"Once you have seen it, you'll never be the same," James Hetfield sings in the 1983 Metallica song “Motorbreath.” That lyric certainly holds true for the eponymous Motorbreath, a diesel-forward strain known for its frosty appearance. Get into high gear with this herbaceous, fuel-powered classic cannabis cultivar.


Motorbreath is the child of two famous parents, Chemdog x SFV OG. Its origins go way back to the original grower Chemdog at a — wait for it — Grateful Dead show in 1991. It was at this concert where Chemdog obtained a bag of some grass so powerful its growers claimed it made people want to roll around on the floor like happy dogs, which they called Dogbud. Chemdog would go on to obtain seeds from the Dogbud and grow them at home to discern the best phenotypes. The prize winner of the group was a dynamic 2001 cut known as Chem D.

Chem D quickly became beloved amongst growers, and was crossed with a San Fernando Valley OG by Jimmy Nitz of Pisces Genetics. Nitz dubbed the offspring Motorbreath in honor of its prominent, gasoline-like smell, and tested out various Motorbreath phenos until a clear winner was found. Ultimately #15 prevailed, and Motorbreath #15 is one of the most popular phenos available today.

Motorbreath has been beloved ever since, especially by those who enjoy diesel fuel-heavy flavor profiles. Nitz’s signature Motorbreath (#15 in particular) has been used by many breeders to create new signature strains. In 2019 Motorbreath took home 10th place at the Emerald Cup for Mixed Light Flower. 

Motorbreath Strain Effects: Indica or Sativa?

Motorbreath is typically categorized as indica leaning, and is said to be a 70/30 indica to sativa ratio. While this ratio provides some insight into what the general profile of this flower might look like, it doesn’t tell us much about specific effects. 

Fans of the Motorbreath strain describe the experience as one that fuses together euphoric, cerebral qualities with a stony body high. The initial impression begins with an energetic body buzz that segues into uplifting mood elevation. The body buzz grows stronger to a point of deep relaxation as the cerebral high takes on a focused quality. The end result is an experience that can feel fairly sedating thanks to the heaviness from the OG parent. Add in the fact that Motorbreath can clock up to 28% THC, and you’ll see why novice users may want to exercise caution when experimenting with this strain. Side effects can include dizziness, dry mouth and anxiety.

The heavy but happy, focused high of Motorbreath can have many therapeutic benefits. Users report Motorbreath’s heavy body high may help with several conditions such as insomnia, nausea or loss of appetite. Various aches and pains as well as muscle spasms or tension are said to melt away under a heavy handed body high. Others note the euphoric effects of this strain can induce a round of the giggles, and as such is a good candidate for managing anxiety, stress, depression or migraines.

Motorbreath Strain Characteristics and Terpenes

As the name implies, the primary smell that characterizes Motorbreath is its signature diesel aroma. Heavy fuel and chemical notes segue into woodsy, herbal notes of clean pine. A slight hint of lemon can also be detected, weaving together the pine and fuel to create a signature symphony that can smell savory — almost like garlic, some say. Diesel notes are the first to hit upon smoking. The transition to the woodsy, citrus palate is quick before it shifts back again into fuel on the exhale. 

Motorbreath #15 was selected due to its extra-frosty visual appeal. This strain is highly resinous, and loaded with a generous coating of silver trichomes. Nugs are elongated, and coated in long, thin orange pistil hairs. 

Terpene content for Motorbreath reveals the primary terpene as myrcene which may lend the signature sedation associated with this strain. Other terpenes found here include limonene (citrus notes) and beta-caryophyllene (peppery notes). Pinene may also be present. These terpenes work together in harmony to create an experience that’s stony while also being uplifting and focused.

Motorbreath Strain Grow Tips

Motorbreath isn’t considered a particularly challenging strain to grow. It can be grown in or outdoors, enjoys sunny, humid environments and typically takes 9-10 weeks to flower. This strain can grow quite tall — up to 80 inches indoors, so growers should ensure they have enough room available to accommodate this enterprising flower. 

Another concern when growing Motorbreath can be pests. One good way to combat potential pests is for growers to lollipop branches. This technique keeps branches spread out so they’re pest-free without stressing out the plants too much. Ideal harvesting time is mid-October for outdoor plants.

By Janelle Lassalle

Artist, Writer, and Content Creator