V4 engine

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Ford Taunus V4 engine in Saab Sonett III.

A V4 engine is a type of four-cylinder engine, a V engine with four cylinders. A V4 engine typically has three main bearings. Usually one bank of cylinders will comprise cylinders # 1&3, and the other bank # 2&4. For reasons of packaging, the Honda VFR1200 has a 1&4, and 2&3 layout.

Advantages and disadvantages of the V4 engine[edit]

Compared to an inline-four, the advantages of the V4 engine include compactness, short length along the crankshaft, and, with a 90° V-angle, perfect primary balance giving a smooth and nearly vibration-free operation.

A disadvantage is that, as with a V-twin, it is more difficult to locate ancillaries, inlet systems, and exhaust systems. A V4 is usually more expensive to produce than an equivalent in-line four, having two cylinder heads and exhaust manifolds, and thus four distinct parts where an inline engine would have two. Also, while a V4 is essentially two V-twins side-by-side, a V4 can have a rocking couple that is not present in a V-twin. The compact 60° V4 is not perfectly smooth and needs a balance shaft.

In modern times, the V4's advantages have made it particularly suitable for motorcycles and outboard motors; but the advantages in a car have been found not to be worth the expense, especially as access for maintenance can become more difficult.[citation needed]

Automobile use[edit]

One of the earliest V4 internal combustion engines was that designed by Émile Mors of Paris to power his motor-car of 1897. The 90 degree V-angle with central camshaft and spark ignition meant its layout is much like more modern engines, though in this case the inlet valves were operated by suction alone. At the time the lack of vibration from this layout was a key selling point.[1]

The V4 engine has not been widely used in cars. AMC, Ford, Lancia and ZAZ were the only companies to manufacture such an engine.[2]

Lancia produced several narrow-angle V4 engines from the 1920s through 1960s for cars like the Lambda, Augusta, Artena, Aprilia, Ardea, Appia, and Fulvia.

From 1960 - 1963, American Motors produced a 108 cu in (1.8 L) air-cooled V4 engine that was used in AMC's lightweight aluminium-bodied M422 'Mighty Mite' military vehicle, as an air transportable (by the helicopters of the time) Jeep for the U.S. Marine Corps.[3] This engine was unsuitable for regular passenger car use, mainly due to its relatively small displacement and power output.

Ford of Europe produced two totally different V4 engines with a balance shaft, one in the UK and one in Germany:

The Ukrainian manufacturer ZAZ used an air-cooled V4 with a balance shaft, produced by MeMZ and used in Zaporozhets and LuAZ cars.

In 2014, Porsche announced that their 919 Hybrid Le Mans Prototype would use a small-capacity, turbocharged V4 engine.[4]

Variable displacement[edit]

In modern cars with V8 engines and variable displacement technology, the engine will enter "V4 mode" during light load conditions such as highway cruising. This technology is known as Active Fuel Management in the Chevrolet Corvette and Multi-Displacement System in the Dodge Challenger.

Motorcycle use[edit]

Cutaway view of the V4 engine of a Yamaha V-Max
Longitudinal V4 engine in a Honda ST1100 with its fairing removed

In the 1930s, the Matchless Silver Hawk used a narrow-angle V4, while Puch used a very wide-angle V4. V4 engines are more recently found in motorcycles, typically transversely mounted. This engine design enjoyed particular popularity during the mid-to-late 1980s, especially in Honda motorcycles.[5] Models with V4 engines include:

Other uses[edit]

Wisconsin Motors began producing air-cooled engines in 1929, and added a V4 design in 1935.[6] The company discontinued its water-cooled versions by 1939, and manufactured only air-cooled V4 petrol (gasoline) engines in various displacements for industrial, agricultural, and stationary applications.[6] Farm equipment manufacturers sourced Wisconsin V4s as they offered compact size and good power output.[7] In 1968, the largest in the Wisconsin gasoline line was the new V-465D, a 177 cu in (2.9 L) V4 rated at 65.9 hp (49 kW; 67 PS) at 3000 rpm.[8] Standard features include controlled pressurized lubrication to provide full-time oiling to all working parts, as well as automatic protection against overheating.[7] Wisconsin Motors continues to produce V4 engines for specialized applications.[9]

Turner Manufacturing Co (Wolverhampton, England) developed a V4 water-cooled diesel engine in the mid-1940s for a variety of industrial and marine uses, and used it in their own "Yeoman of England" agricultural tractor from 1949 to 1957.

Another use of the V4 engine is in outboard motors. They are two-stroke cycle and generally carbureted. Some of the largest manufacturers are Johnson, Evinrude, and Yamaha. This type of engine is popular because of its small size, while still producing 140 hp (104 kW; 142 PS), or more.


  1. ^ "The Mors Motor-Car". The Automotor and Horseless Carriage Journal: 272–273. April 1897. 
  2. ^ "Obsolete Engines 101: The Mythical "V4"". Car Throttle. 10 September 2009. Retrieved 19 July 2012. 
  3. ^ "Mighty Mite M422". 4WD Online. Retrieved 26 January 2013. 
  4. ^ "Porsche starts in Le Mans with four works cars". Porsche AG. 13 January 2014. Retrieved 16 February 2014. 
  5. ^ "Historical V4's". Honda Media Newsroom. American Honda Motor Co. Archived from the original on 23 February 2014. Retrieved 17 February 2014. 
  6. ^ a b Swanson, David (2003). "Early History Of The Wisconsin Motor Company". Wisconsin Motors Canada. Retrieved 14 January 2016. 
  7. ^ a b "Wisconsin Motors advertisement". Product Engineering. 32: 415. 1961. Retrieved 14 January 2016. 
  8. ^ "Wisconsin Motors Corp". Automotive Industries. 138: 64. 1968. Retrieved 14 January 2016. 
  9. ^ "Products". Wisconsin Engines. Retrieved 14 January 2016.