Detroit Diesel Series 71

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The Detroit Diesel Series 71 is a two-stroke diesel engine series, available in both inline and V configurations, with the inline models including one, two, three, four and six cylinders, and the V-types including six, eight, 12, 16 and 24 cylinders. The two largest V units used multiple cylinder heads per bank to keep the head size and weight to manageable proportions, the V-16 using four heads from the four-cylinder inline model and the V-24 using four heads from the inline six-cylinder model. This feature also assisted in keeping down the overall cost of these large engines by maintaining parts commonality with the smaller models.

The inline six-cylinder 71 series engine was introduced as the initial flagship product of the Detroit Diesel Engine Division of General Motors in 1938. Supercharging was offered beginning that year, also.[1]The V-type first appeared in 1957. The 71 in the model series designation refers to the displacement per cylinder in cubic inches (actually 70.93 cu in / 1,162.4 cc). Bore and stroke is the same to all units, at 4.25 x 5.0 inches (107.95 x 127 mm). Inline models were famously "symmetrical" , meaning that blower, exhaust, water manifold, starter, etc. could be mounted on either side of the basic block to fit a particular application. A number of models could also run either clock-wise or counter clock-wise, called "Right Hand" or "Left Hand" engines. The less common Left Hand engines were typically used in buses and boats.

All Series 71 engines use uniflow scavenging, where a gear-driven Roots type blower mounted to the exterior of the engine provides intake air through cored passages in the engine block and ports in the cylinder walls at slightly greater than atmospheric pressure. The engine exhausts through pushrod-operated poppet valves in the cylinder head(s), with either two or four valves per cylinder. Unit injection is employed, one injector per cylinder, with no high fuel pressure outside of the injector body. The injectors are cycled from the same camshaft responsible for opening the exhaust valves.

As a two-stroke diesel engine that does not use crankcase aspiration cannot naturally aspirate (i.e., draw in) combustion air, a Roots blower is necessary to provide enough air to the cylinders for combustion. They can also be known as "Naturally Aspirated" (SAE designation) versions with an N suffix. Later high-performance versions were available with turbochargers, and turbochargers with intercooling, the turbochargers discharging into the Roots blower intake. The 71 Series went off of the market in the summer of 1995, and the Four Stroke Detroit Diesel Engine was introduced as a replacement.


Motor Coach Industries MC-9 bus powered by a rear-mounted 8V-71 Detroit Diesel engine.

The most popular incarnations of the series 71 engine as used for highway vehicle applications included the inline 6-71, the V-block 6V-71 (both widely used in transit buses) and the 8V-71. In addition to motorcoach propulsion, both inline and V types have found extensive usage in trucks, fire apparatus, motor homes, construction and industrial machinery, a few farm tractors, and military vehicles and equipment.

The 71 series is very popular in marine applications, not only as a propulsion engine in small craft (Gray Marine 6-71) but as auxiliary power to drive generators, winches and other heavy shipboard machinery. The Motor Lifeboat CG36500 featured in "The Finest Hours" movie had a used Detroit 4-71 added AFTER the SS Pendleton rescue, and is still in service. Serial number is #1420. Her original engine was a Sterling Petrel 6 cylinder gas engine, which suffered fuel starvation when the boat rolled violently due to the carburetor float getting hung up. The inline 6-71 engine, in all of its variations, was also available as a 'pancake engine' (here variably called either 6L-71 or 6N-71) for horizontal (underfloor) mount applications, such as on larger Crown and Gillig school buses and articulated puller transit buses (such as the Crown-Ikarus 286).

71 series variants[edit]

Model Displacement Engine configuration Horsepower
1-71 1.2L (71ci) Single-cylinder 10
2-71 2.3L (142ci) I-2 68
3-71 3.5L (213ci) I-3 113
4-71 4.7L (284ci) I-4 160
6-71 7.0L (426ci) I-6 238
6V-71 7.0L (426ci) V-6 238
8V-71 9.3L (568ci) V-8 318
12V-71 14.0L (852ci) V-12 450
16V-71 18.6L (1136ci) V-16 635
24V-71 27.9L (1704ci) V-24 1800


Model Codes
T Turbocharged
V V-Block configuration
L Low profile
N 4 exhaust valves (per cylinder)

WWII General Motors 6004/6046 engine [edit]

The inline 6-71 was adapted to British requirements as the power plant for Canadian (and later British) built Valentine tanks where it was known as the GMC 6004, orders being placed in late September 1940.[3]

The 6046 Diesel was a twin engine setup used by US and British tanks & tank destroyers.

Detroit diesel 6051 quad-71[edit]

The Detroit diesel 6051 quad-71 was a Detroit Diesel Series 6-71 side by side tandem engine setup of two banks of four engines driving two propeller shafts in Landing Craft Infantry LCI(L). The eight engines produced a total of 1600BHP.[4]

Soviet/Russian copies[edit]

In the Soviet Union / Russia, various versions of this engine-type were produced at the Yaroslavl automobile factory (YaAZ).[5] Throughout World War II, the 4-71 engine both in locally assembled form (built by Lend-Lease provided American industrial equipment) and from USA-supplied kits had been used for Ya-12 light artillery tractors[6] and trucks. After 1945, the 4-71 engine entered production in a slightly modified configuration to suit the conditions of the Soviet Union branded "YaMZ-204".[5] After 1947 the factory used a copy of the 6-71 engine branded "YaMZ-206" in the YaAZ 200 / 210 / 214 series of heavy trucks built from 1947 to 1960. Production was transferred to KrAZ in Kremenchuk, Ukraine in 1959, where newer versions of the YaMZ-206 stood in production until the appearance of the four-stroke V8-engined KrAZ-255 in 1967.[7][8][9][10][11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Shelton, p.26 caption.
  2. ^ "Diesel Engine Specs". 2007-03-14. Retrieved 2011-11-21. 
  3. ^ Engines used by British vehicles
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b "YaAz-204 Diesel engine" (in Russian). русская-сила.рф. Retrieved 2013-11-21. 
  6. ^ "Engines of the Red Army in WW2 - Artillery Tractor Ya-12". Engines of the Red Army in WW2. 2007-03-12. Retrieved 2013-11-22. 
  7. ^ Andrei Bogomolov. "Oldtimer picture gallery. Trucks. YaAZ.". Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  8. ^ Andrei Bogomolov. "Oldtimer gallery. Trucks. YaAZ-210.". Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  9. ^ "KrAZ-219". 2013-07-21. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  10. ^ "YaAZ-218". Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  11. ^ "KrAZ-222". Retrieved 2013-11-20. 


  • Shelton, Chris. "Then, Now, and Forever" in in Hot Rod, March 2017, pp.16-29.