Holden straight-six motor
The Holden straight-six motor is a series of straight-six engine that were produced by General Motors–Holden's in Australia between 1948 and 1986. Initially the Grey motor so dubbed because of the colour of the cylinder block, later motors came in the form of a Red, Blue, Black and the four-cylinder Starfire engine. These engines were fitted to all Australian-designed Holdens of the same years, and the four-cylinder Starfire notably found its way into the Toyota Corona (XT130). The grey motor is a different engine from the others. The Red, Blue, Black and even the Starfire are all inter-related with many common parts and castings.
- 1 Grey
- 2 Red
- 3 Blue
- 4 Black
- 5 Starfire
- 6 Notes
- 7 References
The Grey motor built between 1948 and 1962, earned its name as the engine block was painted grey. This overhead valve engine was first fitted to the Holden 48-215 and mated to a three-speed column change gearbox. A three-speed GM Roto-Hydramatic 240 automatic transmission was an option fitted in the latter EK and EJ series. The engine was based on a Buick pre-World War II design, and saw only minor changes throughout its 15-year life.
It displaced 132.5 cubic inches (2.2 L) in its original form, and was bored out to 138 cubic inches (2.3 L) when the FB series was introduced and the automatic transmission. It developed 60 brake horsepower (45 kW) at 5000 rpm, providing superior performance to the competing four-cylinder Austin, Morris, Vauxhall and Ford of Britain vehicles. The grey motor featured a compression ratio (7.5:1, low stress design with a view to high reliability. Due to sheer ubiquity, they were popular for racing, and were fitted to many open-wheelers, as well as racing Holdens. With the engine's low-end torque, they also found their way into boats and machinery such as forklift trucks.
This engine ran a seven-port non-crossflow cast-iron cylinder head. There were three siamese (shared) inlet ports for cylinders 1–2, 3–4 and 5–6, two individual exhaust ports for cylinders 1 and 6, and two siamese exhaust ports for cylinders 2–3 and 4–5 in a layout on one side of the head casting. The inlets were fed by a single barrel Stromberg carburettor in common and fitted with a traditional Kettering ignition by coil and distributor. The electric system was six volts in the 48-215 and FJ.. The earliest grey motors (approximately 100,000) were fitted with Delco-Remy accessories, although Lucas and Bosch equivalents throughout the motor’s lifetime replaced these.
The very first production grey motor (1948) was number 1001, and they continued in a single sequence until July 1956, when the prefix "L" was introduced. The change affected all engines numbered L283373 and above, signifying the 12 volt negative earth engines as fitted to the all new FE model. The prefix "U" was introduced for motors with the original electricals as fitted to the FJ utility and panel van models, which ended in February and May 1957 respectively. The change was effective from engine U283384. The prefix "B" was introduced and the number sequence reset with the introduction of the 138 cubic inches (2.3 L) displacement engine, and ultimately this was replaced by a "J" prefix for motors fitted to EJ vehicles in 1962.
- 1948–1953 Holden FX
- 1953–1956 Holden FJ
- 1956–1958 Holden FE
- 1958–1960 Holden FC
- 1960–1961 Holden FB
- 1961–1962 Holden EK
- 1962–1963 Holden EJ
|Displacement||130 cubic inches (2,130 cc)
138 cubic inches (2,262 cc)
149 cubic inches (2,447 cc)
161 cubic inches (2,639 cc)
173 cubic inches (2,835 cc)
179 cubic inches (2,940 cc)
186 cubic inches (3,049 cc)
202 cubic inches (3,298 cc)
|Cylinder bore||3.125 in (79.4 mm)
3.375 in (85.7 mm)
3.500 in (88.9 mm)
3.563 in (90.5 mm)
3.625 in (92.1 mm)
|Piston stroke||3.000 in (76.2 mm)
3.250 in (82.6 mm)
|173 cu in Red I6||2.8 litres (2,835 cc)||Low||112||84||160||220|
|202 cu in Red I6||3.3 litres (3,298 cc)||Low||129||96||190||260|
Superseding the Grey motor, the Red motor was manufactured between 1963 and 1980. This was a completely new engine and in no way a further development of the grey motor. It featured a seven-bearing crankshaft, full flow oil filter and hydraulic valve lifters. Denoted by the cylinder block painted red, the engine made its debut in the Holden EH in capacities of 149 cubic inches (2,447 cc) and 179 cubic inches (2.93 L) (or HP) producing 100 brake horsepower (75 kW) and 115 brake horsepower (86 kW) respectively. This was a power increase of 33 per cent and 53 per cent over the grey motor.
Red six-cylinder engines manufactured after October 1964 had the cubic inch capacity of the engine cast in raised numbers on the side of the block behind the generator/alternator location. Red engines manufactured prior to October 1964 had either no numbers cast (meaning that it was a 149-cubic-inch engine) or the letters "HP" cast (meaning that it was a 179-cubic-inch engine). Only "Red" engines with the "HP" on the side of the block which appeared in the EH only had steel crankshafts, all others had cast cranks, many people 50 years later have believed a myth about all motors having steel but it isn't true. This author reconditioned motors from the early 1960's and only the "HP" blocks had steel cranks the rest had cast. The steel cranks were much sort after and as the years past and large reconditioners like Repco back then didn't keep internal parts with the blocks when they were reconditioned ads to the fantasy of steel cranks in other motors.
- 130 – South Africa, et al. HQ export
- 138 – LC Torana
Holden Standard, Special, Premier (1963–1968)
Holden Belmont, Kingswood, Premier (1968–1980)
- 1968–1969 Holden HK
- 1969–1970 Holden HT
- 1970–1971 Holden HG
- 1971–1974 Holden HQ
- 1974–1976 Holden HJ
- 1976–1977 Holden HX
- 1977–1980 Holden HZ
Holden Commodore (1978–1980)
- 1978–1980 Holden VB Commodore
Holden Torana (1969–1979)
- 1969–1971 Holden LC Torana
- 1972–1974 Holden LJ Torana
- 1974–1975 Holden LH Torana
- 1976–1978 Holden LX Torana
- 1978–1979 Holden UC Torana
- 1971–1979 Bedford CF (Australasian models only)
The blue motor was a development of the earlier red engine, and incorporated several improvements. The biggest of these changes was the complete redesign of the cylinder head; this was now a 12 port design with individual ports for each cylinder. The crankshaft for the 3.3-litre engine now had counterweights on each throw, and stronger connecting rods were used. A two-barrel Varajet carburettor was standard, as was a dual outlet exhaust manifold and a Bosch HEI distributor. It was made in 3.3- and 2.85-litre versions.
The Black specification was introduced in the 1984 VK Commodore. The black engine was produced in 3.3-litre form in carbureted versions. The carbureted engine was almost identical to the previous blue engine, the main difference being in the use of computer controlled spark timing (EST) taking its timing pick-up from the flywheel area. The ports were slightly wider spaced, meaning the manifolds will not simply interchange. The Bosch-injected version used a long-runner intake manifold and a conventional HEI ignition. It also had slightly different cylinder head intake ports for improved breathing.This engine was painted Red, slightly redder than the earlier "red" motors which looked orange compared to the VK FI motor.
In the 1986 VL Commodore, Holden replaced the Australian-made and designed six-cylinder engines with the Nissan RB30 and RB20E engines. Pending emission standards and the requirement for unleaded fuel made it difficult to re-engineer the Australian engine.
- 1984–1986 Holden VK Commodore
This 1.9-litre (1,892 cc) powerplant, known as the Starfire engine, was effectively Holden's existing 2.85-litre 173 cu in straight-six with two cylinders removed. Designed and built in Australia to satisfy local content rules, it first appeared in 1978 during the UC Sunbird's production run, replacing the Opel 1.9L cam-in-head unit used in LH, LX and earlier UC Torana/Sunbird 4-cylinder models.
Peak power output for the Starfire was 58 kilowatts (78 hp), with a 17.5 second acceleration time from 0–100 kilometres (0–62 mi) in the VC Commodore. This variant's performance meant the need to push the engine hard leading to fuel consumption similar to the straight-sixes. Due to this, it was often nicknamed as Misfire or Backfire. This engine was replaced in the Australian market by the Camira's OHC Camtech unit, however it continued until 1986 in New Zealand, where it was used to power 4-cylinder versions of the VK Commodore.
- 1978–1980 Holden UC Sunbird
- 1980–1981 Holden VC Commodore
- 1981–1984 Holden VH Commodore
- 1984–1986 Holden VK Commodore (New Zealand)
- 1979–1982 Toyota Corona (XT130)
- Loffler, Don (2006) . She's a Beauty!: The Story of the First Holdens (New Enlarged Edition ed.). Kent Town, South Australia: Wakefield Press. p. 310. ISBN 1-86254-734-3.