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Encyclopedia Hoonatica: Even Odder Engines

Peter Tanshanomi August 16, 2010 Encyclopedia Hoonatica 86 Comments

The vast majority of cars have an even number of cylinders—2, 4, 8, etc. Much more rare are cars with an odd number of cylinders in the engine bay. Very few cars indeed have been equipped with both an even-cylinder engine and an odd-cylindered version. The Audi 100 and GM’s Colorado/Canyon pickup are two fairly well-known examples available with both 4- and 5-cylinder engines. How many can the Hooniverse Hive Mind come up with? There are at least a few more, including one fairly obscure one I am keeping to myself in order to test your skills. (Hint: the two engines needn’t have been available in the car at the same time, and don’t focus exclusively on 5-cylinder blocks.)

As always, read through first and avoid duplicate answers.

DIFFICULTY: You only thought last week’s convertible pickup question was tough. Okay, there are a lot more correct answers than I was aware! Shows me not to attempt to go up against the Hooni-Hive-Mind.

  • Dan

    Geo Metro – 1.0L three cylinder and 1.3L four cylinder

    • dr zero

      I guess we can throw in the Suzuki Swift and all derivatives (Holden Barina, etc) here as well.

    • JRod

      I was totally going to say that. It's a rough engine overall, but damn if that G10 Suzuki motor purr when running right. That and it got 50mpg!

  • M44Power

    Both Acura and Volvo had inline 5s.

  • Acura Vigor 5 and 4 cylinder motors.
    Current-gen VW's with 4 and 5 cylinders.

    Jeep FCs available with a 3-cylinder two stroke Cerlist diesel and various 4 or 6 cylinder engines.

    • CJinSD

      The Acura Vigor was replaced by the TL which came in 2.5 I5 and 3.2 V6 models.

  • The Fiat Coupe was available with a four or a five and was styled by….wait for it…waaait…Chris Bangle!
    <img src="http://www.theabcrestorations.com/Fiat%20Coupe.JPG&quot; width="640" height="480">

    And let's not forget pretty much every Mercedes-Benz passenger car line of the '80s and '90s that was available with a straight-five diesel.

  • Mr_Biggles

    Vauxhall / Opel Corsa offers a 1.0L 3 and has had various sizes of 4 cylinders, both gas and diesel.

    <img src="http://www.pentagon-group.co.uk/images/new_corsa_vauxhall.jpg"&gt;

  • EricF

    The H3 (shudder) can come with an I-5 or a V8, and the Passat, Golf, and Jetta were variously offered with a VR5 or I-4 from '97 to 2000.

    • retro

      Also, the Passat of the eighties could be had with either stright-four or straight-five engines.

  • SSurfer321

    Late model Volvo S60 – 4, 5 or 6 cylinders available.
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e8/Volvo_S60.jpg/800px-Volvo_S60.jpg&quot;, width=500>

    • TurboBrick

      Volvo is the poster child for the 5-cylinder design thanks to the modular "white blocks". Same lumps have found their way into the new Ford Focus and back in the 90's they were available in Eagle Premier's distant nephew, the Renault Safrane as well.

      • dr zero

        The 5 cylinder Focii are pretty nice. Especially the RS.

  • Alff

    My Alfa Spider has had both a 2.0 lite four banger and a 1.5 three cylinder.

    • Austinåmerica

      I see what you did there….

  • smalleyxb122

    A day early for two wheeled Tuesday, I submit the following:

    Triumph Daytona (3 cylinder); Triumph Daytona 1200 (4 cylinder)
    Triumph Trophy 900 (3 cylinder); Triumph Trophy 1200 (4 cylinder)

  • Ain't that Smart car got one of dem der 3 cylinder engins? I reckon it do.

    • Yes, but only the ForFour had a four for production.

      • zaddikim

        I have said "but only the ForFour had a four for production" ten times now, and the entertainment value has still not gone down.

        /easily amused
        //yes I have ADD
        ///I have a red car

        • austinminiman

          I'm on about my 20th read-through. Nope… still funny.

  • Alff

    The Isetta started life with a 2-cylinder engine, went to a single when BWM started making them, later to be replaced by another two cylinder.

    • Alff

      Sorry, typo. I forgot to put the BM in BMW.

      • ptmeyer84

        That is a shitty joke.

  • Number_Six

    Some years of both Dodge and Ford trucks, as well as the Volkswagen Touareg and Audi Q have been offered with both eights and tens.

    Euro Focus comes with 4 and 5 pots.

    • 8 and 10 are both even numbers.

      • Number_Six

        I have to stop sniffing my dry erase markers. In my wretched Monday state a V10 is uneven because it's 2 x I5. Math is hard.

      • Alff

        But three is a magic number

        • One is the loneliest number.

          • Alff

            Oh, I don't know. I've heard two can be as bad as one.

            • According to Debbie Harry, when one's a crowd, three's company.

              • Alff

                My kind of gal.

  • TurboBrick

    Oldsmobile had an experimental 2.5L V5 diesel in 1983 – Yes, Vee-5, the injection pump was where the sixth cylinder was supposed to be.

    • Wow, that sounds incredibly half-baked even by post-Malaise GM standards.

    • austinminiman

      Reminds me somewhat of the Lloyd 650. It was essentially a three-cylinder, but only two cylinders drove the engine. The third was centrally located and was gravity fed raw fuel, and then through inertia it would pressurize the fuel, feeding the carburetor, which would inject atomized fuel into the other two cylinders. So the third cylinder was in effect a dumby cylinder serving as a fuel pump and, to some degree, a primitive supercharger.

  • M44Power

    SAAB had a 764cc 2 cylinder too. (I know, even vs odd… still cool though.)

  • tonyola

    How about a nine-cylinder W engine? http://www.atomracing.se/6M.html

    • Dude, you just beat me to it!

    • Tiller188

      Wha…it's a modern-day (and shrunken) Napier Lion! With carbon fiber intake trumpets and tubular headers! Thank you, sir, for pointing the way to this awesomeness.

  • fisheater

    Daihatsu Charade started out with a 1.0 3-cylinder and moved on to a 1.3 4-cylinder.
    The first generation Honda Insights also had 1.0 3-cylinder and moved on to a 1.3 4-cylinder. At least the gas half of the propulsion.
    Mercedes Benz W123 300 class had both 5-cylinders and 6-cylinders. The W201 190 class had 4, 5 and 6-cylinder engines.

    • The first and second generation Insights are the same car in name only. Or are you saying that you could get a Gen1 Insight with a four-banger at some point? That would be news to me, but I'm not exactly an expert on that car.

      • discontinuuity

        I thought that JDM cars had 3 cylinders and US cars had 4.

  • owlman

    My Alfa Brera has a 5 pot JTDM diesel but is also availabe as a four and a V6

  • retro

    How about rotaries?

    The early '90's Eunos Cosmo came in both 2-rotor or 3-rotor configurations.

    <img src="http://ploader.net/files/062b47c85fae8326d614d901a2ee04ef.jpg"&gt;

  • TurboBrick

    Oh yeah and just so that we have all the numbers covered, the curved dash Olds had a single cylinder.

    <img src="http://oldcarandtruckpictures.com/Oldsmobile/1901CurvedDashOlds.jpg"&gt;

    • And it was also available with…a VR6?

    • BGW

      So did my '87 Olds Calais by the time I was done with it.

  • earlofhalflight

    Not a car engine, but the Commer/Tilling-Stevens 3 cylinder horizontally opposed 2 stroke diesel truck engine was pretty odd.

    • austinminiman

      That sounds…. not smooth.

  • Weird, the other day a Chevy Colorado with a somewhat loud exhaust passed by my house and I noticed the odd sounding exhaust. I forgot that they used the inline-5 engine, and I thought to myself that this would probably end up being a Hoonatica question. I was right!

    My contribution was going to be a 300D Mercedes but as always I can't get to this thread in time to post anything.

  • Suzuki, in 1977, offered both the GT550 two stroke triple and the GS550 inline four. They're bikes and I know it doesn't really apply to this topic, but there it is anyway.

  • retro

    The Alfa Romeo 33 came with an oddball selection of engines. Petrol engines were flat four's, but the diesel was a 1.8 litre straight 3.

    <img src="http://ploader.net/files/ff455aae0c5a4c1dfa25c40b5a67a8b9.jpg&quot; width="70%">

  • Chan

    1905 Rolls Royce 2-3-4-6 cylinder engines in I believe same basic chassis (10,15,20,30 hp)

  • I love that as of right now, a post about odd-number engines has double the comments as my Camaro review. You guys rule.

  • One holy Poncho. The seven cylinder Pontiac. odd story http://www.blessedquietness.com/yarn/pontiac.htm

    • austinminiman

      That was… strange. And quite self-flattering on the part of the pastor. If driving skill means you're possessed I guess Ayrton Senna is the devil himself?

  • Andrew

    Suzuki Fronte Van- first offered with a 3-cylinder, later reduced to two.

  • The 1909 Brush, with a thumper!
    <img src="http://occhiolungo.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/brush1910.jpg"&gt;

  • Joe C

    Mini Coopers will soon have 3 bangers!

  • V5 is just an awesome concept all on its own.

  • ptschett


    I've known for years that there was a 3-cylinder version of the 2-stroke Detroit, but it took some searching to learn that it was ever used in a truck (in the 1950's, and of course it was a GMC.) The alternate engine choice was apparently a 6-cylinder gas engine.

  • I present to you the Innocenti Mini, available with a 617cc 2 Cylinder engine or a throbbing 998cc 3 Cylinder. And it looked a little like this:
    <img src="http://www.aronline.co.uk/images/innimini_07.jpg&quot; width="500">
    Image from the fascinating Austin-Rover archive website AROnline.co.uk

    • Number_Six

      One of my automotive perversions is my addiction to the DeTomaso Innocenti Turbo. I could have bought one brand-new in 1985, but I am glad I didn't because by 1986 I wouldn't really have had a car. Still, if I could find a nice one today…

      <img src="http://crazy80.c.r.pic.centerblog.net/boch6id6.jpg&quot; width="500" />

      • Wow, nice little archive image. I first saw an Innocenti in town when I was little, don't think I've seen one since. I remember being amazed when I found that the underframe was pure BL Mini. Oh, and I'd kill to own anything with a De Tomaso badge


    DKW F800 available first with 2 cylinder later with the famous 3=6 3 cylinder two-stroke.
    <img src="http://www.motorbase.com/uploads/2009/11/21/fs_dkw_f800_schnelllaster_potomac_motors.jpg"&gt;

    • zaddikim

      Looks like the off-spring of a Bug and a Euro-van.

      On the plus side, those hella-skinny tires must give awesome traction in the snow.

  • discontinuuity
    • smalleyxb122

      While I don't think that it counts, since it wasn't a factory option, it's still cool to see my car as a response to this question.

  • Slow Joe Crow

    Landrover Discovery Series II, your choice of V8 gas or 5 cylinder diesel in most markets outside North America. I think it was diesel only in some areas. The Landrover Defender also gets in since the same TD5 diesel as the Discovery was used from 1999-2007 while the older (94-98) 4 cylinder 300tdi was available on "third world" spec vehicles, plus I think the South African Defenders with the BMW M52 six lasted until at least 99 or 2000.

  • I want to second Mr_Science in loving these posts.
    My hat is off to Tanshanomi for the idea, and to everyone else for pooling and panning obscure knowledge.

    Much later, following some serious internet mining…

    Single or twin engines:
    The final Mark G Bond Minicars
    Spainish David cyclecars
    Maytag Toy Racer

    Two or Three Cylinders:
    >1984 Mitsubishi Minica
    Suzuki Fronte 7-S

    Two, three AND four cylinder
    original Suzuki Jimmy

    Three or four cylinders
    Audi A2
    Daihatsu Mira
    Daihatsu Move
    Maruti Alto
    Mitsubishi Town Box
    Mitsubishi Toppo
    Opel Agila
    Third generation Subaru Rex
    Multiple generations of Volkswagen Lupo
    (and SEAT Ibiza and Skoda Fabia)

  • Guest13

    Volkswagen VR5…Europe only.

  • Jim-Bob

    Tata Nano. The Indian version comes with a 2 cylinder whereas the European one has a 3.

    • Jim-bob

      i also do not think anyone has mentioned the Mercedes Benz W123. it came with 4,5, and 6 cylinder engines.

  • buzzboy7

    Several Mercedes including the W123 with 4, 5 or 6 cyl available.

  • tozé

    fiat stilo comes in a variety of 4 cyl engines, but the abarth is a straight 5

  • austinminiman

    This falls under the sort-of category.

    Lloyds, the British one, not the German one, originally came with a Villiers single-cylinder motorbike engine. Later, they moved on to using an engine of their own design, which was a two-cylinder. Except it had three cylinders. The third cylinder was smaller and centrally located. It was fed, by gravity, raw fuel. Then, by action of the starter motor and once running simply inertia, it would pressurize the fuel to feed the carburetor, which would then provide atomized fuel to the other two cylinders. So the third cylinder was a combination fuel pump and primitive super charger.

    So, from 1 to 2 that was really 3.

  • Resh

    I'm surprised no one's mentioned these current choices…

    VW Golf/Rabbit/Whatever has a 2.5L I5… but then there's the 2.0L turbo in the GTI and a 2.0L diesel (I think)

    Ford Focus (non-USA) with 4 cylinder power for regular models and a Volvo 2.5L turbo I5 in the ST, RS, and RS500

  • Okay, the one I was holding in reserve? The Honda Today kei car, available with a 2-cyl from '85 to '87, then with a 3 from '88 on.

  • Schm

    You all forgot a very awesome and beautiful new 5 cylinder engine- the new Audi TTRS, available with, wait for it, a turbocharged inline-5 sourced from mexican market jettas.


  • TurboBrick

    I knew I forgot something… Volvo 200 series was also available with 5 and 6 cylinder versions of the VW diesel engine developed for the LT panel van.

    • FuzzyPlushroom

      And the PRV V6 as well (as seen in the DeLorean).

  • Duurtlang

    The current Volvo S40 and C30 are available with i4 and i5 gas engines AND i4 and i5 diesel engines.
    The current VW Polo and VW Golf have turbocharged i3 and i4 engines, both i3 and i4 are available as diesel and as gasoline. In the 90s the Golf also had 5 and 6 cylinders, with the antiquated i5 apparently still available in the US.

  • chrystlubitshi

    okay… so… all the stuff i had in mind to suggest for this article are taken…. one joke (actually, sadly serious) offer i have is the 2.4 to 3.8 "straight 4 or Veee 6" gm offerrings that i can guarantee are misfiring on at least on cylinder… (whenever i feel like making the joke, because to do it every time would just be serious overkill) i say "hey, that car has one of those damned, dead reliable (normally GM) V5s! (or V3, depending on how bad… sometimes V7.. etc.)… "

    i feel the need to mention that the "great state of Indiana" (is a state, but not great) has no emissions or safety inspections for most vehicles (if there is a lapse in title/registration/application for salvage title, yes.. but otherwise… nope)

    all kinds of late 80s to early 2000 GM "custom" 'v5's running around here… and a lot of them have shed the weight of those cumbersome full sized rear tires… swapping 'em out for the more fashionable donuts!

    • FЯeeMan

      I think those donuts are for weight savings & increased performance – I get passed by 'em all the time on 465, and I'm no Captain Slow.

      • FuzzyPlushroom

        They must only write those maximum-speed recommendations on there to scare passengers.