The Best 4-Bangers Throughout Tuning History

The Best 4-Bangers Throughout Tuning History

Many of us grew up learning the ropes of engine work on our favorite 4-cylinder engines, and many of those platforms are still as relevant today as ever. In PASMAG issue #151, we investigated which 4-bangers are considered the best in tuning history with some digging through the files, talking to performance shops, and asking our audience. Here are the top 10:

Honda B16

HONDA B-SERIES

Valvetrain: SOHC/DOHC
Popular In: Civic, CRX, Integra
Year Introduced: 1988

  • First usage of Honda’s VTEC system that we all know and love.
  • 1.6L, 1.7L, 1.8L, and 2.0L variants.
  • B16 bottom end + B20 CRV head = B20VTEC (badass NA four-cylinder).

Honda KSeries

HONDA K-SERIES

Valvetrain: DOHC
Popular In:Civic, CRX, RSX
Year Introduced:2001

  • Two short block options, differentiated by deck height. K20 deck height is 212 mm, whereas K23 and K24 deck height is 231.5 mm.
  • Possibly the best four-cylinder engine ever based on versatility, reliability, and ease of modification.

Honda F20

HONDA F20C/F22C1

Valvetrain: DOHC
Popular In:S2000
Year Introduced:2000

  • Developed specifically for S2000.
  • 9,000 RPM redline.
  • Most brake-horsepower-per-liter and quickest piston speed upon initial release.

SR1024 52812.1409150392.1280.1280

NISSAN SR20DET

Valvetrain:  DOHC
Popular In: 180sx, 240sx, Silvia, Pulsar GTi-R 
Year Introduced: 1989

  • Some of the greatest turbocharged engine noises in the world.
  • Factory forged pistons in later generations (S15 Silvia).
  • Lightweight and easy to work on. Just try not to open the bottom end unless you know what you’re doing.

Mitsubishi 4G63

MITSUBISHI SIRIUS 4G63T

Valvetrain: DOHC
Popular In: Galant VR-4, Lancer Evolution
Year Introduced:1989

  • Probably the most heavily-modifiable four-banger in any production road car ever.
  • Frequently built to four-digit horsepower.
  • Insane builds have seen the 2,000 horsepower region with 13,000 RPM.

GM Ecotec

GM L850 ECOTEC

Valvetrain: DOHC
Popular In:  HHR SS, Saturn Sky, Solstice GXP
Year Introduced:1994

  • Factory forged rods and crankshaft.
  • High-pressure fuel injection system.
  • The final kickass move by GM Performance Division before the program’s cancellation.

BMW S14

BMW S14

Valvetrain: DOHC
Popular In: E30 M3
Year Introduced:1986

  • No direct successor or predecessor.
  • Made specifically for BMW’s phenomenal E30 M3.
  • Based on M10 block and M88 head, minus two cylinders.

Toyota 4A GE 2

TOYOTA 4A-GE

Valvetrain: DOHC
Popular In:AE86 Corolla, Celica, MR2
Year Introduced:1983

  • Rev-happy iron block straight from the factory.
  • Supercharged in 1988 (4AGZE) with forged internals and oil squirters.
  • Famous “Silver Top” and “Black Top” 20v models introduced in JDM AE101 and AE111 Trueno models.

Toyota 3S GE BEAMS

TOYOTA 3S-GE

Valvetrain:  DOHC
Popular In:  Celica, Altezza
Year Introduced:  1984

  • Best known for the “BEAMS” (Breakthrough Engine with Advanced Mechanism System) model among enthusiasts.
  • Pulled off the greatest motorsports cheat of all time in a 3S-GTE Celica GT-4, earning a two-year ban from WRC in 1995 (look it up –it’s amazing).
  • Cast iron block with alloy cylinder heads.

SR1024 52812.1409150392.1280.1280

VAG 1.8T 20V

Valvetrain: DOHC
Popular In:Golf, Jetta, TT, A4
Year Introduced:1997

  • Used in every generation of VW Golf from 1998-present.
  • Five valves per cylinder.
  • Head designed by Cosworth for maximum flow.

Related Articles

Hot Shot's Secret Introduces Red Diamond Ultimate Motor Oil w/ FR3 Nano Technology Hot Shot's Secret Introduces Red Diamond Ultimate Motor Oil w/ FR3 Nano Technology
Hot Shot's Secret, a rapidly expanding name in performance lubricants, introduces Red Diamond Ultimate, a new motor oil now available exclusively to...
Toyo Tires Proxes Sport A/S+ Ultra-High Performance All-Season Tire Toyo Tires Proxes Sport A/S+ Ultra-High Performance All-Season Tire
Toyo Tire U.S.A. Corp. has launched the new Toyo Proxes Sport A/S+ ultra-high performance all-season tire, ideal for sports cars, CUVs, and SUVs. This...
The Battle of Authenticity: Are Replica Parts Ruining the Aftermarket Scene? The Battle of Authenticity: Are Replica Parts Ruining the Aftermarket Scene?
Today we're exploring a topic that's been causing quite a stir in the tuning community for several years now: the use of replica parts. The...
Throwback: 5 Vehicles from PASMAG in 2003 Throwback: 5 Vehicles from PASMAG in 2003
The times have certainly changed in the automotive world over the lifespan of PASMAG. Trends and styles have come and gone, with some of them sticking...
GrimmSpeed Pitch Stop Mount GrimmSpeed Pitch Stop Mount
When manufacturers design OEM chassis mounts, the primary focus often lies on minimizing noise, vibrations, and harshness (NVH), as well as keeping...
Wilwood Introduces Front & Rear BBK for 1999-2012 Porsche 911 (996/997) Wilwood Introduces Front & Rear BBK for 1999-2012 Porsche 911 (996/997)
Wilwood Disc Brakes has unveiled their latest big brake upgrade kits, tailored for the 1999-2012 Porsche 911 models, covering both the 996 and 997...