Ford Barra engine

Ultimate Ford Barra Engine Guide

Chandler Stark

Meet Chandler

Chandler is an automotive expert with over a decade of experience working on and modifying cars. A couple of his favorites were his heavily modded 2016 Subaru WRX and his current 2020 VW Golf GTI. He’s also a big fan of American Muscle and automotive history. Chandler’s passion and knowledge of the automotive industry help him deliver high-quality, insightful content to TuningPro readers.

Often referred to as the Australian 2JZ, the Ford Barra engine is one of the best straight-six engines of the modern era. Though it never made it stateside, the Barra was one of the hottest options for Ford Australia buyers from 2002–2016. Ford made a ton of different variations of it, including both naturally aspirated and turbocharged versions, as well as some that ran on liquefied petroleum gas.

On the aftermarket, enthusiasts have regularly pushed this engine to more than 1,000 horsepower, and it is – quite frankly – stunning what this 4.0 liter inline-six can accomplish with just a few upgrades. Read on to learn all about the history, specs, design, common problems, and mods for the Ford Barra inline-six engine, and to see why so many call it the Australian version of the 2JZ-GTE or RB26DETT

Ford Straight-Six Engines History

Ford Australia first introduced the Barra straight-six engine for the 2002 model year, but its history really dates all the way back to the 1960s. Beginning in 1960, Ford Australia began to use engines designed and built for the U.S. domestic market (USDM) for the Australian Domestic Market (ADM).

Among these were the third generation of Ford’s overhead valve (OHV) inline-six engines, which were known as the “Thriftpower Six” in the states or the “Falcon Six” in Australia. The first of these Ford made was a 144 cubic inch engine that produced just 90 horsepower and 138 lb-ft of torque through a single-barrel carburetor. This was complimented by a larger 170 cubic inch engine, and later by a 200 cubic inch “Super Pursuit” motor.

By the early-1990s, these had morphed into a 4.0 liter electronic fuel injected, single overhead camshaft (SOHC) engine. In 1998, Ford Australia created the “Intech-six” version, which added variable camshaft timing (VCT) to some of the higher end models, and made a maximum power output of around 230 horsepower (170 kW). 

The Barra Arrives

Ford Barra Engine
Ford Barra Engine (Credit: Ford Motor Co)

In 2002, Ford Australia once again improved upon the design, bringing out the first Barra engine inside the (BA) Falcon and (SX) Territory. Ford called it the Barra after the Barramundi sea bass, one of the most popular fish in Australia. 

These produced more power, 244 horsepower (182 kW) naturally aspirated and 300+ horsepower (240+ kW) with forced induction. Ford Australia gave several improvements including dual-overhead camshafts (DOHC) and VCT as standard on all models. In addition, Ford also gave some engines turbochargers for the first time.

Most of the engines ran on gasoline (petrol), but there was also a version, the Barra E-Gas, which ran on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) or Autogas. It used a carburetor instead of fuel injectors, and was popular in fleets due to its fuel economy. Ford created 11 different versions of the engine, with them being classified by their power output (156-325 kW). 

While they were popular when left stock, the Barras quickly gained a reputation as one of the top performance engines due to their insane modability. Enthusiasts quickly found that modding the Barra was painfully easy, resulted in massive amounts of horsepower, and the power plant was extraordinarily reliable for big builds. Needless to say, over the years the engine has only become more popular, with some even importing them stateside for monster Shelby and Ford Mustang builds. 

Ford built the engine from 2002 until Ford Australia closed its doors in 2016. Though no longer being manufactured, there are still countless examples available today from its 15 years of production. They remain popular engines for builds and swaps, and the aftermarket is still pushing its limits nearly a decade after its demise. 

Ford Barra Engine Specs

EngineFord Barra Inline-Six
Model Years2002-2016
Displacement4.0 liters (3,984 cc)
AspirationNaturally Aspirated & Turbocharged
ConfigurationInline-Six
Compression RatioPetrol: 8.47:1 – 10.3:1; (LPG – 10.3:1 – 12.0:1)
Bore and Stroke92.26 mm x 99.31 mm (3.6 in x 3.9 in) 
Valve TrainDual Overhead Camshafts, 24-valves (4 val/cyl)
Variable Valve TimingYes: ‘02–’05 DEPS VCT; ‘05+ Di-VCT
Fuel SystemCarburetor; Electronic Fuel Injection
Fuel TypesLiquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), Petrol
Head MaterialAluminum
Block MaterialCast Iron
Horsepower Output209-496 horsepower; 182-370 kW
Torque Output276-479 lb-ft; 380-650 Nm

Ford Barra Engine Designs

From 2002–2016, Ford Australia built nine different versions of the Barra engine, while Ford Performance Vehicles (FPV) built two extremely high-performance versions for the F6 sedan and coupe. There are many similarities that all 11 variants of the engines share, and they also have their own unique aspects, too. Ford created both petrol and LPG (Autogas) versions of the engine, as well as naturally aspirated and turbocharged variants. 

All Barra engines share the same bore and stroke of 92.26 mm x 99.31 mm (3.6 in x 3.9 in), and they all have cast iron blocks with a “gravity-cast” aluminum cylinder head. The blocks were lighter than the Intech predecessors, and they have cross-bolted main bearing caps and alloy sump. The cylinder heads have improved coolant passages for better coolant flow and block temperature control. 

In addition, all engines also use variable camshaft timing (VCT) and have dual overhead camshafts (DOHC) which are roll-forged with hydraulic lash adjusters. The Barras are all 24-valve engines, with four-valves per cylinder (two intake, two exhaust). 

For the intake manifolds, Ford used “dual resonance” units with charge motion control valves (CMCV). Without getting too technical, CMCVs act to regulate the amount of air entering the engine from the manifold. They are valves that sit in the manifold’s runners, which open and close to allow and restrict airflow. At wide open throttle, the valves are fully open to allow the most possible airflow. At partial throttle they are partly closed to reduce air volume while increasing airflow velocity.

All versions use sequential electronic fuel injection and have a distributorless, coil-on-plug ignition with long-life spark plugs. For emissions control, there are catalytic converters and an exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system. 

Ford Barra engine
Ford Barra Engine (Credit: Ford Motor Co)

182 Engine Variant

The Ford Barra 182 engine was one of the first Barras released alongside the E-Gas and 240T in 2002. The 182 is naturally aspirated and produces 182 kW/380 Nm (244 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque) with a 9.7:1 compression ratio. For VCT, it used Dual Equal Phase Shifting (DEPS) VCT. Only in production for a total of four model years from 2002–2005, the 182 set the baseline for the incredible heights the engine would soon reach. 

190 Engine Variant

In 2005, Ford released the Barra 190, the successor to the 182. The 190 was a little more powerful, making 190 kW/383 Nm (255 horsepower, 280 lb-ft of torque). Improvements from the 182 included a revised VCT system called “Dual Independent Phase Shifting variable cam timing” (Di-VCT). They also had hotter camshafts and a slightly higher 10.3:1 compression ratio, as well a new intake, exhaust manifold, and pistons. The 190 stayed in production through 2011 in some models.

195 Engine Variant

Ford introduced the Barra 195 in 2008 as the successor to the 190. It made even more power at 195 kW/391 Nm (261 horsepower, 288 lb-ft of torque) on 90 RON gas, or 198 kW/409 Nm (266 horsepower, 302 lb-ft of torque) on 95 RON. Revisions from the 190 included a new cylinder head with a “fast burn” combustion chamber and a split-plenum intake manifold. Compression remained at 10.3:1. This was the final naturally aspirated petrol-powered version of the Barra Ford created, and it lasted until 2016. 

Barra E-Gas Engine

Ford released the Barra E-Gas in 2002 alongside the 182 and 240T, putting it inside the Falcon and Fairmont, and it was a huge hit with fleets. From 2002–2005, it used Dual Equal Phase Shifting (DEPS) VCT, and Ford upgraded it to the Di-VCT system in 2005. It lasted in production from 2002–2011. 

Instead of running on petrol, the E-Gas ran on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG or Autogas). It used a carbureted fuel system that involved vaporizing the LPG before it reached the combustion chamber. From 2002–2005, compression sat at 10.7:1, which dropped to 10.3:1 in 2005 in BF-series engines due to new pistons. The E-Gas was the lowest output Barra ever, making 156 kW/374 Nm (209 horsepower, 274 lb-ft of torque).

Barra EcoLPi Engine

The Barra EcoLPi was the successor to the E-Gas, and it also ran on LPG/Autogas. Power increased to 198 kW/409 Nm (266 horsepower, 302 lb-ft of torque), and it remained in production through 2016. The EcoLPi was an extremely high compression engine, sitting at 12.0:1: the highest for any Barra-series engine. The EcoLPi replaced the E-Gas’ carburetor-style injection system with a high-pressure fuel injection system. Like the E-Gas, it was very popular in fleets due to its alternative and low fuel consumption. 

240T Engine Variant

The Barra 240T was released alongside the 182 and E-Gas as one of the first engines in the Barra-series, and was the first to use a turbocharger. Compared with the 182, there was a significant increase in power to 240 kW/450 Nm (322 horsepower, 332 lb-ft of torque) due to the turbocharger. The turbo was a Garrett GT3582R which ran 6 PSI of boost.

Compared with the 182, the 240T had new pistons with dished bowls which lowered compression to 8.7:1 for the boost, new exhaust valves, and heat shields due to the increased temperature from the turbo. Besides that, it was very similar to the naturally aspirated version, and remained in production from 2002–2005.

245T Engine

The Barra 245T was the successor to the 240T, and was in production from 2005–2011. Power increased to 245 kW/480 Nm (329 horsepower, 354 lb-ft of torque), partly due to higher fuel pressure, the addition of Di-VCT, and more advanced ignition timing. Compression remained at 8.7:1 as did the Garrett GT3582R turbocharger. The 245T used sequential fuel injection that was speed-density based. 

270T Engine

Ford produced the Barra 270T from 2008–2016, and it was the successor to the 245T. It made significantly more power and had an overboost function that allowed for increased boost pressure up to 10 PSI for brief periods. The overboost increased torque, and the engine was rated at 270 kW/533-586 Nm (362 horsepower, 393-432 lb-ft of torque). Compression increased slightly to 8.8:1, and improvements included a larger intercooler, new intake, new Garrett GT3576R turbocharger, and new exhaust manifold that weighed less and flowed better. 

325T Engine

The Barra 325T was a one-year only variant that Ford put only in the 2016 Falcon XR6 Turbo Sprint (FG X). In many ways it was a hybrid of the 270T and the FPV 310T. The 325T used the larger injectors, bigger turbocharger, and bigger intercooler from the FPV 310T, but the higher compression of the 270T. In addition, Ford gave it a light-weight and high-flow carbon-fiber intake with the 8.8:1 compression ratio.

It produced a whopping 325 kW/576 Nm (436 horsepower, 417 lb-ft of torque), but also had an overboost function. This jumped output up to a mind-blowing 370 kW/650 Nm (496 horsepower, 479 lb-ft of torque) through more than 14 PSI of boost. 

FPV Barra 270T Engine

The Ford Performance 270 Turbo engine was FPV’s first variant of the Barra engine, and they introduced it for the 2004–2009 model years inside the high-performance Falcon Typhoon and Tornadoes. They based it on the 240T engine, but it used a larger intercooler, dual airbox intake, higher boost pressure, and stronger valve springs and connecting rods. The turbo was a Garrett GT3582R which ran 10 PSI of boost. Power was up significantly from the 245T, with it being rated at 270 kW/550 Nm (362 horsepower, 406 lb-ft of torque). Compression was 8.7:1.

FPV Barra 310T Engine

The final variant we’ll discuss is the FPV Barra 310T, which succeeded the FPV 270T for the 2008–2014 model years. This was a significant improvement over the outgoing engine, due to new pistons and connecting rods, larger intercooler, redesigned intake and exhaust, and a new Garrett GT3582R with a bigger compressor wheel, compressor housing, and new wastegate. The new turbo ran 13 PSI of boost, the most for any Barra engine ever. Power sat at 310 kW/565 Nm (416 horsepower, 406 lb-ft of torque), and compression was lower at 8.47:1. 

Ford Barra Engine Reliability and Problems

For the most part, the Ford Barra is considered an extremely reliable engine. Not only did it perform well stock, but it can take excessive amounts of horsepower once modified. All Barras used the same cast iron engine block, which has been known to withstand more than 1,000 horsepower without reinforcement. 

However, the engine is not completely bulletproof and problem free, and there are a few different noticeable issues that have crept up over the years. For the most part, they are not extremely catastrophic, and most of them are related to modified rather than stock engines. Still, it’s important to be aware of them. 

First off are the connecting rods. The rods are widely known as the weakest part of the engine from a power standpoint. Usually, when modifying the Barra, the rods are the first pieces to go. Generally, the naturally aspirated rods are good until about 250 kW at the wheels (335 horsepower), while the turbocharged rods are generally good until 350 kW at the wheels (475 horsepower).

The next biggest weakness are the valve springs. This is especially prevalent in high-boost applications on older engines that ran less boost stock. Above 10 PSI engines can experience valve float, which is usually rectified with stronger springs. Head studs are also good ideas at higher power levels. 

Finally, the ignition coils have been known to experience premature failure. The Barra used a new coil-on-plug design for the engine, which was not the best at first. Later versions improved on this and it became less of an issue from the BF-series on. 

Overall, the Ford Barra is still an extremely reliable engine, especially if kept completely or mostly stock. Additionally, these engines can support more than 450 wheel-horsepower without needing any internal upgrades, which is quite a feat. 

Ford Barra Engine Top Mods

Jonny Tig Intercooler for Ford Barra
Jonny Tig Intercooler for Ford Barra

Now let’s talk about modding the Ford Barra for serious horsepower. We’ve talked about how reliable it is and the robust aftermarket, so let’s delve into the best way to crank some serious power out of the straight-six Barra. Make sure to check out our Ford Barra mod guide for an even more in-depth look at how to build the legendary straight-six. 

ECU Tuning to Turbo Upgrades

First up is tuning. ECU tuning is probably the best way to grab some extra horsepower from the turbocharged variants. Turbocharged engines will see more gains than N/A, but both will benefit from tuning (if the NA also has other bolt-ons). Tuning is also a great idea if you have other mods, like an intake or exhaust, as tuning will allow you to maximize the horsepower and torque gains. 

Next up, you’ll want to increase airflow into and out of the engine. The stock intakes are generally thought to perform pretty well, so the next step is upgrading the intake manifold. This is especially helpful on turbocharged vehicles, and will help the engine suck in more air. 

For the exhaust, if you are naturally aspirated you’ll want to look at extractors (aka long-tube headers) to minimize back pressure and reduce restriction. Going either catless or adding high-flow cats with 2.5”-3” piping will net the biggest gains. If you are turbocharged, you’ll want to upgrade the downpipe, instead. The downpipe connects to the turbo, and running a 3”-4” pipe is very common on boosted applications, especially with turbo upgrades. 

For turbocharged cars, you’ll want to look at upgrading the intercooler, and eventually getting a larger turbocharger. Running a larger intercooler will allow you to run more boost and timing, while also mitigating heat soak. This is especially key with a turbo upgrade. Larger turbos will push the stock intercooler past its efficiency, resulting in heat soak, detonation, and pulled timing. 

Ford Barra Summary

As you can tell, the Ford Barra straight-six engine is one of the best of the modern era. Impeccably built for performance and reliability, the Barra is at home commuting a family to the grocery store or laying down more than 1,000 horsepower at the track. These are truly special engines, and the turbocharged variants have developed almost mythic status, with many comparing them to the Toyota 2JZ and Nissan RB26 straight-six engines. 

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