Ad Radar
Diesel Power
Mobile Icon BtnMobile Icon Btn RO

In the Company of Greatness - 10 Best Diesel Engines

10 of the Greatest Diesel Engines - Ever

Photography by

This was a tough one! We had some heated debates as to what engines should make this list, and we're sure you will have some with your buddies, too. Trying to put something like this together is like asking a mother which one of her kids she loves the most. But, we did it anyway. Some of you will think we're right on the money. Some of you will think we should be fired. All we can say is that both groups are probably right. To diffuse any and all heated arguments, we want to see your lists. E-mail your top 10 diesel engine picks to us at Or mail them to Diesel Power, Top 10 Diesel Engines, 6420 Wilshire Blvd., 11th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90048.

As we all know, many powerplants are application specific. We could do the 10 best tugboat engines, 10 best stationary generators, 10 best car engines, and on and on. You get the picture. So, sit back, relax, and soak in 10 of the baddest diesels on planet Earth, in no particular order.

10. The Cummins B-Series

The One That Paved the Way

* Type and Description: Four-cycle, six-cylinder, inline
* Displacement: 359 ci (5.9L)
* Bore x Stroke: 4.02x4.72 in
* Fuel Injection: Electronic high-pressure common rail (current product)* Construction: Cast-iron block and head
* Compression Ratio: 17.2:1
* Maximum Power: 325 hp
* Maximum Torque: 610 lb-ft

* Why We Dig It: It wasn't the first, but the B-Series Cummins was the first to bring some respectability to the diesel in the pickup truck idea. It was good then, and it's simply fantastic now, with enough torque to relocate skyscrapers.

9. International DT466

Everything You Own Has Probably Been Moved by One

* Type and Description: Four-cycle, six-cylinder, inline
* Displacement: 466 ci (7.6L)
* Bore and Stroke: 4.59x4.68 in
* Compression Ratio: 16.4:1
* Governed Speed: 2,600 rpm
* Total Engine Weight (dry): 1,425 lb (647 kg)

* Why We Dig It: If you spend more than 15 minutes on the road on any given day, you see dozens of International medium-duty trucks powered by the DT466. Simply put, these are the favorite engines for fleet managers all across America because they run forever, are efficient, make good power for moving freight, and can be rebuilt right in the chassis of the truck. The "pluggers" of the industrial world, the DT466s have earned the respect of drivers and operators all over the world.

8. Wartsila-Sulzer RTA96-C

* Engine Type: Two-cycle, 14-cylinder, inline
* Displacement: 1,556,002 ci (25,480L) Yikes!
* Bore and Stroke: 38x98 in (Roughly a 3 foot bore and 8 foot stroke!)
* Aspiration: Turbocharged
* Governed Speed: 102 rpm
* Engine Weight: 2,300 tons (The city block-sized crank weights 300 tons)
* Dimensions: 89 feet long and 44 feet high
* Maximum Power: 108,920 hp at 102 rpm
* Maximum Torque: 5,608,312 lb-ft at 102 rpm
* Efficiency: 1,660 gallons per hour of heavy fuel oil

* Why We Dig It: Um, do you really have to ask? If this doesn't turn your crank, you really don't get it. This engine is used to motivate container ships, cruise liners, and generates more power than some third-world countries.

7. Caterpillar C12 Super Truck Racing Engine

A True Factory Hot Rod

* Engine Type: Four-cycle, six-cylinder, inline
* Displacement: 732 ci (12.0L)
* Bore and Stroke: 5.12x6.18 in
* Aspiration: Twin turbocharged
* Governed Speed: 2,500 rpm
* Engine Weight: 2,270 lb
* Maximum Power: 1,400 hp
* Maximum Torque: 3,400 lb-ft

* Why We Dig It: Anything that can propel a massive racing big rig to 100 mph in 7.9 seconds is pretty cool in our book. The Caterpillar team won several championships on the back of this fire-breathing monster because of its power and indestructibility.

Enjoyed this Post? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, or use your favorite social media to recommend us to friends and colleagues!
Zach Thalman
Zach Thalman

My friend and I are looking to finish his diesel truck this summer. Last year we spent a really long time building the majority of the car, we would have finished it if he didn't mess up the engine. We have been saving to get a diesel engine ever since and we finally have enough to get a decent engine. I am trying to convince him to get the racing engine because it would be awesome to have a little more kick.

Dan Gambocorto
Dan Gambocorto

I know this is truck-oriented, but no mention of the OM616/617, really? Too much focus on horsepower and not enough on reliability and longevity, methinks.

Michael Sadlier
Michael Sadlier

@Dan Gambocorto I have had the same three 240 D's since 1988, In all that time I have been stuck due to engine problems, not once. I think these motors will outlast me.