So, let's go back to the 1960s and see how the Barra has changed since then. Between 2002 and 2016, the Barra 6 was manufactured at the Geelong Engine Plant in the Australian state of Victoria. Indeed, like "'Cuda," "Barra" is a shortened form of the name of a particular fish species. The Australian fish barramundi, and not the more well-known American fish barracuda, is the inspiration for the name. The name "barramundi" is commonly used to refer to this fish. A sea bass may not be the first predatory creature that comes to mind, but that doesn't mean this engine is any less fierce.
Hilzinger claims that the 2.4-liter "Thriftpower 6" from the North American 1959 Ford Falcon was the inspiration for the 144-cubic-inch engine found in the Barra. Afterwards, Ford Australia tweaked the six-cylinder design, creating the iron-headed Cross Flow engine of the 1970s, the aluminum-head Cross Flow engine of the 1980s, and finally the single overhead cam I-6, which first appeared in the late 1980s and was used until 2002.
It was available in both naturally aspirated and turbocharged configurations" (naturally aspirated and supercharged respectively), with power outputs ranging from 209 horsepower in the LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) taxicab edition to 436 horsepower in the FGX XR6 Turbocharged Sprint edition during its 14-year run before being discontinued in 2016. The most potent version of the FGX was the turbocharged sprint version, the XR6. Over-boost allowed for a temporary increase in power to 496 horsepower for up to ten seconds.
The Barra 4.0-liter in-line six introduced by Ford of Australia on July 1, 2002, completely shocked everyone in the automotive industry. Previously, Japan had a reputation for producing high-performance turbo six-cylinder engines, and companies like BMW had elevated the construction of in-line six-cylinder engines to the level of an art form.
Australian engineers working on the all-new BA-series Ford Falcon used the name "Barra" as a codename for the development of the car's engines, including the 5.4-liter three-valve V8s. "Barra" is a common Australian fisherman's term for an aggressive species of fish.
Nonetheless, the Barras' most distinctive feature is its in-line six-cylinder engine, which was developed by Ford Australia and introduced to the BA-series Fords to usher in the 21st century with a bang. This engine was the culmination of 43 years of work on the straight-six and represented the engine's final form.
Due to its twin overhead camshafts housed in an alloy head, four valves per cylinder, variable cam timing, and 4.0-liter displacement in the bottom end, even the base Barra model produced 182 kW. In 2011, the gas-only (LPG) motors were upgraded to produce 198 kW, which was more powerful than the most recently produced naturally aspirated 195 kW 4.0L gasoline engines.
The BA-BF series of Falcons, Fairlanes, and Territory SUVs all featured twin-cam engines that enhanced the vehicles' smoothness, efficiency, and sound quality, making them more enjoyable to drive. However, the most exciting development occurred in 2002, when a brand-new high-performance Barra with a turbocharger and an intercooler was introduced.
Both naturally aspirated and turbocharged Barra-six engines share a common displacement of 3984 cc, and the latter's use of a sturdy iron block gives it excellent boost response. However, the former doesn't do much to alleviate the former, which is one of the primary issues with the platform.
Ford Barra engines can now be installed in classic Fords from Australia, such as Mustang muscle cars or LandCruiser and Patrol 4x4s, despite these motors being widely recognised as being among the most reliable available, which is why engine replacements often involve them.
Companies like Tuff Mounts in South Australia, Castlemaine Rod Shop in Victoria, and RRS in Sydney provide solutions for installing the powerful Barra in vehicles that were not originally designed to accommodate it.
Due to their rugged construction and efficient layout, many reconditioned Barra turbo six engines are capable of producing over 1000 horsepower (745 kW) when installed in the right vehicle. Furthermore, there are many Barra conversion kits available to instal these engines in other vehicles.
The Ford Barra engine is significantly longer, wider, and taller than other, smaller turbo six engines from Japan, which can present a challenge when attempting to instal the turbocharger. However, if you find one for under a hundred dollars, it is a common way to make an ordinary and inexpensive Falcon significantly faster.
While the early turbo Barras used a compression ratio of 8.7:1, some high-performance models used 8.8:1 (8.47:1 in the Barra 310T), and non-turbo motors ranged from 9.7:1 to 10.3:1. Lower numbers mean engines are better able to handle the boost pressure from turbos, avoiding the need to purchase a more expensive turbo engine.
In this case, the last word should go to Gordon Barfield, the engineer in charge of turbocharging the Barra six, who said, "I named the [turbo motor] 'Gull,' as in 'Seagull,' because we knew that it was going to [crap] on everything.
Barras are not only ridiculously capable, but also have a built bottom end at their disposal. Running in the nines is possible with a stock bottom end LPG motor and LPG fuel in our turbo Taxi full-weight FG Falcon.
The Barra was only sold in Australia, so it lacks the robust aftermarket support of engines like the LS, for which you can buy a Dart or a block with a similar level of reinforcement, or the 2JZ and RB-series of six-cylinder engines. Nonetheless, there has been a rise in interest in the Barra in the United States, and there is no reason to believe that this won't continue with vehicles like the Micra.
In addition, Haltech has recently released a plug-and-play engine control unit (ECU) for Barra-powered Ford Falcons, which manages all of the standard vehicle functions and provides the same level of tuning as a standard Haltech ECU.
Sick of LS V8s? The Barra straight-six Is The Swap For You
If your build is lacking in power and there is room for an upgrade (and sometimes even if it doesn't), an LS V8 is typically the engine of choice to use as the upgrade. What happens, though, if you don't want the most obvious choice? What should you do if you want to be noticed?
The solution is offered by Ford Australia in the form of a six-cylinder engine that is capable of being turbocharged. The straight-six engine from Barra.
The Barra is a workhorse engine that has sufficient simplicity to make it easy to work with, but sufficient capacity to turn it into a monster with the appropriate accoutrements. It is somewhat comparable to an Australian 2JZ in this regard. The engine was reengineered from an earlier generation of sixes for the BA generation of the Falcon and was used through the end of Australian Ford production in 2016. It is both rugged and thoroughly modern at the same time, and wrenchers in Australia are already praising it as one of the best swaps available. It is time for you to meet each other and become acquainted.
The Barra, which is short for Barramundi and not Barracuda or the CEO of GM, is a robust straight-six engine that was used in the Ford Falcon and the Ford Territory. Its stock displacement is four litres. Even though there were sputtering LPG versions for taxis and sedate versions for station waggons and utes, cars like the Falcon XR6 were able to get a lot of power out of these engines. In point of fact, the most inflated version of this car has more than 430 horsepower. That is a significant amount of power, particularly if it is going to be installed in a vehicle with a Fox-body mustang chassis.
However, the most appealing aspect of the Barra is not its stock capabilities. It's the part that screws on. Even with the factory bottom end, the rugged block has the potential to achieve turbocharging levels that result in upwards of 600 horsepower when done correctly. If you make those adjustments, you could end up with close to a thousand horsepower if you're not careful. Coming out of a well-oiled straight-six, you would think that would be the ideal antidote to LS fatigue, wouldn't you?
If you're going to modify an engine, especially one from another market, having some community support would be a huge help. Wiring harnesses, ECU flashes, and a wide variety of other essential components may be a little out of reach for many wrenchers; fortunately, a helpful Facebook group is available that can provide guidance and assistance with these and many other issues. Additionally, the crew seems to have a good attitude, which is more than you can say about a lot of the communities that are located on Zuckerberg's farm.
The majority of the Barra swaps that I've seen online have been done to automobiles that were designed to compete in quarter-mile races, and the results largely speak for themselves. Take a look at the XE Falcon sleeper, the F100 pickup, the Fox-body, and the Cresta build that are featured in the video that is located above. The engine seems like it would be perfectly at home on the drag strip, and I believe that it would be an interesting challenger for someone who is trying to come out of left field to bring to American competition.
Even if you aren't interested in the strip, the Barra could still be a good alternative to consider. The guys at Tuff Mounts, who built the Fox-body that was linked above, are developing a kit that will make it so the motor can practically just slide right into those Mustangs (and likely any other Fox-body model). This setup is ideal for the street, autocross, or making a terrible mess by leaving cars and coffee together. Check out this list of other swaps that people have done if you don't think a Fox-body is right for you. There is a diverse range of options available.
There are, without a doubt, one or two disadvantages that I simply cannot ignore. The Barra is not a diminutive creature. Because of its length and height, certain engine bays won't be able to accommodate it without some architectural modifications (oftentimes involving a shallower oil pan to keep things within clearance). Additionally, this motor was only available in Australia and New Zealand, so even though they are easy to come by in those countries, it may be difficult to ship them (and the inevitable spare parts) to the United States or Europe.
Nevertheless, the Barra is a ringer for anyone who is searching for an alternative to the typical swaps. It operates very smoothly, it is capable of withstanding virtually all of the turbocharging that can be applied to it, and it possesses an excellent sound.
Key Points to Look for When Buying a Barra
You are probably thinking right about now that you need to get yourself an XR6 Turbo. The catch is, of course, that you will be purchasing a car that was previously wrecked by another person. Having said that, they are pretty tough, and there is a wealth of knowledge out there that can predict what will cause a bang.
Unless the seller can show you proof that these have been done recently, you should plan on replacing the spark plugs and coils in virtually any XR6 Turbo that has seen its fair share of kilometres. If you don't want to be caught off guard, you should set aside some money for this expense. The iridium spark plugs produced by the factory come at an exorbitant price, but there is a way around this by using a "normal" plug and re-gapping it to be slightly smaller. However, when it comes to coil packs, the specialists we consulted believe that the only option available is to purchase ones that have the factory part numbers printed on them.
Check the service book and check for play in the differential bushes, as all XR6Ts are particularly hard on their bushes. In an ideal scenario, the head-banger before you changed the oil and filter at intervals of 10,000 kilometres, rather than the 15,000 kilometres that are specified in the manual. Eventually, sludgy oil will block the oil feed to the turbocharger, which will cause the turbocharger to starve and fail.
There was the occasional piston failure in early XR6Ts, but it was uncommon and could be fixed by making adjustments to the running conditions. In those early cars, the valve springs were also a little bit underdone, and the intake gaskets were prone to failure. After being exposed to heat for an extended period of time, the wire that connects the cam-angle sensor to the cylinder head eventually became brittle and broke, rendering many vehicles inoperable. It's a fairly common mistake. Brakes that came standard on the XR6T were dangerously inadequate and would warp on days when the temperature was high. Replacements sourced from the aftermarket are required.
The six-speed automatic transmission that was introduced with the BF is also capable of causing some headaches. It would appear that the sand and swarf left over from the process of casting the engine block can make their way into the cooling system of the vehicle and shot-peen the thin transmission cooling pipes. When this occurs, the coolant leaks into the transmission, causing irreparable damage to the bearings as well as the electronic components. Not good.
The centre bearings in the tailshaft have always been a little bit of an issue, but the fusion-welded tailshaft that was included with the FG model is also a little bit prone to twisting. A tail-shaft replacement from an earlier model that has been conventionally welded is the way to go. The turbo pipe of the FG was also infamous for being notoriously thin in places (due to core-shift in the casting process). There are plenty of viable alternatives all over the world.
Why do Australians love the barra engine so much?
The "Barra" is a straight-six engine that was developed by Ford Australia. However, some three-valve V8s have also been given the Barra name. Production of the "Barra" took place only in Australia between the years 2002 and 2016. These engines were originally manufactured so that they could be crammed into the Ford Falcon, which was a Mondeo-like saloon that would go on to become an Australian icon.
In reality, the inline-six Barras is a development of a straight-six engine with a single overhead cam that was used in the eighties. In order to stay current with the engineering trends of the time, the straight-six engine was given an additional camshaft, and variable valve timing was added. The implementation of VVT systems within these engines resulted in an increase in power in comparison to that of the Falcon engines that came before them; the DOHC units now produce a minimum of 210 horsepower at their lowest power setting.
This power output was provided by the Barra 182, which was a 4.0-liter straight-six engine with a cast-iron block, an aluminium cylinder head, drive-by-wire, Ford's custom variable cam timing (VCT), and four valves in each cylinder. These improvements over the previous Ford Intech engine also gave any car equipped with a Barra an advantage over its primary competitors, with the lower-spec Holden Commodores being the most notable of these competitors.
The turbocharged 325T FGX Sprint was the model that represented the pinnacle of the Barra lineup. This engine, which had a significantly more impressive output of 420 horsepower, was installed in the Falcon FGX XR6 Turbo Sprint, which had the capacity to reach 60 miles per hour in 4.5 seconds thanks to an overboost system that lasted for 10 seconds.
The torque that these engines produce is their primary selling point because the Barras are able to pull nicely and strongly from a low point in the rev range onward. In most of the Barra engines, the torque figures actually outweigh the power figures, with the turbocharged variants producing as much as 425 pound-feet of torque from as low as 2750 revolutions per minute (rpm).
The fact that a straight-six engine is inherently balanced is the second factor that contributes to the widespread adoption of these units. Because each piston moves in unison with its mirror image on the opposite side of the block, the reciprocating forces are nicely balanced. This eliminates the need for balancing shafts or counterweights because the pistons move in unison with one another.
Barras is also a fantastic base from which to tune, with many people either turbocharging NA units or simply replacing the stock turbochargers for something with a little bit more meat on the bone. Barras is a fantastic place to start when tuning.
Once the engine is tuned up to any decent forms of stress, the connecting rods and valve springs are typically the first things to break down. Because of this, they should be your primary focus when it comes to spotting potential problems.
Sadly, the engines that propelled Ford Australia into the 21st century have been phased out along with the Falcon. The Ford Australia division ceased operations in 2013 and completed production of the Barra by the end of the previous year.
Despite the fact that production was discontinued, these straight-six engines are highly sought after in Australia. In terms of both performance and tunability, they are comparable to engines such as the Nissan RB, Toyota JZ, and BMW S54. DriveTribe extends its respects to each and every one of you, Barras.
If you're an Australian and you're reading this, you're probably thinking, "You plonker, Barras has been around for ages and they were just as good when they had a single-cam head." I suppose that it could be considered Australia's best-kept secret, at least to some extent. I mean, a lot of tuners in Japan have been aware of the Barra for some time now, but for some reason, they have been moving at an extremely snail's pace in terms of actually experimenting with something new. However, Australia is known for its love of experimentation, particularly in situations where there is the possibility of producing a lot of horsepower.
In a month's time, Matt, our resident Sydneysider, will publish a piece on an R32 Nissan Skyline GTS-t that has replaced its RB20DET with a Barra. In the meantime, I thought I'd share a quick spotlight on this mundane-looking X70 series Toyota Cresta that I discovered in the World Time Attack Challenge paddock. Mighty Car Mods's employees were responsible for putting it all together (MCM).
They had the intention of making a 10-second sleeper, but they went about it in a very creative way. First, they bought the base car in Hokkaido for AU$2000. Then, they drove it across Japan and shipped it to Australia, which is where the transformation took place.
The group located the Barra engine and then proceeded to improve it with the bare minimum components necessary for it to maintain a consistent level of performance while being subjected to a substantial amount of boost pressure. This included the mandatory valve spring upgrade, stronger head studs, new oil and water pumps, and an early-generation Barra oil pan with the well at the front to enable them to wedge the massive lump as far back as it would go in the Cresta's engine bay. This was done so they could fit the engine in the Cresta.
They were able to get it custom mounted with a little bit of persuasion, and then they set about fitting all of the ancillary items, such as a Garrett turbo and a billet intake manifold that was running a massive single throttle body. Following the completion of the work on the cooling side of the equation, an appropriate fuel system was put together, and then a Haltech ECU was wired up to control everything.
Because it would provide the best performance for the strip, the team decided to go with a manually-shiftable Turbo 400 for the vehicle's transmission. The most significant changes were made further down the driveline. The stock rear end was removed and replaced with a custom ladder bar layout. This required a significant portion of the rear floor to be removed as well as a great deal of custom fabrication work.
I could go on and on about this build, but if you want to learn more about it, all you have to do is press play on the video that's been embedded above.
On the dyno, the vehicle generated an impressive 600 horsepower at the wheels, and it went on to complete the quarter-mile in a time of 9.97 seconds. Successful completion of the goal, as well as conclusive evidence of the capabilities of a semi-stock Barra.
Okay, so the 2JZ is not completely extinct; however, you should keep this information to yourselves because we don't want everyone to jump on the Barra bandwagon just yet.
Why Is It So Outstanding?
A factory-fresh engine producing nearly 500 hp, especially one with only six cylinders, has got to be phenomenal, right? It's safe to assume that many other Australians agree with us, as this is one of the most frequently performed engine swaps.
"When boost is accounted for, it is the engine's robustness that makes it such a great candidate for making a lot of power. Because the engine is so solidly constructed is why. "It would be ideal to give the later models a substantial turbo boost. A stock bottom end can make 600 hp at the tyres with just a few simple supporting mods." With that result, the quarter-mile time for the Mighty Car Mods' Toyota Cresta project was 9.90 seconds, etc.
In addition, the engine generates respectable amounts of torque thanks to its undersquare design and large displacement, and the powerband is one that is of great practical use. "They make torque from low down in the rev range, creating as much as 425 lb-ft of it from 2,600 rpm. If you build it yourself, it shouldn't be too difficult to get a thousand horses out of the engine and to the back wheels. Although it generates over 2,000 hp and revs to over 10,000 rpm, the Dyno-Mite Performance Barra-powered drag car uses the factory block and cylinder head."
As we move away from the specific advantages of the Barra and into the realm of general engine theory and design, we can say that the Barra also takes advantage of the benefits that are inherent to the use of a straight-six platform. The straight-six engine's design is, by itself, exceptionally well-balanced. Because the pistons move in tandem with their mirror images on the other side of the block, the reciprocating forces are balanced out nicely. The retaliatory forces are nicely balanced out,"
Nobody Is Perfect
You'd be forgiven for wondering, in light of its impressive capabilities, why this engine hasn't been discovered sooner. The first and perhaps biggest drawback is that they have never been sold anywhere else besides Australia and New Zealand. They are very common there, but you won't run into any on your way across the ocean.
This means the aftermarket will never treat it as seriously as it does the RB and 2JZ series from Nissan and Toyota, respectively. Both series were sold in Australia, with the 2JZ series also making its way to the States. Because of this, it will never be as popular in the secondary market as its main rivals. To a large extent, the Barra aftermarket does not exist outside of Australia. This effectively limits the engine's availability and functionality outside of Australia.
The engine itself is quite bulky, which is another drawback. It's not just big in length and height, but also in mass. However, despite those drawbacks, the Ford Barra Engine has become one of the most popular engines to swap into performance cars in the land down under, and for good reason.
Hilzinger states that the 144-cubic-inch engine in the Barra was inspired by the 2.4-liter "Thriftpower 6" in the 1959 Ford Falcon. Australian fishermen often refer to aggressive fish as "barra." Ford's Barra engine was originally designed for the BA-BF line of Falcons, Fairlanes, and Territory SUVs. 2002 saw the introduction of a turbocharged and intercooled Barra with increased performance. Over a thousand horses can be generated by many refurbished Barra turbo six engines (745 kW).
In addition to their ridiculously high level of capability, barras also have a solid bottom end with which to drive their vehicles. A stock bottom-end LPG motor can achieve nine-second quarter-mile times when fueled by LPG. As of late, Haltech has made available a plug-and-play ECU for Ford Falcons powered by the Barra engine. Ford's Falcon and Territory both feature the dependable straight-six Barra engine. Exaggerated to its full potential, this vehicle can produce over 430 horsepower.
The end result, if done correctly, could be close to a thousand horsepower. Tuff Mounts is working on a kit that will make installing the motor in those Mustangs a breeze (and likely any other Fox-body model) This configuration is perfect for driving on the street, competing in autocrosses, or leaving cars and coffee together, all of which result in a terrible mess. All XR6Ts are notoriously hard on their differential bushes, so it's a good idea to check the service record and see if there's any slack in there. A turbocharger will fail if its oil supply is cut off due to sludge in the oil. Brakes were woefully insufficient and warped in hot weather, posing a serious safety risk.
The inline-six Barra is an evolution of the straight-six engine used in the 1980s, which featured a single overhead cam. The VVT systems installed in these engines allowed for a significant performance boost over their Falcon predecessors. The Barra brand has also been applied to some three-valve V8s. Ford Australia couldn't have made it into the modern era without the help of the Barra. In Australia, demand is high for the straight-six powertrains.
When compared to other engines like the Nissan RB, Toyota JZ, and BMW S54, they offer similar performance and tuning flexibility. A Barra in a Nissan Skyline GTS-t R32. Previously it had an RB20DET. The team at Mighty Car Mods did all the heavy lifting (MCM). The foundational automobile was purchased in Hokkaido and then shipped to Australia at a cost of AU$2000. The Toyota Cresta modified by Mighty Car Mods and powered by a Barra ran the quarter mile in 9.97 seconds.
The vehicle was capable of producing 600 hp at the wheels and completing the track in 9.90 seconds. In the world of drag racing, this is a common engine swap. The Barra makes the most of the strengths of the straight-six architecture. It's only ever been available in Australia and New Zealand. Unlike Nissan's RB and Toyota's 2JZ series, it will never be taken seriously by the aftermarket.
- Between 2002 and 2016, the Barra 6 was manufactured at the Geelong Engine Plant in the Australian state of Victoria.
- The Australian fish barramundi, and not the more well-known American fish barracuda, is the inspiration for the name.
- The Barra 4.0-liter in-line six introduced by Ford of Australia on July 1, 2002, completely shocked everyone in the automotive industry.
- Australian engineers working on the all-new BA-series Ford Falcon used the name "Barra" as a codename for the development of the car's engines, including the 5.4-liter three-valve V8s. "
- However, the most exciting development occurred in 2002, when a brand-new high-performance Barra with a turbocharger and an intercooler was introduced.
- The straight-six engine from Barra.
- The Barra, which is short for Barramundi and not Barracuda or the CEO of GM, is a robust straight-six engine that was used in the Ford Falcon and the Ford Territory.
- Even if you aren't interested in the strip, the Barra could still be a good alternative to consider.
- Check out this list of other swaps that people have done if you don't think a Fox-body is right for you.
- Nevertheless, the Barra is a ringer for anyone who is searching for an alternative to the typical swaps.
- Unless the seller can show you proof that these have been done recently, you should plan on replacing the spark plugs and coils in virtually any XR6 Turbo that has seen its fair share of kilometres.
- The "Barra" is a straight-six engine that was developed by Ford Australia.
- Production of the "Barra" took place only in Australia between the years 2002 and 2016.
- Barras is a fantastic place to start when tuning.
- Sadly, the engines that propelled Ford Australia into the 21st century have been phased out along with the Falcon.
- The Ford Australia division ceased operations in 2013 and completed production of the Barra by the end of the previous year.
- Despite the fact that production was discontinued, these straight-six engines are highly sought after in Australia.
- In terms of both performance and tunability, they are comparable to engines such as the Nissan RB, Toyota JZ, and BMW S54.
- In a month's time, Matt, our resident Sydneysider, will publish a piece on an R32 Nissan Skyline GTS-t that has replaced its RB20DET with a Barra.
- In the meantime, I thought I'd share a quick spotlight on this mundane-looking X70 series Toyota Cresta that I discovered in the World Time Attack Challenge paddock.
- This was done so they could fit the engine in the Cresta.
- Because it would provide the best performance for the strip, the team decided to go with a manually-shiftable Turbo 400 for the vehicle's transmission.
- On the dyno, the vehicle generated an impressive 600 horsepower at the wheels, and it went on to complete the quarter-mile in a time of 9.97 seconds.
- The straight-six engine's design is, by itself, exceptionally well-balanced.
- To a large extent, the Barra aftermarket does not exist outside of Australia.
FAQs About Barra
At the top of the Barra, the range was the turbocharged 325T FGX Sprint. With a much more impressive output of 420bhp, this engine was placed in the Falcon FGX XR6 Turbo Sprint that could reach 60mph in 4.5 seconds thanks to a 10-second overboost system.
The dual-overhead-cam Barra has become a hugely popular engine in Australia because of its massive horsepower potential and bulletproof strength, making it ideal for high-horsepower builds.
After initial testing, that might change, but Bowling says that the engine should handle 1,500-plus horsepower with ease.
Due to simplicity, we are able to keep pricing low, $2596+GST direct from us for full tuners kit. You would still require intercooler piping, fuel system/tune and a decent exhaust system.
Generally, these stronger motors will handle over 450rwkW, depending on boost levels and rpm. There are a couple of weaknesses in the factory Barra motor, particularly early BA-BF examples.