In today’s car world, we’re used to Mustangs and Camaros making upwards of 500hp naturally aspirated, but cars weren’t always this powerful. So today, let’s look at some of the most pathetic cars ever, where it would be faster to flintstone the thing rather than use the engine under the hood. Let’s get into it.

#1 1979 302 Mustang / 1979 Ford LTD

Alright, getting right into this, let’s rewind the clock to 1979 when Ford released the all-new third generation of the Mustang.

Now this was following the existence of the blursed Mustang II, which wasn’t a real pony car and was realistically Ford’s response to cars like the 240Z becoming incredibly popular.

Also, as a side note, 1979 also happens to be the year the snowboard was invented. As to why it took them so long to strap boots to a board, I have no idea.

Anyways the third Fox Body Mustang brought with it a lot more size on the body but not necessarily the power to back it up, coming in at 139hp.

What makes this even funnier is that same car from the same year equipped with the 2.3L Turbo engine, an engine literally less than half the displacement of the 5.0L, making almost much power at 131hp.

And if you thought that was bad, it gets even worse with the 1979 Ford LTD coming in at 129hp from its 5.0L Windsor V8.

Combine that with the fact that four years prior, the 1975 Mustang II could be had with the earlier 5.0L engine that output 140hp, which means not only was the Foxbody’s engine pathetically weak for a Mustang, it went backward compared to just four years prior.

  • 1979 Foxbody Mustang: 139hp, 5.0L, 27.8hp/liter

#2 8.0L V10 Viper

Now this next car I didn’t really want to put on this list because the total power output of it is actually pretty high at 400hp and 465lb-ft of torque, but the reason it’s here in the video is that it used an 8.0L engine to get there, and that’s first generation Dodge Viper.

And I’m not going to sit here and say the Viper would somehow be cooler with a smaller engine that stills 400hp because the excessively large engine is part of what makes the Viper the Viper. That being said, squeezing just 400hp out of an 8.0L engine is rather disappointing.

You might not think so because something like the 1991 Corvette outputs 245hp and 350lb-ft of torque from its 5.7L, but if you do the math on that, you’ll see the Viper outputs 50hp and 57lb-ft per liter while the Corvette is at 43hp and 61lb-ft of torque, putting these two surprisingly close together in this context.

Okay, so what’s the big deal? Both the Viper and the Corvette from 1991 make fairly amounts of power per liter.

The very expensive elephant in the room is the Viper came in at $52,000 compared to the Corvette’s $32,000, and you can see why the Viper clearly should’ve made more power for the price it sold at.

  • 1991 Viper: 400hp, 8.0L, 50hp/liter

#3 Chrysler Powertech V8

All right, so far, we’ve flamed Ford and Dodge, so let’s aim our sights at Chrysler because they can’t scotch free for their crimes with the 4.7L Powertech V8 outputting a shameful 235hp and 295lb-ft of torque.

And you might be thinking to yourself, hold on there, that doesn’t actually seem that bad.

And you’d be completely right if we were talking about a 70s, 80s, or 90s engine, but we were talking about an engine that could be had new in the Dodge Durango as late as 2009.

It was also used in Grand Cherokee and a handful of other applications. It even made the Ward’s top 10 best engines for 1999, but if you’ve seen our other videos, that award is more of a curse than a blessing.

And to put this engine’s poor performance in context, we can look at the 2007 Dodge Ram 1500, which could be had with three different engines, two of which were the 4.7L V8 and the 5.7L V8, outputting 235hp and 345hp, respectively, which equals out to 50hp per liter and 60hp per liter.

So yea this engine could definitely fly as an early 90s engine, but considering the fact that it was produced all the way up until 2009 and never made more than 50hp per liter when Chrysler’s other more powerful V8 engines at the exact same time show just how weak the 4.7L V8 really is.

  • Powertech V8: 235hp, 4.7L, 50hp/liter

#4 Rolls Royce 6.75L V8

Alright, enough picking on American cars. We know their power outputs can be pretty bad, so it’s time to beat up on the British cars because they can be just as bad, and we’ll start with the Rolls Royce 6.75L V8 with its ground-breaking, earth-shattering 215hp.

You heard that right. 6.75 liters of displacement and 215hp.

And right off the bat, I know there are going to be some of you who are thinking, “yea, who cares? It’s some old engine from the 1950s. Of course it sucks.”

And while you’d be partially right, this engine was around in some form or another since the 50s, but realistically you could draw the line at 1968, but it was also used until the early 1990s.

This engine has actually since gone on to live under the Volkswagen group in their Bentley vehicles, which use a now twin-turbocharged version of this old Rolls Royce 6.75L, producing upwards of 530hp.

But in something like the 1990s Rolls Royce Corniche, this behemoth of an engine output a mere 215hp.

On the bright side, it outputs 325lb-ft of torque, which is still really bad considering the displacement of this engine, but at least it’s more impressive than the horsepower figure.

  • Rolls Royce L410: 215hp, 6.75L, 31.8hp/liter

#5 Chevy Iron Duke

Alright enough, with these massive engines, let’s take a look at something much smaller, although probably not much lighter, and that’s the Chevy Iron Duke with its whopping 85hp from 2.5L of displacement.

That’s right. Literally not even 100hp from a 2-and-a-half liter engine.

To be fair, though, there were versions as high as 110hp, but that’s still pretty bad. If you do the math on this, the 2.5L Iron Duke is sitting at 34hp per liter, which makes it one of the weakest engines on the list thus far.

I understand that Pontiac and GM needed to offer their cars with more fuel-efficient engines in the 1970s, but for them to poop out such a low-power engine is pretty bad, even by 1970s American car standards.

Can you imagine buying a 1982 Camaro with this engine? You know. It’s a 1980s muscle car, and everyone is having fun racing from stoplight to stoplight, and you pull up with a 2.5L Camaro that quite literally has a 20-second 0-60 time.

Sure, it’s a tough engine, but any engine can be tough when making this little power. And by my money, this should qualify as one of the worst engines of all time period, but that’s a topic for another video.

  • Chevy Iron Duke: 2.5L, 85hp, 34hp/liter

#6 Chevy LG4

Imagine living in California in the 1970s. The weather is beautiful, the state has been ruined yet, and you go out and decide to buy a Corvette.

You’ve always wanted one, but their pricing kept it out of reach for so long. So the day comes that you buy one, just to find out it makes 180hp.

That’s right. The Chevy LG4 is probably the worst mark on the Corvette’s otherwise impressive history of performance cars.

This came after California set its own emissions standards in 1980, and unfortunately, these California-specific standards were so ridiculously hard to reach that for the 1980 model year, Corvettes in California were only available with the anemic 305ci engine.

This puts power impressive low at 36hp per liter, which is about just as bad as the Chevy Iron Duke we mentioned earlier. Interestingly enough, though, the California-specific 305ci V8 had an electronically controlled carburetor that used two closed-loop oxygen sensors and, in many ways, worked like the later TBI systems.

I gotta say, though, 180hp in a Corvette is unforgivably pathetic, and Chevy would’ve been better off simply not selling the Corvette in California for that model year.

Luckily, the following year the Corvette was available with the 350ci engine after GM figured out how to pass California’s emissions standards.

  • Chevy LG4 V8: 5.0L, 180hp, 36hp/liter

#7 Caddy 500

You know the old saying, there’s no replacement for displacement? While that saying holds a lot of truth. Well, in the case of the Cadillac 500 cubic inch V8, it couldn’t be further from the truth with this behemoth of an engine outputting a god awful 190hp and 360lb-ft of torque.

Now for reference, that’s literally the worst engine in terms of power per liter that we’ve looked at thus far, but it wasn’t always this way.

In fact, in 1970, the Eldorado coupe was advertised with 400hp and 550lb-ft of torque, but the fun was short-lived, as GM almost immediately had to start dropping the power for one reason or another.

For one, the compression ratio had to be dropped from 10.25:1 down to 8.5:1 as GM prepared for the introduction of unleaded fuel becoming the standard, which was made significantly worse a few years later when emissions components choked it down to 235hp, and by 1975 the power output was choked down to that aforementioned 190hp figure.

At this power per liter, there are frankly few modern engines that compare. It’s that bad, just as an example to demonstrate my point, a 2.0L engine with the same hp/liter as the Caddy 500 would output just 48hp.

Congrats to GM. This might be one of the weakest engines of all time.

  • Caddy 500ci: 8.2L, 190hp, 24hp/liter

#8 Detroit Diesel 6.2L

Modern diesel engines are both clean and powerful, but that wasn’t always the case, so let’s take a look at one of the worst offenders in diesel history, the 6.2L Detroit Diesel.

Now I know some diesel guys will defend this thing for as long as they’re alive, but that’s not going to stop me from telling you how pathetically weak it is as just 128hp and 240lb-ft of torque.

That’s even worse than the 500ci Caddy engine we previously talked about at just 20.6 horsepower per liter.

Now, to be fair, this engine sucked in the sense that it was naturally aspirated, and as we all know, diesel engines and turbochargers are meant to be together. Without a turbo, well, you end up with engines like this one.

Ironically, when this engine first became available, it was intended to be a more fuel-efficient alternative to the 454 cubic inch big block, which at the time was the engine you’d buy if you wanted to tow and haul.

GM and Detroit half redeemed themselves with the later turbocharged 6.5L engines that output more power, but it wasn’t much and definitely isn’t impressive. Sorry, but it’s the truth. The 6.2L and 6.5L are gutless engines.

  • 6.2L Detroit Diesel: 6.2L, 128hp, 20.6hp/liter


I gotta say, it’s rather unfortunate that there are so many American engines on this list, but you cannot deny the fact that many of the engines we listed are just weak. Yes, they’re bottled up with government-enforced restrictions, but you could argue that’s a side effect of less-than-ideal engineering, but that’s a topic for a different time.

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