CC Outtake: Open Wide – Straight Sixes, Old And Not So Old

When I was a kid, there were few things I liked better than hanging around shops and watching the mechanics do their thing. Maybe it was the doctor’s son syndrome: “open wide, and let’s see what’s going on in there: looks like the tonsils are inflamed again!” Well, seeing a Hudson in the bay of this busy little corner shop piqued my interest (actually, it was the cars out front; more on that tomorrow). Since there were no no more Hudson dealers by the time I arrived in the promised land, I’ve always wanted to see the inner workings of what made the Hornet six such a legendary engine.

We just recently had a love fest with the step-down Hudsons, and its dominance of the early NASCAR years, but here’s the actual Hornet’s nest, exposed. Yes, there’s a piston down somewhere in cylinder number one. With a 4.50″ stroke, the Hornet probably holds a record for stroke length in the post-war era. Cylinder bore was 3.81″. And yes, the valves are big. The mechanic said 2″ for the intakes. A bit of research shows that was the case with the X7 “severe duty” engine, but not the regular Hornet engine. But big enough.

This one overheated, and in the process two pistons were damaged and scored their cylinders. “You’ll feel better once those tonsils are out”.

And this Hornet convertible was also getting the twin-H power upgrade to two carbs.

Here’s the convertible from the rear. What a butt!

Just for the contrast, I’ll show you you a straight six of a different sort. This is of a Mark III Toyota Supra, but it’s had a Mark IV 2JZ engine installed, twin turbos and all. Took a bit of doing to make it fit; a pipe-fitter’s nightmare. The owner, who so kindly gave me access to the Opel 1900, figures it makes north of 400 hp. Let’s just say taking off the Hudson’s cylinder head sure look easy compared to what it would take to do the same with this one. How about a twin-turbo Hornet; Twin-T power?