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In the Company of Greatness - 10 Best Diesel Engines

10 of the Greatest Diesel Engines - Ever

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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 david.kennedy@sourceinterlink.com. 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.

6. GM 6.6L Duramax

The General Fires a Salvo

* Engine Type: Four-cycle, V-8
* Displacement: 403 ci (6.6L)
* Bore and Stroke: 4.06x3.9 in
* Aspiration: Turbocharged
* Fuel Delivery: Common rail Injection
* Governed Speed: 3,250 rpm
* Maximum Power: 360 hp
* Maximum Torque: 650 lb-ft

* Why We Dig It: After playing a distant third fiddle in the diesel marketplace, General Motors finally got mad enough to do something about it. With the introduction of the Isuzu-built Duramax in 2001, it got on the right track. The newest offering (the LBZ) is a refined beast capable of out-running the other two players in the Big Three's diesel power war.

5. International 7.3L Power Stroke

2 Million Owners Can't Be Wrong

* Engine Type: Four-cycle, V-8
* Displacement: 444 ci (7.3L)
* Bore and Stroke: 4.11x4.18 in
* Fuel Delivery: Hydraulic Actuated
Electronically Controlled Unit Injection* Aspiration: Turbocharged
* Governed Speed: 2,600 rpm
* Maximum Power: 250 hp
* Maximum Torque: 525 lb-ft

* Why We Dig It: The Power Stroke introduced more truck owners in the U.S. market to the wonders of diesel grunt than any engine before or since. Reliable and readily available these engines helped to start a horsepower and torque race of nuclear proportions amongst the Big Three and push diesel ownership into the mainstream.

4. MTU 16V-4000

Bringing New Meaning to the Words "Pleasure Craft"

* Engine Type: Four-cycle, V-16
* Displacement: 3,967ci (6.5L)
* Bore and Stroke: 6.5x7.5 in
* Fuel Delivery: Direct injection
* Aspiration: Turbocharged
* Governed Speed: 2,100 rpm
* Maximum Power: 3,650 hp
* Maximum Torque: They're too afraid to tell us

* Why We Dig It: MTU used to be the diesel wing of Mercedes-Benz, and its mastery of the subject matter is apparent with this engine. Although it's the size of a small (or large!) automobile, these powerplants are assembled with the precision of a Swiss watch. Do you need 3,600 hp in your boat? No. Do you want 3,600 horsepower in your boat? You bet!

3. VW 5.0L V-10

A Velvet Glove Filled With Mike Tyson's Fist

* Engine Type: Four-cycle, V-10
* Displacement: 300 ci (5.0L)
* Bore and Stroke: 3.188x3.759 in
* Fuel Delivery: Direct injection
* Aspiration: Twin turbocharged
* Governed Speed: 4,000 rpm
* Maximum Power: 310 hp
* Maximum Torque: 550 lb-ft

* Why We Dig It: Europeans have been mastering the art of small displacement turbodiesels for decades. That work translated beautifully in this masterpiece of engineering. Although 300 cubes may not be considered tiny, managing 550 lb-ft out of that displacement, in an aluminum block, and having it survive is pretty cool. Shoving a 5,000-pound SUV to 60 mph in less than 8 seconds ain't too shabby either.

2. Detroit Diesel Series 60

* Engine Type: Four-cycle, six-cylinder, inline
* Displacement: 778-855 ci (12.7- to 14.0L)
* Bore and Stroke: 5.24x6.61 in
* Fuel Delivery: Unit fuel injection
* Aspiration: Turbocharged
* Governed Speed: 2,100 rpm
* Maximum Power: Up to 515 hp
* Maximum Torque: Up to 1,650 lb-ft

* Why We Dig It: The Series 60 was the first fully integrated heavy-duty diesel with electronic controls--in some ways, setting the standard in 1987 for our current boom in electronically controlled diesel power upgrades. Its only downside is that it doesn't have the awesome sound of the old Series 53, 71, and 92 two-stroke diesels.

1. Rudolph Diesel's First Working Engine

The One That Started It All

* Engine Type: Two-stroke, single cylinder
* Displacement: 1,200 ci (60.0L)
* Bore and Stroke: large x huge
* Fuel Delivery: Compressed air peanut oil injection
* Aspiration: Naturally Aspirated
* Governed Speed: Slow as death
* Maximum Power: 20 hp
* Maximum Torque: Your guess is as good as ours

* Why We Dig It: Without this piece of history, we'd have nothing to write about. Diesel was way ahead of his time and took a lot of heat for his theories and ideas. He died before he ever got the chance to see his design hit the big time. Old Rudolph's diesel was even the first diesel to run on biodiesel. Plus, his wife was an American woman. So, we could practically be related.

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1 comments
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.

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