Can You Pass a Very British Engine Quiz?

By: Zoe Samuel

Who is usually credited with inventing the steam locomotive?

While strictly speaking it was Richard Trevithick who designed and built the first working steam-driven locomotive, it was George Stephenson who really took it mainstream. Stephenson was a prolific inventor and a talented showman who made the steam engine best, for this format, making waves and taking the steam-powered train from a curiosity of coal extraction technology to mainstream transportation for people, goods and war material the world over.

What was the name of the locomotive George Stephenson entered into the contest to win the commission to design locomotives for the Liverpool & Manchester Railway?

When the Liverpool & Manchester Railway decided to build locomotives, they held a contest both to find the best inventors and to generate some buzz. The winner was George Stephenson with his Rocket, which was the fastest engine-driven machine in the world, capable of propelling itself at the swift speed of 28 mph. Other than the breakthrough in technology, the Rocket demonstration is known for being the first example of someone being hit by a train, the Rocket in this case: William Huskisson, MP.

Who manufactured the primary engine of the HMS Queen Elizabeth that is currently the flagship aircraft carrier in The Royal Navy?

Rolls-Royce isn't just a world-renowned carmaker or engineer of aviation propulsion systems. Rolls-Royce makes some of the finest and most powerful marine engines in the world. While most American carriers are powered by nuclear reactors, the HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) which happens to be named for Queen Elizabeth I, uses a Rolls-Royce gas turbine to generate power. Augmented and backed up by diesel engines, the Rolls-Royce alone generates 40 MW of power, which comes out to roughly 53,641 horsepower.

For what innovation in engine design was Frank Whittle responsible?

Frank Whittle is responsible for one of the most important innovations in engine design: the turbojet. Designed in the 1920s, Whittle's turbojet was very nearly put into production, an event that would have radically changed the shape of WW2. In the end, the design was adopted, becoming the engine we're all familiar with hanging from the wings civilian and military aircraft the world over.

A famous British sports car once made by Lotus had a version with an engine tuned by British tuner Cosworth. Which car was it?

Lotus is a manufacturer known for its embrace of lightness. While most sports car makers believe in making bigger, more powerful engines, Lotus has focused on lighter cars that require less power to go fast. The Lotus Seven was a lightweight, open-top sports car with so little bulk that its little engine made it zip around like a wasp. After Lotus retired it, Caterham got permission to make their own version of the car, and you can even buy one today, brand new. When Lotus made The Super Seven, it turned to Cosworth to tune the engine.

How many liters was the most powerful engine available on the Land Rover 90 (Defender)?

The Land Rover 90 was an iconic machine for the Land Rover brand, and the most powerful engine available was the 3.5 liter Rover V8 engine. One of the more storied engines in the brand's history, it began life in Buicks and was licensed to Rover because it packed a lot of power in a small package. By 1967, the V8 existed in its 3.5-liter form, and it continued to be used as such right through 1991, when it breathed its last in a Finnish military vehicle.

From which of the four biggest nations of the UK did the inventor of the Stirling engine hail?

Robert Sterling invented one of the most enduring engine types in the world: the Sterling engine. It never really took off because it isn't suited to most high-RPM applications. Its strength lies in its efficiency, and with a cheap fuel source and time to spare, it can generate a lot of power. As a result, Sterling engines have found homes in power generators for decades, and today you will find them in the heart of solar dish generators that harness heat from sunlight to generate electricity with this engine!

Other than giving his name to the Watt, what term did Watt contribute to the terminology of engines?

Many force measurements are named for scientists who either discovered them or did important work on them: the Newton, the Watt, the Volt. Horsepower, however, was invented out of both necessity and marketing. The measurement of 1 horsepower is the force equal to 33,000-foot pounds of force per minute, based on a complicated calculation by Watt to determine the power of a horse to move a mill. It was used to demonstrate how much more power engines had over horses, but ironically, horses at their peak usually have about 14.9 horsepower.

Can you name the builder of the engine in the TVR One?

When TVR built the very first car with an all-TVR-built chassis, they powered it with an engine that was originally the beating heart of a Ford van, but, tuned to a blistering 35 horsepower, became the power plant for the TVR One. TVRs' reputation for crashing began here, as the man tasked with making the bodywork for the car managed to crash it while transporting it to his workshop, and then the first and only owner of the car totaled it, whereupon it was scrapped for parts.

Which of these Lotuses has the most British engine?

Nearly none of the modern Lotuses use British engines anymore. While the Esprit used a Lotus Type 918 engine, the Exige GT3 uses a supercharged 1.8-liter inline 4 sourced from Toyota. All 3 engines available on the Series 3 Elise, as well as all transmission options, come from Toyota. Indeed, even the Evora comes equipped with a Toyota V6. While Lotus certainly tunes all of these engines, as do other British carmakers who use them such as Ariel, these engines are, at the end of the day, Toyotas.

What British inventor made the first major improvements on Thomas Newcomen's steam engine?

James Watt was the first to make sweeping improvements on Thomas Newcomen's atmospheric engine, producing the Watt steam engine. The innovative improvements on Watt's engine were that while Newcomen's engine's cooling apparatus cooled the tank in which water was heated, thus slowing the speed of the engine, Watt's engine used a separate tank to draw the steam from the cylinder, cooling it separately, allowing the engine to continue with its strokes.

Do you know which famous automotive engineering group is based out of Banbury?

Prodrive is the most famous automotive company no one has ever heard of. It only made one complete car, but it was a one-off intended only to demonstrate what the company could do. Prodrive does most of its work consulting for client companies on technologies as disparate as industrial diesel engines, aircraft jet engines and automotive differentials and active aero. Its most famous work, however, is on engines.

What is the top speed of The Royal Navy's Duke Class frigates?

Duke Class frigates are deadly, heavily armed floating gun platforms, but they can also really move. Their top speed isn't publicly known, but it is quick, and it comes from the ship's awesome power plant. A combination of several engines drawing on different energy sources, it consists of 2 Rolls-Royce Marine Spey gas turbines, 2 General Electric electric motors, and 4 Paxman Valenta diesel engines, for a combined horsepower output of 68,392‬, or the equivalent of about 236 Ford F-150 pickup trucks.

Which British-born inventor created the atmospheric engine?

Thomas Newcomen designed this early engine circa 1712. He wasn't strictly an engineer, as one could be many things back then: He was a lay minister and an ironmonger, but his invention, used as little more than a pump, was an early example of an external combustion engine and a steam engine. It worked by boiling water to push steam into a piston exposed to the outer atmosphere, where the ambient temperature (aided by a water spray) would eventually mean the pressure on the outside of the piston was more than the inside, pushing it back down like the head of a nodding donkey.

The Jaguar E-type is famous for a particular type of engine. What is it?

The E-Type Jag is one of the great classic cars. It is universally adored for its looks, with a perfectly balanced shape even Leonardo Fibonacci could appreciate. What technical enthusiasts love and hate about it is its engineering. Its electrics suffer from typical Jaguar problems of the time (exposed electrics on the undercarriage, vulnerable to water splashes shorting them out), but its engine is a work of art. A straight 6, the E-Type's engine isn't the most powerful configuration, but it is easy to maintain and modify.

What manufacturer's V8 is the basis for the engine in the Keating Bolt?

Keating Supercars makes supercars, but it doesn't make any actual cars. Keating makes "kit cars" that you build, or that you pay someone to build. The Keating Bolt is a unique supercar with an engine that, while appearing to be an LS7, is metallurgically different from GM's LS7. This engine can be specified as naturally aspirated, supercharged, or twin-turbocharged, with horsepower coming in at 650, 750 and 2,500 respectively.

For what is the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine named?

The Rolls-Royce Merlin engine is one of the marque's most famous creations. Introduced in 1933, it originally had a boring alphabet soup name that would likely fit in with most car brands' contemporary nomenclature today. After a company-wide decision to name all of their engines after birds of prey, the 27-liter V-12 engine was renamed for the bird commonly referred to as the pigeon hawk in North America, but called the merlin (with a lower case "m") in the UK.

In which of these aircraft was the Rolls-Royce Merlin not used?

The Typhoon was powered by the Napier Sabre engine. Sabres were notorious for their problems: trouble starting in the cold, making an annoying noise and lots of other complaints. They made up for these shortcomings with power. The 5th generation Sabre produced 2,400 horsepower, compared with the eighth generation "Racing" Merlin, which needed high-octane fuel to beat that figure. Due to its characteristics, the Typhoon's role shifted from air to air combat, to air to ground combat, dropping massive bombs. With its monstrous horsepower and armored engine compartment, it was the perfect tool for the job.

Land Rover's KV6 engine helped to break a marine record. What was it?

Gibbs built a vehicle called the Aquada in the early 2000s. It was an amphibious vehicle built as such, and not based on a boat or a car. In 2004, Richard Branson used one to break the record for driving an amphibious vehicle across the English Channel, cutting more than 4 hours off the old time. This vehicle (one can hardly just call it a car) had a lot of unique components, but one very standard part was its beating heart: Land Rover's V6.

What was the engine format of the 2003 Bentley Continental GT?

When the 2003 Bentley Continental GT came out, it was very odd. Was it a luxury car? Was it a GT car? Or was it a nuclear plant disguised as a car? Fitted with the W12 engine found in the VW Phaeton, the GT had the addition of two turbochargers, which cranked up the power output to well over 500 horsepower. Interestingly, the same engine was tuned by VW for a demonstration of another car, to produce 600 horsepower.

In the 1995 Bentley Azure, what was the displacement of the engine?

Bentley proudly makes its own engines, even when they borrow technology from Bentley's corporate siblings, and over the years it has had quite a few of those, including Rolls-Royce and even Volkswagen. In 1995, the Azure came out, featuring a new platform and a wondrous 6.75-liter engine Bentley had been using more or less unchanged since the 1950s. This L410 version, introduced in 1970, gave the Azure a fuel consumption of 9 mpg city, and 15 mpg highway.

When did Jaguar and Land Rover switch to using Ingenium engines?

Jaguar Land Rover wasn't fully able to celebrate the departure from the Ford era until the last of the Ford engines disappeared. This happened when the Ingenium line of engines was put into use. The engine's unique properties allow it to be installed laterally or longitudinally, anywhere in a vehicle frame. This means that with one basic engine, Jaguar Land Rover can power its whole lineup until such time as they get off gas and diesel use altogether. Given that this engine came into use in 2015, it may be Jaguar Land Rover's last engine platform.

Can you identify the American car, engine and all, that was was based on a car so common in the UK that its owners had a special name?

The Ford Fusion sedan, now out of production in the USA, was a rebranding of the tremendously successful Ford Mondeo, a car Ford designed and built for the whole world (hence the name). Sadly, Ford noted that its cars did not sell as well as its SUVs, and discontinued manufacture of the Fusion/Mondeo for the US market, but the Mondeo, with an engine made in Wales, is still a common sight in Europe, as is "Mondeo Man".

Can you identify the most unusual feature of the engine in the Rolls-Royce Phantom driven by Rowan Atkinson in "Johnny English Reborn"?

When Rolls-Royce developed the new generation of the Phantom, it tried out several engine formats, building the chassis so it could accept any of them. Rolls and its parent company BMW ultimately settled on a V12 engine, which isn't a slouch in any respect, but in doing so they passed on three prototype V16s which, conveniently, fit in the car. Atkinson called Rolls-Royce, asking if they would lend the film one of these mythical prototypes, and they did, giving Johnny English a real car that is, in one way at least, more special than the cars driven by 007.

Which Aston Martin was featured in the film "The Living Daylights"?

The James Bond film "The Living Daylights" featured one of the most underrated of Aston Martin models, the V8 Vantage. Many Aston Martins have V12 engines, many of which have historically been more or less two Ford Mondeo engines bolted together. The V8 Vantage is smaller by comparison, but no slouch. It has muscle car looks and muscle car power, but being lighter, smaller, but still sporty, it's actually much easier to use the available power. Of course, most V8 Vantages don't come with skis, missiles or any of the other gadgets used by 007 in his V8 Vantage.

Where did defunct automaker Ascari source the engine in its apex sports car, the A10?

When Ascari went hunting for an engine for the car celebrating its tenth anniversary, the company looked to Bavaria. There, the engineers found the S62 engine, a naturally aspirated V8 made for cars like the BMW 5-Series. Like the engineers on the M5, Ascari tuned the S62, wringing 625 horsepower from it. This amount of power makes a lot of sense for driving a big, heavy car to high speeds, but the A10 wasn't that. It had no air conditioner, no soundproofing, none of the heavy things one normally needs that power for, making the last Ascari a yellow road-missile.

What was the displacement of the engine in the Vincent Black Shadow?

Few names arouse strong feelings among motorcyclists quite like Vincent Black Shadow. Vincent made a lot of fast bikes in the 1940s, and following hot on the heels of the Rapide (which was the first motorcycle ever to have a V-twin engine) the Vincent Black Shadow took that same V-twin and tuned it up, cranking another 10 horsepower from it. With this engine and the Black Shadow's frame and body, the bike could reach speeds up to 125 mph, making it the world's fastest production bike at the time.

With what vehicle does the Jaguar F-Pace not share its in-line four engine?

Jaguar and Land Rover are both made by the same company, and the base model F-Type's Ingenium engine is shared with both the Land Rover Discovery and the Jaguar E-Pace. This relationship says a lot about the evolution of car technology, since the Discovery needs a fairly powerful engine to power its hulking bulk, and the E-Pace only needs an engine as a part of its hybrid drive system. Of course, the F-Type can be obtained with much larger and more powerful engines.

With which car does the third generation Mini "Cooper" not share its engine?

In its new incarnation, Mini is a subsidiary brand of BMW, and just as Volkswagen Group, General Motors and Toyota do, BMW shares parts. The Mini hatchback commonly called the Cooper shares its inline three-cylinder engine with several BMW and Mini cousins, including the BMW X2 (an "SUV" which is little more than a hatchback on stilts) the BMW 118i (a small station wagon/hatchback variant of the 1 series) and the Mini Clubman, which is a larger, more versatile Mini.

Which of these types of engines was the smallest engine in an Aston Martin in the 21st century?

If you can't remember which Aston Martin had an in-line 3, don't feel bad. It was only available to people who already owned other Aston Martins. The car in question was the totally weird Aston Martin Cygnet, a Toyota IQ dressed up with nice leather and lots of Aston Martin badges, styling, and grille. New emission laws meant that Aston Martin needed to balance its gas-guzzling lineup with something parsimonious, so for a brief time it added the IQ, available with an in-line 3 supplied by none other than Daihatsu, making 66-97 horsepower.

How much horsepower is provided to the military's Snatch Land Rover?

Land Rover's claim to fame is its ability to conquer any terrain. The British military uses Snatch Land Rovers to patrol areas where there isn't much need for armor. As a result, these vehicles are able to lean more heavily on being lightweight. This means they don't need so much power to move around! As a result, it doesn't need more than the 111 hp Land Rover diesel engine to get around. Interestingly, using a high torque, smaller engine means it's even lighter!

How British is the V8 engine in the Bentley Bentayga, really?

Knowing where an engine comes from is only part of what makes it "of a place." This V8 was designed for the American market, so is it American? It's based on an engine made by corporate parent Audi, so is it German? It's made in a plant in the UK, so is it British? It's possible that it is all of those things. It's strange to call the world we live in "global," but the tautology makes sense. Supply chains, knowledge centers and the locations of HQs muddy the water, but here's a useful thought: maybe something can be 100% British, 100% German and 100% American all at once.

For which of these vehicles did Prodrive build the engine?

Prodrive does a lot of work on a lot of engines, but one of the flashiest is the engine rumbling inside the Aston Martin Vulcan. The Vulcan is an insane plaything for the very rich. It isn't street legal, though RML Group makes a modified version that is street legal, in the UK at least. This track car has a power output of 820 horsepower. One way of looking at this is that the Vulcan has about 551 horsepower per US ton, whereas the Tesla Model 3 has about 134.5 horsepower per US ton.

The turboprop engine was created by an inventor whose ancestor was which British science fiction author?

George Griffith, author of "The Angel of the Revolution," a science fiction novel published in the 1890s, was a direct ancestor of Alan Arnold Griffith, who not only came up with the first workable design for the axial flow turbojet, the earliest recognizable design for the turboprop, but he even did very important work experimenting with and publishing on what is now termed metal fatigue.

Where was Jaguar's AJ30/AJ35 engine made?

AJ30/AJ35 was the designation for the 3.9 liter variant of Jaguar's AJ-V8 engine. Back in the 2003 model year, Jaguar was part of Ford, and shared many components with other models made by brands of Ford. With the last engine hitting the road in 2006, this Jaguar engine lived in the Lincoln LS, Ford Thunderbird and even the Ford Forty-Nine concept car, which looked like a cross between a Mustang, a Thunderbird and a melted chocolate bar.

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Image: Pixabay / dwphoto

About This Quiz

Ever since the days when the British Empire built railroads connecting far-flung corners of the world, Britain has embraced the power of machinery to extend the grasp of humanity. The Swiss have had a reputation for making fine timepieces for a long time, but building quality and, to put it in simple terms, building excellent things larger than watches, have been hallmarks of British craftsmanship. After all, Rolex started out as a British company. Britain remains home to many companies that make machines that use engines, build their own engines, or even build engines for other companies or purposes.

Historically, the British tend to invent their way out of problems. Faced with foreign invasions as with the World Wars, the British invented machines for land, sea and air to defeat their foes. Since then, capitalism has driven this rapacious rate of invention. When Britain was the only major power capable of wringing 120 horsepower from an engine, there was little need to work hard, but since WW II, Britain has gone toe to toe with Germany, the United States, Japan and other nations in the engine game. How much do you really know about this proud British tradition? Take this quiz and find out for sure!

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