(first posted 4/24/2013) Well, there’s a whole raft of reasons why I like straight sixes, like their intrinsic balance, better torque curve (per displacement) than a V8, and of course their distinctive sound. But here’s the best reason of all: they look so much better. One can readily see the whole engine; on both sides even. On a V8, too much is left to the imagination; for that matter, their undersides aren’t really interesting. But sixes have all their plumbing on full display, like this fine 1937 Chevy sporting a couple of Stromberg jugs posted at the Cohort by Bryce. Here’s a closer look, and then the other side too:
I’m so happy to live long enough to see sixes be cool again. When I was young, everyone yanked out the “stupid six” in their Chevy or whatever, and dropped in the inevitable V8. But who can bear to see another WalMart hot rod with a 350/350 in it? The world really is becoming a better place.
Spark plugs lined up at attention, ready for inspection! Obviously, this engine has benefited from the house of Offenhauser. But its things like these side plates, that can be removed to expose the whole side of the block, that makes old sixes so endearing. Now to hear it running.
back in their day, the Rambler and Some Ford I-6s were the best projects; the Chevy was the most fragile…
Slant 6 was decent, but that Rambler 6 was a gutsy peach! heard them racing as late as ’82 at IMSA support races in Pacers and Grmlins, bellowing after the Mazdas and Datsuns!
The Rambler six, once they got past their aluminum mistake, became the heart of the Jeep franchise. As the Jeep six, with FI and 40 years of improvements, it was the stuff of legends.
I’ve always liked sixes; but as cars get smaller and lighter, the big iron block of the six stays impressively heavy. Moreover, I’ve come to an appreciation late in life, of the burble of a V-8. It’s a pity nobody has thought to downsize the eight-cylinder types in a mass-market car…give the sound, the smoothness, yet reasonable fuel economy.
Don’t it always seem to go?…you don’t know what you got ’till it’s gone…
Those AMC sixes in IMSA RS had to run the factory intake manifold and the Carter BBD 2 bbl carburetor, which was way too small for the engine. Part of the bellowing was the big holes drilled into the underside of the intake manifold. The carbs were then jetted way up to compensate.
100% with you on the inline six love. This is the engine in my current toy, a 230 inline in an absolute bare-bones ’64 Chevy C10. Since I took that shot I was able to find a reproduction of the “High Torque 230” sticker for the valve cover.
Yes! We learned how to drive a stick on this very motor and chassis. Low and smooth, hard to stall even if you try (and then there was the time, first day my older sister drove us to school, she couldn’t remember how to downshift, we went around a right-angled gravel road corner at 50 mph. I still don’t know how we are all alive, but that Chevy Six pulled us right through). Throw a little oil at it when the valves start to tick and it’ll run forever. And plenty of room to climb right in there to put that new sticker on, or anything else you want to fool with.
Looks mighty similar to the engine room in my F-100. When did the switch to red paint on these?
Chevy paints are weird on the sixes, different sizes of the same block could have totally different colors. So the short answer is “no clue”. This engine is actually supposed to be a weird greenish-blue, but no one makes anything close, so I went with GM blue.
My auto shop teacher in high school (Mr. Ellis) always brought his old vehicles into the shop for us to work on. One of them was a red C-10 of about the same vintage as yours…though in 1981 it was a much newer truck. The engine was a straight six with the sticker proclaiming it as a “High Torque 292”. It had kind of a strange blue colour to it as well – I was used to seeing the usual red Chevy engines.
I noticed this image when I was doing a google search on inline 6 230 cu in motors, as I have a 1969 Camaro which I purchased from the original owner over 27 years ago. I am in the process of looking for a couple things that I can’t seem to find thru a parts place.
Throttle linkage and the the arm of the pedal assembly (that’s on the engine side of the firewall). Any assistance would be awesome!!!! :0)
My Fine 69
Where’s the Slant 6 love, anyone?
Oooo, Ooooo, right here! The slant six in my 71 Scamp was a real honey. Even at very high miles, it would idle smooth as a baby’s butt. It also had a unique sound that we used to hear a lot, but very rarely now.
And let’s not forget the endearing rattle of the heat riser valve on a Slant Six!
Or the clattering tappets that so many folks never bothered to adjust!
Gawd, I forgot what fun could be a heat riser.
One of my several mail jeeps, with the 232 six…had a rusty and binding heat riser. NOTHING I did with it would make it swing free for more than one hot-cold-hot cycle.
I could have torn everything down but I put it off…this was the one that got the fiberglass body; and that project never got finished. So the heat riser became a moot issue…but I won’t forget how much fun it was to baby a cold I6 through traffic on a fall morning.
My grandpa once had a Slant 6 equipped 1960 Plymouth Belvedere. He said it got great fuel economy, was reasonably powerful (would have probably left his next car, a 59 Chevy w/ an I6, far behind in any race), was as reliable as an old Volvo, & ran smoother than a baby’s butt slathered in butter & baby powder.
PS. It’s life was ended by a tree, and the driver had a few teeth knocked out.
Right here, I’ve owned 7 or 8 slant sixes, great keep on trucking motor for the cash impaired. Once I learned to carry a spare distributor for the slant sixes can’t swim moments, I don’t think I ever had a problem I couldn’t McGyver my way out of. Dad kept a spare carb and rear axle at the house for my run of Valiants/Darts.
Damn, I never thought of a spare distributor. I would take mine out and clamp it into a bench vise to set points. Now I see that I could have just kept a spare handy with fresh points and condenser to pop in for a really quick tune-up. Your genius comes 30 years too late. 🙁
Don’t forget the traps- pull out the distributor & it breaks the nylon gear. Get a new nylon gear, it has holes in it, but not for the pin to hold it in. You’re supposed to drill holes in it in the correct place for the drive pin.
Oh yeah! My dad had the spare rear axle, carb and distributor hanging on the garage wall for the family Valiants. May I add a 7 psi radiator cap to the pile?
The 225 in my Dodge A100 was already showing signs of age when I bought it in 1976 (it had been a delivery truck). But it just kept on running, and running. And its low-end torque was the best of the bunch, because of that crazy long stroke.
Yup, the low end torque on the 225 was LEGENDARY. The top end horsepower, at least on the ones in North America, died off very rapidly as the revs rose. Since I never drove a Slant Six with a tach, I’d assume around 3000 rpm.
The 225’s rated gross hp peak came at 4000 rpm (at least the pre-smog ones). The slant six’s head and manifolds breathed better than average, thus the 225 wasn’t that rev-constrained. My experience tells me that the modern big Chevy, Ford and Chrysler sixes all power peaked at about 4000 rpm, but realistically, there isn’t much point in going past about 3500 (based on my 240. The older generation’s peak was more like 3400-3600 rpm, but there wasn’t much point in going past 3000.
Even heavily loaded, and accelerating, I rarely exceed 3000 in my truck for shift points. And empty, I rarely exceed 2200 (seriously).
The little 170 slant six was the best revver of any of them; rated peak was 4500 rpm, but would easily spin 5500. And with just a bigger carb and exhaust, would readily turn 6500.
I always admired BMW for sticking to I-6 engines. Sadly, V8s largely relegated sixes to the Bargain Basement in this country, until V-6s took over. Is there any bona fide advantage to the V-6 besides package efficiency?
The only I-6s I’ve ever driven were Dodge & Chevy pickups while temping for the So. Cal. Gas Co. Naturally, the ’69 Chevy C/10 250 was a better drive, once switched back to gasoline; natural gas was really lame, requiring full-throttle to do any acceleration, along with poor range.
V6s generally weigh less and can be packaged into a shorter package. Ideal for front wheel drive. So with the emergence of fwd and transverse engines we saw the rise of V6s and the decline of inline sixes. There have been a few fwd inline sixes (Suzuki, Austin and Volvo spring to mind) not not many.
The more compact engine also leaves more crush space for collision safety, even with longitudinal FR layouts.
Suzuki as in Daewoo.
Because a V6 is more compact it can packaged more rearward in a RWD platform. Can give 50/50 weight distribution which is delightful. IIRC the Infiniti (Nissan) RWD platform was called FM for its “front mid-ship” design.
If we are going to have a I6 Lovefest I’ll have to mention the AMC I6s that were the best engines in most every Jeep from the 70s until 2006. I still have not forgiven daimler for having phased out the 232 (4.0) I6 and replacing it with the awful turd of the 3.8 “minivan” motor in the 07-11 Wrangler.
Virtually every modern Class 6-8 Truck on the road in North America is powered by a 9, 12 or 15L I6 turbo-diesel.
Ah, the infamous AMC I6. Here’s one from a car show last summer; it’s in a 1977 Hornet AMX.
Liked that old 37 thats the end of the wheels on windsor show untill I redo, my fkicka account. I had a feeling youd notice these shots Paul.
A straight six with a cross flow head and a multiple number of carburetors sticking out the side is a joy to behold.
I wonder if the recent interest in straight sixes is because they are less common these days. Quite often the little engine is a four while the bigger motor option is a V6. For me there isn’t a more boring layout than a transverse mounted V6. Of course we might be waxing nostalgically about them in 20 years. I doubt it though.
I already get nostalgic for V6s, every time I’m in something with a 4 cylinder turbo.
Straight 6s are special. They’re so soothing, thanks to their perfect primary and secondary balance. I don’t think it is just nostalgia that makes us miss them. They’re a connection to a time of doing things because it was the right way to do them instead of just doing them in the cheapest or easiest way to make comply with government regulations.
Even in the pre-regulatory era, cost and expediency were pretty substantial factors in automotive design. A fair number of straight sixes were basically one and a half inline fours, after all.
(And some inline fours were sixes less two cylinders, of course.)
Best straight 6 i had was my 3.3 Vauxhall Cresta,I also had a 69 AMC Javelin 6 (232 c i) I think and a Mercury Comet 170 c i which were both good engines.Dad had a Standard, a Mk3 Zephyr, Falcons,a Valiant and a Dart and my brother had a 62 Fairlane 6.All were smooth,reliable and not too bad on the hard stuff and they sound great. More secretary’s specials and vanilla sedans please, Thanks for a great read and glad to find a few more 6 maniacs!
Another lover of the six here. There was a comment earlier today on another thread that brought up the big 308 six in the Hudson Hornet. One of the great thrills of my life was the scene in the Pixar movie Cars in which the old Hornet barrels around the dirt track at full speed. The soundtrack of that bellowing six (that HAD to have used a real Twin H Hornet) can almost bring tears to a guy’s eyes.
I almost couldn’t believe my eyes when GM introduced the 4.2 I6 in the Trailblazer some years back. Then, it shriveled and died. I was sad.
Yes, that was a real Hornet on the soundtrack, they show it in the Blu-Ray extras. Pixar really did a great job on the details. My favorite scene is when he’s idling at the start line, it sounds awesome. That’s my favorite movie to watch with the kids.
I too was sad. I still think of that engine every time that I see a Trailblazer.
I’m an inliner too- having owned four of the best:
1964 Rambler Classic with the 196: Lovely smooth engine, allegedly needed head bolts torquing regularly, but I never had issues. Capable of a good 25mpg. Shame about the vacuum wipers. Merging in the rain uphill was a matter of floor it, let off wipe wipe wipe, floor it, let off wipe wipe wipe and repeat until merging was possible. Going downhill on motorways in the rain meant the wipers flailed so hard they almost flew off.
Slant Six’s- 1974 Duster and 1983 Gran Fury: Lovely torquey and utterly bombproof motor. Once the GF had the feedback carb and dizzy removed and was ludditized, it was transformed. Adjusting the dizzy when the exhaust was hot was always fun though.
1971 Ford Custom (not even a 500) with the 240 big six: again, a big bombproof engine that was the best- or only good part- of that car. Not a fun car to drive without power steering, and the frame was nearly rusted in half. I wouldn’t mind a ’95 or ’96 F150 4wd with the 300 of that engine though.
Finally, the best for last: 1988 Mercedes 300SE w126 with m103: Perfectly suited to the car- powerful enough, buttery smooth, and mpg not that far off a diesel. Reliable? Youbetcha. These engines tend to need a new head gasket and timing chain every 175-200K miles, and they’ll go double that before any significant wear materilaizes. If only the vacuum locking wasn’t a game of whack-a-mole, it would have been a lovely car. 2-tone green with green interior. My partner was gutted when I sold it.
Honourable mention: ’96 Dodge Dakota 2.5 with 2/3 of the AMC engine: best domestic small truck 4 cylinder ever made. Over-engineered compared to everything else at the time or since. In 70K hard working miles, the only problem was a crank sensor. Now, the reason it was so good is what it came from- a GOOD six. The Tempo engine was similarly designed, but came from a mediocre engine. The ‘little’ Ford six was not known for longevity like the AMC, Slant or Ford big-6.
I must say that I’m a fan of 6-cylinder engines in general, I6s among them. They’re in the goldilocks zone between little 4s and big 8s. Big enough to provide meaty performance, but not quite the full-fat of V8 excess.
I do like a lot of other engines, but I’ve noticed that well over half of the cars I really like have 6 cylinders.
My daughter’s 2007 Trailblazer has the Atlas 6 cyl. engine. That motor is a real honey.
That being said, I liked my old ’61 Chevy 235 and dad’s ’66 250 as well. I’ve owned three Chryslers with the 225, and they were absolutely bullet-proof. The 292 I owned in my ’76 truck – not so much, but my own fault.
I always preferred sixes because I’m cheap, and a 4 cyl. wasn’t available. I always wondered how a 4 cyl. 1969 Nova ran? Probably would have hated the thing, in retrospect…
Thing is, many newer V6s are faster than most old V8s.
The Atlas was a beautiful motor once the head cracking problems and untrained technician problems were solved.
Unfortunately, it cost more to build than the 5.3 V-8 and thus was send to the “also ran” file of automotive history.
And yes, with modern V-6’s, a V-8 is rarely necessary.
I love straight-sixes and oddball engines in general. Straight-sixes didn’t use to be, but they sure are now. Since the Trailblazer went out of production, are there any more still being made in the US? I can’t think of one.
I currently have two straight-sixes and a boxer. ’74 Dart, ’95 w124 wagon, ’95 Impreza wagon. The Benz, with DOHC and VVT is the ultimate expression of the breed in my book. Soooo smooooth.
christauph, I have to agree with your comment about the M104 engine in the Benz. It was awesome! I had two of those – the last a 1995 E320 Coupe. I’m convinced that was the best car I ever have, or ever will own.
At one time I had three automobiles all with straight sixes: a 1967 Mercedes-Benz 230S, the E320, and a 2001 Jeep Cherokee. Currently I have four automobiles counting the one my daughter drives but only one with an in-line 6. That would be my 1992 Jeep Comanche pickup (long bed, 2-wheel drive). I plan to keep that one for quite a while.
There a lot of us in CC land that love straight sixes, be they slants, or other denominations. One of my favorite Bonneville cars is this ’37 Chevy running a 302 Jimmy with a Wayne cross-flow head and Hilborn fuel injection. The starting line shot was taken in 2012, the engine shot in 2003. The sound of this car taking off was orgasmic. It has run as fast as 157 mph (253 kph) and holds the record for its class.
That engine is pretty much my Holy Grail. I have dreams about big old Jimmy straight sixes with lots of carbs on them. I have a picture on my other PC of a vintage one with 5(!) carbs on it.
got the intake and the 5 Stromberg 97 on top but can’t find a 302 yet I will some day
The Ultimate Six has to be the Pontiac 250 c.i.d. OHC Sprint rated at 230 horsepower. Why Pontiac didn’t put them in the Nova derived ’73 model GTOs I’ll never know. It sounds like that version of a GTO could have made a very balanced package in terms of both power and handling and would have been terrific timing for the 1st oil crunch.
By that point the OHC 6 was long gone and the people who’d championed it in the first place had moved on. I think there was a lot of resistance to the engine from senior management because of its unit costs, and buyers ignored it because the 326-2V and 350-2V were stronger, torquier, and cheaper than the Sprint.
Yeah, the Pontiac OHC 6 was all Delorean. Although first fitted to the base 1966 Tempest, he had envisioned the high-performance Sprint version in the ’67 Firebird as an American Jaguar. But, as mentioned, domestic performance was spelled ‘vee-eight’ back in the sixties (and especially at Pontiac).
By 1969, Delorean had left and became history at Pontiac, so, too, was the OHC six. Besides the production cost, it likely would have been expensive to get it to make upcoming emissions requirements, too.
I would love to get my hands on a clean Sprint 6 for my Camaro project. Instead, I’ll be ‘dropping’ in an LL8 (4200 Vortec) straight six in front of a 4L60E, so I can retain my “250” fender badges, and the factory column shift.
The Nova derived GTO was ’74. The ’73 GTO was the one and only Colonnade design.
I could not agree more on the inline six. When I bought my Falcon, I lamented at its lack of a v8. But over the years of tinkering with the 200, I have come to appreciate its simplicity, reliability and gas mileage. Add a two barrel and headers, and you get a cool exhaust note and a bird that will keep up with freeway traffic and return 22 mpg. Not bad at all.
I never owned an inline six, but I always loved their smooth exhaust notes. Two of my favorites: the Plymouth flathead six that a classmate drove, which made a sweet, lowing noise under throttle, and the 2.5 Triumph six that was everywhere in the Seventies in TR6s. The Triumph may just be the sexiest exhaust noise known to man.
You can listen to a Slant 6 in its Wikipedia article. Sounds wonderful.
1959 Saab Monster: transverse two-stroke 1.5L inline six. 138 hp, 122 mph. “The project was terminated because it proved impractical.”
I bet they had lots of fun proving it was impractical.
Since 2007 Volvo has offered a transverse inline six in their S80 luxury sedan. Naturally aspirated (235 hp) or turbocharged (282 hp). “Volvo claims a transversely mounted inline engine leaves more crush space to protect against frontal impacts.”
Though we’re talking straight sixes, don’t forget the transverse inline five. My V50 has the 2.4L I5. Nice engine, less trouble without the turbo my ’99 S70 had, and a revvy little exhaust note.
At one point the S80 could be had with a turbo six, a normally-aspirated six, and a V8.
Yeah, I was going to mention the Volvo/Landrover SI6 as the only modern FWD inline 6.
Packaging is becoming a big issue due to safety regs. This V6 is popular for RWD because the shorter package makes more room for crush space. However Euro pedestrian safety regs are creating a need for space above the engine, which may lead other manufacturers to adopt boxer layouts since it permits a lower hood line while still meeting the standard.
Final point is that V6 and V8 engines can often be made on the same production lines and tooling which saves manufacturing costs.
Daewoo did, and still does it , on the Magnus-Tosca, AKA Suzuki Verona.
What? No Mercedes Benz Straight Six love?
Several commenters already professed their love for them. Count me in too!
Oh yeah, I’ll show some love for the straight six Mercedes! They make the nicest hard snarl going up through the gears.
My favourite inline 6 of them all was the Chrysler Spitfire flathead. My dad had a 1949 Windsor that I drove a lot, complete with Fluid Drive. The low end torque was amazing on that car and the Spitfire had full flow lubrication so it lasted for years. Even in the early 1990’s it had no problem keep up with any traffic I had it in. In the city, you could leave it in second gear and it had no problem smartly keeping up with traffic.
The idle was so smooth and the exhaust had that unique flathead “phut-phut” sound. What a cool car and a great motor, too.
They use to race a class at the local oval up until four years ago that was all old nova and monarch,fairmounts and the ocasional aspen. Have you ever heard torty or so straight sixe get lined up through turn four for a rolling start? Its eargasmic. As the stock of old novas and the like was nearly non existant they retired them in favor of the S-10 chassis and a 305. Still a bunch of fun to watch but not quite the same.
Forty or so.. is what it is supposed to say.
Too bad then Chrysler didn’t used the “Hemi 6-pack” in North America like Australia did for the Aussie Charger. http://www.valiant.org/valiant/hemi-six.html http://justacarguy.blogspot.ca/2010/04/hemi-6-pack-charger-rt-from-australia.html
Just imagine what if there a Hemi Six Dart/Valiant/Duster? 😉
We could also add another forbidden fruit from Down Under; theFord I6 Barra engine who’s also available with a turbocharged version.
My son owns a 2005 Falcon XR6 Turbo which he has had chipped and also fitted bigger fuel injectors. Stock it produced 245 kw (328 hp) but now it’s more like 300+ KW (402 hp). The Barra motor is an evolution of the original 1960 falcon engine with larger displacement (4.0 litres) and DOHC. It really is a beautiful engine that won’t be around much longer as Ford Australia are selling fewer and fewer Falcons every year. Last year they introduced the 2 litre Ecoboost 4 at the same price, but that has done nothing to arrest the sales slide. Our Falcon will be replaced after 50 odd years by the US Taurus with 4wd or FWD. A sad end to a once great car which headed the sales charts in this country in the 80’s and 90’s.Unfortunately the Australian car buying public have fallen in love with SUV’s of all sizes, and the classic Aussie 6 and 8 cylinder family sedan and wagon are slowly dying. The Holden Commodore is in slightly better health, but it’s volumes have shrank to about a third what they were a few years ago. It switched to a V6 in 1988.
My dad has one of the FPV F6 versions, which is under-rated at 310kW/420hp, they make more than that. I know a guy who went a bit silly with the previous model a few years ago, ended up with 570rwhp but still completely docile to drive although 450rwhp or so is a more sensible point for the street before you need to get into built engines.
Even the plain non-turbo version is pretty good, nothing outstanding in the hp/L stakes but they are designed for low-down torque. They have all the good gear though, dual independent variable cam timing etc and remarkable efficiency. Around 6 years ago I had a rental for a 300mi trip and got nearly 40mpg (US) on the highway despite it being the old 4sp auto and doing a lot of overtaking on dual-lane highways.
I’m pretty sure the list is not complete but I love this type engine and put a lot of miles on these:
47 Studebaker flathead six
1 chev 231(?) 1949 engine
Multiple chev 235s
68 Nova and 67 Chevelle with 230 sixes
64 Mercedes size unknown, straight six
At least two 231 V6s before they became “reliable” 3.8s
I own a 4.3 right now that I like a lot but I wish it was straight
The best was the Ford 300 six or the Chev 261. Both in trucks. Couldn’t kill either of them. I put the Ford in a Van and pulled a 240 out. Had thought it was a 300.
Before 1950 and frankly for a spell after that it seems the GMC 300+ engine was the hot ticket for chevy drop in. I see them in comments above but can’t describe the awesome torque. Saw one a few years back that had that with a turbo in a chevy coupe. I believe the extra weight many times can be compensated by moving the engine back. Limitations sure but I would like to try that. Don’t know for sure but expect some of these last so long because the rpms at top speed are limited.
Anyone know what a 292 cu inch I-6 chev engine came in? My FIL has one in his cape boat I was curious what they came in as they are quite popular with the cape islander crowed(fisherman and pleasure operators) and are plentiful round here. My FIL had the 292 rebuilt ten or so years ago after it was mildly overheated, I figured a diesel swap was in order but he swears by it as it was in two boats and had many many lobster seasons under its timing belt.
Automotively speaking? In Chevy (and GMC) trucks and vans; never in cars. It’s basically a 230/250 Chevy with a longer stroke, and taller deck block, IIRC. It was optional on anything from a basic pickup on up. Heavy duty versions were used in quite large trucks even. Very common in step vans and such. Before UPS switched to diesels, the 292 powered a huge number of their deliver vans for many years. I wish they still did; loved to hear them working hard, but nearly as load as their diesel vans. Ouch; those are noisy things now.
It’s a tough number, to say the least. And one of our readers has a boat with a pair of 292s. I hadn’t known how popular they are in that application.
Hey, that’s me! The popularity of this thread has inspired me to do a “Dockside Classic” on it if you are interested. The rebuild is almost done, so I will have some new pics and plan to make a video of the pair of 292s in the boat while underway. It sounds really cool! To answer the question, The 292 is an extremely rare engine in boats. My boat originally had a pair of MerCruiser 165s which were GM 250s. The 292 was only available as a marine engine in 1969 and was called the MerCruiser 200. It was mated to the MerCruiser II outdrive which was made for a few years in the late 60’s and today is quite a rare drive – parts are no longer available, and I have never seen one in real life. The MR drive, also referred to as the “pre-alpha” drive, was probably not strong enough for it, and the impeller was much weaker than the ones in today’s Alpha drives. The MerCruiser 200 had a water pick-up that was external and not in the drive. TRS drive was designed for big V8s and was not used with the 292. I am wondering if those boats Will is talking about are straight inboard boats. That would make things a bit easier and would work with the external water pickups. My 292s are mated to Alpha One Gen II drives, and may be the only ones in the world set up as they are.
You ask, the Internet answers!
And I don’t think it has a timing belt. 🙂
Here’s my old 1976 Chevy C-20. 292 cu. in. six. My first brand-new, ordered-from-the-factory vehicle in October, 1975. Took delivery day after Thanksgiving, 1975 and sold it the day after Thanksgiving, 1977.
The motor? Probably due to my ignorance of how to properly break in a new engine, it needed a new short block in March, 1976. GM kindly paid for it, though…they never did find out why a bearing went bad.
I wouldn’t be so hard on yourself, more than likely a manufacturing defect. Unless you took it out and raced it once you got it home.
I know they were in chevy trucks and cars from the early 70’s until the mid 80’s and the older motors early 60’s you could bore them out .060 which is 3.935 and that is the bore of a 366 truck motor DO I HEAR A FRANKENSTEIN MOTOR BUILD 325 Hp 292 chevy
Late to the party (long day at work), but had to add to the chorus of praise for the inline six. I’ve owned three of the four Ford inline sixes most often seen in the late 20th century: 200, 250 and the 300 in my current, “beater” truck, a ’93 F-150. Haven’t owned the 230 that Paul has, and not sure it will ever happen.
I passed up plenty of V8 F-150s in my search for this truck; I’ve had V8s, and wanted to see what all the hype was over a large inline six in a full-size truck. Now I know. It’s an eerie smoothness, accompanied by tons of torque.
A major pet peeve: Those who advertise pre-1997 F-150s as “V6.” There should be a law for slandering the blessed inline!
By the way, anyone ever peek under the hood of a Suzuki Verona (Daewoo Magnus and Chevrolet Epica outside of the US)? A transverse inline six…that must’ve been something to behold. Wonder what it did to the turning radius?
Oops…240, not 230! (Darn these tiny iPad “keys”).
I like inline sixes too for the reasons Paul mentioned. The look is a big aspect for me as I find they are not all smooth. I had a 280Z once that was rough as a corncob and did not like to be rev.
I drove Datsun 280Zs at Bondurant in Sears Point in 1980. The tach indicated a redline of 5500, but anything above 5100 rpm produced mainly noise and not a lot of forward momentum. But the thing was a torque monster. Second and third gear were enough to get you around the track all day long. The car was a pig, but the perfect vehicle for teaching the Bondurant technique (trail braking).
I love my V8s but the DOHC I6 in my mom’s old Volvo 960 was the sweetest motor. The effortlessness with which it would rev to 7k RPMs and the silky smoothness of it was beautiful.
To me, true art is a 32-34 based hotrod, OHV in-line six under the (nonexistant) hood, three side draft carburetors into one side, and a six into one header out the other. This is the hot rod I wanted to build back in the late 60’s.
My mates looked at me like I was nuts. “It’s not a V-8. What a waste of time.”
Sweet! I’ve always loved the straight 6. Had a 68 Ford F-100 with the plain jane 240 six and the three-on-the-tree shifter. Fun, light, and easy to drive. Then a Triumph 2000 Mk 2 with a beautiful 2 liter six, with dual Stromberg side draft carbs. Finally, a 1967 Chevrolet C-10 with a 250 six and Saginaw four speed. Magnificent cars. I still have a 1989 Jeep Cherokee with a 4.0 six. Love that smooth growl at low speed.
My first non aircooled non vw microbus vehicle (I was 18. It was 1980.) was actually a 1970 Volvo 164 with the B30B straight six with dual strombergs, 4sp with overdrive. And red leather. This was before my very long affair with peugeots and citroens.
Since I had a way of acquiring cars at the very end of their lives just to sample what was interesting out there without being money in the hole, I didn’t have it too long, given its prevalent rust and very loose rod and main bearings. Regardless, that thing was a torque monster! Had to use premium to keep it from pinging. It was 10.5 to one compression IIRC. That was one of those cars that I really wished was in better condition. The B30B appeared to me to be a B20B sawed in two between cyls 2 and 3, with an extra pair of cylinders shoved in. The timing gear set was even identical between the two engines.
The other straight six I had was a Continental 225 “L” head. The car? A ’53 Kaiser Manhattan, with a GM hydromatic 4 speed auto. Jade over ivory (sounds more attractive than green over white, doesn’t it). The ridiculous 1st gear ratio (upshift to 2nd in about 2 seconds, it seemed) really allowed it to feel torquey even though it was not a hot rod by any means. Too bad it wasn’t a ’54 with the roots blower on it! Except I liked the look of the 53 better than the 54 and 55.
forgetting the Toyota straight 6s like the one used in the Toyota FJs for 30 years. Not too powerful but reliable as hell. I liked that 6 in the first generation Lexus IS very smooth.
forgetting the CHEVY straight 6s like the one used in the Toyota FJs for 30 years.
There fixed it for you. It was a Chevy design through and through, with metric fasteners, that’s why a Delco distributor from a Chevy drops right in.
I’ll take 8 cyls arranged in a V thank you very much. Us real Scout guys consider a Scout with a AMC boat anchor parts trucks.
My first car, (and avatar) a plain jane Aussie 1973 XA Falcon 500 sedan had the venerable 250 ci straight 6 and column auto combo. No speed demon, but a smooth and torquey mill with a wonderful burbling exhaust noise.
A very wobbly needle on 95 mph was all I dared muster from it. Ford claimed 155 hp for the standard setup with the teeny single barrel Stromberg carb. An extremely rare optional high output version with a 2 barrel carb and 170hp was also available, called the 250-2V. I believe it was available for only a few years starting with the XY model falcon and ending with the XA. I’d much prefer that setup to the usual 302 or 351 everyone else shoves between the shock towers.
I later owned a 1987 XF Falcon GL sedan with the last of the carbureted inline 6’s, and a 2003 BA Falcon XT sedan with the ‘Barra 182′ inline six that pumped out 244hp. The BA was just as quick as the 5.0 fox mustang convertible I owned when I lived Stateside.
Straight 8’s are the engines I’m fascinated with, especially 40’s-50’s Buicks and Pontiacs. I came across what was left of a derelict 52’ Buick while hiking in the utah desert, with the block of a once glorious Fireball 8 under it’s mangled hood. It was an impressive thing to behold, and I’ve wanted one ever since.
I ran into some European backpackers years ago traveling around the country with an old Falcon station wagon (car of choice) who said the 250 was a “very strong engine, like a diesel”.
I have some fotos of Wolseley OHC l6 engines a 1300cc 6 from a1934 Hornett and another from 1953 in a 680 sedan these are on a farm where I’m harvesting a Singer Gazelle interior so dont run away with the idea Delorean invented something for Pontiac truth is he copied it the belt driven cam was a new idea but the rest is very old hat
Although I’m such a V8 guy that I owned half a dozen A-body Chrysler products without one of them ever being a slant-six, I’ll say that I was very impressed with the six-cylinder engine in the Mercedes 220S sedan I had in 1967. The car was about the size of a 1970’s A-body car, and the performance that car delivered from 134 cubic inches of Mercedes engine was quite amazing to me. Of course if you looked at it you could see a good part of the reason – the smooth curves in the intake manifolding and the exhaust manifolds that to my eyes resembled custom-built headers. The cast aluminum cam cover didn’t hurt the appearance either.
Sighhhh. Talking my language, although I’m late to the party. Most of my early cars were straight sixes, as were some after that. I currently own a ’96 Grand Cherokee with the 4.0. Strongest of the early years was my Hudson Hornet, no doubt. It had 160-170 underrated horsepower and nearly 280 lb ft. of torque, down low. All the old flathead sixes ran extremely quietly due to the valves in the block and all snugged under a hefty iron head.
I remember being at a friend of a friend’s whose father had a ’51 Hudson with the six in it. I’m pretty sure it was a Pacemaker. It was parked on the lawn next to the driveway. I was just standing next to it with the father behind the wheel. I was shocked when he pulled away since I had no idea it was running! That was one quiet idle!
I recall my Kaiser manual suggested best idle was 400 rpm.
How did we get this far without mentioning the two gods of the Japanese pantheon (RB26DETT and 2JZ-GTE)?
I think the last American I6 is the Cummins 6BT.
265 Hemi from the Australian valiants best engine I have came across
One more vote for the Ford sixes!
Until recently I had a Falcon with the 170 six, which was slow at the top end, but quicker off the line than a lot of modern econoboxes.
I’ll also second Mr. Niedermeyer’s endorsement of the 240 six. In my 65 F-100 it is a great workhorse engine.
My 250 chevy from my ’78 Chevy C10. Truck getting repainted and interior and will be ready for this engine in a week or two. I’m about to bust!
I like it 6 in a row makes her go
Another shot. I call this one the Ark of the Covenant! lol
Should be putting out about 400 ftlbs and around 300hp.
Wow. Would rather have this in my 57 than the 283 that’s there. What will you be using for a trannie.
For now a TH350, but plan to upgrade to maybe a 400.
what you running for headers ?
starting my 4.2 inline 6 project in my 78 amc concord 2 door sedan d/l any advice? upgrades to come offen houser 4 barrel intake < found one on ebay cheep< Edelbrock Performer 500 cfm if i can get one resonable, and hope fully ditch the factory exhuast manifold, any thing i should look at as well the 6 has 78000 original miles on it factory ac still works
I love straight-6 engines, too. Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar/Land Rover, GM, and Mazda (most of whom have had straight-6 engines in the past) are all jumping on board.
Pretty sure I recognise that Chevy six and if its the one I’m thinking of it runs beautifully, I spoke with the owner recently its been treated to a full recon shaft grind rebore cylinder head work and a mild cam, he said speed equipment for ancient Chevs is quite easy to find and has no intention of putting a belly button 350/350 anchor in.
Paul, this got me thinking about your recent “Remastering” column…maybe take a late-1960s Galaxie that had the 240 and put in a 1990s incarnation of the 300/4.9 six with the fuel injection, etc.?
I’m now thinking about my early-1970s work at Ford’s Cleveland Foundry, and seeing the master patterns for those l-o-n-g blocks and heads and manifolds for the sixes; but I’ll admit I was always drawn to the V8’s, and thought of the sixes as cheapskate/taxi engines….
Slant Sixes make for a great looking hot rod engine
Oh so cool!!! This has always been my dream build.
Dream build, indeed. It’s a little surprising that the Slant Six doesn’t see more use as an exposed hotrod engine since the ‘slant’ was almost entirely a style thing. The only actual engineering benefit was giving more engine bay room to better equalize the intake runners so the combustion would be more even amoung all six cylinders. But, mostly, the 30 degree cant was done simply to be able to use a lower hood line.
With that said, the tilt of the Slant Six makes for a much more attractive exposed engine with the longer intake runners.
With the 3 different angles of the block, intake and exhaust, combined with the howl this one would have made going down the 1/4 mile, a truly awe inspiring sight and sound.
Inline 6 is truly a sweet six. I’m fortunate to own two of the Bavarian type currently, S54 and n52, both a blast to drive in their own rite.
Unfortunately in the U.S. the six usually got treated as a poor relation, especially when V8s became the stars of the line ups. Most sixes from the 60’s onward came with the integral cast head with manifold.This really cut down your options for improving the intake system. I have the Hot Rod magazine series where A.K. Miller hopped up the Falcon (small Ford ) six in his Mustang. He tried out different carb set ups by modifying the manifold as well as using headers. My ’70 Mustang came with the 250 cid six, the biggest of the Falcon sixes. Performance was pretty good,stock with a turbo muffler, it would top 90 mph. Returning from a car show in Santa Maria I kept up with a SS350 Camaro who was cruising at 70 mph. over the Cuesta Grade. That was all I had ! Fuel economy was poor, only 15 mpg. on the freeway even with radials and a front air dam. I think that the 200 six was the better engine, as the 250 had a huge carb to try to fuel the cylinders with the poor intake manifolding. Performance parts for the six are rare and expensive. Much cheaper to swap in the small block Ford V8. Still I wouldn’t mind another little six to play around with. I now have what I consider to be the greatest six, the 95-97 Jaguar 4.0. Fuel injection, all aluminum construction, DOHC four valve heads, coil on plug ignition. Here’s a picture of the Mustang engine.
Everything you mentioned and many more is why I hate 6 cyl engines. most of all is that damn exhaust note… sounds like a bunch off bees or one long fart to me. I had a couple 6 cyl engines and hated every moment of them.. again esp the sound. They were heavier than the v-8, had a lot less power per pound, lower rpm potential with that stupid long crank, they got ALOT worse gas miieage but omg the absolute worst was the sound. I love an “OPEN” exhaust on a v-8, but with v-6’s and esp a straight 6 I put the quietest muffler I could find on them.. along with two resonators… I didn’t want to hear any of that bullshit droneing sound they make. I guess it is the time period I grew up… the only car that was worth having was a powerfull kick-your -ass v-8. Back then 6 cyl cars were basic poor-mans third clas transportation… not really worth existing. I don’t like them… can you tell???
Here’s a picture of the motor in my XJ6.
I currently own a V6, one of two I’ve had, in my Tacoma and it’s not a great engine for this application. Of course a similar displacement straight 6 with the requisite cooling capacity and clearance for the front differential would probably be a packaging challenge. Of the two inline sixes I have owned, the BMW 2.8 was a fine motor, but not really as satisfying to me as the enthusiast press would have one believe, perhaps because of the 1980 technology’s balance of horsepower and fuel economy (not great). The DOHC six in my FZJ Land Cruiser wasn’t great in that department either, but the torque and general low rpm behavior were very fine. Even then, the long block and head weren’t immune from head gasket issues, though for the next owner, not me. I do have fine memories of driving other people’s Ford and Mopar sixes, the latter of the slanted variety. If I ever buy a pre-76 domestic CC, a straight six would be fine with me (unless I find an affordable and like-new Vega, of course).
As part of the brand’s migration upscale, Mazda recently announced it would offer a new platform designed around an inline-6.
Apart from the “Hemi” six from Chrysler Australia, Holden got great race results from their ‘Red’ motor. The race prepped 202 six in the Torana XU-1 handed the Falcon GTHOs their @ss at Bathurst in ’72, won many rallies and championships. Only today I had the pleasure of watching 3 of them dominate in historic racing. A good day indeed
I am late here, but of course I am a true straight six enthusiast. In addition to coming home for the first time in a 1960 Pontiac with a straight six, my family had a series of four cars with the AMC six in them. Five if you count the parts car.
My 258 equipped 1972 Matador ran very well. It would start with the slightest bump of the starter motor. High RPM performance was let down by the manifolds, for some reason the 1972 exhaust manifold had big lugs cast into the passages for future air injection ports, so I got an earlier manifold which flowed better. It would run 17.7 in the quarter mile and beat most 5.0 Mustangs to 60 feet which was pretty good for a free car.
In the Sept 1969 issue of Rod & Custom there was an article about getting performance out of the AMC six, I don’t have that issue in my collection anymore but I think there was a special high altitude package in Mexico that used a four barrel carb, by using headers and cutting 343 V8 valves into the head they got into the 13s with an American sedan.
Hmm, here it is, known as the VAM intake, short for
Vehículos Automotores Mexicanos S. A. de C. V.
I’ve enjoyed a few inline sixes over the years. First one was in a ’96 F-150 that took me off to college. A few years ago I had a ’58 Chevy Apache with the 235 and a 4 speed. My current sports car is a ’93 Toyota Supra with the 2jz.
I have inadvertently had many sixes over my lifetime. My dad’s 63 Bel Air had a 230/3 speed, which became my first car. My wife’s first car was a 74 Nova hatchback 250/3 on the floor, Spirit of America. With our first daughter came a 78 Volare with a slant six, great engine, but the car fell apart around it. We also bought a 65 Chevy van with a 230/3 speed. Wish I still had that car. A short-lived project car was my 55 Chevy Bel Air 2 door post which I had to sell for rent $ and I still cry over. We had 2 GMC Envoys with the 4.2’s which both ran way over 200k! Currently own a ‘14 Mustang 3.7 DOHC V6-6 speed and a 63 Impala convertible with 250/PG. Let’s see, how many is that? Two Cutlass Supremes, 70-76 with 350 4 bbls. and a 283 which never got installed are my only V-8’s, but they were great engines, too.