Spoiler alert, it’s a two-stroke.
The Ferrari brand will always be associated with panache and elegance. Its history has been peppered with great designs like the F40, Testarossa, Enzo, and countless others. That said, the Italian automaker’s engineering prowess often seems to slip through the cracks.
In its latest instalment of the Mike’s Mechanics show, features a supercharged 1.3-litre three-cylinder two-stroke engine that Ferrari designed in the early ‘90s. As Maranello has long been considered the honorary birthplace of the V12, we were surprised to hear of this configuration. While it never truly saw the light of day, this triple was a sign of things to come.
Although two-stroke powerplants are great for their simplicity, they do have their fair share of pitfalls. Inefficiency, low torque, and a narrow powerband immediately come to mind. However, Ferrari saw the advantages in the platform and brought the simple technology up to spec. Its engineers utilised modern technologies to get what they wanted from their configuration. Their two-stroke unit featured fuel injection rather than carburettors, proper exit valves, and even a conventional oil lubrication system.
We’ve only seen a couple of three-cylinder engines worth looking at in recent years. Most notably, BMW released the i8 in 2014 which featured a turbocharged three-cylinder hybrid powerplant. While the supercharged variant of the Ferrari triple was capable of 130 bhp (97 kilowatts), a turbo variant could have pumped out an estimated 216 bhp (161 kW). Mighty impressive numbers, considering the Bimmer’s internal combustion engine is capable of roughly the same turbo figures.
With everything going electric nowadays, it’s unlikely Ferrari has even thought about two-stroke engines or anything with less than eight cylinders since this powerplant’s introduction in the ‘90s.