Soon, you won't have to be running a race team to get a sweet Honda V8 engine. The 5.0-liter, four-stroke SOHC VTEC BF350 was announced today as the company's first commercially available V8 and the new top of Honda's outboard marine lineup. You might not be able to put it in a car, but it's still pretty darn cool.
Honda has been in the marine engine business since the '60s and now has a broad range of outboards from tiny ones for dingies to robust outboards for larger toys.
The new BF350 is designed for boats of around 25 feet in length, like sport fishing boats, bigger pontoon party boats, and fiberglass-reinforced plastic boats. And while 350 horsepower is nothing to shrug off, Honda's objective with this motor is more about hitting a nice balance between power, reliability, and ride quality rather than outright speed.
I say that because when I heard "Honda V8" I immediately thought of Indy car engines from a decade ago. But I think it's safe to say the BF350 is basically nothing like some of the big-cylinder-count monsters Honda has run in motorsports in the past.
Honda's BF350 press release does draw one automotive parallel: "The new outboard’s fully balanced, 60-degree offset crankshaft, is built using the same crankshaft alloy and tested to the same strength specifications as the engine in the famed Acura NSX high-performance supercar. It eliminates the need for counterbalancing and seamlessly integrates with the 60-degree engine design and nonlinear engine mount to provide exceptional performance with minimal vibration."
Well, "tested to the same strength specifications" doesn't really tell us anything, but my takeaway remains that smoothness was a priority for this project. Honda stated more specifically that the BF350 was designed for longer service intervals and easier servicing than some predecessors, which I respect as a non-boater but also a wrenching enthusiast.
Some details on what's been done that end, straight from Honda:
- An enhanced engine cover design, with handles located on the top and left/right sides, and an improved striker guide for easier lifting-off and replacement;
- Increased cover rigidity and newly designed grommets for better sealing and waterproofing;
- Simplified access to anodes for easier anode replacement;
- The addition of an oil filter flange prevents oil dripping during oil filter removal;
- A redesigned O-ring shape of the thermostat cover prevents water leaks, and new drainage piping eliminates residual water in the thermostat to prevent sticking;
- An improved gearbox/gearcase shape reduces underwater friction and enhances fuel efficiency;
- Maintenance periods between many routine services are extended; for example, because wear-resistant iridium plugs now are standard, intervals between spark plug replacement are longer;
- Materials and finishes including anti-rust painting and anti-rust coating result in an improved, hardy anti-corrosion resistance; a chrome-plated, three-dimensional emblem and trim make for a premium, sleek appearance.
The main specs on the BF350, besides a 350-horsepower output rating at 5,000 rpm:
- Four-stroke, single overhead cam, 32 valves (and course, eight cylinders)
- 10:1 compression ratio
- Weighs 765 pounds to 776 pounds dry, without a prop (add about 17 pounds for the propellor)
Honda's not the first mainstream engine company to do a V8 outboard, Yamaha and Mercury Marine have been in this game as well. The BF350 is not breaking ground in coolness, either, as the most monstrous outboard V8s are from outfits like Seven Marine which hangs 6.2-liter GM V8s off the back of boats for crazy nautical speed. But this new Honda V8 engine could be a compelling choice for situations where it's nice to have a combo of power and refinement on the water.
Honda says it will announce the BF350's availability and pricing in early 2024. The BF250, its current range-topper, lists in the $25,000 neighborhood so I'd expect this new V8 to cost considerably more than that when it does hit the water.
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