QotW: What is the greatest Japanese engine?

We’ve asked quite a lot of weekly questions about the greatest cars. What about the hearts that beat within? There have been incredible motors forged in Nihon, from 10,000rpm Honda mills to screaming Mazda rotaries. So we put the question to you.

What is the greatest Japanese engine?

The average Japanese fan would probably shout out the Prince/Nissan S20. Not only did it have 24-valves twin-cams and a note like a chorus of gods, it made the GT-R legend and instantly doubled the price of any car it was dropped into.

What say you, dear reader? As always, the most entertaining, well-written, or inspiring comment by next Monday will receive a random JDM toy. Click through to see the winner from last week’s question, “What is the most influential Japanese car?” 

We had votes cast for the game-changing Datsun 510, globe-trekking Toyota Land Cruiser, and even the fuel-saving Prius. The highest tallies goes to two products from the mind of Soichiro — the Accord and Civic/CRX, but neither were accompanied by the most persuasive comment. That goes to a different Honda champion, Ryan‘s soul-stirring screed advocating the amazing NSX.

In terms of sports cars (which is why we’re all here, right?) it would undoubtedly be the NSX.

It’s the late 1980s, every European “supercar” manufacturer is spitting out what are essentially road-going race cars with some carpet laid down over the bare metal interior. They’re all expensive, prone to failure and impossible to live with on a daily basis.

Along comes Honda, who’s experience with RWD production sports cars includes… a sub 1-liter convertible. Then they changed the world.

All aluminium body construction, titanium connecting rods, and a cockpit that was designed to resemble an F-16 fighter. Technology bred straight out of Honda’s F1 campaign. It was a supercar, except it was a Honda. So naturally, it had almost 360 degree visibility, a fairly low price, incredible reliability. And even a boot space designed to accommodate two golf bags.

It kicked the sh*t out of the Ferrari 348 in every way and the marks that it left on the supercar industry are still so easily visible. Examples running over 200,000 miles, still fairly priced and easy to find parts for and easily maintainable by owners. And then you look at the post-NSX supercars. A totally different machine to the pre-1990s Ferrari, with much more emphasis on a comfortable ride, mass produced parts and occasionally some boot space. Honda, the makers of refrigerators, generators and postman bikes, had successfully scared the socks off of the Italians so much so that they began to copy the fundamental principles of the car, and I think that alone makes it incredible.

It was Soichiro’s legacy, finally seeing production in the year of his death.

“We only have one future, and it will be made of our dreams, if we have the courage to challenge convention.”

Omedetou, sir! Your prize from the JNC gashapon is a Tomica RA6 Honda Odyssey!

 Photos by Skorj, Honda

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88 Responses to QotW: What is the greatest Japanese engine?

  1. Nigel said:

    You guys already answered the question.
    (S20).

    • Pete240z said:

      I agree. The picture answers your question.

    • Pete240z said:

      I have an old brochure from OS Giken that breaks down the engine and all the parts. Awesome to look at.

      • Alan T said:

        I think your OS Giken brochure would be for their TC24-B1, which was/is their own twin cam head conversion for Nissan’s L-gata sixes and is no relation to the Nissan S20.

        • Toepfer said:

          some would consider it superior infact…

          The OS Giken that is.

          • Alan T said:

            Maybe they would, but the TC24-B1 is a cylinder head and associated parts, not a complete engine. It was also designed and built a good ten years after the debut of the S20, so it bloody well ought to be better…!

            Any S20 fan might point to the S20’s race winning bloodline and pedigree, and ask what the TC24-B1 has in comparison. Not sure what the answer is to that ( and this from an OSG TC24-B1 fan too… ).

  2. E-AT_me said:

    i really hate to do this, but i’m sorry.. i have to say it’s the Honda B series.. that engine spawned a generation of engine swapping and modification to a LOT of people. companies were formed BECAUSE OF this engine. every one has had one at one time or another. reliable, rev-happy, “GOT VTEC YO” and easy to make power, NA or FI. the B16B is one of the first engines to make over 10 hp per liter naturally aspirated from the factory. the b series really introduced reliable variable valves to the masses. once again, much like the NSX, the B series is one of Hondas true legacies.

    and like i said… “IT’S GOT VTEC, YO!”. our scene would be a very different place without this little twin-cam.

  3. josh said:

    12v Sirius DASH G63BT. Pretty advanced for the time, makes solid power, comes in one of the coolest Jap sports coupes of the 80’s… What more can I say?

  4. addison said:

    I’d have to go with the 4g63 I mean, this thing has been around now for what, 20+ years supplying gobs of power to the Galant VR4, Talons, Eclipes, AND LETS NOT FORGET ,the Evo which, if I am not mistaken, still sports that same engine now. Hmmmmm?

  5. dankan said:

    The Nissan RB-series.

    Yes, the S20 was a jewel, and Honda is a mechanical Tiffany’s for all of the internal combustion jems they’ve come up with, but the NIssan RB is the Japanese equivalent of the small-block Chevy. It is big, affordable power and has been thrown into all sorts of stuff, both official and hot-rod. The average Hakosuka GT-R replica won’t be packing the S20. Supply and cost put paid to that. But a big, lumpy RB either with turbos or without? Like I said, the small block Chevy for the umeboshi crowd.

  6. deathtoll411 said:

    It must be the 4age from the Aw11 and AE86.
    One of the most tunable engines in the world.

    • Miek said:

      More tunable than a 4g63, RB series, SR20, EJ255, L28ET, 2JZ-GTE, 3S-GTE, etc,etc,etc?

      Or in fact less tunable than all of those?

  7. Louis F said:

    Toyota 2T-G engine. Because it’s a Hemi ;)

  8. unionmine said:

    Datsun L series. That’s the motor that gave the Japanese cars the reputation for being
    so damned hard to kill and that they will run for ever.

    • Kev said:

      I’d go with this. What other engine won WRC events, SCCA championships (over 10yrs), Group 5 and countless amateur events all over the world from the 1970s until today? And powered everything mundane from little economy cars to 4×4 SUVs.

    • john said:

      What he said. :)

  9. Daniel said:

    I would have said JB-DET resp. the JC-DET, which is based on the JB-DET. But that would be far too much Daihatsu-fanboy’ish.

    I would say the greatest engine ever was the engine of the Honda S800.
    An engine from the 60’s which was able to rev up to 12000 rpm is just mindblowing and showed off that small cc’s engines can be used for proper sportcars

  10. John Coffey said:

    The Honda RA168E turbo V6. It won every F1 Grand Prix race in 1988 except for one race where the Ferrari V6 won. It gave the greatest racing driver in history, Ayrton Senna his first Formula 1 Championship.

  11. Camshaft said:

    I’m going to say the Mazda rotary – the funky engine that bankrupted some Germans, intrigued, then befuddled some Americans, and prompted nearly everyone else to say, “that won’t work.” That is, until a little car company from Hiroshima dared to think outside the box and make it a practical reality. It’s been in sports cars, sedans, station wagons, and even pickup trucks – hell, even Ultraman drove one. At one point it powered the fastest Japanese production car; nearly a decade later it would conquer Le Mans: a feat unmatched by Nissan, Toyota, Honda, or any other Japanese manufacturer.

    • IMO said:

      I agree with the Rotary. Though I my self do not own one, and I am a big Nissan supporter, I do believe 100% the Rotary is the greatest engine out of Japan. Everything else is just so…. boring. Wether a 13b or 20b those engines scream, and all the adding more rotors! Its like Rotary people are on space race, who can build the first rotary rocket!?!? I love the Rotary, it is a true race engine and I can not wait to play with one of my own on the track.

      Just IMO.

      • Camshaft said:

        I’d like to amend my post to add that the rotary was what finally pushed the S20-powered Skylines off the top of the hill in the early-mids ’70s on Japan’s premier racetracks.

    • Zionfarm said:

      Yes very much so the Rotary engine is the greatess japanese engine. Granted it was german made and honed. It was mazda that put the rotary engine on main stream street. It was availible to all markets of the world which sparked a fan hood in the early to late 70’s. The B16 is a great engine. The S20 was not at first availible to the US.

      • j_c said:

        German made? Yes. Honed? No, they couldn’t get past the sealing issues. Neither could America, and back in the 60s, those are who you’d want to buy a car from.

        The story of the RE is a great automotive David and Goliath story. Mazda was a little company without the resources of Nissan or Toyota and succeeded where just about everyone else couldn’t. Yes, the emissions and fuel economy nearly tanked the company when the fuel crisis and emissions regulations kicked in, but Mazda finally sobered up and realized you couldn’t stick a high revving engine into just any car.

        And sports/racing cars is where the RE made its reputation in true David vs Goliath races. From toppling the Skyline GT-R with the 12A at Fuji, beating American V8s in IMSA GTO at Daytona, and of course Le Mans. It didn’t have the power as other big blocks, but it was compact, light, and had the durability to make it a solid choice for endurance racing.

        A lot of people poo-poo it for lack of fuel economy or say “herp derp apex seals”, but they either haven’t driven one or know about racing.

        • Victor said:

          Actually Curtis Wright here in the US had a sucessfull rotary engine from what I had understood, they just couldn’t find a market for them because if I remember correctly they were trying to land a military contract. I believe their engine used steel housings, so they didn’t have much problems with the Apex seals. I’ll have to review my book to be 100% sure about this.

  12. xs10shl said:

    Check out http://www.automobilemag.com/reviews/driven/1203_at_the_dawn_of_the_rising_sun/viewall.html for a nice read on 4 great engines of the 60s. Of the 4, I’d personally rank-order them s800, s20, B10, 3M. They were all state-of-the-art, with the s800 coming out on top as a truly ingenious package that has it all. Unfortunately, most of them were not developed further.

    As far as “Greatest” titles go, one must consider the GR-8 and R26B, which bested the competition on the race track. Of those, I’d have to give the nod to the Mazda – the R26B is still the only non-piston engine to ever win Le Mans.

  13. Alan T said:

    Sakae 21.

    No contest.

  14. Ciel said:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbgXw4woKuI

    The greatest Japanese engine of all time? If you meant any engine including the race only ones my vote goes to nothing else but the Mazda Motors 26b Rotary which was put in the Mazdaspeed 787B. The high water mark for the engine was victory in the 1991 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, still the only win by a Japanese automaker, which then got banned because of the unfair advantage it gave, did any other Japanese made engine stand as close to the winning trophy like it did? Id say no.

    Being a proud owner of a 13b driven Efini RX-7, I personally feel the engine is made of genius engineering with a dash of magic in it. Look at it this way: to ‘upgrade’ a cylinder engine of any kind to the limit for greater power, you have to spend a huge amount to reinforce the block, cams, pistons and whatever else there is in it ( do pardon my lack of knowledge of parts in a cylinder engine ), but to get the most out of the Rotary, just port it and toss in reinforced seals and its good to go. Still not enough power? Add more rotors! The possibilities are endless. Look what Pulse Performance Racing Enterprises from New Zealand did, they just made the SIX rotor engine and I believe there would be more in time to come.

    And this debate doesn’t just end at the pure power output of the engines now does it?

    Look at how eco-friendly the engineers at Mazda made the Hydrogen 13b to work, only having water vapor as exhaust emissions.

    Here’s a link as testimonial to how reliable a Rotary is: http://www.streetfire.net/video/13b-rotary-engine-dies-after-5-minutes-of-9k-rpm_9899.htm#disqus_thread

    Just how many engines are there that can handle that abuse?

    Another winning point that goes to the Rotary is the compact size of the powerplant, but the power output that it gives is truly beyond abysmal.

    I wholeheartedly and truly believe Rotary Engines are the winners.

    These engines of the future, be it the rotor adding power addicts or the Hydrogen research environmentalists, I’m pretty sure once you go Rotary, there will be no better alternative on your mind.

    “No one would choose a Mazda if we just make cars that are good enough, People buy Mazda because they love driving. And they like the way we build our cars. I believe that is what sets us apart from the other car makers.” – Hirotaka Takaya, Engineer at Mazda JP

    For me personally, the spirit of zoom zoom still goes on.

    • j_c said:

      ” The high water mark for the engine was victory in the 1991 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, still the only win by a Japanese automaker, which then got banned because of the unfair advantage it gave”

      I wish people would quit repeating that untruth. ANYTHING that wasn’t an NA 3.5L V10 was banned, rotaries weren’t singled out.

  15. grandtouring said:

    Nissan L series. Its simple design, development and use in many nissan models, namely the Z cars (240Z to the 280ZX), allowed old fashion hot rodding with factory parts. A series one 240Z with a turbo L28et out of a 280ZX would still humble many modern cars today. From stroked triple carbed NA screamers to turbo drag engines, the L series is truly Japan’s “small block chevy”.

  16. Freddy said:

    Toyota’s workhorse–22RE

  17. Mike said:

    My pick isn’t for a single engine variant, but for a family. The Toyota M series. Starting in the 60’s and running right through to the early 90’s, it had a long and distinguished service life. Powering Toyota’s flagship Crown, Supra, Chaser, Soarer and even the legendary 2000GT. Featuring single cam, twin cam, carburettor, injection, NA and turbo configurations there’s nothing it hasn’t done. From the smooth torque of the larger displacement engines to the howl of the 3M it’s proven itself in a number of applications. It ticks all the boxes for legendary status!

  18. RATMAZ said:

    Rotary engine yes.But it wasn’t banned because of it’s unfair advantage,It was a case of slow and steady wins the race,they won because they didn’t crash or break down.The 787b was NOT the fastest car on the day.It’s also said that the 26b showed little sign of wear after the race.

  19. Steve said:

    I would say it is a toss-up between the Datsun L-series and the Toyota 2T (in OHV and DOHC forms) series. Both of these engines established Japanese cars’ reputation for being
    so damned hard to kill and last forever.

  20. Jeff said:

    My vote is for the 4A-GE. While every automotive showroom in the world today features many DOHC multi-valve engines, in 1983 it was something exotic. To present some perspective of the situation: Ferrari’s first production DOHC multivalve V8 was highlighted at the Paris Auto Salon in 1981. Less than 1000 of them were produced. In 1983 it was absolutely unprecedented to find a DOHC multivalve engine with electronic fuel injection deposited in the bay of a Toyota Corolla. They continued in service until 2001 in a 5-valve, individual-throttled form.
    Most amazing is that even as awesome as they are, they ar rather conventional. They are straight-forward, easy to build and maintain, no-nonsense engines.
    They have a racing career even longer than their service life, continuing to this day.
    They are light enough for a single person to play with, and a short block fits in a 19 gallon Rubbermaid tub. I know, because I have a wall of Rubbermaid tubs.

  21. bert said:

    While I love me some good ol Toyota straight sixness, My vote goes to the Toyota R series I4’s. More specifically the 20R/22R’s Why? I grew up with them. Grandpa had a 76 Corona wagon with the 20R, that he drove for twenty years without one single issue. No that’s not an exaggeration. My uncle Bobby bought a 79 Hilux (20R) brand new, and is still driving it to this day with over 300k and the original everything! My first car was a 77 Hilux 20R that sat under a tree for several years rotting away in the Washington rain. After we towed it home, my dad discovered that someone had bent the butterfly valves closed, and they wouldn’t budge, dumping old gas into the chamber fowling the plugs. He said there was no way it would run. To which I replied by firing it up, stomping my right foot, and tooling off down the road. Perhaps the most famous proof I can give, is the Top Gear UK Toyota HiLux with the 22R. Trying to see if they could kill it, ol Jeremy smashed it into a tree, dropped a caravan on it, took a wrecking ball to it, let it get washed out to sea, set it on fire, and finally, blew it up on top of a skyscraper set for demolition. Not only does it still run, but it sits proudly on display atop a pedestal at their studio. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnWKz7Cthkk
    The 20R22R has also become famous for its role as the driving force, haha, in many revolutions around the world. Most recently in the “Arab Spring” where every night for a year, my television was overtaken by hoards of angry rebels bouncing across sand dunes in Toyota pickups carrying Russian machine guns, old sewer pipes that shoot rockets, and flaming bottles of vodka, on their way to topple regimes and military’s led by ugly old farts who can’t get it up anymore, so they vent their sexual frustration on Toyota loving people, who proudly drive their bulletproof, cast iron black chariots, in the unending battle for democracy and freeeduuuuuum!!!!!!!!!………………………..Sorry…………..a little off subject. But how many Japanese manufacturers have engine’s with a resume like that?

    The Toyota 20R/22R. The greatest Japanese motor.

  22. Dan said:

    My answer is likely to not be very popular but I believe the “greatest” engine is the Honda 99 Series. 1300 cc and aircooled. It was a pain to design and was revolutionary in many ways but Hondasan made no compromises and was ambititous for taking the bluebird head on. And front wheel drive? Why not? It may have handled “interestingly” but his uncomprimising drive to make the perfect engine should be rewarded in some way… because 1300 was killed in sales compared to the likes of the Corona and Bluebird. And I think it was really the grandfather of what makes Honda famous today, front wheel drive and high specific output.

    Oh, and 115 PS out of 1300 cc in 1970 in a family car? That I think is pretty extraordinary.

  23. Union76 said:

    I’d say FJ20, but I maybe bias.

  24. Union76 said:

    or even Nissan LZ20B……..

    G180W Isuzu…….?

    Anyways, carry on.

  25. Scott said:

    I nominate the Honda S2000 F20C and I’m surprised it hasn’t been mentioned yet. What’s not to love: 2.0 liters, 240hp, and that glorious 9,000RPM redline. For a while this engine held the record for most horsepower produced per liter in a production car. Sure it may be low on torque but that’s all the more reason to wind out the engine and row through the great gear box that it’s paired with. The S2000 may not have been as ground breaking as the NSX, but it was less expensive, arguably more reliable and easier to work on, and above all else just as fun and rewarding to drive. The S2000 is a fantastic car that can still hold its own against new sports cars (I’m looking at you FRS/BRZ) and part of that claim can be attributed to the F20C engine.

  26. Victor said:

    The R26B is the best engine to have come out of Japan. Won Lemans and I bet it would have made for a great basis for a Japanese Ferrari Killer if Mazda would have considered mass producing them, but with their luck they would have built the greatest car ever made, then gone bankrupt, again. But its motors like these that fascinate people like us and inspire us to push things to their limits, like PPRE and their 6B (in my opinon it should be called the 39B to keep true to Mazda’s naming pattern of the displacement number infront of the letter (which I’m pretty sure means the amount of distributors it has based on my observations.) Anyways I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Some of Mazda’s past feats have inspired many and will continue to inspire others to be different and be eccentric in their ways to solve problems, because every once in a while, through hard work you stumble into a winner.

  27. nippon said:

    Datsun a15 <3

  28. Fr3D said:

    Being a Nissan fan I’d say…the Toyota JZ family and especially the 2JZ GTE. Sadly sounds boy racer but only because it’s a great piece of kit that can take a whole lot of abuse.

  29. Benjamin said:

    The Subaru EJ series. What other Japanese engine can you find swapped into everything including Porsche Boxsters, Volkswagen buses, dune buggies, kit cars, and lightweight aircraft? Although Subaru had many Loyale owners before the EJ series was introduced, it is this engine that firmly established Subaru’s Legacy of building durable and reliable cars.

    • T.C.Martin said:

      Agreed. I can’t think of any other JP engines besides the EA series (predecessor to the EJ) you can find in aircraft.

      The engine has its own distinct grumble, an excelent balance between torque and horsepower, an amazing track record for reliability and has been in service for subaru since the early 90s, nearly a 20 year run.

      Has it been the most influential? Maybe not. But the best? Absolutely.

  30. Ian said:

    A couple of Nissan SR20s would pull a premium 1 week before Race Wars. :)

  31. Toepfer said:

    All these comments and no one has said it? I’m appalled.

    Clearly the single greatest engine to come from Japan land that we never got blessed with in America was the 1JZ.

    Oh you like 2JZs? Oh you must be a fan of the “bigger is better” family of sayings.

    The original 1JZ was built in collaboration with Yamaha for the head. Sure the seals on the twins weren’t that great. But to produce that kinda of power and if you up the fuel and boost you get a lot more with no other upgrades.

    Forged internals from the factory. Upgrade the turbo and its easy 4-500whp.

    And the beautiful symphony of sound that comes out of a nice straight exhaust. Just wow. Even twin rotor Mazda can’t touch that.

    Oh its old you say? Well don’t forget about the the upgrade that came in 1996 with the BEAMS architecture and VVTi in the new and even more beautiful 1J in the JZX100s now single turbo, with the kick of the VVTi. And that exquisite exhaust note.

    Sorry V8s and V6s can’t touch that. No Honda 4 cylinder can touch that exhaust note. You can get close with the old S20 but its still different. There is just something about the 1J that holds a place in my heart and the heart of many others.

    There is an All JZ meet. Why do you think that is?

    Sedan life is the only life…

  32. Richy said:

    The perennial New Zealand thrash favourite, the mighty, indomitable, valve bouncer of all valve bouncers – the Toyota 4K. You know what? Plenty of other Japanese engines might make more power, might have technological innovations ahead of their time, but the sturdy little cast iron block pushrod er, “powerhouse” of the 4K has em all beat for sheer “not flying apart in the face of crass abuse” status, as well as being a simple engine that’s packed full of character. I’ve run these engines without water – for 600 miles on a blown headgasket – with a mere cupful of oil in them – and they’ve all survived and come crying back for more! Add to that, the fact that with a spot of tickling they can be made to perform well enough to scare the average 4AGE powered car and I think they deserve the top spot. The exemplification of cheap, simple and outrageously reliable Japanese motoring, the kind of thing Toyota’s reputation (here in NZ at least) was built on.

  33. Max said:

    2T-G. Because it can make some old cranky dudes that spent a lot of money on their European cars pretty upset, and that’s just good entertainment. Also, because its the engine I wish my car came with in the US. Also, twin-cam in any car in the early 70’s was just badass.

  34. Supralaju said:

    Toyota 2JZ GTE & Getrac 6 Speed gearbox

  35. Blake said:

    Whatever the torqeless, unresponsive engine they put into the 93 Toyota Caldina. It was so uninsperational I couldn’t be bothered remembering what it was or looking it up. But what it lacked in power it made up for with the true hallmark of a good engine from the land of the rising sun – realiability.

    We had one that was never once serviced or tuned, was thrashed around mountains daily as a building site deliery vehicle (i even remember it with a full pallet load of bricks in the boot!) and it never once gave a whimper before we sold it to an appreciative buyer at 450,000km. A true work horse and a dam fine engine!!!!!

  36. Blake said:

    * and of course it was a automatic diesel!

  37. Jose said:

    I would go with the L series in the Datsuns

  38. Cedu86 said:

    My favorite is still the 4AGE but its kinda underpowered.. so id have to say the F20C for tunability and reliability.

  39. liquid51 said:

    3m from the 2000gt

  40. bugout said:

    personally i would say the godzilla RB26DETT motor. I saw a couple kids who already agree.

  41. Manny said:

    in my honest opinion the best japanese engine was the SR20 it’s a simple fast motor that rarely has any problem and thanks to the SR20 VTEC was created. Another great japanese engine was the L1800 that came in the Datsun 510, Datsun 610, Datsun 710 thanks to that engine Datsun won the BRE trans am series in 1972.

  42. magnus berglund said:

    Mazda 13B.

    For me at least….

    Got four of them now.

  43. PK_12A said:

    I’m gunna have to go with the Mazda rotary series from the early 10a in the Cosmo Sport to the 3rd gen RX-7 with the 13b TT to the latest Renisis engine in the RX-8 the rotary has been raced in all forms of racing from IMSA (road racing) to NHRA (drag), the rotary has proven it can take a lot of abuse and high millage. Even with a somewhat checkered past due to sealing issues early on and owner neglect, Mazda soldiered on and has had continuing development and made it better with each newer version. These are swapped into everything from MG’s to aircraft and even boats, known for there smooth power delivery and willingness to rev to the moon the Mazda rotaries have seen action in a lot of places. I’m not just an enthusiast but, an owner of a 12a carbed and ported 1st gen RX-7.

  44. MrBorohachi said:

    If this was an English assignment this article would receive a F-.

    Question “QotW: What is the greatest Japanese Engine?” .
    Winning Answer: “In terms of sports cars (which is why we’re all here, right?) it would undoubtedly be the NSX.”
    Completely off topic and he didn’t even know the engine code of the NSX, C30A 3.0L; C32B 3.2L.

    The clear winner for “Greatest Japanese Engine?” is the 4-AG(& 4-AGZE). Just due the different chassis configurations it was use in, ie: FR, MR, and FF. In it’s MR form in the AW11 it was available in forced induction 4-AGZE.

    • Ben said:

      Luckily for you this isn’t a reading comprehension test. :)

      “NSX” is the answer to last week’s question. Best comment for greatest engine will be published next week.

  45. R134 said:

    Such an opinion driven question… You can go with reliability…20/22r, or race proven…rotary, of influence…B-series.

    Because I am a human I have an opinion of what would be my “favorite” japanese engine, so I guess I will go with that. My favorite is the 1JZ-GTE. It is built like 2JZ but with a shorter stroke , therefore faster revving. It has similar displacement to the monstrous RBs, but it has Toyota reliability. It can be driven like an econo engine around town (if you have the will power), and hurt feelings at the track (ask my SCCA cohorts). I have made many of fans with my 1JZ, police and competitors alike. But I am a Toyota fan, born a Honda fan: I like reliability. I hate rotary engines because they are sooooo unpredictable, and believe Nissan engines are overkill (mechanically). I don’t trust the diamond star either.

    A strong second, more like 1.25, is the Honda B-series. It influenced modern day import modification, it made true JDM fan boys, it is the reason why America loves anything Japanese. When did most of our peers start accepting japanese automotive performance? Even when the L-series was brought over to the states, people still bought the s30s larger more fuel guzzling american counterparts. But the Civic Si and Acura Integra killed the Cavalier, Neon, and Escort. Most people who were converts weren’t even buying the Si or Type-R, they were buying base level Hondas just to be in the family. This lead to the engine swap, can I get an amen!
    Not only did the Honda B-series bring about a new form of import tuning, but they also brought respect.

    • Toepfer said:

      Built like a 2JZ? I’m assuming you’re talking about the 2JZ-GTE.

      No. Just no.

      The 2JZ-GTE is all Toyota. The original 1JZ-GTE has a head designed by Yamaha. Its a completely different beast. Completely superior. They are nothing a like. Not to mention the 1JZ-GE was being put in cars before the 2JZ-GE was. Not that that has anything to do with the turbo motors. But the 1JZ was a complete redesign from the previous defunct M serious..

      Two completely different motors.

  46. Leonard Kruwel said:

    The Honda CVCC.

    While Detroit was moaning their mantra about upcoming Emissions Standards being technologically impossible to meet, along comes Honda, beating the standards, on leaded gas, and without a Catalytic Converter, air pumps and all the add-on garbage that plagued Detroit iron of the time.

    Never again would Japanese Engineering be called copy-cat. From that day they were the leading edge. .

  47. Ian C said:

    My vote is for the rotary engine. Be it the 12a, 13b, that New Zealand 6 rotor or anything in between.

    I mean sure, I can go on about how a 2 rotor engine only has 3 moving parts or that its block is about 12 inches long and produces the same power as a 6 cylinder piston engine, But I’m probably boring you by spewing all these facts. So I’m sure you’re wondering what then? What makes this engine the best to come out of Nippon?

    The answer is really a lot simpler then you might think. The goal of any engine is to get your vehicle from point A to point B. But what other engine has been able to do so in so many ways? This single engine (referring to the 12a/13b) has powered everything from public buses to the luxury Eunos Cosmos. By simply modifying shapes of the intake and exhaust ports in its housing, it effectively changes the behavior of the engine from quiet smooth cruising to super powered weed whacker, any everything in between. Even alternative fuels are not an issue, very little was done to the engine to create a hydrogen fueled variant, which by the way, can still run gas if the hydrogen tank ever runs out.

    But seriously, if given the choice, could any of you really deny wanting to drive an angry weed whacker around the track in third gear? I think not.

  48. Miek said:

    Datsun L series, especially the L28ET

  49. Slade said:

    The mazda 787b.

    Nuff said;)

  50. san maru said:

    A16, great gas mileage. Moved millions

  51. san maru said:

    oops, A12, not A16

  52. Dan said:

    3 rotor 20b. Why? Because this:

  53. 2JZ said:

    Toyota’s 2JZ-GTE no Shit of course

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