I have had this question for a long time, can I assume that a 1000 CC engine is able to hold a liter (1L) of water content?

Please let me know if my understanding is correct, so I can understand more....

Thanks in advance..

  • I assume you are in a country which doesn't use metric units of measurement (i.e. The U.S.) ? How would you measure the size of an engine?
    – Greg Woods
    May 13, 2016 at 14:19
  • Hi @GregWoods: I am from India... We will measure the engine size in CC or in Liters May 14, 2016 at 13:11
  • In that case, ignore me... the comments on displacement are what you need to know :)
    – Greg Woods
    May 14, 2016 at 14:45
  • @NANDA You from chennai? I am too!
    – Shobin P
    Jun 21, 2016 at 8:52
  • @Anarach: Really? OMG.. Then we should probably meet up to share the exp.. May be this stack is not right place to do it... My id is nanda.t.[email protected]. Pls drop a test mail. so we can connect.. Thxs. Jun 21, 2016 at 10:51

4 Answers 4


The 1000cc is the displacement of the engine. That means the total volume of all combustion chambers which is the area of all the cylinders times the length of the piston travel in the cylinder. Here is a picture of what that means:

Displacement example

This image comes directly from Wikipedia.

In the image the orange region shows the volume measured by the displacement.

Engine displacement may be measured in cubic centimeters (cc) or liters (L), but it has nothing to do with how much liquid the engine can hold. I hope that helps!

  • Hi But I have one question. I have seen the naming conventions like 1.2L, 6.0L v12 engine. Here is place, my question was born on. Could you pls explain, what they are mentioning for "L" (liter) here... May 12, 2016 at 17:31
  • 2
    On a 4 cylinder, 1000cc engine, each cylinder will have a displacement of 250cc. The total of all 4 is 1000. So, with one piston all the way down, (simplification...) you could pour 250cc of water into the spark plug hole before it would overflow.
    – JPhi1618
    May 13, 2016 at 4:47
  • 1
    And 1cc of water is the same as 1 milliliter.
    – JPhi1618
    May 13, 2016 at 4:47
  • 5
    @user3663241: Not quite. One cubic centimeter is one mililiter. (Note the absence of the "of water" part.) Both "cubic centimeter" and "milliliter" are a measure of volume, and they mean exactly the same thing, even without water / air / fuel / whatever involved. We are used to thinking of "liter" as a measure of liquids, but that is just wrong. That bucket here holds 10 liters. Right now it's 10 liters of air, if I fill it up with water it's 10 liters of water, if I put topsoil in it it's 10 liters of topsoil.
    – DevSolar
    May 13, 2016 at 11:29
  • 1
    @user3663241: Also, note that the displacement of the engine means all pistons / cylinders at their maximum capacity, which -- due to the offset positions of the pistons -- means that at no point does a multi-piston engine actually hold its maximum displacement of volume. Also, even in the topmost position there is room between the piston and the cylinder top. So, your "pouring 1l water into an 1l engine" will not work out.
    – DevSolar
    May 13, 2016 at 11:35

There are three common units used when measuring engine displacement. The two you've found are cubic centimeters (cc) and liters (L). There are 1000cc in a L so conversion between the two is fairly straightforward.

Smaller engines are often measured in cc because it is awkward to talk about your .205L engine - instead you would refer to it as a 205cc engine. Once you have more than 1000cc it is often customary to switch to L as the unit of measure so my Volkswagen Jetta has a 2.0L TDI rather than a 2000cc and my sister's Mitsubishi Mirage has a 1.2L 3 cylinder engine rather than a 1200cc.

US automakers tend to use a combination of cubic inches and liters as a measure of displacement. The Ford Mustang sports a 302cid V8 engine which was also denoted as a 5.0L engine. The Chrysler 440cid V8 engine found in the 1970 Plymouth Barracuda displaced 7.2L. There are approximately 61 cubic inches in a liter so were my Mazda 2.3L (which is actually 2261cc - rounding!) engine found in a Ford Escort it might be denoted as having 138cid.

The other thing you ask about is the configuration of the engine. V6 refers to an engine where there are 6 cylinders arranged with three on each side, forming a V shape as you look front to back. V8, V10, and V12 are similar, only the number of cylinders differ. This is contrasted with an inline cylinder arrangement such as the Mazda L4 engine which has 4 cylinders arranged vertically in a row, or the Chrysler slant 6 engine which has 6 cylinders arranged in a row but slanted at a 30° angle from vertical. There are other engine arrangements such as the flat 6 where cylinders are arranged opposite each other (see the boxer engine) and the wankel rotary engine (which doesn't even have cylinders).

  • you'll also commonly find manufacturers round up when quoting litres so for example, the 1.8L Golf is actually 1781cc, not a round 1800cc. Oct 13, 2016 at 12:45

Liter Class is a Reference from the FIM and AMA Superbike Series

The term liter class was popularized in 1976 with the inception of the AMA Superbike Championship. The class has a 1000cc displacement limit and the term 'liter class' as slang for the 1000cc Superbike championship was born.

Later, the class was reduced in displacement for safety reasons and was later changed back to four cylinder 1000cc displacement engines in 2005 along with the FIM Supberbike Championship during the same era.

The term 'liter class' has stuck in motorcycling and has become synonymous with inline four cylinder 1000cc motorcycles.

To answer your question.

What does a liter class engine mean?

It's etymological roots begin in motorcycling in reference to 1000cc displacement four cylinder motorcycle engines.



If you want the mathematical answer, you can calculate using this formula:

total displacement = (# of cylinders) × [(1/2 bore)² × π] × stroke

If you remember your high-school algebra courses, you will recall that the units act in the same way as the numbers. If you take the aforementioned equation and substitute in just units, you come up with:

cm³ = (1) × [(cm)² × (1)] × cm

The 1's represent whole numbers with no units. (pi, # of cylinders)

Then to convert cm³ (cc's) to litres:

litres = cm³ ÷ 1,000

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .