In the modern automotive industry, most of the new cars are usually offered with about two to three different engines in a various number of outputs. In some cases, like with the new 3 Series, just a single engine is available, at least initially – a 2.0-liter turbo four-banger with 255 horsepower (190 kW) and 295 pound-feet (400 Newton-meters), which will be joined by a larger 3.0-liter unit for the M340i and M340i xDrive.
But most of the automakers had different strategies in the past, especially in the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s when many of the vehicles were sold with significantly more engines with different displacements. That shouldn’t be a surprise since software developments from the previous three decades didn’t really allow for varying outputs from a single engine. Simply put, if you wanted more power, you needed a larger engine.
Those times will never get back as cars are now much more technologically advanced and often require just a new code for the ECU to gain more power. The 80s and 90s of the past century were awesome in so many ways that we've decided to take a look back at some of the vehicles that were offered with the largest engine portfolios during these two decades. As a bonus, we've also included a couple of cars from the more recent past.
Don't take this list as the ultimate engine availability guide - we've surely missed some models with huge engine ranges, but it's still providing a good overview of the trends from the last three decades.