10. 1979 Ford Mustang Turbo
As this is written Ford is furiously preparing to switch many of its passenger cars over to new "Ecoboost" engines which rely on turbocharging and direct injection rather than raw displacement to produce adequate power. But this is hardly Ford's first foray into the world of turbochargers.
Back when Ford introduced its all-new Mustang for 1979 it offered versions powered by Fours, Sixes, V8s and, for the first time, turbocharged Fours. Yes, the old, OHV 5.0-liter V8 would eventually earn a huge, passionate and continuing cult following in that "Fox body" Mustang, but in 1979 what everyone was interested in was that turbo Four.
Based on the rather agricultural 2.3-liter overhead-cam "Lima" Four from the Pinto, the Mustang's turbo version had the compressor heaving through a two-barrel Holley carburetor to produce 140 hp. Since the available 5.0-liter V8 that year was also rated at 140 hp (and also breathed through a two-barrel carb), the turbo Four seemed like a viable alternative at a time when OPEC was diddling with the petroleum supply.
Carburetors and turbos still didn't mix well, however, and Ford's first turbo Four was addled by massive turbo lag and persistent reliability problems. So Ford took the turbo Four off the market after the 1981 model year and sent the engine back to the drawing board.
The turbocharged Four returned for the 1983 model year, now sprouting electronic fuel injection, and its availability spread beyond the Mustang to that year's redesigned Thunderbird coupe. While peak power was up a measly two ponies to a modest 142 hp, driveability was vastly improved, with much-reduced turbo lag and better reliability. In fact, since its debut the turbo 2.3 has earned a reputation for being stout enough to take significant increases in boost levels and is particularly effective in drag racing applications.
With the turbo Four working well, Ford built a showcase for it in the form of the 1984 Mustang SVO. Marketed optimistically, as an alternative to European sport coupes, the SVO's turbo Four was fitted with an air-to-air intercooler that helped push output up to 175 hp and even further refinement. That matched the rated output of the carbureted V8 offered in that year's (much cheaper) Mustang GT. During its final year of production, in 1986, the Mustang SVO's turbo Four gained a dual exhaust and its output peaked at 200 hp.
The turbo Four would also see duty (sans intercooler) in the few German-made Merkur XR4Ti models that were sold here between 1985 and 1989, and during 1987 and 1988 the Thunderbird Turbo Coupe would feature an intercooled 190-hp version. But with gas cheap, Ford wasn't finding a lot of performance buyers eager to spend the extra bucks for the turbocharged engine. So it was allowed to die with that last Turbo Coupe.
But it's solid experience for Ford to draw on when building the new Ecoboost motors.
9. 1992 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
Mitsubishi began branding its compact car as the Lancer back in 1973, and all those Lancers have been relentlessly ordinary ever since—with one humongous exception. When the company decided to enter the World Rally Championship (WRC) in 1992, it had to create a car that could effectively compete in the series. So it took the humble front-drive Lancer sedan and somehow shoved in a four-wheel-drive system and turbocharged 2.0-liter Four from the larger Galant VR4 and created the Lancer Evolution I. Though it was never sold outside Japan during its two years in production, the 244-hp Evolution I ("Evo" to its fans) became an instant legend. Ever since that car, Mitsubishi has been selling a handful of thrilling Lancer Evolution models every year alongside the very ordinary Lancer.
Even though the Lancer Evolution wouldn't officially be exported to America until 2003 as the Evolution VIII, its reputation for towering performance was well planted on this continent well before that—it was featured in various video games. By the time it arrived here, there was already a generation of video addicts who craved it and knew the major contributor to its speed and ability was the turbocharger heaving into the engine.
The current Lancer Evolution X, like all its ancestors, is turbocharged. And its tremendous performance continues to prove that even an ordinary car can become extraordinary when there's a turbo aboard.
Britain's Top Gear proved just how extraordinary the Evo is when it compared the Evo VIII to the Lamborghini Murcielago a few years ago.
8. 1982 Volvo 240 Turbo Wagon
The turbocharged Volvo wagon didn't move the automotive engineering art forward very much—after all, the basic body shell had been introduced back in 1966, and the chassis hadn't been touched much since 1974—but it did more to take the turbocharger mainstream than just about any other car.
Volvo's 240 wagon was as politically correct as any early '80s vehicle. Boxy, heavy and indomitable, the 240 was introduced in 1975 as an evolutionary replacement of the 140-series. It was powered by a 2.1-liter SOHC rour rated at a snoozy 98 hp. For most Volvo buyers, for whom slow was just fine, this was enough. But for anyone cross-shopping Volvo against BMW and Saab, it was simply too pokey.
So during the 1981 model year, Volvo introduced the 240 Turbo two- and four-door sedans, which added a turbocharger to the 2.1-liter Four to swell output up to 127 hp. In 1982, availability of the turbo engine expanded to include the wagon model as well.
Thousands of middle-class kids were raised riding in the back of Volvo 240 Turbo wagons – the first kid-friendly "performance" car. Turbo whine was part of their childhood soundtrack.
All the 240 Turbo models got better over time (the engine eventually grew to 2.3 liters, gained an intercooler and saw output leap to 162 hp), but by 1986 newer models were replacing them and the Turbo left production. The timeless 240, however, soldiered on turbo-free until 1993.
7. 1994 Toyota Supra Turbo
For Toyota, no car has been more irrelevant to its bottom line than the twin-turbocharged 1994 to 1998 Supra Turbo. After all, compared to the Camrys, Corollas and Tacomas that are the company's bread and butter, the Supra Turbo sold in infinitesimal numbers. Yet, despite that, the Supra Turbo is a legend—and the quickest car the company has ever sold in North America. Because when hardcore tuners laid their hands on the Supra Turbo, legends were made. And it's the only Toyota that performance enthusiasts have completely embraced.
The Supra had been around since 1979 with the first three generations of the big coupe all carrying inline six-cylinder engines that powered the rear wheels. There had even been turbo Supras sold during the car's third generation (1987–1993) with outputs reaching 230 hp. But the fourth-gen Supra that debuted for 1994 was a shock; a slick-shaped beast available with two turbos aboard rigged to feed the 3.0-liter DOHC, 24-valve inline Six. Sure, the fourth Supra was available with a naturally aspirated version of the Six making 220 hp, but it was the 320-hp turbo that proved the glamour car.
Along with the then-current Mazda RX-7, the Supra Turbo pioneered sequential turbocharging. That is, there was one smaller turbo that spooled up quickly for good low-end performance and a second larger turbo that kicked in later at the top end. The difficult transition between the small and big turbo systems is the sort of trick that just wasn't possible to pull off until the development of advanced engine-control computers.It all worked brilliantly, integrating perfectly with Toyota's VVT-i variable valve timing system.
But that wasn't what made the Supra legendary. The basic 2JZ engine in the Supra was an amazingly robust powerplant. With its iron block and DOHC 24-valve aluminum head, the 2JZ wasn't particularly advanced in its construction for the time, but as tuners fed ever greater amounts of turbo boost into the 2JZ they found it could sustain staggering pressures with some grace. Soon drag-prepared Supras were making more than 1000 hp, and the cars were running quarter-mile elapsed times down in the eights.
There are even Supras making more than 1000 hp on the street today. And if you need proof, just go to YouTube and search them out.
6. 2005 Bugatti Veyron
The Bugatti Veyron excels in every conceivable way. It costs about $1.4 million, it looks like something out of Blade Runner, it has 10 radiators, and it carries every possible technology except an onboard MRI scanner. But when it comes to excess, the engine makes the rest of the Veyron seem downright modest.
Rated at 987 hp, the all-wheel-drive Veyron's powerplant is a W16 (like two narrow-angle V8s on a common crank) carrying 64 valves in its cylinder heads; it displaces 8.0 liters. And it's force-fed by four turbochargers—that's twice as many turbochargers as any other production car.
The Veyron is one of the fastest cars of all time with a leap to 60 mph that takes less than 3 seconds and a top speed of 253 mph. Don't confuse the Veyron as a harbinger of things to come; it's simply an exercise in extreme engineering with little to contribute to the mainstream future. But in its excess, it's glorious.
5. 1984 Buick Grand National and Regal T-Type
In 1976, Buick won the honor of building a pace car for that year's Indianapolis 500. But with production-car performance near its nadir and Buick trying to establish a distinct image for itself instead of putting a big 455 V8 into one of its midsize Century coupes, the company built a special one-off turbocharged version of its carbureted 3.8-liter V6 to power that pace car. Buick was playing with turbochargers, but no one could expect the glory to come.
Buick's first production turbo V6s came during the 1978 model year when engines similar to that used in the 1976 Indy Pace Car were installed in the Regal and LeSabre Sport Coupes. Rated at 150 hp when breathing through a two-barrel carburetor and 165 hp if the carb had four barrels, the 90-degree overhead-valve 3.8-liter V6s were the only turbocharged engines being made in America for production cars. In fact, the only other turbo cars then on the market from any manufacturers were the Porsche 911 Turbo and the Saab 99 Turbo.
The first Buick turbos weren't bad, but they weren't really all that great either. It's when Buick stepped up and added sequential electronic fuel injection to the mix in 1984 that things got good.
The fuel-injected Buick turbo Six was rated at 200 hp even that first year when it was available in the T-Type and Grand National versions of the midsize Regal coupe. But that rating was conservative and when mated to GM's 2004R four-speed automatic transmission, the result was a rocketship (0 to 60 in about 8 seconds). Well, not just a quick car but a very liveable one with impeccable driveability, decent fuel economy and predictable handling. The T-Type quietly faded away, but the bad-in-black Grand National quickly became a legend.
It wasn't just that Buick had produced an great performance car with the Grand National: When owners started tweaking and hot-rodding the Grand National, records fell; legends were born. Modified by engine builders like Kenny Duttweiler, Grand Nationals were soon running the quarter-mile in under 10 seconds. Then under 9 and 8, with some massively tweaked turbo V6s knocking out well over 1000 hp.
According to the Buick Grand National Racing Association's Web page, currently the quickest Grand National is John and Marka Gallina's NHRA super stocker that has run a 7.98-second ET in the quarter-mile at 167.44 mph.
By 1986, Buick was rating the Grand National's engine at 235 hp and the legend was only growing. The National's rating grew to 245-hp for 1987. And just before the rear-drive Regal went out of production, Buick and McLaren conspired to produce a limited run of GNX models with turbo V6s hyped to 276 hp. Today, the Grand National is considered collectible, with a heavy cult following, and the GNX is simply the most sought-after American car from the 1980s. When the 547th and last GNX was made in 1987, that was it for the Buick turbo V6. Why is it that Buick doesn't have any turbo engines now? Perhaps it should.
4. 1978 Mercedes-Benz 300SD Turbodiesel
Mercedes-Benz has always been in the forefront of diesel passenger car development, but even a company with its engineering heritage must have been surprised at the revolution it launched with the turbocharged 300SD.
Turbocharging had been used on industrial-strength diesels well before the 300SD appeared in 1978, but those brawny (and very heavy) engines were built to take the abuse of combining forced induction with the already sky-high compression ratios needed for diesel combustion. Light-duty diesels, like Mercedes' then-familiar 3.0-liter inline Five, it was assumed, just couldn't take the punishment.
But diesels were the rage in the late '70s, and if Mercedes was going to sell its big "W116" S-Class sedan with the diesel Five (and a lot of buyers wanted a diesel S-Class), that engine was going to have to make something more than just its usual 77 hp. And Mercedes didn't have time to design a whole new engine.
Through careful control of the combustion process, precise fuel metering with fuel injection, refined wastegate control of the turbo and some reinforcement to handle the additional loads, Mercedes produced a turbocharged version of its diesel Five that made 110 hp while remaining quiet and refined enough for use in its flagship sedan. It may have been only 110 hp back then, but it was a huge breakthrough.
The 300SD's turbocharged Five simply rewrote the light-duty-diesel playbook and made diesels attractive enough that they dominate the market today in Europe. And virtually all light-duty diesels today are turbocharged.
3. 1984 Ferrari 288 GTO and 1987 Ferrari F40
Ferrari has never been big on turbos. Even when Formula One racing was clearly dominated by turbo engines during the 1980s, the Italian superteam was reluctant to give up its 12-cylinder powerplants. It's probably not fair to call Ferrari antiturbo, but it's not far off.
The two glaring exceptions to Ferrari's avoidance of forced induction are the glorious 1984 288 GTO and its evolutionary followup, the even more storied 1987 F40.
Ferrari conceived the 288 GTO primarily as a race car. Specifically, it was intended to go road racing in the FIA's Group B classification. And with no limits on turbo boost, Group B was effectively unlimited in how much power could be made. So the company took its most accessible car—the midengine, V8-powered, Magnum P.I.–era 308—and started morphing it into a Group B beast. First it took the transverse-mounted engine and twisted it around to a north-south orientation—and that entailed lengthening the wheelbase. Then it shrank the V8 down from 3.0 to 2.8 liters and bolted on a pair of IHI turbochargers to meet Group B requirements. Finally, Ferrari had Pininfarina update the rest of the 308 body shell to make it even more stunningly attractive.
With 400 hp aboard, the 288 GTO was nothing less than scalding. It would rip to 60 mph in just over 4 seconds and topped out at around 189 mph. This was the fastest road-going Ferrari the company had built up to that time. Ferrari made just 277 of them. Even after the FIA canceled Group B, Ferrari didn't abandon this car. Instead, it built 288 GTO Evoluzione models with improved aerodynamics and, legend has it, engines boosted up to 650 hp.
Enzo Ferrari was nearing 90 as the 288 GTO Evoluziones were produced, and that's an age when even a legend feels his mortality. He was also keenly aware that the Ferrari company's 40th anniversary was coming up in 1987 and he wanted to produce a car that would prove to the world what his factory could produce. The 288 Evoluzione evolved again, into the simply spectacular F40.
The F40 was named in honor of the make's 40th birthday, and it screamed in a way no previous Ferrari had. Riding exceptionally low to the ground, with a nose sculpted to cut air like a chisel and a huge tail spoiler to keep the car from taking flight, the F40 was unrelenting in its aggressiveness. The back of the F40 was dedicated to the now 2.9-liter turbocharged engine, which Ferrari under-rated at 471 hp. And anyone who wanted could see the engine in all its violent intricacy under the clear plexiglass lid.
At the time of its introduction in 1987, the F40 was the world's quickest and fastest production car. Zero-to-60 times were always well below 4 seconds and sometimes closer to 3, while the F40 topped out at just over 200 mph. In fact it was the first production car ever to be certified with 200-mph top speed.
Ferrari introduced the F40 with a $200,000 price tag, but when the last model left Ferrari in 1992, the cars were going for $400,000. Prices haven't really ever come down since.
2. 1978 Saab 99 Turbo
Sure, it was Porsche that tamed the turbo for the street and made it glamorous. But it was a dinky little Swedish manufacturer named Saab that made turbos accessible for everyone.
By 1975 Saab's entire product line in America had dwindled down to a single model: the four-cylinder, front-drive, 115-hp Saab 99. By then, even though it was in many ways still ahead of the competition, the 99 was already 6 years old and Saab didn't really have the money to develop a viable successor or fit it with a new engine. However, it did have Porsche's example to follow. So in 1978 it created the 99 Turbo.
Like Porsche, Saab mixed Bosch fuel injection with a turbo—albeit a mechanical instead of an electronic system. But instead of a large turbo that would overwhelm Saab's simple-but-rugged eight-valve, 2.0-liter Four, it went for a very small Garrett T3 turbo that spooled up quickly to produce thrust even at low rpm. The result was an easygoing turbo engine that drove smoothly and produced a full 135 hp. That may not sound like much today, but back in 1978 the BMW 320i had only 110 hp.
At 10 grand, the 99 Turbo wasn't cheap, but it didn't cost much more than a 320i and, frankly, the Saab was a much better car. Suddenly anyone shopping in the import mainstream could have an excellent turbo car.
The 99 Turbo lasted only one model year as it was replaced during 1979 with the new 900—which really wasn't much more than a 99 with a slightly longer wheelbase. But Saab kept building turbos and today it's the major element of Saab's engineering heritage.
1. 1976 Porsche Turbo Carrera
Whatever you call it - 911 Turbo, Turbo Carrera, Turbo Porsche, 930, or just plain Turbo this is it: The great icon of the turbocharged art. It's more than merely a Porsche 911 with a turbocharger, it's a cultural touchstone for anyone who grew up during the '70s. It's the car that inspired teenagers to put a poster of it up in their dorms next to that one with Farrah Fawcett—and the Lamborghini Countach of course. It's the car upon which the awesome 934 and 935 race cars were based, and there has never been a more thrilling or dominant race car than the 935. With its flared fenders and whale-tail spoiler, this is the car virtually everyone thinks of when the word "turbo" comes up in conversation.
But none of this is the reason why the original Turbo Carrera is so important. Porsche had been ludicrously successful in Can Am racing with its turbocharged 917/30 race machine so it made sense to port that experience over to the 911 where it could elevate Porsche's road car into a serious competitor against Ferraris and Lamborghinis. But making a turbocharged engine that was both powerful and civil enough for everyday driving wasn't going to be easy. Unlike previous turbo car builders, Porsche was able to pair the Turbo Carrera's turbocharger with Bosch's new K-Jetronic electronic fuel injection.
The combination of turbocharging paired with the precise fuel metering of electronic fuel injection was almost magical. It was now finally possible to produce a turbo engine that didn't detonate or starve for fuel throughout its operating rev range. That first Turbo Carrera wasn't an easy car to drive fast (there was plenty of turbo lag), but it was just about the first turbo car so capable of reliably puttering around town.
That Carrera's 3.0-liter flat Six was rated at just 234 hp and was available only with a four-speed manual transmission. As time passed, Porsche has sustained the 911 Turbo legend by constantly upgrading and tweaking its successors. Today, the beastliest 911 Turbo of them all is the 2009 GT2, which slams along with 530 hp. 'Nuff said.
Source: Top 10 Turbocharged Cars of All Time - Production Turbo Cars We Love - Popular Mechanics