There are bad ideas, there are terrible ideas, and then there’s the transverse V-8 drivetrain. There’s just something comically pathetic about having eight cylinders sitting sideways in the front of a car. The Eldorado you see above and its predecessors didn’t suffer from that; they had the engine pointing the right way so you could open the sharply-creased hood and see a proper mechanical vista. In those cars, and in the Toronado, front-wheel-drive was a nifty engineering trick for low-speed traction and a flat floor so all three of your bitches could sit in the back of your pimpmobile without discomfort.
The transverse V-8, however, was something else. It reeked of cost-cutting, of easy assembly, of last-minute decisions to add a decent engine to a middling platform. With very few exceptions, it’s been a lousy idea. And yet there were two vehicle platforms that had not one, but two completely different V-8s installed in them. One of them, of course, was the Cadillac E/K-platform, which shouldered the load of both 4.9-liter OHV and Northstar DOHC engines in the Eldorado, Seville, and Deville/DTS. (Arguably, the E/K was similar enough to the G-body that one could add the Aurora “Shortstar” to the mix for a total of three difference V-8s.)
And the other? Make your guess and click the jump.
Why, it was the Ford DN101!
Your humble author was in the business of selling the third-generation Taurus SHO, which featured an absolutely pointless and thoroughly gutless Yamaha V-8. In a straight line, the SHO was barely any quicker than the three-liter Duratec Taurus and considerably less sprightly than the previous-gen V-6 stick-shift SHO. It had special ZF steering, so it was pleasant to drive, and its full complement of features made it kind of a left-field entry into the entry-luxury class. But it wasn’t very fast. If you wanted a fast Taurus you had to go across the street.
DN101 also spawned the Continental, which had a detuned, 260-horsepower “InTech” mod-motor V-8, later bumped up to 270hp during a facelift. For years, Mustang guys have been pulling these engines out of junkyard Continentals, hoping they’ll drop into V-6 SN95 platforms, but so far it hasn’t worked out. There’s a missing motor mount and the bellhousing pattern is different. It wasn’t a horrible car, and it could apparently be coaxed into running a very high fourteen in the quarter-mile, but the mod-motor was simply too large for anything like effective or convenient servicing, making these relatively new cars a rare sight on the modern road.
Lincoln and Cadillac are out of the transverse-V8 business now, as is everyone else; the MKS offers the EcoBoost twin-turbo V-6 while the XTS is, apparently, about to have something similar. We’ll never again see the day when a company commissions a bespoke V-8 that cranks out 230 horsepower and swallows its cam gears right after the warranty runs out. It’s even possible that we’ll never again see a major manufacturer offer a transverse V-8-powered automobile.
And that’s okay.