Top 10 Best Looking Engines

Best looking? It’s always going to be slightly contentious this one but, if nothing else, it’ll give you something to shout about. Here’s our office’s top ten pretty engines in no particular order

Posted: 5 October 2010
by Mark Forsyth

The original Boy Racer

1. AJS 7R

With a fifteen-year production span the 350cc AJS 7-R was a racer with more than just a pretty engine. The first six years of that production run was for factory race bikes only. It wasn’t until 1954 that parent company AMC made the bike available for customers to buy and race when the single overhead cam engine became uncompetitive at International level against a hoard of more exotic offerings from around the World.

As a reliable, sweet handling club racer the 7R hit the spot and took a brace of Manx Grand Prix victories and numerous short circuit races and lap records. It may only produce 32bhp but it sure is purdy…

Great soundtrack, too

2. Honda CBX-6

You don’t have to be small to be pretty and Honda’s iconic six cylinder 1047cc lump is nicely proportioned. It may look wide but even with an extra two cylinders it was still narrower than the firm’s CB900-4 engine even though it took a tape measure to convince people.

With 100bhp, appalling handling and terrible brakes and tyres, it was a lively ride but the noise made it all worthwhile.

Make sure your fillings are in tight

3. Triumph Twin

Not exactly a paragon of reliability, but there’s no doubting that the fruits of Edward Turner’s toils at Triumph are very good looking.

In either unit or pre-unit trim, the distinctive timing case, angular cylinder and barrel finning means there’s no mistaking the silhouette of the pushrod parallel twin.

Shame they're shaft drive

4. Moto Guzzi V-twin

Stylistically, it may not have aged well in recent years but as a visual representation of 1970s biking Guzzi’s V-twin motor is the Daddy.

With it’s cylinders sticking out into the breeze to keep them cool (an idea adopted from aircraft know-how), those famous alloy rocker covers and finned, deep sump you can’t accuse the big Guzzi of being ugly.

Big twin? Big fin, more like

5. Victory V-twin

After a short office scuffle over which Harley motor would make it into our top ten lookers, we agreed to disagree and chose the Victory motor. Co developed with Cosworth this gargantuan 1731cc 50 degree V puts out an incredible 113ft-lb of torque. At tickover.

But look at it will you? That’s art-gallery beautiful. Clean and simple.

Continue for the final five prettiest engines

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Discuss this story

A major omission is the glorious looking (and sounding) Laverda triple engine.

A thing of beauty!

Posted: 14/10/2010 at 14:09

How can you include the W650 (BSA A7 near copy), yet not mention the BSA Gold Star, Velocette Venom, or MV Agusta 750S???

Posted: 19/10/2010 at 19:37

IMO for a bike engine to be pretty it needs to be air-cooled. The Guzzi motor is the nicest-looking of those here but I agree with Allen Lutz on the Laverda triple.

A couple more: Morini 3 1/2 V-twin,  bevel-drive Ducati 900?

Posted: 20/10/2010 at 15:29

           how about the old commando

Posted: 20/10/2010 at 23:13

What about the laverda V6? Horniest bike engine ever built, IMHO.

Posted: 25/01/2011 at 14:53

Another major oversight must be the Suzuki GT750

Posted: 07/03/2011 at 15:30

Laverda triple omission was major.  Also, on Guzzi, the Daytona engine (daytona, centauro) was the one to pick. Old pushrod engine, no big deal.  

Posted: 24/05/2011 at 00:34

Hard to exclude the Ducati bevel twin over the single, and I have to agree with the Laverda triple. I might also put the original BSA triple on the list. The Norton Commando (tilted) engine is more attractive than the Triumph twin. And the HD big twin is much more attractive and well proportioned than the Victory motor.

How about 10 best looking gas tanks? In no particular order.

- Guzzi LeMans (either I or III)

- CBX/900F/750F

- Laverda Jota

- Sportster Peanut

- RC30

- Ducati 916

- Ducati 999

 - MV Agusta F4

 - Velocette Thruxton 

- Norton Commando Roadster 

Posted: 24/05/2011 at 15:20


The VINCENT BLACK SHADOW, that's something to look at!

Honda CBX 1000


Moto Guzzi V8

Morbidelli V8

Harley Davidson XLC 1200 C

Yamaha RD500

Honda NS 400 R

Suzuki RG 500

Kawasaki 1200 - 6  

Posted: 24/05/2011 at 15:29

Agree with a lot of the above but why isn't Brough Superior SS 100 in the hunt?

Posted: 24/05/2011 at 15:57

You are right, I forgot about the BS, it's a piece of art.

Posted: 24/05/2011 at 16:02

How can you possibly omit the best looking engine of all time, the Vincent V-twin????!!!!

Posted: 14/10/2011 at 17:52

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