciting. And, just maybe, if Ford sees continued success the rest of the Big Three might just rejoin the eight-cylinder party at some point, which I would likely make all those reading things, regardless of their brand loyalty, rejoice.

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