OK. Enough of all these voting fraud theories. I spent most of November and the beginning of December reading and listening to arguments that either the Republicans or the Democrats were trying to steal the election in Florida.

Well, the ballot fiasco in the Sunshine State must have created a little paranoia with the automotive types. A few industry movers and shakers suggested voting at Ward's isn't always the only factor used to determine each year's 10 Best Engines. Some of the powerplant winners are chosen just because they're new, they allege.

The obvious disclaimer here is that new engines should win out over existing engines because they have the benefit of the latest technologies or design inspritations. But, in fact, it doesn't work that way. There isn't a Ryder truck stuffed full of Best Engine evaluation forms on its way to Tallahassee, FL, and with the demise of carburetors years ago, we don't have to concern ourselves with butterfly ballast.

On top of that, senior technical editor Bill Visnic, who is the overlord of this competition, isn't spending the late nights and weekends he is renowned for working to fix the results to his liking. The vehicle assessments completed by myself, senior international editor Barb McClellan and associate editor Bob Krantz, all first-time Best Engine judges, counted just as much as the opinions of the veterans.

A recount, you say? Fine, but let's do it quickly by keeping the Supreme Court out of it. Several new engines were candidates for a Best Engines award but didn't make the cut, such as Toyota's RAV4 2L 4-cyl. and Acura's CL S-Type 3.2L V-6. There also are a few powerplants among the 2001 winners that have been in the Top 10 for years. For instance, Ford's 5.4L V-8 and Nissan's 3L V-6.

And in case you're wondering: The best engine of the 2001 class is Porsche's 2.7L double-overheard cam H-6. That's what I voted for, anyway … I think.