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Question Of The Day: Is It Time For The Inline-Six To Make A Return?

Question Of The Day: Is It Time For The Inline-Six To Make A Return?

“Spoiled” doesn’t even begin to describe where gearheads sit for new engines at this moment. Look at what is around you: if you have the cash and desire, you can go to Dodge and buy a car with a V8 that is pushing over seven hundred horsepower that isn’t going to punish you for the decision. In fact, the car will be comfortable and optioned out to the nines…or you can wait, because it’s about to be trumped by something so psychotic that the model name’s biblical references allude to you attending confession after you haze off the wheels. If that’s too much for you, step down to the available six-cylinders. The Camaro’s V6 model packs 335 horsepower and is more than enough to make you miss just about everything regarding a V8. Still too much? OK, how about Ford, whose 2.3L turbo-four cranks out 350 horsepower in a compact car. And if that is still past your comfort level, look to Ford once again, where you can get a 120 horsepower three-cylinder. You want to know how far we’ve come since the dark days of Malaise? A 120-horsepower three-banger is more powerful than the V8 engine option in a 1980 Mustang. We are living in the world of good horsepower. The engines run cleaner than ever before. We can drop cylinders if need be, turbocharging and supercharging aren’t witchcraft items anymore, and tuning is tightly controlled by computers that can actually handle the workload. But there is a problem: governmental fuel regulations. While the 54.5 MPG target fuel mileage was abandoned by CAFE last year, not expecting lawmakers and environmental groups to continue to push for tighter restrictions is unrealistic.

So where do you go? If you’re FCA, you go off your meds with both middle fingers in the air and see how long you can last…or do you? Currently, there is a rumor sneaking out of Auburn Hills that says there is a study being done on the feasibility of a modern-day inline six. For Mopar freaks, there is a lot to live up to…Chrysler has done straight-sixes well, from the 4.0L Jeep six, to the nearly indestructible Slant series, and even the Australian Hemi-6 line. And they aren’t the only ones who figured out how to make inliners work wonders: GM, Ford and Ford Australia, Jaguar, BMW, and others are well known for their inline sixes. Smooth, torquey, and solid, an inline-six used to be a common and feasible option for most manufacturers. Currently, BMW is the only one actively producing a straight-six, with Ford Australia shutting down Barra production last September.

So we ask you, informed readers: could you see a market for a modern-day six-in-a-row from the manufacturers? And if so, what would you like to see them put into? Would you like to see Ford re-start Barra production for the upcoming Ranger pickup? Maybe a modern-day Slant Six for the next-generation Ram Tradesman? Let us know below!


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16 thoughts on “Question Of The Day: Is It Time For The Inline-Six To Make A Return?

  1. aircooled

    I never understood why GM dropped the Atlas 4/5/6 series. Too heavy? Too tall?
    GM spent a lot of money developing the Atlas and then, poof, it’s gone after 9 years.

    1. Russell

      If the I6 in our trailblazer is any indication they all blew up. The computer says it wI’ll go over 100 miles between oil changes, we’ll they use oil and don’t have a low oil light so if you are the type of person who trusted the computer when to tell you to change it and don’t check the oil level it will turn to junk.

      I rather have a V8, I have had a ford 300 was not impressed, the chevy 4.2 is no better give me V8 low end grunt.

  2. john t

    glad u mentioned Australia…the 6 has never gone away here…except maybe right now with GM and Ford closing…..

  3. Weasel1

    Had a 300 in a ford truck. Used and abused it, the only reason I got rid of it after 300,000 miles was the truck body rusted away. It had all the torque I needed and got 20+ mpg

  4. Matt Cramer

    The trouble with inline sixes is usually packaging – the slant six is long enough that I had a bit of a headache with getting the right cooling fan arrangement in my ’66 Dart with a larger radiator. So you’d either need a shorter inline six with a small bore, or stick with putting it in full size trucks designed for a long motor.

    There have been a few FWD platforms with transverse inline sixes, but their best application is RWD (or RWD based AWD) platforms. Seeing a DOHC six Mustang or Camaro would be interesting.

  5. Bent Valve

    Nothing wrong with a Buzzin’Half Dozen. My 66 Biscayne long roof has lots of torque and gets 20+ mpg. I will rebuild the 250 when she gets weak. A 2 barrel Holley from a Vega, small cam and a home made split manifold are in the works.

  6. Chevy Hatin' Mad Geordie

    There certainly is room for the ol’ straight six if they all look as good as that blown one in the photo! The ultimate motor has to be the TVR 4 litre with 400hp and upwards and that’s in naturally aspirated form. Who knows what it would produce with a brace of turbos on it? The down side is that there’s probably few available in the USA as I think TVRs weren’t on sale there. I’d like to see the first Pro Mod to run straight six use a blown and turbo’d one of these but a stock one in a compact or even a mid-sized coupe would still be awesome!

  7. DanStokes

    A buddy and his neph are picking up all of my 250″ Chevy stuff in a week or two (he has to work it in around his work schedule). It’ll go in a C-series Chevy after they build the engine using the forged rods and pistons. Not sure which of my go-fast cams they’ll pick. Anyhow, this ought to be a fun project. I’ll keep y’all posted.


  8. aussie351

    My daily driver is a 2004 Ford Falcon 1-tonner trayback ute with 4.0 inline 6, factory dedicated LPG. Silky smooth and evironmentally friendly.
    This motor is an evolution of Fords 1960 144 ci, which was continuously updated all the way through to last year when Ford stopped production in Australia.
    A fine, silky smooth, torquey motor, super grunty in turbo form (search FG F6). They should still have all the tooling to take over to US and continue making it!

  9. RK

    I pine for our old 1971 Econoline, six in a row, three on the tree and Greyhound-size steering wheel. A real work out driving that through the Black Hills of Dakota.

    Anyhow, a description of the blown slant in the photo would be nice!

  10. Cliff Morgan

    Ekanoo Racing has a twin turbo Lexus Pro Mod, straight 6, that has run 5.77 Et at close to 250. You can see videos on U Tube.

  11. RK

    There were lots of TVRs sold here in Canada, left hand drive even. Somebody who really needs one might get lucky

    Found on Canadian Auto Trader:

    2001 TVR Tuscan
    This TVR Tuscan is a 2001 in GTS Viper Blue 4 liter inline Speed Six engine.

  12. Brash

    I own a 78 Holden ute, with the 202ci 6 cylinder.
    The big issue with this engine is that it uses 95% of the fuel that a V8 uses, but only delivers 50% of the torque.
    Adding a bigger carby and a hot cam will help it to make approximately 60% more power, while using 75% more fuel.
    So when the time comes, the old 6 will be lifted and a 308ci V8 will go in its place

    1. Dan Barlow

      I’ll give up my SBC when you pry it out of my cold dead hands . It just makes the right noises . Pretty much any v8 would be my pick over a 6 . The wifes trailblazer has a pretty peppy 4.2 . It’s not been bad except a coil going out for the last two months but yeah , it is a 2004 .

  13. Crazy

    I don’t see why not..
    They are cheap, people give them away, and a cheap turbo will make more than enough power to keep you spending money on driveline parts..

    For the g.m. 250/292 get 3) lt1 or tpi throttle body’s some tubing and make a paired runner for that weber look..
    or do the same with 3) ls t/b’s for the tri power look.. old school , or make the tri power looking air cleaner housing an air box fed buy a turbo tubing..

    The ford 300 would also fall into this cheap as dirt, big power..

    Mopar the slant six..
    All three you could make look the look like old school/era correct exotic inlines That you’d see in Indy cars /etc. or
    Or a snake header tubing intake with a ls t/b and a turbo pipe ..Europe exotic’s would have..
    Hide the turbo.. and have todays power with the look of the 60’s /70’s exotic..
    Most vehicles that a inline 6 will fit in you can easily hide a turbo..
    or hang it out in the open..

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