Top 10 V8-powered Modern Classics

Not sold on the new generation of downsized, turbocharged engines? Here are ten of the best free-breathing, atmospheric V8s of recent years

Top 10 V8-powered Modern Classics

Audi RS4 B7 (2005)

The best V8s dominate the driving experience and make every journey an adventure, thanks to the sound and sensations they deliver. And the 414bhp 4.2-litre unit at the heart of the manual-only Audi RS4 B7 is among the very best atmospheric V8s. As brawny as the best of them, it’s also sophisticated and beautifully engineered, delivering traditional low-down grunt but revving out beyond 8000rpm with thrilling, inertia-free verve. Its thunderous soundtrack is among the best out there, the contrast with the understated but unmistakably muscular styling and lowered ride height working best in Avant estate form.

To view Audi RS4s listed for sale on AutoClassics click here.

Vauxhall Monaro/Pontiac GTO (2004)

A classic, smallblock Chevrolet V8-powered American muscle car, reinterpreted by Australians and then sold here in the UK, the Monaro was certainly a well travelled model by the time it arrived wearing a Vauxhall badge. The concept was hardly sophisticated, as the 325bhp 5.7-litre V8 under its nose is not exactly highly strung and the package is somewhat understated in looks (if not size). But the rebadged Pontiac GTO was an affordable way to drive a big, old-school V8. The 6.0 VXR that followed shortly afterwards gave it near-400bhp muscle to back up the looks, the burly driving style and old-fashioned dynamics all part of the charm.

To view Pontiac GTOs from 2004 onwards that are listed for sale on AutoClassics click here.

BMX M5 E39 (1998)

Whether it’s been powered by a straight-six, V8 or V10, the BMW M5 has always been defined by its engine. And the 4.9-litre, naturally aspirated 395bhp V8 in the E39-era M5 of 1998 is one of the best of the breed. As with all good V8s, it’s an engine brimming with charisma, too. Like the RS4, its pairing with a manual gearbox gives it proper enthusiast appeal, the understated looks and combination of blistering performance (0-62mph in 5.3 seconds, 155mph limited top speed) and leather-lined luxury offering traditional muscle-car vibes in truly opulent surroundings. A wonderful car with bags more character than its twin-turbo V8 successors.

To view BMW M5s listed for sale on AutoClassics click here.

Mercedes-Benz CLK63 AMG Black Series (2008)

Given how big V8s have dominated the AMG story from the very beginning, it’s hard to pick just one. Downsizing and turbos are now front and centre, but AMG’s first self-built engine was the fabulous ‘M156’ 6.2-litre found in many of its mid-2000s products, including the gullwinged SLS supercar. Its best application was, however, the CLK63 Black Series. With a 500bhp output , 465lb ft of torque and perhaps the best V8 exhaust note on any modern car, the Black Series is the definitive muscle car coupé, as reinvented by AMG. Fabulously fast, brilliantly balanced and with just enough bad-boy charm, it’s a true modern classic.

To view Mercedes listed for sale on AutoClassics click here.

Porsche 928 GTS (1992)

A curious blend of German sophistication and good old-fashioned V8 muscle, the run-out-edition 928 GTS prompted Road & Track to ask whether this was ‘Zuffenhausen’s ZR1’. A last hurrah for a model developed in the late ’70s, by the early ’90s the 928’s V8 had grown from 4.5 litres and an understressed 240ps/238bhp into a more purposeful 5.4 with 330ps/325bhp in the 928 GT. For the GTS, this was increased to 350ps/345bhp – this final version distinguished by its bigger rear wing, wider rear arches and full-width rear lighting strip. Undervalued and underappreciated for years, a GTS with the rare manual gearbox is now (rightly) as covetable and collectable as a contemporary 911.

To view Porsche 928s listed for sale on AutoClassics click here.

Maserati GranTurismo (2007)

First seen a decade ago and still on sale to this day, the Maserati GranTurismo is one of the last naturally aspirated V8s remaining that you can buy brand new in showrooms. It’s arguably also one of the best looking. The Ferrari-derived engine is core to its appeal – it even looks fabulous, with its prominent intake manifold nestled between the cylinder banks. The early 399bhp 4.2s are perhaps a little underpowered but revel in revs, the more muscular 4.7 in the S and MC Stradale models offering a more bombastic character, especially with the transaxle-mounted MC Shift automated manual. Big but beautifully balanced to drive, brimming with character and with that glorious soundtrack accompanying your every move, it’s a fitting tribute to atmospheric V8s.

To view Maserati GranTurismos listed for sale on AutoClassics click here.

Ford Shelby GT350 R Mustang (2016)

A modern car on AutoClassics? True enough, the Shelby GT350 (and its hardcore R version) are current products on the US market, but the half-century-plus of tradition they draw upon embodies all that’s wonderful about V8-powered muscle cars. For its all-American appeal the high-compression 5.2-litre V8 at the heart of the GT350 is more exotic than most, its high-revving, flat-plane design delivering 519bhp at a howling 7500rpm through a delicious, short-throw manual gearbox and limited-slip differential. This is a simple machine, but one that has a sharper edge than any regular muscle car and abilities far, far beyond the quarter mile.

To view Ford Mustangs listed for sale on AutoClassics click here.

Aston Martin V8 Vantage (2005)

The new Aston Martin Vantage has just been revealed, its modernist styling underpinned by a downsized 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 supplied by Mercedes-AMG. The outgoing model remains a classic of the breed, though, its naturally aspirated V8 less powerful on paper than the new one but showing that character can matter more than numbers on the spec sheet. First sold as a 4.3-litre, its 380bhp demanded revs to show its best, yet this traditional nature was totally in keeping with Aston Martin’s image. Power increased to 400bhp in the N400, before the arrival of a beefier 4.7, now with 430bhp. Best paired with the manual gearbox for maximum old-school fun, the Vantage sounds and goes as well as it looks. Which is to say, beautifully.

To view Aston Martins listed for sale on AutoClassics click here.

TVR Cerbera Speed Eight (1996)

A healthy dose of reality needs to be applied if you’re thinking of buying a Cerbera, given this is not only a TVR but one with an in-house-designed engine, too. Go in with your eyes open, however, and you’ll find a model that embodies all that’s exciting, noisy and just a little bit naughty about V8-powered sports cars. More than 400hp in a vehicle weighing a little over a tonne, a sophisticated and distinctive flat-plane sound and traditionally macho handling add up to a package that’s all TVR. The Cerbera’s 2+2 coupé styling is aging well, too. With TVR’s revival prices firming up, the fact that the much-anticipated new car will also be a V8-powered coupé is proof of the Cerbera’s influence.

To view TVRs listed for sale on AutoClassics click here.

Ferrari 458 Speciale (2013)

As with all modern manufacturers, Ferrari has had to embrace turbocharging as a necessary evil. But it wasn’t going out without a fight, and the 4.5-litre unit it created for the 458 Speciale was arguably the most spectacular V8 ever built for a production car. A maximum output of 597bhp delivered at a searing 9000rpm, and a specific output of 133bhp per litre, are the headlines, while the 14:1 compression ratio and extensive weight reduction applied to all the components result in an engine as responsive as it is powerful. The sound, the lack of inertia, the sheer explosive nature of the power delivery and the hunger to be revved out to the red line are all hallmarks of a truly special atmospheric engine. The Speciale’s V8 is unlikely to ever be bettered.

To view Ferrari 458s for sale on AutoClassics click here.

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