Holden Engines

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Holden Engines

Postby jalopy45 on Sun Nov 06, 2005 11:49 pm

:?: I'm trying to figure out the relationship between Holden engines and American GM engines. It looks like the grey engine is similar to our 235 6cyl but the v8's up to about '99 look like Ford engines. Then there are red,blue and black engines. Some of the engine accesories you have there are are not available here, especially the intakes using the SU and weber carbs. If anyone can help I will reciprocate with the North American ID's.
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Postby FRANK BASILE on Mon Nov 07, 2005 7:08 am

Hi Jalopy 45, our Holden 6cyl are unique Aussie as far as I know. I always had the impression that they were scaled down copies of the US Chev 6cyl.and no bits are interchangeable. The grey 6 from 1948-1963 went from 132 to 138? cu ins.The new red motors ranged from 138 ,149,179 ,161,173, 186, 202 cu ins,the blue had 173 and 202 from early 1980,s .black 202 mid-late 80,s until the Nissan 6 engines and then v6 ended their run.[the blue/black 6,s had different head porting to the previous red items and heads are not interchangeable as a bolt up retrofit.The Holden v8 253/308 from 70,s to 80,s is Aussie . 327/350 Chev been optioned in the .70,s , the v6 looks like a Buick copy.V8,s in the 90,s Chev..Perhaps the Holden boys can correct me for any misconceptions,but that is my two bobs worth....Frank
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Postby Dave on Mon Nov 07, 2005 8:16 am

The 6 cylinder 'grey' was a U.S. design originally and is similar to a small Stovebolt 216 but a bit over half the capacity. To my knowledge the first engines were built in Canada and came here before being made in Australia and later enlarged slightly. They were a 4 main bearing motor and a lot of 'performance' parts were available here including a new head! Most of it is getting rare now though.

The 'red' motor was made in Australia and came out in 1963 to compete with the Chryslers here that had the 225 slant 6 and Ford Falcons that had the 144 or 170 6 cyl. Both these cars left the Holdens for dead. The new motor initially came out in 149 or 179 versions. Both had 7 main bearings and was a much more modern design, similar to when the Stovebolt became a 'Blue Flame' in the Chevs but there are no parts interchangeable b/w the two.

The 179 had a steel crank and almost as soon as they came out the hot up gear appeared. In their day they were a fabulous engine and ended up being made in all different displacements including 161, 173, 186, 202 and even the grey size of 138. Holden had 'hot' versions available from the factory from almost the outset and initially they were called X2 and had twin single barrells and dual cast headers. They then went to a single two barrell WW Stromberg (186S) still with dual headers and later the 186 and then 202 with triple SUs on the Torana GTR XU1. You could buy manifolds to bolt almost any carby onto one, Holleys, Webers, SUs in singles, twins and triples plus the usual finned valve covers and sideplates. They made millions of these motors here and there is much interchangeability b/w sizes (like the SB Chev).

Pollution controls started to come in here in 1975 and strangled the motor. Holden then developed the 'blue' engine which was really just a 173 or 202 red block but with a new pollution friendly 12 port head and two stage Strasburg (I kid you not) carby and electronic ignition distributor plus polltion cam. It came out in 1980. Most Parts interchange with the red except the manifolds but you can use the entire head. The 'blue' engine was an improvement over the strangled pollution red but still not as good as the original pre 75 red (IMHO).

The 'black' motor came out in 1984 and was basically a retuned blue with a little more power and for the first time available as an EFI from the factory in the VK Commodore. These were a really good engine, finally getting back to what they used to go like, particularly the EFI (the entire head and EFI setup will go on an earlier red motor).

By 1986 however Holden decided not to develop the engine further and the engine was dead overnight. They negotiated with Nissan to use the much more powerful 3 litre EFI RB30 Skyline engine and its Turbo variant also, in the next Commodore. It was a wise decision at first and the next model (VL) was well accepted but our dollar crashed against the yen shortly after and Holden lost a fortune. Raising the price would have made the car uncompetitive against Ford. The Nissan motor lasted for only one model but the engines were powerful, strong and are still popular (I have a Turbo version going into a 29 Chev). Cost killed them. I believe Holden wanted to produce them locally but could not strike a deal with Nissan.

They then looked at the Buick 3.8 V6 and re-engineered that motor for Australia and had it available in the next model from 1989. The first one was rough and rattly compared to the smooth and powerful Nissan but Holden constantly improved the motor over time to one far better than the U.S. version, till last year when a completely new design 3.6 V6 was introduced. The V6 engines are a popular conversion into all sorts of cars now due to their availabilty and cheap cost.

The old Grey and Red engines are still popular and will have a resurgence, though prices for Grey parts are now quite expensive, especially the fancy heads. Even some red motor hot up gear, especially the factory stuff is becoming expensive. I have some red and grey engines and hop up bits put away in the shed for a rainy day!
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Postby Dave on Mon Nov 07, 2005 8:52 am

Hey I just read you asked about the Holden V8s too. Don't know quite as much and may need to be corrected but here goes. Holden first used the V8 in the 1967 HK, starting with the good old 307 SB Chev. They also used the 327 Chev in a hotter version in Monaros built for racing. They decided to locally produce a V8, again to compete with both Ford (who were using the 289, then 302) and Chrysler (273 then 318) so looked at making a V8 locally.

I am not sure why they didn't look at local production of the SBC but instead went across to a completely new V8 engine. I believe it was originally a U.S. GM design but not sure what it was originally destined for (Oldsmobile?). It was lighter and simpler than the SBC and made in displacements of 253 and 308 c.i. Cast iron block and heads with alloy intake manifold and cast exhaust manifolds and was initially a 'red'. There is little or no interchangeability of parts with the SBC (maybe some pistons?).

It first appeared here in around 1969 and some components were made in the U.S. (such as camshafts) initially. The first versions with local cams had lots of problems (soft and wore the lobes off!) but otherwise a great engine. Strangely Holden still kept the 327 then the 350 Chev available in the high performance model but all the 'normal' V8 cars had either a 253 or 308 with 3 or 4 speed manual or auto. Initially the Saginaw 4 sp manual was available till a new local 4 speed was made. They also used a new 3 speed GM auto named Trimatic (nicknamed Traumatic by some!) They made lots of them and used the engines in the smaller Torana and finally went racing with their own V8, ditching the SBC (though they also raced the Hot red 6). Known as the SLR5000 and A9X these things were awesome. These engines were also strangled by emission controls and became a blue with Electronic dissy and emission controls then a 'black' EFI version was later developed and downsized slightly to a 304 with the small 253 version dropped completely. There is also a different block available with the Chev transmission pattern (some 308s) which had the GM Turbo trans from the factory, mostly on towpacks as the Trimatics kept breaking.

They were eventually replaced by the new Chev Gen3 350 so I guess things go full circle! They are still a popular engine with rodders here, both the early carb and later EFI versions. The EFI crate engines were cleared out cheap when the Gen 3 came out and are a good engine. Mr Cool has an EFI one in his A tudor and Carps has an early carb version in his 33 sedan. Hotup gear is available but not to the extent of the red 6.
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Postby FRANK BASILE on Mon Nov 07, 2005 9:17 am

Dave,that was a good rendition.You mention the head swap red/blue 6 . I was under the impression that apart from the manifold ports there was another difference .I have never had the two versions at the same time in bits for comparing .Is there any mod or straight forward?...........Frank.
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Postby jalopy45 on Mon Nov 07, 2005 9:21 am

I'll have to order a couple of gasket sets from there and compare them to the American engines. I'm still a little confused on the bent 8's after looking at the picture of the Holden with 8 carbys pictured in this forum. You guys are great, thanks for all the info.
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Postby FRANK BASILE on Mon Nov 07, 2005 11:38 am

Jalopy45, where was the Holden 8 post piccy?.The current crop of Holden V8,s are Chevs,that is what I am interpreting you are probably looking at.The "true blue Aussie" V8,s have not been produced for a while now........Frank.
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Postby Grazza on Mon Nov 07, 2005 11:51 am

Frank, I believe the Pic jalopy45 is referring to may be the post titled 8 carb Holden V8 posted by Sull.
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Postby Dave on Mon Nov 07, 2005 1:58 pm

He refers to the 308 powered 29 Chev Roadster with 8 carbs from up Bendigo way. I saw it cruising at Bright but not sure if it was entered and never caught up with the guy but will soon. Never saw it at the show so it was probably outside in the side streets with the other few hundred Hotrods who couldn't get in! Frank I have a red and blue engine here. If I ever get time and access to both (trust me it is not easy) I will try and compare. There may be a water jacket difference but my understanding is that late heads will go on reds. Not sure if some minor mods are needed but certainly bolts up.
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Postby FRANK BASILE on Mon Nov 07, 2005 2:06 pm

Thanks Dave,one thing that came to mind is to see if the headgaskets are the same,I know 173 and 202 blue are different ...........Frank.
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Postby STANLEY on Mon Nov 07, 2005 7:43 pm

The humble old 308 is a very under-rated engine I think.
They can be made very quick and fairly cheaply too. The VN (EFI) headed engines especially.
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Postby Brett.C on Mon Nov 07, 2005 7:49 pm

FRANK BASILE wrote:138 ,149,179 ,161,173, 186, 202 cu ins

I had a 138 (2250) in my first car, an LC torrie. What a gutless pos :x
Ripped it out and put a 179 HP block bored to 190. Now that was good engine 8)
I believe there was even a 130 red (2100), has anyone ever seen one?
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Postby GBS on Mon Nov 07, 2005 7:54 pm

Dave wrote:I am not sure why they didn't look at local production of the SBC but instead went across to a completely new V8 engine.


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I have a copy of Car Australia magazine dated April 1994. That year marked the 25th anniversary of the Holden V8 and the magazine featured an excellent story of the development of the engine as told by Fred James, the engineer in charge of designing it.

Work on it commenced in 1963 with a feasibility study and it became clear the following year that the new engine would be a V8 after Fred toured GM facilities in the US as well as Vauxhall and Opel in Europe. The trend was to bigger cars and it was thought a V8 would be more efficient and smoother than a large six.

Some thought was given to using the SBC but the first Holden destined to receive a V8 was the HK and the Chev would not fit. The Chev's block was offset to the left so the left hand cylinders were ahead of the right hand bank of cylinders. This was intended to suit a left hand drive car. When fitted to a HK it interfered with the brakes and steering creating a major problems that could not be easily overcome.

In 1966 Detroit ordered the HK be lengthened by three inches allowing the Chev to fit. That could have been the end of any plans for a locally made engine because the project was still in is infancy and little money had been spent on tooling. The Chev engine still presented many minor problems in adapting it to a right hand drive car and this made it very expensive.

There was also a national push developing for an Australian designed engine (apparently all of the sixes had been designed in Detroit with little local input although Fred, and probably a few others, worked on the engines in Detroit) and many people wanted it including the American general managers at that time so the decision was made to go ahead.

While the engine was to be locally designed it had to conform to Corporation standards so Fred was sent overseas again. He was able to take whatever technology he liked from all other GM divisions. The design team had to do something better than what was either in production or contemplated by the US divisions. The engine had to be shorter, narrower, lower in height and above all it had to be lighter than anything else available.

In 1966 the engine was to have 237 and 292 cubic inches. This gradually increased and 253 and 308 was finally settled on after the sales department demanded more cubic inches than Ford's 289.

It finally went into production with the HT in 1969 with the SBC filling in during the HK period.

By the way Dave there was more than one "new head" designed for the Grey engine. I can remember the Repco cross flow, the Dunstan rotary valve and the Waggot twin cam. Who knows, there could have even been more.

I have a 1957 copy of Wheels magazine that shows an engine with the Waggot head. It was setup for use in a boat and had six Amal bike carbs.

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Postby Pig (OINKS) on Mon Nov 07, 2005 8:56 pm

In regards to fitting later heads to the earlier Red Holden six blocks, this site here; http://www.oldholdens.com/tech/eficonversion/index.php contains quiet a bit of helpful info for anyone interested?

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Postby Dave on Mon Nov 07, 2005 9:29 pm

Thanks GBS, I was going from memory when I posted the V8 stuff. I do recall reading somewhere that the design was originally by U.S. GM for something else but looked in my History of Holden and couldn't find it there. I am not sure now where I read it or I could even be wrong! I did know much of the eventual development was done by Australians. I recall the alloy block Olds/Buick V8 motor was abandoned by GM because of unsolved problems and bought by Rover (who solved the dramas) becoming the 3.5. I thought the initial design that Holden based their motor on was the replacement for that but as I said I could be way off track here.

I did find a bit more on the grey which was a GM design for a compact car that was never built. They experimented witha 4 and a 6 of the same capacity and worked out the 6 was better. The Grey is apparently a variation of that with the first blocks definitely cast in Canada and cranks somewhere else in the world till the Australian production facilities were ready. Apparently the Canadian blocks were the hot item as they had thicker wall castings.
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