V6 engine is a
V engine with six cylinders mounted on the crankshaft
in two banks of three cylinders, usually set at either a 60 or 90
degree angle to each other. The V6 is one of the most compact engine
configurations, usually ranging from 2.0 L to 4.3 L displacement
(however, much larger examples have been produced for use in trucks),
shorter than the inline 4 and more compact than the V8 engine. Because
of its short length, the V6 fits well in the widely used transverse
engine front-wheel drive layout.
3 Balance and smoothness
4 V angles
4.1 60 degrees
4.2 90 degrees
4.3 120 degrees
4.4 Narrow angle VR6
4.5 Other angles
5 Odd and even firing
6 Racing use
7 Motorcycle use
8 Marine use
11 External links
The V6 is commercially successful in mid-size cars in the modern age
because it is less expensive to build and is smoother in large sizes
than the inline 4, which develops increasingly
serious vibration problems in larger engines. The wider 90° V6 will
fit in an engine compartment designed for a V8, providing a low-cost
alternative to the V8 in an expensive car, while the narrower 60° V6
will fit in most engine compartments designed for an I4, proving a
more powerful and smoother alternative engine to the four. Buyers of
luxury and/or performance cars might prefer an inline 6, which has
better smoothness or a flat 6 which has a lower centre of gravity.
Recent forced induction V6 engines have delivered horsepower and
torque output comparable to contemporary larger displacement,
naturally aspirated V8 engines, while reducing fuel consumption and
emissions, such as the
Volkswagen Group's 3.0 TFSI which is
supercharged and directly injected, and
Ford Motor Company's
turbocharged and directly injected EcoBoost V6, both of which have
been compared to Volkswagen's 4.2 V8 engine.
Modern V6 engines commonly range in displacement from 2.0 to
4.3 L (120 to 260 cu in), though larger and smaller
examples have been produced, such as the 1991 Mazda MX3, and the
Rover KV6 engine.
In Europe, where petrol is much more expensive than in the USA, V6
diesels have proved a more popular option. The American-designed
Chrysler 300C has a 3-litre Mercedes V6 engine, which vastly outsells
the petrol-engined car.
Some of the first V6-powered automobiles were built in 1905 by Marmon.
This firm became something of a V-engine specialist; beginning with V2
engines, then V4s, V6s, V8s, and, in the 1930s, a V16 engine. Marmon
was one of the few automakers of the world to offer a V16-powered
From 1908 to 1913 the
Deutz Gasmotoren Fabrik
Deutz Gasmotoren Fabrik produced
gasoline-electric train sets (Hybrid) which used a V6 as generator
In 1918 Leo Goosen designed a V6-powered car for
Buick Chief Engineer
Walter L. Marr. Only one prototype
Buick V6 car was built in 1918; it
was long used by the Marr family.
The first series-production V6 was introduced by
Lancia in 1950 with
Lancia Aurelia model.
Lancia sought a smoother and more
powerful engine that would fit into an existing narrow engine bay. A
Lancia engineer, Francesco De Virgilio, began analyzing the vibration
of alternative V-angles for a
V6 engine in 1943. He found that a V6
with its cylinders positioned at a 60° V-angle could be made uniquely
smooth-running in comparison with other possible V-angles. There was
resistance to his conclusion, because the V6 was a virtually unknown
engine type in the 1950s. His design featured four main bearings and
six crankpins, resulting in evenly spaced firing intervals and low
Other manufacturers took note and soon other V6 engines were designed.
In 1959, General Motors' GMC Truck division introduced a new 60-degree
heavy-duty 305 in3 (5.0 L) gasoline-fueled 60° V6 for use
in their pickup trucks and Suburbans; this engine design was later
enlarged to 478 in3 (7.8 L) for heavy truck and bus use. The
use of the sweet spot of 60 degrees' V-angle maximized power while
minimizing vibration and exterior dimensions of the engine. In short,
GMC introduced a compact V6 design at a time when the straight-six
engine was considered the pinnacle of 6-cylinder design.
1962 saw the introduction of the
Buick Special, which offered a new
90° V6 with uneven firing intervals that was derived from—and
shared some parts commonality with—a small
V8 engine of the
period. To save design time and expense, it was built much like a V8
that had two cylinders chopped off. The combination of a 90° V-angle
with only three crank pins—set at 120° apart, with opposing
cylinders sharing a crank pin as most V8 engines do—the cylinders
fired alternatively at 90 and 150° of crankshaft rotation. This
uneven firing caused harmonic vibrations in the drive train that were
perceived as a rough-running engine by the buyers. GM sold the engine
Kaiser-Jeep in 1967; later, as a result of the 1973 oil
crisis, GM repurchased the tooling in 1974. In 1977,
a split pin crankshaft to implement an even-fire version of this
engine in which cylinders fired consistently every 120°.
Balance and smoothness
The V6 does not have the inherent freedom from vibration that the
inline-six and flat-six have, but it can be modeled as two separate
straight-3 engines sharing a crankshaft. Counterweights on the
crankshaft and a counter rotating balance shaft are required to
compensate for the first order rocking motions.
Straight engines with an odd number of cylinders are inherently
unbalanced because there are always an odd number of pistons moving in
one direction while a different number move the opposite direction.
This causes an end-to-end rocking motion at crankshaft speed in a
straight-three engine. V6 designs will behave like two unbalanced
three-cylinder engines running on the same crankshaft unless steps are
taken to mitigate it, for instance by using offset journals or flying
arms on the crankshaft or a counter-rotating balance shaft.
In the straight-six engine layout, the two halves of the engine are
mirror images of each other and the end-to-end rocking motions of each
half become a bending moment which can be resisted by using a
sufficiently stiff engine block. In the horizontally opposed flat-6
(an example being the "boxer"-type engine), layout the rocking motions
of the two straight-three cylinder banks almost completely offset each
other, except for a small moment caused by the fact that the cylinders
must be offset slightly. This results in an engine which is short,
light, and relatively smooth, but too wide for most engine
compartments. It is widely used in light aircraft though, and in some
automobile engines, by manufacturers such as
Porsche and Subaru.
In the V6 with 120° between banks, pairs of connecting rods can share
a single crank pin, but the two cylinder banks run like two inline 3,
both having an end-to-end rocking couple. Unlike in a
V8 engine with a
crossplane crankshaft, the vibrations from one bank do not cancel the
vibrations from the other, so a rotating balancing shaft is required
to compensate for the primary vibrations. Because the 120° V6 is
nearly as wide as a 180° flat-6 but is not nearly as smooth, and can
be more expensive if a balancing shaft is added, this configuration is
seldom seen in production engines.
In the V6 with 90° between cylinders, split crank pins are required
to offset the connecting rods by 30° to achieve an even 120° between
firing intervals, and crankshaft counterweights are required to offset
the primary imbalances. In the 90° V6, a balancing shaft is desirable
but not entirely necessary to minimize second-order vibrations,
depending on the level of smoothness required. The main advantage of
the 90° V6 is that it can easily be derived from an existing 90° V8
design, and use the same parts as the V8.
Unfortunately, a 90° V6 cannot use the same technique that balances
an even firing 90° crossplane V8 engine; rotating the middle two
cranks to 90° from the outer two, using extra-heavy counterweights on
the crankshaft to offset the rocking motion, and then using the mass
of the pistons in the other cylinder bank at 90° to counteract the
side-to-side rotation that the heavy counterweights would otherwise
cause (resulting in an engine that is in perfect primary and secondary
balance, albeit one with very heavy crankshaft counterweights and
uneven firing intervals into the exhaust headers, resulting in the
familiar V8 "burbling" exhaust note).
A simple 90° V6 cannot achieve the same smoothness with only
crankshaft counterweights, and if the 90° V6 uses shared crankpins
like the V8, the engine will have uneven firing intervals, such as in
the original "odd-fire"
Buick V6 engine. This uneven firing interval
results in roughness at idle and low RPM, and varying harmonics at
higher engine speeds, making the "odd-fire" configuration unpopular
with buyers, so most manufacturers now use split crankpins to make the
firing intervals an even 120°. Therefore, designing a smooth V6
engine is a much more complicated problem than the straight-6, flat-6,
and V8 layouts. Although the use of offset crankpins, counterweights,
and flying arms has reduced the problem to a minor second-order
vibration in modern designs, all V6s can benefit from the addition of
auxiliary balance shafts to make them completely smooth.
Lancia pioneered the 60° V6 in 1950, they used a 60° angle
between the cylinder banks and a six-throw crankshaft to achieve
equally spaced firing intervals of 120°. This still has some balance
and secondary vibration problems. When
Buick designed a 90° V6 based
on their 90° V8, they initially used a simpler three-throw crankshaft
laid out in the same manner as the V8 with pairs of connecting rods
sharing the same crankpin, which resulted in firing intervals
alternating between 90° and 150°. This produced a rough-running
design which was unacceptable to many customers. Arguably, the
roughness is in the exhaust note, rather than noticeable vibration, so
the perceived smoothness is rather good at higher RPM. Later, Buick
and other manufacturers refined the design by using a split-pin
crankshaft which achieved a regular 120° firing interval by
staggering adjacent crankpins by 15° in opposite directions to
eliminate the uneven firing and make the engine reasonably smooth.
Some manufacturers such as
Buick in later versions of their V6 and
Mercedes Benz have taken the 90° design a step further by adding a
balancing shaft to offset the primary vibrations and produce an almost
fully balanced engine.
Some designers have reverted to a 60° angle between cylinder banks,
which produces a more compact engine, but have used three-throw
crankshafts with flying arms between the crankpins of each throw to
achieve even 120° angles between firing intervals. This has the
additional advantage that the flying arms can be weighted for
balancing purposes. This still leaves an unbalanced primary
couple, which is offset by counterweights on the crankshaft and
flywheel to leave a small secondary couple, which can be absorbed by
carefully designed engine mounts.
Six-cylinder designs are also more suitable for larger displacement
engines than four-cylinder ones because power strokes of pistons
overlap. In a four-cylinder engine, only one piston is on a power
stroke at any given time. Each piston comes to a complete stop and
reverses direction before the next one starts its power stroke, which
results in a gap between power strokes and annoying harshness,
especially at lower revolutions. In a six-cylinder engine (other than
odd-firing V6s), the next piston starts its power stroke 60° before
the previous one finishes, which results in smoother delivery of power
to the flywheel. In addition, because inertial forces are proportional
to piston displacement, high-speed six-cylinder engines will suffer
less stress and vibration per piston than an equal displacement engine
with fewer cylinders.
Comparing engines on the dynamometer, a typical even-fire V6 shows
instantaneous torque peaks of 150% above mean torque and valleys of
125% below mean torque, with a small amount of negative torque (engine
torque reversals) between power strokes. On the other hand, a typical
four-cylinder engine shows peaks of nearly 300% above mean torque and
valleys of 200% below mean torque, with 100% negative torque being
delivered between strokes.
In contrast, a
V8 engine shows peaks of less than 100% above and
valleys of less than 100% below mean torque, and torque never goes
negative. The even-fire V6 thus ranks between the four and the V8, but
closer to the V8, in smoothness of power delivery. An odd-fire V6, on
the other hand, shows highly irregular torque variations of 200% above
and 175% below mean torque, which is significantly worse than an
even-fire V6, and in addition the power delivery shows large harmonic
vibrations that have been known to destroy the dynamometer.
Japan's first mass produced V6 engine, the
V6 engine with a 60 degree included angle between cylinder banks
hits the "sweet spot" in
V6 engine design due to several desirable
characteristics. Unlike most other V6 layouts, 60 degree engines can
be made acceptably smooth without using a balance shaft. Although the
engine will not be as smooth-running as an inline six or opposed six
cylinder engine, modern design and mounting techniques can eliminate
In the 60 degree design, the connecting rods are attached to
individual crankpins, which are angularly displaced at 120 degree
intervals. This geometry results in an even firing interval,
eliminating primary vibration and reducing secondary vibration to
Lancia's pioneering design in 1950 utlized a six-throw crankshaft to
achieve the required 120 degree angular displacement between
crankpins. The GMC V6 engine, designed for commercial vehicles, also
used a six-throw crankshaft, and was intentionally made physically
massive in order to further dampen vibration, as well as to enhance
durability. However, more recent designs often use a three-throw
crankshaft with what are termed flying arms between the crankpins,
which not only produce the required angular crankpin displacement, but
also can be used for balancing purposes. Combined with a pair of heavy
counterweights on the crankshaft ends, flying arms can eliminate all
but a modest secondary imbalance, which can readily be dampened by the
The 60 degree design is one of the most compact engine layouts, being
nearly a perfect cube that will fit longitudinally or transversely in
most engine compartments. Hence the 60 degree configuration is a good
fit in automobiles which are too large to be powered by four-cylinder
engines, but in which compactness and low cost are important
considerations. The most common 60 degree V6s were produced by General
Motors (the aforementioned GMC commercial engine, as well as a design
used in many GM front-wheel-drive automobiles) and
subsidiaries (Essex V6, Cologne V6 and the more recent Duratec V6).
Other 60 degree V6 engines are the Chrysler 3.3 engine, the
Nissan VQ engine, the Mazda K engine, the Alfa Romeo V6
engine, the Mitsubishi 6G7 series of engines, many Toyota V6 engines
and later versions of the
Mercedes-Benz V6 (M276) engine.
Many manufacturers, particularly American ones, built V6 engines with
an angle of 90 degrees because they already had a successful V8 and
needed to create a smaller, lighter engine with better fuel economy to
meet market demand. Such configurations were easy to design by
removing two cylinders from an existing
V8 engine design. In some
cases, the first prototypes were created by simply sawing two
cylinders out of a V8 engine, welding the block back together, and
forging a 3-throw crankshaft to replace the V8 4-throw crank. This
reduced design costs, allowed the new V6 to share components with the
old V8, and sometimes allowed manufacturers to build V6s on the same
production line as V8s.
MG Rover Group's KV6 engine
Although it was relatively easy to create a 90° V6 by simply cutting
two cylinders off an existing V8 engine, this produced an engine which
was wider and more vibration-prone than a 60° V6. The design was
first used by
Buick when it introduced its 198 CID Fireball V6 as the
standard engine in the 1962 Special. The
Buick V6 was notable because
it had uneven firing intervals between power strokes as a result of
using the 90° cylinder bank angle and sharing crankpins between
piston pairs as in the V8 engine. Rather than firing evenly every
120° of crankshaft rotation, the cylinders fired alternately at 90°
and 150°, resulting in strong harmonic vibrations at certain engine
speeds. These engines were often referred to by mechanics as
"shakers", due to the tendency of the engine to vibrate at idle speed.
Other examples included the
Maserati V6 used in the Citroën SM, the
PRV V6, the Rover KV6 (2.0- and 2.5-litre), the
Honda C engine
Honda C engine used in
the NSX, Chevrolet's 4.3 L Vortec 4300 and Chrysler's 3.9 L (238 in3)
Magnum V6 and 3.7 L (226 in3) PowerTech V6.
More modern 90°
V6 engine designs avoid these vibration problems by
using more sophisticated crankshafts with split crankpins offset by
30° between piston pairs to make the firing intervals an even 120°.
They often add balancing shafts to eliminate the other vibration
problems inherent in the layout. Examples include the later versions
Chevrolet Vortec 4300, and earlier versions of the
Mercedes-Benz V6 (M112, M272). The 90° Mercedes V6, although it was
designed to be built on the same assembly lines as the V8, used split
crankpins, a counter-rotating balancing shaft, and careful acoustic
design to make it almost as smooth as the inline-6 it replaced.
However, in later versions Mercedes changed the cylinder banks to a
60° angle to make the engine more compact and eliminate the balancing
shaft. Despite the difference in V angles, Mercedes modified its
production lines so it could build 60° V6s on the same assembly lines
as 90° V8s.
At first glance, 120° might be considered the natural angle for a V6
since pairs of pistons in alternate banks can share crank pins in a
three-throw crankshaft, and the cylinders will fire evenly every 120°
of crankshaft rotation. Unlike the 60° or 90° configurations, it
does not require crankshafts with flying arms, split crankpins, or
seven main bearings to be even-firing. This is equivalent to the 90°
V8 in which cylinders fire every 90°. However, in the 120° V6 there
is a primary dynamic imbalance caused by the fact there are an odd
number of cylinders in each bank. At any given time in, each bank, two
cylinders will be moving up while one moves down, and vice-versa. Each
cylinder bank acts like a straight-3 and experiences a strong
vibration at crankshaft speed.
By contrast, in the 90°
V8 engine with a simple flat-plane
crankshaft, each cylinder bank acts like a straight-4, which is much
smoother than a straight-3. In addition, in 1915 the crossplane
crankshaft was invented, which allowed the secondary vibrations from
one cylinder bank of a V8 to cancel those from the other cylinder
bank. This resulted in an almost perfectly smooth
V8 engine which has
been popular in luxury and sports cars since 1923.
Unfortunately, the crossplane crankshaft does not work for the V6.
There is no way to arrange the 120° V6 so that unbalanced forces from
the two cylinder banks will completely cancel each other. As a result,
the 120° V6 acts like two straight-3s running on the same crankshaft
and suffers from a primary dynamic vibration which requires a balance
shaft to cancel. This has limited its use to trucks and racing cars
where vibration is not as important as in passenger cars.
The 120° layout also produces an engine which is too wide for most
automobile engine compartments, so it is more often used in racing
cars where the car is designed around the engine rather than vice
versa, and light weight and low center of gravity are major
considerations. By comparison, the 180° flat-6 boxer engine is only
moderately wider than the 120° V6, and is an almost fully balanced
configuration with few vibration problems. It can be scaled up to very
large and powerful configurations, so it has been commonly used in
aircraft and in sports/luxury cars where space is not a constraint,
but power and smoothness are important.
Spanish truck manufacturer
Pegaso built the first production 120° V6
for the Z-207 midsize truck in 1955. The engine, a 7.5-litre alloy
Diesel designed under the direction of engineer
Wifredo Ricart uses a
single balance shaft rotating at the speed of the crankshaft
Ferrari introduced a very successful 120° V6 racing engine in 1961.
Ferrari Dino 156 engine was shorter and lighter than the 65°
Ferrari V6 engines that preceded it, and the simplicity and low center
of gravity of the engine was an advantage in racing. It won a large
Formula One races between 1961 and 1964. However, Enzo
Ferrari had a personal dislike of the 120° V6 layout, preferring a
65° angle, and after that time it was replaced by other engines.
Bombardier designed 120° V220/V300T V6 engines for use in light
aircraft. A balance shaft on the bottom of the engine offset the
primary dynamic imbalance. However, it was costly, the market was
small, and it had no overwhelming advantages over the 180° flat-6
engines already in common use in light planes. The design was shelved
in 2006 and there are no plans for production.
Narrow angle VR6
Main article: VR6 engine
Schematic cross-section of the VR6 engine.
Note the "twin SOHC" design.
Volkswagen's VR6 engines are a family of V6 engines characterized by
extremely narrow-angle (10.5° or 15°) V configurations. These
engines were developed by the manufacturer in the late 1980s for
transverse engine installations in its front-wheel drive vehicles,
which were originally designed for straight-4 engines. The wider
configuration of a wider angle
V6 engine would have required an
extensive redesign of the vehicles to enlarge the engine compartment.
The narrow angle of 15° (and later 10.5°) between the two cylinder
banks in the
VR6 engine made it much narrower than other V6 designs.
VR6 engine is only moderately longer and wider than a straight-4
engine but has 50% greater engine displacement. This made it possible
to install more powerful six-cylinder engines in existing
VR6 engine is also smoother than most V6s without balance shafts.
It uses a firing order of 1,5,3,6,2,4 similar to a straight-6 rather
than a more typical V6 firing order like 1,2,3,4,5,6. In terms of
balance and smoothness the VR6 acts more like a staggered-cylinder
straight-6 rather than a conventional V6.
The narrow angle between cylinders allows the use of just one cylinder
head that covers both cylinder banks, whereas wider angle V engines
require two separate cylinder heads, one for each cylinder bank. The
VR6 arrangement has "twin SOHC" valve gear operating the 24 valves via
rocker arms; it is NOT a true
DOHC design. This simplifies engine
construction and reduces costs. Since there is no room in the V
between the cylinder banks for an intake system, all the intakes are
on one side of the engine, and all the exhausts are on the other
side. This system is efficient and simplifies installation into
the engine compartment.
Volkswagen VR6 was originally designed as a 2.8 litre engine, but
some versions have been built as large as 3.6 litres in size. In
addition to Volkswagen, VR6 engines have also been used by Audi and
Porsche, although Audi also uses its own designs of wider-angle V6s.
Some other manufacturers have also used VR6 engines in their vehicles.
Other angle V6 engines are possible but can suffer from severe
vibration problems unless very carefully designed. Notable V6 bank
The 45° Electro-Motive 6-, 8-, 12-, 16- and 20-cylinder versions of
their 567 Series, 645 Series and 710 Series locomotive, marine and
stationary Diesel engines. This angle is optimum for the more common
8- and 16-cylinder versions. In all of these engines, directly
opposite cylinders always fire 45 degrees apart, so engines other than
8- and 16-cylinder versions are uneven firing. 6-cylinder engines were
only made in the 567 and 645 Series; 20-cylinder engines were only
made in the 645 and 710 Series.
The 54° GM/Opel V6, designed to be narrower than normal for use in
small front-wheel drive cars.
Ferrari Dino V6, allowing larger carburetors (for potentially
higher power in race tuning) than a 60° angle and having crankpins
with a 115 degree offset to get the same level of vibration as in a 60
degree V6, while having an even firing order.
Renault V6 diesel named V9X, has a 65° bank angle for easier
installation of turbocharger inside the vee
Bluetec Diesel V6 utilizes a counter-rotating
balance shaft and crankpins offset by 48° to eliminate vibration
problems and make the engine even-firing.
The 75° Isuzu
V engine used in the
Isuzu Rodeo and
Isuzu Trooper of
3.2 and 3.5 L in both SOHC and
introduced a 75°
V6 engine in the second generation
Formula One engine in the McLaren MP4/4.
Odd and even firing
Many older V6 engines were based on
V8 engine designs, in which a pair
of cylinders was cut off the front of V8 without altering the V angle
or using a more sophisticated crankshaft to even out the firing
interval. Most V8 engines share a common crankpin between opposite
cylinders in each bank, and a 90° V8 crankshaft has just four pins
shared by eight cylinders, with two pistons per crankpin, allowing a
cylinder to fire every 90° to achieve smooth operation.
Early 90° V6 engines derived from V8 engines had three shared
crankpins arranged at 120° from each other. Since the cylinder banks
were arranged at 90° to each other, this resulted in a firing pattern
with groups of two cylinders separated by 90° of rotation, and groups
separated by 150° of rotation, causing a notorious odd-firing
behavior, with cylinders firing at alternating 90° and 150°
intervals. The uneven firing intervals resulted in rough-running
engines with unpleasant harmonic vibrations at certain engine speeds.
An example is the
Buick 231 odd-fire, which has a firing order
1-6-5-4-3-2. As the crankshaft is rotated through the 720° required
for all cylinders to fire, the following events occur on 30°
More modern 90° V6 engines avoid this problem by using split
crankpins, with adjacent crankpins offset by 15° in opposite
directions to achieve an even 120° ignition pattern. Such a 'split'
crankpin is weaker than a straight one, but modern metallurgical
techniques can produce a crankshaft that is adequately strong.
Buick introduced the new "split-pin crankshaft" in the 231.
Using a crankpin that is 'split' and offset by 30° of rotation
resulted in smooth, even firing every 120°. However, in 1978
Chevrolet introduced a 90° 200/229 V6, which had a compromise
'semi-even firing' design using a crankpin that was offset by only
18°. This resulted in cylinders firing at 108° and 132°, which had
the advantage of reducing vibrations to a more acceptable level and
did not require strengthening the crankshaft. In 1985, Chevrolet's 4.3
(later the Vortec 4300) changed it to a true even-firing V6 with a
30° offset, requiring larger crank journals to make them adequately
In 1986, the similarly designed 90° PR
V engine adopted the same 30°
crankshaft offset design to even out its firing. In 1988, Buick
V6 engine that not only had split crankpins, but had a
counter-rotating balancing shaft between the cylinder banks to
eliminate almost all primary and secondary vibrations, resulting in a
very smooth-running engine.
Mercedes-Benz V6 DTM engine
V6 engine was introduced into racing by
Lancia in the early 1950s.
After good results with privately entered Aurelia saloons
Lancia set a
works competition department in 1951. Four B20 Coupes were entered in
Mille Miglia and the one driven by
Giovanni Bracco and Umberto
Maglioli caused quite a stir by finishing second overally after the
Ferrari driven by Villoresi and Cassani, a car which had
three times more power than the Lancia. After that encouraging start
Lancia decided to carry on with the endurance racing program, first
with specially prepared Aurelias (called Da Corsa) and then with
specially built prototypes. A D24 with a 3,102 cc
(189 cu in) V6 making 230 PS (170 kW) won the 1953
Carrera Panamericana with
Juan Manuel Fangio
Juan Manuel Fangio at the wheel.
After that came the
Ferrari Dino V6. Alfredo
Ferrari (nicknamed Dino),
son of Enzo Ferrari, suggested to him the development of a 1.5 L
V6 engine for
Formula Two at the end of 1955. The Dino V6
underwent several evolutions, including an increased engine
displacement to 2,417 cc (147 cu in), for use in the
Formula One car in 1958.
The use of a wide 120° bank angle is appealing for racing engine
designers as it permits a low center of gravity. This design is even
considered superior to the flat-6 in that it leaves more space under
the engine for exhaust pipes; thus the crankshaft can be placed lower
in the car. The
Ferrari 156 built for new
Formula One 1.5 L
regulations used a Dino
V6 engine with this configuration.
V6 engine saw a new evolution in 1966 when it was adapted to
road use and produced by a Ferrari-
Fiat joint-venture for the Fiat
Dino and Dino 206 GT (this car was made by
Ferrari but sold under the
brand Dino). This new version was redesigned by Aurelio Lampredi
initially as a 65° 2.0 L (120 cu in) V6 with an
aluminum block but was replaced in 1969 by a 2.4 L
(150 cu in) cast-iron block version (the Dino car was
renamed the 246GT).
Fiat Dino and Dino 246GT were phased out in 1974, but 500 engines
among the last built were delivered to Lancia, who was like Ferrari
already under the control of Fiat.
Lancia used them for the Lancia
Stratos which would become one of the most successful rally cars of
Alfa Romeo V6
The Alfa Romeo V6 was designed in the 1970s by Giuseppe Busso, the
first car to use them being the Alfa Romeo 6. The over-square V6, with
aluminium alloy block and heads, has seen continuous use in road
vehicles, from the Alfetta GTV6 onwards. The 164 introduced a
3.0 L (180 cu in) V6, a 2.0 V6 turbocharged in 1991 and
in 1992, a 3.0 L
DOHC 24-valve version. The Alfa 156 introduced a
DOHC 24-valve version in 1997. The engine capacity was
later increased to 3.2 L (200 cu in), where it found
application in the 156 GTA, 147 GTA, 166, GT, GTV and Spider 916.
Production was discontinued in 2005.
A notable racing use of the
V6 engine was the Alfa Romeo 155 V6 TI,
designed for the
1993 Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft season
1993 Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft season and
equipped with a 2.5 L (150 cu in) engine making a peak
power of 490 PS (360 kW; 480 hp) at 11,900 rpm.
Another influential V6 design was the Renault-
Gordini CH1 V6, designed
François Castaing and Jean-Pierre Boudy, and introduced in 1973 in
Renault A440. The CH1 was a 90° cast-iron-block V6,
similar to the mass-produced PR
V engine in those two respects but
otherwise dissimilar. It has been suggested that marketing purposes
made the Renault-
Gordini V6 adopt those characteristics of the PRV in
the hope of associating the two in the public's mind.
Despite such considerations, this engine won the European 2 L
prototype championship in 1974 and several European Formula Two
titles. This engine was further developed in a turbocharged 2 L
version that competed in Sports car and finally won the 24 Hours of Le
Mans in 1978 with a Renault-Alpine A 442 chassis.
The capacity of this engine was reduced to 1.5 L to power the
Renault RS01. Despite frequent breakdowns that resulted in
the nickname of the 'Little Yellow Teapot', the 1.5 L finally saw
good results in 1979.
Renault in the turbo revolution by introducing a
turbocharged derivative of the Dino design (a 1.5 L 120° V6)
Ferrari 126. However, the 120° design was not considered
optimal for the wing cars of the era and later engines used V angles
of 90° or less.
Ferrari failed in their attempt to win the Drivers'
Championship with V6 Turbo engines. The first turbocharged engine to
win the championship was the
They were followed by a new generation of
Formula One engines, the
most successful of these being the TAG V6 (designed by Porsche) and
Honda V6. This new generation of engines were characterized by odd
V angles (around 80°). The choice of these angles was mainly driven
by aerodynamic consideration. Despite their unbalanced designs these
engines were both quickly reliable and competitive; this is generally
viewed as a consequence of the quick progress of CAD techniques in
In 1989 Shelby tried to bring back the Can-Am series, using the
Chrysler 3.3 L (201 cu in) V6 (not yet offered to the
general public) as the powerplant in a special racing configuration
making 255 hp (190 kW). This was the same year that the
Viper concept was shown to the public.
Originally the plan was to produce two versions of this race car, a
255 hp (190 kW) version and a 500 hp (370 kW)
model, the 255 hp (190 kW) version being the entry circuit.
The cars were designed to be a cheap way for more people to enter auto
racing. Since all the cars were identical, the winners were to be the
people with the best talent, not the team with the biggest pockets.
The engines had Shelby seals on them and could only be repaired by
Shelby's shop, ensuring that all the engines are mechanically
Only 100 of these 3.3s were ever built. Of these 100, 76 were put into
Shelby Can-Am cars (the only 76 that were ever sold). No significant
amount of spare parts were produced, and the unsold engines were used
for parts/spares. The Shelby specific parts, such as the upper intake
manifold, were never made available to the general public. According
to a small article in the USA Today (in 1989), these cars were making
250 hp (190 kW) (stock versions introduced in 1990 produced
150 hp or 110 kW) and hitting 160 mph (260 km/h)
on the track. The engine itself was not that far from a
standard-production 3.3. The Shelby engine is only making about
50 hp (37 kW) more than the newest 3.3 factory engines from
Chrysler. The Can-Am engine has a special Shelby Dodge upper intake
manifold, a special Shelby Dodge throttle body, and a special version
of the Mopar 3.3 PCM (which had this engine redlining at 6800 rpm).
Nissan also has a quite successful history of using V6's for racing in
both IMSA and the JGTC. Development of their V6s for sports cars began
in the early 1980s with the VG engine initially used in the Z31 300ZX.
The engine began life as a SOHC, turbocharged 3.0L power plant with
electronic fuel injection, delivering 230 PS (169 kW). The
VG30ET was later revised into the VG30DETT for the
Z32 300ZX in 1989.
The VG30DETT sported both an additional turbocharger and an extra pair
of camshafts, making the engine a genuine
DOHC twin-turbo V6 producing
300 PS (221 kW).
Nissan used both of these engines in its
AIMS racing program throughout the 1980s and 1990s each producing well
over 800 hp (600 kW). In the Japan Grand Touring Car
Championship, or JGTC,
Nissan opted for a turbocharged version of its
VQ30 making upwards of 500 hp (370 kW) to compete in the
V6 turbos have been used in the
IndyCar Series since 2012, with
Honda currently supplying the engines. Lotus also made
engines in the 2012 season, but pulled out at the end of the year.
Formula One season included the return of the
V6 engine to
Formula One, in the form of a regulation mandated, turbocharged 1.6L
90° hybrid engine. This engine integrates the combustion engine with
a (mandated maximum output) 161 bhp (120 kW) 'motor generator unit'
electric motor system consisting of a 'motor generator unit - kinetic'
component, which is the electric motor itself, capable of energy
recovery through regenerative braking and a 'motor generator unit -
heat' component, which is a similar system integrated into the
turbocharging system, to allow the elimination of turbolag and
additional system charging through the turbocharger once the turbine
system is kept up at speed by exhaust gasses.
Laverda showed a 996 cc V6-engined motorcycle at the 1977 Milan
show. The motorcycle was raced in the 1978 Bol d'Or.
Yamaha OX66 engine, as used in their outboard motor range
V6 engines are popular powerplants in medium to large outboard motors.
^ a b Nunney, Light and Heavy Vehicle Technology, pp. 13–16
^ The road less travelled. Driven To Write, August 22, 2014
^ Box, The Complete Encyclopedia of Vintage Cars 1886–1940, p. 195)
^ Matschoss, Geschichte der Gasmotorenfabrik Deutz
^ Borgeson, The Golden Age of the American Racing Car, pp. 77–78)
^ "Lancia". autozine.org. Retrieved 2012-07-26.
^ Goldberg, Geoffrey (2014).
Lancia and De Virgilio: At the Centre.
Phoenix, Arizona: David Bull Publishing.
^ "6066 GMC Club". The 60-66 GMC Club. 6066 GMC Club. Retrieved
^ Nunney, Light and Heavy Vehicle Technology, pp. 14–44
^ a b Nunney, Light and Heavy Vehicle Technology, p. 16
^ Nunney, Light and Heavy Vehicle Technology, pp. 40–41
^ Kane, Torsional Output of Piston Engines
^ "New V8 and V6 engines from Mercedes-Benz". Diamler. 2010. Retrieved
^ Manuel Serdá, Vehículos
Pegaso Z-207, S.T.A. 1/1955
^ Ludvigsen, Classic Racing Engines, pp. 138–141
^ "BRP-Rotax shelves its V6 aircraft engines project". Bombardier
BRP-Rotax. November 13, 2006. Archived from the original on October
24, 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-04.
^ a b "Volkswagen's VR6 and W-engines". Autozine technical school.
AutoZine. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
Ferrari 246 F1 on www.f1technical.net
Ferrari engines on www.allf1.info
Ferrari Dino 156 F1 on www.f1technical.net
Ferrari 126CK on www.f1technical.net
Laverda V6 on www.motorcycleclassics.com
Borgeson, Griffith (1998). The Golden Age of the American Racing Car
(2nd ed.). Society of Automotive Engineers.
Box, Rob De La Rive (1998). The Complete Encyclopedia of Vintage Cars
1886 - 1940 (3rd ed.). Rebo Productions.
Kane, Jack (2006). Torsional Output of Piston Engines. Aircraft Engine
Technology. 2006 Advanced Engine Technology Conference (AETC): EPI,
Inc. Retrieved 2008-01-14.
Ludvigsen, Karl (2001). Classic Racing Engines. Haynes Publishing.
Matschoss, Conrad (1921). Geschichte der Gasmotorenfabrik Deutz.
Nunney, M J (2007). Light and Heavy Vehicle Technology (4th ed.).
Butterworth-Heinemann. ISBN 0-7506-8037-7.
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