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Book Review: Ultimate American V-8 Engine Data Book. 2d Edition. By Peter C. Sessler

This is a book (published by Motorbooks) any of you overhead valve V-8 engine fans are going to want to have on your bookshelf. It's an incredibly detailed and well-organized reference guide, with sections devoted to the post-War Big Three V-8 engine makers — General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler — and Independents, as well (AMC, Packard, Studebaker).

For a handful of years car makers were scrambling to come out with new, more powerful engines. In 1949, Cadillac and Oldsmobile introduced overhead-valve V-8s, and it didn't take long for others to join the parade. In 1951, Chrysler introduced its hemi-head engine, with Buick coming along in 1953, Ford with its Y-block in 1954, and Chevrolet and Pontiac on board by 1955.

Right from those beginnings through the 2009 model year, this exhaustive book devotes a separate chapter to each kind of engine.

There's a history of the engine, its power and torque ratings (often different than claims originally made by the manufacturers), internal dimensions, a discussion of the engine's strengths and weaknesses, and an engine identification guide. Anyone searching for specific information on an individual car will especially appreciate information on the identification codes, serial numbers, and casting numbers on the blocks, heads, and manifolds. Supporting black-and-white photographs detail cylinder blocks, crank cases, oil pans, intake manifolds, etc.

While the power engines of thirty-five years ago turned heads, they couldn't hold a candle to those of today. With improved materials, technological advancements, and a concentration on balancing high performance with fuel economy, engines are now more reliable and powerful than ever. Rather than the original gas guzzlers, there's a better balance between high performance and fuel economy. And manufacturers will keep looking for improvements to their powerful V-8s. This book goes a long way to helping us appreciate why they've been so popular.

About the Author. Peter C. Sessler has been an automotive writer since 1983, producing more than 40 books. He has written descriptive books, buyers guides, an eight-book Red Book Series on Mustang, Firebird, Chevrolet Pickup, etc., even a series of children's books about cars (Off to the Races). A member of the International Motor Press Association, he is also former Editor-in-Chief of Muscle Cars magazine and resides in Dunnelon, Florida.