The Truth About Boxer Engine Cars

The Truth About Boxer Engine Cars

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rev up your engines, every Thursday I’m going to answer one of the viewers questions and make an entire video on that question, Gennie asks, what do you think about boxer engines well I know quite a bit about them to begin with Karl Benz the Mercedes Benz guy he invented the first boxer engine that was a two cylinder gasoline internal combustion engine with Pistons on opposite sides that are vertical and went back and forth, their horizontally opposed engines they have a single crank in the middle then on either side the Pistons go back and forth they can have two Pistons they can have four Pistons they can have six you can add any amount you want but they’re call boxer cuz they think like boxers with boxing gloves that was their idea Karl invented that way back in 1896 and in the early nineteen hundreds even Henry Ford was thinking about putting a two cylinder boxer engine in his model cars but they never really put any in production he went for a straight four cylinder engine instead, now a big advantage of boxer engines are as long as they have the same number of cylinders on each side they are naturally balanced engines they do not have unbalanced forces inside now they do have a tendency of being noisy engines look at the Porsches and it’s kind of noise and the old Volkswagen Beetles are kind of noisy the old Subarus they’re kind of noisy too but since the cylinders are opposed to each other and flap not V or anything they take up less space so you can put them low down and make a car that handles a lot better and doesn’t have problems with rolling over like a higher engine is the center gravity is a big deal that’s why they use them in motorcycles too, like the BMW motorcycles when you have a big engine that’s down low the center of gravity is lower and that’s a big deal in a motorcycle because you don’t want to be high up in the air and tip over you want most of the weight to be lower and since these boxer engines are naturally balanced they use them in a lot of light planes any unbalances are a bad thing sure they’re smaller engines you don’t see them a giant planes anymore but in the little engines they have them because they’re going real fast they don’t just gonna shake itself apart so they’re a good fit there, now in the car world boxer engines have been always kind of an oddball engine in oddball cars the Chevy Corvair used the 6-cylinder one the Volkswagen Beetles use the original beetles anyways not the new ones the original one used air-cooled four-cylinder boxer engines and the main ones that we think of today are Porsches and Subarus, Subarus have used them that’s all they really use and even the new Toyota which is basically a Subaru that just rebadged their little sports car has the boxer engine in it so the boxer engine it’s kind of a fringe engine that has been used but was never really accepted in the general population of car buyers because especially today this is an old design I mean Karl Benz was messing around and stuff in 1896, metallurgy and engine design have long passed the boxer engines through as an example I recently road tested one of those new Toyota sports cars which is basically a rebadged Subaru and although it handled nice and it’s kind of fun to drive I was really disappointed at the power it really didn’t have much power at all heck my wife’s old matrix here would run circles around and it’s a much faster engine and I was driving a naturally aspirated one it didn’t have a turbocharger or supercharger you can make them faster but really you can’t make them as fast as the modern engine designs which is way past the boxer designed by, I mean if you do a little research a long time ago Porsche was thinking about retiring their 911s their 6-cylinder boxer engines because they saw it as an antique design in Germany but the Americans were just in love with the 6-cylinder boxer 911 so they continued to make it because they kept buying them now if you maintain a boxer engine that can last quite some time they do often have head gasket problems as they age that’s just the natural thing of having the cylinder block in the middle and then having one head on one side and one head on the other and the airflow characteristics and stuff a lot of them just had a tendency as they age to blow head gaskets and yes a lot of that is actually due to the drivers the either over rev them or they don’t maintain them correctly or they put on a turbocharger or supercharger to get as much horsepower as they can and they just overload the engines and then they blow now if you’re not that into getting a ton of horsepower out of it hey, it have those french crazy 2cv little tiny cars they have a two cylinder boxer engine they can hardly get out of their own way but the French love them and here in the United States they’re having kind of a renaissance the hipsters want to drive them around and live in the city because it’s a cool unique thing so even that kind of fits in with the boxer engine sentimentality it’s kind of a nice thing for a niche market and really they have kind of been tied in with failed cars the Corvair had them, they were a massive failure, the Tucker that crazy Tucker guy his was a six cylinder air-cooled boxer engine so it’s kind of tied in with some failed stuff because as far as I’m concerned hey when Carl made them in 1896 that was cutting-edge technology but today this is 2018 now you know times have really passed the boxer engine designed for most intents and purposes because look at the air-cooled Volkswagen Beetle the original Beetle, they sold millions and millions of them but even Volkswagen gave up with that design and went to a straight four-cylinder water-cooled engine design it’s kind of a design of the past but if you like boxer engines you don’t want all that much horsepower you like the noise that they make because they are very mechanically sounding, boxer engine might be for you and since this is the Thursday segment where I answer a viewers question, place your own question on the YouTube comments below and I’ll pick the best ones to make a single video to answer your questions, and where else can you find a guy with 50 years experience of fixing cars to answer your own question with a video, so if you never want to miss another one of my new car repair videos, remember to ring that Bell!

7 thoughts on “The Truth About Boxer Engine Cars”

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  3. Daily driver is a 2001 Subaru Outback. Bought it new, has over 412K miles and still going strong. Not very powerful, but extremely reliable.

  4. Scotty, Scotty, Scotty, "you can't make 'em (horizontally apposed engine) as fast as a modern engine design" you must be joking mate!
    the layout of an engine, whether it is horizontally apposed (like most Porsche or Subaru engines) or a "V" or inline has nothing
    to do with being "modern" or not. And having said; that the normally aspirated (non turbo) Subaru 3.6 puts out over 250hp, and the
    NON turbo 911 GT3 puts out a retina detaching 0-120MPH in 3.6 seconds. And IMHO the reason they are not widely used in the
    automotive (extremely common for aircraft engines though, Rolls Royce-Continental, Franklin, and Lycoming for example) industry is because of cost.

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