Despite its specialisation in the motorcycling market, the Yamaha Motor Company has also helped some auto companies to develop some terrific engines.
Known for developing some of the greatest motorcycles ever produced, the Japanese company also branched out to the automotive industry and helped to design and manufacture many car engines, some of which include.
Yamaha and Toyota enjoyed a long collaboration that led to the development of many great engines for the automaker, including the carmaker’s first production V8 known as the Toyota Hemi and its only production V10.
One of the most innovative Toyota straight-fours produced with Yamaha’s help is the 3T-GTE.
Based on the architecture of the regular 3T unit introduced in 1977, the 3T-GTE was Japan’s first turbocharged DOHC engine.
First released in 1982, the 1.8-litre featured hemispherical combustion chambers, electronic fuel injection, two valves per cylinder, twin spark plugs, and swirl intake ports for improved efficiency. At the time of its release, it was one of the most over-engineered, mass-produced four-cylinders, and it is still revered for its bombproof reliability.
It was used by performance versions of the Celica, Carina, and Corona.
Ford SHO V6
Another car engine that was built by Yamaha Motor Company was Ford SHO V6. In the 1980s, Ford was already working on a V6 codenamed Vulcan, but its engineers couldn’t make it compact and powerful enough.
Fully engineered and assembled in Japan, the SHO (Super High Output) was loosely based on the Vulcan, but thanks to Yamaha, it became a lot more high-tech.
The SHO V6 powered the 1989 -1995 Ford Taurus SHO, one of the era’s most underrated high-performance sedans.
This successful project led to another Yamaha-developed Ford engine, the larger SHO V8, which succeeded the V6 under the hood of the third-generation Taurus SHO.
Another engine that Yamaha helped Toyota develop is the 2ZZ-GE. In the late 1990s when the Japanese carmaker wanted to design a performance-oriented version of its ZZ straight-four, it tasked Yamaha with developing the new motor’s cylinder head, and the 2ZZ-GE was born.
An all-aluminium with a displacement of 1.8 litres, the engine featured forged steel connecting rods, redesigned pistons, and an advanced multi-point fuel injection system (VVTL-i) similar to Honda’s VTEC.
Able to race past the 7,500 RPM mark, the four-cylinder powered several performance versions of Toyota models like the Corolla and Celica, the first-gen Pontiac Vibe, and three Lotus models (Elise, Exige, and 2-Eleven).
The B8444S was another auto engine that was built by Yamaha Motor Company. Produced from 2005 to 2010, the B8444S was an all-aluminium, 60-degree V8 that powered the first-generation XC90 and second-generation of S80 Volvo models.
Officially, it was entirely designed by the Swedish carmaker, which enlisted Yamaha to help manufacture it.
However, since its bore centres, stroke, bearing journal diameters, and deck height were the same as the Ford SHO V8, it’s safe to assume that Yamaha did more than just build the engine.
This engine was also used in the Noble M600, an exquisite hand built British sports car. With a high-flow fuel injection system and twin turbos, output was pushed to an impressive 650 hp and 604 lb-ft of torque.
During the 2000s, Toyota decided to build the most spectacular supercar to ever come out of Japan and market it under its premium Lexus brand.
One of the project’s goals was to give the car an F1-inspired V10 heart, and, of course, the task was handed down to Yamaha. Codenamed 1LR-GUE, the engine was fabricated using aluminium, magnesium, and titanium alloys.
It featured a forged crankshaft, titanium conrods, forged pistons designed to withstand the 12:1 compression ratio, and 10 independent throttle bodies.
The magnesium valve covers hid titanium rods and valves, ultra-light solid rockers, and a dual-VVTi system.
To this day, it remains the only production V10 from Japan and the most spectacular engine ever developed in the land of the rising sun.