Fireball Fate Buick’s V6 debuts in the #1962 #Buick-Special
. #General-Motors #GM
’ new #1961
“senior compacts” were erupting with innovations, and Buick wasn’t about to be left behind. It had already developed the aluminum 215-cu.in. V8 engine. The only engine available in the #Buick
Special and Oldsmobile F-85 (with Olds’s design modifications), it was also optional in the Pontiac Tempest. In mid-1961, Buick debuted the sporty and more luxurious Skylark, with a four-barrel version of the 215, and it could be had with bucket seats. For 1962, a new 198-cu.in. V6 for the Special was developed under the direction of Joseph Turlay, Buick’s chief of engine design, and engineer Cliff Studaker. This ad announces its arrival by depicting a Buick Special convertible speeding along a back road with the top down.
To bring the V6 to market on a very short lead time and to keep production costs down to allow the Special’s price point to be more competitive with the four-cylinder Tempests and competition from other manufacturers, the “Fireball” V6 would be derived from the existing 215 V8 — hence it was a 90-degree V6.
Automakers had historically avoided the 90-degree V6 design because of vibration issues derived from its irregular firing intervals when retaining crankpins that were shared by two connecting rods each, like the V8. Buick engineers retained that design, but set the crank pin spacing at 120 degrees for the V6. They quelled the primary unbalance via crankshaft counterweight modifications. Secondary unbalance was suppressed with softer engine mounts and a heavier flywheel for the manual transmission, as the automatic’s torque converter already absorbed much of those vibes.
Two cylinders were lopped off the V8 design and cast-iron was employed for the block and heads, instead of aluminum for cost, which brought engine weight to about 430 pounds — about 50 pounds more than the V8. Bearing sizes, the aluminum front cover, water pump, oil pump and flywheel housing were shared between the two engines, as was much of the tooling. Accessory placement and brackets were revised. Bore/stroke was increased to 3.625/3.20 compared to the V8’s 3.50/2.80.
The odd-fire V6 employed a cast Arma Steel crankshaft and .200- inch longer 5.860-inch connecting rods made from the same material, and dished aluminum pistons were employed.
Cylinder head design, 1.50/1.31-inch valves and valvetrain with aluminum shaft-mounted 1.6:1 rockers from the V8 were retained, but the cam duration was extended to 295-degrees from 280-degrees and overlap was increased to compensate for the effective smaller valve size, given the increased bore. Cam lift was .385/.385-inch and the compression ratio was 8.8:1. A simple lightweight single-plane intake manifold could be used, thanks to the 1-6-5-4-3-2 firing order. A Rochester two-barrel carb was mounted on it and spark was delivered via a Delco breaker-point distributor. Exhaust manifolds were cast-iron and featured streamlined individual ports.
The result of this rapid engineering effort was 135 hp at 4,600rpm and 205-lb.ft of torque 2,400rpm. Buick’s V6 was applauded by automotive testers, concerns of excessive vibrations were allayed and the Special was named Motor Trend #CAR-of-the-Year.
for 1962, due in large part to being the only passenger car in America with a volume-produced V6 engine (GMC trucks also used a V6, but of a different design).
It was an engine program that would see the displacement grow to 225-cu.in. for 1964, but the V6 was sold to #Kaiser-Jeep
in 1967. Buick rediscovered the V6 and bought it back in the mid-1970s, increased it to 231-cu.in. and later refined it with a split-pin crank for even firing, and turbocharged and supercharged it over the next few decades.