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As The V10 Becomes Extinct, These Are The Ones That Rocked Our World

Since rising to prominence in the Dodge Viper, the V10 has since been championed by automakers around the world, from Michigan to Germany, Italy and even Japan. It's made its way into supercars and performance sedans, into F1 racers, and even a handful of pickups and SUVs. Sadly, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles discontinued its heavy-duty truck V10 several years ago. And with the demise of the latest Viper, the ten-pot engine has left the building in Auburn Hills. But Chrysler was only the latest automaker to sweep its ten-cylinder engine into the dustbin of history, leaving just one automaker (and one of its subsidiaries) still producing engines in that format. Fire up all ten pistons and join us for a retrospective below.


Credit Chrysler with bringing the V10 to the fore. No, we don't mean Fiat Chrysler or DaimlerChrysler. Those parent companies might never have rubber-stamped such an audacious move as Chrysler did back when it was still independent in the 1990s. Following the development of the first prototypes in 1989, the first-generation Dodge Viper reached production in 1992 with an 8.0-liter V10, and over the course of the decades since, displacement has grown slightly to 8.4 liters and output has increased dramatically – from 400 hp in its first iteration to 640 in its latest. Dodge also slotted the Viper's V10 into the Ram 1500 to make for one heck of a super-truck, but that wasn't the only V10 offered in the pickup. A second version of the Viper's engine was developed for more torque but less power and offered in the 2500- and 3500-series heavy duty Ram, but was discontinued after 2002 and replaced by a 6.4-liter version of the company's reborn Hemi V8.


That Lamborghini was the next automaker to come out with a V10 engine was no accident. Chrysler owned Lamborghini from 1987 through 1994, and tasked the Italian supercar manufacturer with helping to develop the new ten-cylinder engine for the Viper. The engineers in Sant'Agata then set about making their own version, albeit considerably smaller and higher-strung, for the Gallardo. Displacing 5.0 liters, the original Gallardo's V10 produced a solid 493 hp and increased incrementally all the way up to 562 hp and 5.2 liters before the Huracan replaced it. Now producing over 600 hp, the Huracan's is one of the few V10s still in production.


Chrysler sold Lamborghini in 1994 and the company passed through several hands before Audi picked it up in 1999. It didn't take long for the new German parent to make use of the design as well, slotting its 5.0 liters first into the S6 and S8 sedans, then twin-turbocharging it for the RS6 before using the 5.2-liter version into the R8. Audi manufacturers the V10 for Lamborghini as well, making it the only automaker in the industry still producing a ten-cylinder engine.


Parent company to both Audi and Lamborghini, Volkswagen offered its own take on the V10 engine as well – but its version was fueled by diesel. Displacing 4.9 and then 5.0 liters, VW's V10 TDI was offered in both the Phaeton sedan and Touareg crossover, producing as much as 345 hp and a massive 627 lb-ft of torque – giving it as much power as the gasoline-burning V8 but nearly twice as much torque. The last time the engine was offered, though, was in 2010.


Porsche's V10 engine owed nothing to the Volkswagen Group's other ten-cylinder engines, and in fact ceased production a couple of years before the two companies merged. The engine was initially designed to run at Le Mans, then redesigned for Formula One. But both projects were shelved and the 5.7-liter V10 found a new home in the road-going form of the Carrera GT. Even in street-legal form, Porsche's ten-cylinder engine revved all the way up to 8,400 rpm, and used up almost that entire range to develop its 612 hp. 1,270 examples of the Carrera GT were produced between 2003 and 2007, after which the powerplant designated 980 was retired.


Not to be outdone by its rivals, BMW came out with a V10 of its own in 2005. Codenamed S85, the 5.0-liter engine produced 500 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque and provided the motivation for the E60-generation M5 and the E63/64-gen M6. Boutique sportscar manufacturer Wiesmann used it briefly as well, but the engine was retired in 2010, and the M5 and M6 were replaced with new models powered by a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 producing a bit more power but lots more torque.


Lexus took its sweet time developing its own halo supercar, starting development at the turn of millennium and entering production at the end of 2010. But the finished product proved worth the wait, packing an entirely unique 4.8-liter V10 good for 560 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque. Only 500 examples were completed over the course of two years, after which the engine was retired along with the supercar.


Ford also developed a V10. Like its cross-town rival's, it was big, but like Volkswagen, it was a diesel. The Blue Oval's ten-pot was an extension of its modular Triton series, most of whose members packed eight cylinders. But in ten-cylinder form, it displaced 6.8 liters. The engine initially produced 310 hp and 425 lb-ft of torque, and was later augmented to 362 hp and 457 lb-ft. Ford fittingly offered the Triton V10 in the Excursion, a sport-ute slotted above the Expedition, and dwarfed even the Suburban. It's also been part of the F-Series Super Duty pickup line and E-Series for well over a decade now, but these days it's only offered on commercial vehicles.


The road isn't the only place where we've been able to see 10-cylinder automobiles. There've been even more developed specifically for racing – in no series more prevalent than in Formula One. The FIA instituted 3.0-liter V10 engines for F1 in 2000, replacing the previous V12 engines, until they were replaced in kind by smaller 2.4-liter V8s in 2006. Several V10s have been designed to race at Le Mans and in its associated series as well. Peugeot ran one in the 905 as early as 1990. Toyota ran one the next season. Racing engine constructor Judd had one as well. The aforementioned engine that ultimately ended up powering the Carrera GT was originally designed for Le Mans. And the Audi R15 TDI that won Le Mans in 2010 used a diesel V10 as well. For better or worse, though, the current crop of racers in both F1 and Le Mans have long since abandoned the V10 – just as most automakers have for their road cars. Praise Audi and Lamborghini, then, for keeping theirs alive and ticking.
Related: "As The V10 Becomes Extinct, These Are The Ones That Rocked Our World" ↓
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