Editorial

Why Don't Engines Look Good Anymore?

What do plastic engine covers actually do? Besides make engine bays boring to look at.

Engine bays used to be a wonderful place to look at an amazing work of art. There have been some awesome looking engines throughout the years but in recent times they have been few and far between. Why don't manufacturers make good looking engines anymore? There are many factors that influence what an engine will look like, but we've isolated one key factor that's ruining the look of new engines: plastic. Years ago, using anything besides metal under the hood of a car would have been unthinkable.

Now, automakers are under constant pressure to reduce vehicle weight, and the use of plastic materials can drastically cut down on weight in the engine bay. If you've ever looked under the hood of a modern car, you may have been a bit surprised at what greeted you. Instead of a vast array of wires and bolts, most modern engine bays just feature a giant piece of plastic that usually has the manufacturer logo on it. Unlike beautiful engines of the past, these plastic engine covers look terrible which has led many people to question what they actually do. Each engine is a bit different, but they do have a function.

Engine bays can be a very harsh environment with high temperatures and vibrations. Some of the plastic components are a bit delicate and can benefit from being covered up. If you do remove the engine cover on a car, you will likely see a bunch of plastic components and wires. Car manufacturers have decided that rather than make people look at an ugly mess of wires and plastic pieces, they would simply shield this ugliness from their buyers and pretend that the engine is a clean sanctuary rather than a greasy, hot monstrosity. So what would happen if you left the cover off?

Because modern engines are designed to have a cover on them, you may affect your car by removing it. In some cases, the engine can run hotter because some covers have heat insulation built in. You may also notice some rattling because the engine cover may be designed to keep wiring and other components from vibrating. Unfortunately, as cars continue to get smaller engines and consumers see them as nothing more than a consumable good, beautiful engines will continue to disappear. Working on your own car is starting to become a lost art, so for the majority of drivers who never open the hood, a plastic engine cover is just fine.

Overall, they clean up an otherwise messy-looking area, and help make engines less intrusive in the cabin. This solution is fine for most people, but for others, nothing beats looking at an engine in all its naked glory. And for them, we have included pictures some of the best looking car engines in recent history. Enjoy the looking at these spectacular engines, because before you know it, they will be a thing of the past.

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