Watch: Why We All Love the V10 So Much

With rumors of the R8 V10 ceding its place in the lineup to an electric supercar, it’s easy to accuse those of us who are a little sad of being outdated dinosaurs who just want things to be like they were in the good old days. But for many of us, the sadness comes not from a fear of the future, but from a sense of sadness at the loss of one of the last V10s on the road.

Of the vees, the 10 is arguably the most special. More raucous than the smooth 12, bigger than the mighty 8, and humbler than the imperious 16, the V10 holds a special place in the hearts of many. And I would go so far as to argue that the engine configuration is among the surest guarantees of classic-status in the automotive world.

Short of having a Porsche badge on the front, there’s no better indicator that a car will become a classic than 10 cylinders. Think about it: what’s the only Dodge without a Hemi that anyone gives a damn about? What’s the only Lexus that matters? Why does no one fetishize the R8 V8 like they do the manual R8? Because V10.

And before you comment about the Ford Triton V10, I did specify that cars with V10s were classics. And be honest if you had to pick a cube van to move with, wouldn’t you pick the one with the V10?

So why is the engine so special? Well, Drivetribe thinks it has the answer in this excellent edition of Mike’s Mechanics.

As the video explains, V10s sound great because of their richness of cylinders. The more cylinders you have, the smaller they can be. That’s because you can spread your displacement over more of them. Those small cylinders can then reciprocate faster because of the smallness, meaning higher RPM—as anyone who remembers the ear-melting V10 F1 cars can attest to.

The rarity of V10s also means that they’re generally produced for motorsports, making them robust, powerful, and prone to the type of legendary storytelling that race nerds like to engage in.

Such is the appeal of the V10 that when Audi wanted to sell it in the UK, they didn’t bother with aggressive track driving or beautiful sun-dappled photography, they just put it on a dyno and let it rip.

So, while 2 seconds to 60 and a low center of gravity may be nice to think about, you’ll forgive us if we take a minute to mourn the passing of a truly special car.

In honor of the engine, here are the first ten lines of my epic 110 stanza Ode on an Audi V10:

Thou still unravish’d bride of loudness

Thou love-child of sound and ignition time!

V10 historian, who canst thus express

A powery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:

What many-piston’d lore defines thy shape?

Of deities or mortals, or of both?

What secrets of build make thee stay racey?

What men or gods are these, who race so fast?

What mad pursuit? What trophy raised at last?

What thundering pipes! What wild ecstasy!