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A new Reddit thread is hashing out car history’s favorite OEM engine monikers. Call-outs reference everything from ominous weather and predatory animals to the more go-go gadget-y. There are a LOT of contenders; too many to list, really, but let’s cover a few of the greats. Here are some of the most upvoted engine names on the internet.


The “Terminator” was Ford’s answer for the underwhelming driver response to its predecessor, a naturally aspirated 4.6L V8. That version proved lower than the spec’d output, around 285 hp in action, creating some downer live performance. Enter stage right: Ford’s underrated SVT Cobra Mustang supercharged 4.6L DOHC V8. Spec’d at 390 hp, it could actually hit closer to 430 hp. 

You’ll find Terminators in 2003-2004 SVT Cobra Mustangs. Each engine was hand-built on a special line inside Ford’s Romeo, Michigan plant. Terminators sort of blew up the Corvette’s spot, boasting a quicker quarter mile and lower price tag. It earned the most upvotes in the Reddit thread.


Another Ford! The 5.2L DOHC naturally-aspirated V8 “Voodoo” is the 4.6L’s successor. The Voodoo was hand-built for the Shelby GT350 and GT350R during Mustang’s fourth-gen run. Perhaps its most standout feature is the flat-plane crankshaft. This design gives the engine a certain remarkable sound.

Iron Duke

Pontiac’s 2.5L four-cylinder was installed in over 30 GM models starting in the 1970s. It produced less than 90 hp at a topped 3,000 rpm. For decades, Iron Dukes were plugged into anything entry-level. 

The lackluster units somehow earned near-blasphemous placement in the 1982 Camaro and the 1984 Fiero. The theory there was that GM wanted to offer its sportscars to folks who wanted the badge but didn’t need the performance. After, the Iron Duke would be redesigned, still underpowered, and used until the early 90s. It’s also found in some Grunman USPS mail trucks, for perspective here.


GM’s Cadillac Blackwing is a 4.2L twin-turbo DOHC V8. Born in 2019, it was first plugged into the Cadillac CT6. The CT6 Platinum came with a 500 hp output, while the CT6-V touted an extra 50 hp. GM aimed to max out V8 performance and efficiency, a tall order that took a laundry list of new design elements. It was discontinued shortly after its debut as GM faced layers of market and internal challenges. 

While short-lived, the Blackwing is well known for being the first Cadillac twin-turbo and one of the last of the large American-built ICE V8 power plants as the world sets its electric course.


A Hellephant crate engine unit shown with an all-white background
Hellephant Hemi crate engine | Stallantis

As rare and insane as the name suggests, Mopar Performance’s modern V8 crate engine is basically a mad tea party you can drop into anything with the space. The name comes from Dodge’s infamous Hellcat swirled with wistful memory. The “elephant engine” was the Hemi of the mid-60s: large, heavy, and powerful.

The 6.2L supercharged V8 Hellephant grins out 1,000 hp, easy. The first 100-unit run in 2019 sold out in two days and got tossed into anything from a ’68 Dodge Charger to a 2018 Demon that blew through a quarter-mile test in 9.27 seconds at 150 mph. Late last year, a second run of Hellephant crates with various options was announced, including the Dodge Demon 170 version. They’ll run you nearly $30K.

Other favorite engine names

Northstar: GM’s 4.6L V8, 1993-2011. For years, we fixed a ton of cooling issues and head gaskets at the shop.

Quad 4: Another GM. Used mainly by Oldsmobile, the four-cylinder was produced from 1987 to 2002. The name is of note due to its silly-sounding redundancy.

Megatron: BMW’s four-cylinder M12/13 F1 engine was used in 1987 and 1988.

Merlin: This is actually a Rolls Royce WWII-era plane engine. While some folks might associate the name with the pointy-capped wizard, the engine is named for the Merlin falcon, a bird.

There were more, including Hurricane, Barra, TigerShark, Scat Pack (not an engine), Wankel, Barra, Vortec, and Skyactiv. I could do this all day!

Sources: MotorTrend, Ford Authority,, Driving Line, GM Authority