How Well Do You Know the Inner Workings of American Cars?

Steven Symes

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

Are you one of those people who is more comfortable crawling around under the hood of a car than doing taxes? Can you immediately tell the difference between Corvettes by only catching a glimpse of the engine compartment? What about different MOPAR models? Mustangs? 

Some people just have a gift for understanding cars. If you've grown up in the United States, or live somewhere that has a lot of American vehicles, chances are you've picked up on a few details of how different models work. But are you one of the rare individuals who is more like a walking encyclopedia of American automotive knowledge? 

This quiz covers vehicles from the early part of the American auto industry, all the way up to current cars. It will require you to draw on all of your vast experience wrenching and reading up on cars. Are you ready for the challenge? Roll up your sleeves and start the quiz right now to see how much you really know! 

What kind of engine did the first Corvette use?

In 1953, the first Chevy Corvettes rolled off the assembly line, wowing everyone with sleek and forward-thinking design. The only thing people really complained about was that the engine seemed a little underpowered for an "America's sports car." That issue was later fixed by Chevrolet, with V-8s joining the mix.

What do you find under the hood of the final generation of the Ford Thunderbird?

Ford turned quite a few heads with the original Thunderbird, a car that has been called one of the most beautiful to ever be made. After sinking into design mediocrity, or worse, the final generation of the car more or less returned to its aesthetically-pleasing heritage. Still, people complained the peak 280 horsepower didn't back up those looks.

What kind of engine moves the Hennessey Venom F5 forward?

With an insane 1,600 bhp on tap and a claimed top speed of 301 mph, plus the ability to do 0 to 189 mph in 10 seconds, the Venom F5 is insane, even for Hennessey Performance. In the interest of keeping curb weight down, while maximizing peak performance and acceleration, the Texas tuner chose a V-8 with twin turbos.

How many speeds did the automatic transmission for a 1969 AMC Javelin have?

AMC developed the Javelin as a Mustang fighter, and also to ​combat the Chevy Camaro as well as the Dodge Challenger, among the other new pony cars. In the first model year, you had the choice between a straight-six or V-8 engine, plus you could get the optional three-speed "Shift-Command" automatic transmission.

The C8 Corvette ZR1 packs a wicked punch with 755 horsepower coming from a small block V-8. What is the engine cover made of?

The new ZR1 is as much about power as it is about lightness and efficiency. Chevrolet engineers also designed the supercar with a body kit that maximized handling capabilities, especially on a track, at which the car is ultimately made to excel.

Which automaker with experience making exotic vehicles, helped with casting the first Dodge Viper's aluminum alloy engine?

Dodge already had a reputation for performance, but when the Viper first debuted in 1991, it wowed with an exotic nature nobody was expecting. Even better, the V-10 under the hood backed up the wild looks, producing 400 horsepower and 465 lb.-ft. of torque.

On the Chevrolet Type C, a car also known as the Classic Six, where were the engine and transmission located?

The first Chevrolet had a different kind of setup than what we're used to seeing on cars today, which shouldn't be surprising, considering the car debuted in 1913. The six-cylinder engine was up front, like many cars of the time, while the rear transmission worked with a cone clutch.

Dodge's fiery SRT Hellcat V-8 that can be had in a few models uses what bolt-on forced induction system to increase power?

With 707 horsepower on tap, the SRT Hellcat V-8 certain is a force to be reckoned with. Of course, that amazing output is made possible by the supercharger, considering that Hellcat has a smaller displacement than the considerably less powerful 392 Hemi V-8.

What is the "shaking" part of a shaker hood on a muscle car?

On some hoods, there is an air scoop that's part of the hood, but that's not the case with shakers. Instead, the air scoop attached to the engine protrudes through a cutout in the hood. When the engine is running, this section of what appears to be the hood is vibrating or shaking, hence the name.

What kind of engine do you find in a first-generation Ford GT?

As a tribute to the GT40, Ford created this wild super car and loaded it with a supercharged 5.4-liter V-8 that whips out 550 horsepower. Of course, the engine doesn't sit under the hood, since it's mounted right behind the seats, like a true exotic.

What was the "Twin H-Power" feature printed on the engine of some Hudson Hornets?

Hudson used the Hornet and its Twin H-Power carbs to prove that a straight-six could hang with burly V-8s, both on the road and track. The Twin H-Power setup was a dealer-optional feature, one that many enthusiasts opted for after seeing the Fabulous Hudson Hornet in action.

What was under the hood of the Studebaker Land Cruiser?

When the Land Cruiser hit showrooms in 1933, it featured the larger of the two straight-six engines Studebaker had in its arsenal. The car also featured aerodynamic styling, including a single-piece curved windshield, making it quite futuristic for the '30s.

If you were to pop the hood on a Saleen S302, what would you find?

Saleen uses the Coyote 5.0-liter V-8 from the Mustang GT for the S302. If you get the top package, the upgrades boost output to a mighty 730 horsepower, which is Saleen's way of really flexing its muscles.

From where did Hemi engines get their name?

When Chrysler designed the Hemi, it used a hemispherical combustion chamber, which boosts surface-to-volume ratio, resulting in a more efficient burn. That, of course, means more power, which is what everyone thinks of when you mention a Hemi.

What kind of braking system was introduced on the Duesenberg Model X?

The Model X came out in 1926, when the brand was riding high as one of the most sought-after automobiles in the world. Fred Duesenberg had developed hydraulic brakes for his race cars about a decade earlier, and felt the large Model X was a good candidate for commercial release. He didn't patent the design, which could have saved the company and made the Duesenbergs a huge fortune.

What did Ford Performance add to the 2018 Focus RS to improve handling?

One of the biggest pieces of criticism for the Ford Focus RS has been that it doesn't handle as well as competing hot hatches, even if it does boast 350 horsepower. To fix that, Ford Performance dropped a mechanical Quaife Limited Slip Differential for the front axle of the car.

What was the most powerful engine offered for 1970 to 1973 Plymouth Barracudas?

Offered on 1970 and 1971 models, right at the height of the American muscle car wars, this 426 Hemi V-8 pushed out a meaty 425 horsepower. In 1971, Plymouth charged an extra $1,228 for the engine, so very few were sold.

Where did Ford get the engines for the Probe lineup?

Most people only remember that the Ford Probe was originally supposed to be the new Mustang. What they forget is that it was based on the Mazda G-platform, and even shared things like the headlights and instrument panel with the RX-7. With the exception of the Ford Vulcan, all the engines used for the Probe came from Mazda.

What were the two engine configurations you could get on a Pontiac Fiero?

The Pontiac Fiero has become a notorious vehicle, thanks to a bad reputation for the engine catching fire. Still, it was an ambitious endeavor by GM, because mid-engine sports cars were quite literally a foreign concept at the time.

For the final version of the Viper ACR, what engine modifications did Dodge make, versus the other Viper models?

You might have thought Dodge dumped all kinds of sick power in the final Viper ACR, but changes to the car really focused on handling and aerodynamics. It made sense, considering the 8.4-liter V-10 already pumped out 645 horsepower, which in a car that weighed not much over 3,000 pounds was plenty.

What was the least powerful model year for the C4 Corvette?

Thanks to tightened emissions standards, GM engineers were still figuring out how to bless the C4 Corvette with plenty of power. The 1984 model suffered with a 5.7-liter V-8 that only made 205 horsepower, an amount that was embarrassing at the time and seems unbelievably low today.

How much horsepower did the Ford Model T produce?

To make the Model T affordable enough for the average American to afford it, Ford cut costs in a number of ways. While the assembly line helped, the 2.9-liter inline four-cylinder engine also kept the car cheap, but it didn't make for a particularly quick or powerful vehicle.

What's under the trunk of the Tesla Model S P100D?

If you open the hood on any Model S, you'll find a small "frunk" or "front trunk" that can hold at best a couple of bags. The motors and batteries are all located in the chassis, which helps with stability and handling, instead of a big engine in the car's nose.

Where did Buick source the turbo for the mighty GNX?

To make a version of the Regal that would wow everyone, Buick recruited the help of McLaren Performance Technologies. Among the modifications was a unique Garrett T-3 turbo connected to a larger intercooler than was used on other Grand National models, resulting in about 300 horsepower.

Opening the hood on the Eagle Summit, what would you find stamped on the engine cover?

The big secret that wasn't really a secret at all was that the Eagle Summit was actually a Mitsubishi RVR with some cosmetic and light mechanical differences. Chrysler and Mitsubishi had been creating similar vehicles for some time, not even bothering to swap out the engine cover.

What was the displacement of the 2012 Ford Shelby GT500's engine?

At the time, this 5.4-liter V-8 was monumentally powerful, putting 540 horsepower the drivers' hands . Of course, thanks to new models like the Dodge Demon, that peak output seems a little on the weak side today, something Ford wants to correct for the 2020 model.

Underneath the long hood of the Pierce Silver Arrow, what kind of engine do you find?

Just looking at this exceptionally rare vehicle, you can tell it's something special. The long hood hints at a big engine, which is exactly what's lurking under there. With only five ever made, nobody really wants to test out what one of these cars will do on a track.

What was the top engine offered for the 2016 Dodge Dart?

Before it went out of production, the Dodge Dart could be had with the 2.4-liter Tigershark MultiAir 2, an engine that packs an advanced variable intake design. It wasn't considered hot enough by quite a few enthusiasts, since peak performance was only 184 horsepower and 174 lb.-ft. of torque.

When the IROC-Z hit the market in 1984, what was the V-8 engine's displacement?

Chevy engineered the IROC-Z to be the premier version of the Camaro, eclipsing performance you could get from the Z/28 back then. That V-8 stuffed under the hood pelted out a measly 215 horsepower, although some IROC-Z fans claim that number was grossly underrated by GM on purpose.

What is the base engine for the 2018 Ford Mustang?

While purists aren't in love with it, Ford has dropped the V-6 engine from the Mustang lineup and offers the 2.3-liter EcoBoost as the base option. It produces 350 lb.-ft. of torque, impressive for a four-cylinder engine. You can still get a Mustang GT, which uses a far more potent 5.0-liter V-8.

What engine was used in the 2005 and 2006 Pontiac GTOs?

Admittedly, the final Pontiac GTO didn't look like much, but it packed the LS2 small block V-8, which was the base engine for the Corvette lineup at the time. That made the GTO a cheap way to get plenty of speed, even if the handling was a little on the sloppy side.

What was the cylinder configuration for the first-generation Nash Ambassador's engine?

The first Nash Motors Ambassador launched in 1927 with a 4.6-liter OHV inline 6-cylinder rated at 78 horsepower, which was a healthy figure for the time. That was connected to a 3-speed manual transmission, while semi-elliptical springs, four-wheel mechanical brakes, and 20-inch wheels made for a fairly high-end vehicle.

What is special or different about the engine in the 2015 Shelby GT350?

If you've heard the GT350 rev, you know the car sounds like an exotic vehicle, thanks to the flat-plane crank. Most V-8 engines have a cross-plane crank. Because the flat-plane crank generates more vibrations in the engine, the exhaust note is more shrill, making the GT350 sound different.

If you pop the hood of the final Dodge Viper made, what forms an "X" over the engine?

With 645 horsepower on tap from the massive 8.4-liter V-10, the Dodge Viper needs impressive handling to match. That giant "X" brace over the engine helps keep the wheels firmly planted on the road, so you avoid negative qualities like wheel hop.

What kind of forced induction setup does the 6.2-liter Hemi SRT Demon V-8 use?

Dodge says it put in 25 major part upgrades in the Demon to make it more powerful than the Hellcat V-8, with amazing results. At the time it was released, this was the most powerful production car ever, putting out 840 horsepower at its peak.

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