Where would we be without engines? From the massive motors powering the world’s biggest power plants to the exquisite engines in the world’s fastest supercars, they are staggering feats of technological innovation. And when it comes to discovering the biggest engine in the world, the contenders are on the starting line and ready to go…!
In one form or another, engines have been used for tens of thousands of years, from ancient treadmills to pulleys, water pumps and ancient siege machines. A rudimentary piston system was used in the thirteenth century to raise water and, around the same time, a solid rocket engine was used in China to fire projectiles.
The steam engine was developed and refined in the mid-1700s, while in 1860 Belgian-French engineer Etienne Lenoir invented the first viable internal combustion engine.
In the twenty-first century, when it comes to engines, the boundaries are being pushed further and faster than ever before. The quest to build the world’s biggest engine continues at pace, with ever more ambitious projects aiming for the title.
However, as you can imagine, not all engines are comparable. For example you can’t compare the biggest car engine with that of an ocean-going container ship or a space rocket. For the purposes of this article, we’ve included the largest engines in the world across a number of different categories. Let’s power through the list of the world’s largest engines.
The Biggest Car Engine in the World
There are three records for the biggest car engine and each comes with its own claim on the record.
The World’s Biggest Production Car Engine
First, there’s the biggest production engine, Chrysler’s 8.4-litre V10 in the Dodge Viper SRT. It produces 640 bhp which propels the superfast snake to 205 mph with a 0-60 time of a shade under three seconds.
The World’s Most Powerful Automobile Engine
Next, there’s the most powerful car engine. The Chrysler V10 has a bigger displacement at 8.4-litres, but the Bugatti Chiron’s 8.0-litre W16 is more powerful. It produces 1,479 bhp and can hit a top speed of 261 mph.
The Biggest Car Engine Ever Built
But that’s nothing! Designed specifically to beat the land speed record, the Fiat S76 – nicknamed ‘The Beast of Turin’ – was built in 1910 and had the biggest car engine of all time. This four-cylinder lump had a displacement of 23.5-litres which generated 290 bhp and a top speed of 134 mph. It was so powerful that Fiat connected the engine to the wheels using heavy metal chains.
The Biggest Rocket Engine Ever Made
You need a massive engine to put a man on the moon and the Rocketdyne F1 was certainly massive. In fact it is the most powerful single chamber liquid-propellant rocket ever made and a contender for the title of biggest engine in the world.
Five of the 5.8 metre tall, eight ton engines powered the Saturn V rocket that put Neil Armstrong on the moon. Each engine produced 55,000 horsepower and 1.8 million lbs of thrust.
The Biggest Jet Engine in the World
Planes are getting bigger and flying further, so the engines need to be bigger and better too. The most powerful jet engine in the world is the General Electric GE90. The world’s biggest turbofan engine was built specifically for the Boeing 777 and entered service in 1995 with British Airways. It weighs 8.3 tons, it’s over five metres long and generates a staggering 127,900 lbs of thrust.
In terms of physical size, the General Electric GE9X engine is heavier, taller and wider and the diameter of the fan is 15 centimetres bigger, making it the biggest jet engine in the world.
The World’s Biggest Locomotive Engine
If we’re talking trains, the world’s biggest engine has an appropriate name. The Union Pacific Big Boy was an articulated steam locomotive made by ALCO – The American Locomotive Company – in the early 1940s.
It’s twenty-six metres long, over three metres wide and five metres high and it was built to handle heavy freight through the treacherous Wasatch Mountains between Wyoming and Utah.
The engine and tender weighed 604 tons and produced over 6,000 horsepower. The Big Boy could pull a 3,600 ton train through the mountains and on level ground could reach speeds of up to 70 mph.
This phenomenally large loco was originally going to be called the Wasatch but while it was being built, one of the ALCO engineers wrote ‘Big Boy’ in chalk on the smokebox door and the name stuck.
Eight engines survive. Seven are on static display in museums around America but one (No. 4014) was re-acquired by Union Pacific and fully rebuilt between 2014 and 2019. It remains the biggest and most powerful operating steam locomotive on Earth.
The Largest Engine in a Motorcycle
The production motorcycle with the world’s biggest engine is the Triumph Rocket 3. The high performance muscle roadster has a displacement of 2.5 litres, generates 165 bhp and has a top speed approaching 140 mph. It also has the highest torque of any production motorcycle in the world.
The Rocket 3 gives the Bugatti Chiron a run for its money off the lights. The 0-60mph time is a jaw-droppingly fast 2.73 seconds and it has more gizmos than most road cars! It’s equipped with traction control and ABS, keyless ignition, cruise control, integrated Bluetooth and sat-nav.
The Largest Engine in the World
The world’s largest diesel engine is also the biggest engine in the world, and is so colossal it must be seen to be believed. The snappily-named Wärtsilä-Sulzer RTA96-C is designed by the Wärtsilä Corporation in Finland and made to power the world’s biggest container ships.
The statistics are truly staggering. It’s over thirteen metres high, twenty-six metres long and in its full fourteen-cylinder configuration weighs 2,300 tons. It’s bigger than a three-bedroom semi.
The engine displacement is almost 25,500 litres (that’s over 18,500 Ford Fiesta engines) and it generates well over 107,000 horsepower. It uses 250 tons of fuel a day and each six metre high piston weighs over five tons!
So that’s that. The world’s biggest engines are incredible feats of design and engineering and if past performance is anything to go by, they’re only going to get bigger!