Transverse engine

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Transversely mounted engine in Toyota Corolla EE80

A transverse engine is an engine mounted in a vehicle so that the engine's crankshaft axis is perpendicular to the long axis of the vehicle. Many modern front wheel drive vehicles use this engine mounting configuration. (The vast majority of rear wheel drive vehicles use a longitudinal engine configuration, where the engine's crankshaft axis is parallel to the long axis of the vehicle.)


Transversely mounted engine in Mini Cooper

The first car known to use such an arrangement was a 1911 front-wheel drive car with a clutch at each end of the engine, driving the front wheels directly. The first successful transverse-engine cars were the two-cylinder DKW "Front" series of cars, which first appeared in 1931.[citation needed] After the Second World War, SAAB used the configuration in their first model, the Saab 92, in 1947. The arrangement was also used for Borgward's Goliath and Hansa brand cars and in a few other German cars. However, it was with Alec Issigonis's Morris Mini and Austin Seven that the design gained acclaim, in 1959.[citation needed]

This design reached its ultimate extent starting with Dante Giacosa's elaboration of it for Fiat. He connected the engine to its gearbox by a shaft and set the differential off-center so that it could be connected to the gearbox more easily. The axleshafts from the differential to the wheels therefore differed in length, which would have made the car's steering asymmetrical were it not for their torsional stiffness being made the same. Now most small and small/medium sized cars built throughout the world use this arrangement.[citation needed]

The Lamborghini Miura used a transverse, mid-mounted 4.0 litre V12, a configuration that was unheard of in 1965, although now more common (e.g. Noble M12, Toyota MR2, Pontiac Fiero, Fiat X1/9)

The Land Rover LR2 Freelander, along with all Volvo models from 1998 on (including V8 models), employ a transversely-mounted engine in order to increase passenger space inside the vehicle. This has also allowed for improved safety in a frontal impact, due to more front to back engine compartment space being created. The result is a larger front crumple zone.[1][2]

Transverse engines have also been widely used in buses. In the United States they were offered in the early 1930s by Twin Coach and used with limited success in Dwight Austin's Pickwick Nite-Coach. Transverse bus engines first appeared widely in the Yellow Coach 719, using Dwight Austin's V-drive; they continued in common use until the 1990s, though shorter V-configuration engines in a straight in "T-drive" configuration became common in the 1960s. They were also used in the British Leyland Atlantean and in many transit buses and nearly all modern double decker buses. They have also been widely used by Scania,[3] MAN, Volvo and Renault's bus divisions.

Position placement of transverse engines[edit]

Engines may be placed in two main positions within the motor car:

  • Front-engine transversely-mounted / Front-wheel drive
  • Rear mid-engine transversely-mounted / Rear-wheel drive

Common types of transversely placed engines[edit]

Space allowed for engines within the front wheel wells is commonly limited to the following:

Alternative convention with V-twin motorcycles[edit]

The engine in this Moto Guzzi motorcycle is described as "transverse" even though the crankshaft is in line with the frame.

The description of the orientation of a V-twin engine in a motorcycle often contradicts the given convention. V-twin engines in Moto Guzzi motorcycles are called "transverse" although the crankshaft is mounted in line with the frame, while V-twins in Ducati motorcycles, which have their crankshafts mounted perpendicular to the frame and would be considered transverse by the given convention, are called "longitudinal".[4][5] This convention uses the longest horizontal dimension (length or width) of the engine as its axis instead of the line of the crankshaft.


  1. ^ "Volvo S80". Retrieved 2007-10-11. 
  2. ^ "LR2 Safety Features". Archived from the original on 2007-07-07. Retrieved 2007-10-11. 
  3. ^ "Scania at Busworld 2005: New range of Scania buses and coaches". Retrieved 2007-10-11. 
  4. ^ Clarke, Massimo (2010). "Engine Design". Modern Motorcycle Technology: How Every Part of Your Motorcycle Works. Minneapolis, MN USA: MotorBooks International. p. 44. ISBN 978-0-7603-3819-3. Retrieved 2013-05-31. Moto Guzzi's tranverse V-twins are unique among motorcycles, while Ducati, in keeping with the classical school, uses a longitudinal V, meaning the axis of rotation of the crankshaft is transverse to the frame. 
  5. ^ Grubb, Jake (March 1975). Linkletter, John A., ed. "Easy riders—the grand touring motorcycles for '75". Popular Mechanics (New York, NY USA: Hearst) 143 (3): 82–85, 126–127. ISSN 0032-4558. Retrieved 2013-05-31. 

See also[edit]