The first V8 engine to appear in a passenger car was actually in a Rolls-Royce, but today that cylinder configuration conjures images of machines with a far brawnier character. 

V8s are also considered by many to be the ‘sweet spot’ between the lower power of engines with fewer cylinders, and the typically significant expense of running and maintaining a V12.

In the round-up presented here, a wide range of genres are represented; from supercars to muscle cars, 4x4s to powerful coupes, and even a luxurious convertible. The outputs on offer also span from 215bhp to an incredible 840bhp. While most cars on the list would be deemed costly, the price of admission to this list starts at just A$27,500.

V8 Defender

A car that is undeniably defined by its engine is the Land Rover Defender 90 Works V8 70th Edition. While the standard model at the time featured a 2.2-litre diesel producing around 120bhp, the Works 70th Edition featured a 400bhp 5.0-litre naturally aspirated V8 coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission. This allowed the car to sprint from 0 to 62mph in just 5.6 seconds. Collectors snapped these cars up quickly, and many remain with delivery mileage since their rebuilds – as per this example sold in March 2021. With a winning bid of £146,000, it is the world record price for the Works V8 model.

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The Mercedes-Benz C43 AMG represents the very first car to be assembled in full at the now famous Affalterbach factory. While it was preceded in age by the C36, that car was essentially a reworked C280 – but the C43 AMG was truly purpose-built. Our Australian team offered a smart silver car in February 2021, with its 306hp 4.3-litre V8 reported to be in fine fettle. Like most C43s, it had covered a good distance from new, but was ready for its next owner to enjoy, and it sold for A$27,500.

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While Alpina may not be an in-house division like AMG, its products are typically extremely sought after, with tuned super saloons and fast estates delighting enthusiasts worldwide. After BMW revealed its Z8 Roadster, Alpina looked at developing its own spin on the retro-styled Bond car, but its favoured ZF automatic transmission was not compatible with the S62 V8 engine as found in the E39 M5. To overcome this, a 4.8-litre M62 engine was installed, as seen in Alpina’s B10 models, producing 375bhp and mated to the five-speed automatic gearbox with push-button shift. Many preferred the slightly softer ‘cruiser’ character of the Alpina Z8, and today they typically command a premium. This 77,000km car was sold in July 2021 for €225,000.

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Back in 2019, a V8 convertible of a very different type was sold on Collecting Cars. A wonderfully original example from the first year of the model’s production; this 1971 Rolls-Royce Corniche had spent 42 years in the ownership of founding member of The Moody Blues, Ray Thomas. Having been laid up after a service in 1998, it spent some 20 years carefully stored, until it was discovered as a genuine ‘garage find’. Its paintwork was thought to be all original, and the brightwork was superb after a clean. The 6.75-litre alloy-block V8 needed some basic recommissioning – including new ignition, distributor cap, rotor arm, condenser and points – but had been fired into life, and all the fluids had been renewed. Boasting unrepeatable rock-star provenance, this charming Corniche found a winning bid of £33,000.

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Moving from the sublime to the ridiculous; nobody needs 840bhp and 770lb-ft of torque, but if running on 100-octane race fuel, that is precisely what the monstrous Dodge Challenger SRT Demon can deliver – giving a 0-60mph time of just 2.3 seconds. Even with normal petrol, its 6.2-litre supercharged V8 produces 808bhp and 717lb-ft, making this modern muscle car a formidable choice for the drag strip or the road alike. This particular example was offered with delivery mileage, and sold for £97,500.

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Another special car built with the “no replacement for displacement” mentality was the 1978 Aston Martin V8 sold in November 2021. Having spent most of its life with the standard factory 5.3-litre engine, in more recent years it had been sent to renowned specialist Richard Stewart Williams (RSW) to carry out a 7.0-litre conversion, taking power up to around 510bhp. When offered on Collecting Cars, it was accompanied by a fantastic file of old paperwork documenting its prior restoration and upgrade, and had been extensively prepared by Aston Martin Works when sold by them in 2016. A great bidding war saw it find a new home for £151,500.

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Those looking for an altogether more focused machine would be hard-pressed to find a more complete package than the Ferrari 458 Speciale. Equipped with a 597bhp 4.5-litre naturally aspirated V8, it also boasts a sublime chassis and beautifully balanced handling, making it a thrill to drive on the road or track. This car sold in June 2022 had an especially high factory specification, including exceptionally rare Rosso Mugello paintwork, and sold for a remarkable £380,500.

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The Audi R8 remains one of the most popular modern sports cars, especially equipped with the 4.2-litre naturally aspirated V8, coupled to a glorious open-gate manual gearbox. In relative terms, it remains an affordable proposition for many, and like its earlier TT sibling, its ‘first generation’ design is often regarded as the purest. This particular car sold in Italy has covered just over 17,000km, and was specified with the desirable Audi Magnetic Ride suspension. It sold for a winning bid of €67,000.

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Returning to the theme of cars defined by their engine; there are few better contemporary examples than the W204 generation Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG. While you could order a small, fuel-efficient engine in this era of C-Class, the C63 proved an absolute riot – the 6.2-litre ‘M156’ V8 under the bonnet being not only hugely powerful but gifted with one of the best soundtracks in living memory. The example sold in Australia in November 2022 was a very rare ‘507 Edition’, reflecting its increase in power to 507hp (373kW). This special edition also features ‘composite’ aluminium and iron brake discs, plus the lightweight bonnet from the C63 Black Series. It eventually sold for A$70,190.

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For those seeking something truly bespoke and thrilling, the Bowler CSP V8 Prototype P1 sold in October 2021 fits the bill. A custom chassis of aluminium alloy is mated to Bilstein shock absorbers, while stopping power comes courtesy of substantial Brembo discs and callipers. Under the bonnet is a supercharged 5.0-litre Jaguar V8, producing nearly 570bhp, and driving all four wheels through an eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox. The lightweight composite racing seats, OMP steering wheel, and pared-back interior round out the motorsport focused upgrades, and spirited bidding saw it find a new home for £89,000.

While eight-cylinder engines could never be described as cost-effective, more often than not they endow a car with a fantastic character, and – in relative terms – offer a more affordable route to high performance than a 10 or 12 cylinder car. If you are on the hunt for a special V8, then keep watching the Coming Soon section on Collecting Cars, and subscribe to updates to make sure you never miss out on bidding.

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