Thank you @strop for reminding me about the plight of parts of Australia that aren’t state or territorial capitals, where employment is scarce. Now I am starting to think that setting up a company in Albury was indeed justified; it would have sent local employment levels through the roof as you just described.
But let’s not stray too far from the point of this topic, which is mainly about car engines.
2000 and Beyond: A New Generation of V8s
By 2000, the Universal Eight was obsolete, and a replacement was needed. However, for that to happen, a partnership with another manufacturer was also required. Salvation arrived in September 1999, when Harris Cars Ltd. bought a 50% stake in Albury Motors. The collaboration, known as Harris-Albury Motor Manufacturing International (HAMMI) was mutually beneficial: Harris would send engineers to Albury to gain information on how to improve the reliability of its engines, while Albury would request technical advice from Harris in order to extract more power from its now all-alloy V8.
This partnership yielded the New Universal V8, introduced in 2000. The block and heads were now made from an aluminum/silicon alloy to minimize weight gain - a consequence of its larger bore - and the engine was now slightly oversquare, allowing for a higher redline. Two variants, both displacing 6.0 litres, were available initially. In Standard trim (which requires 91 RON regular unleaded) it made 348.19 bhp at 6200 rpm, but in Hi-Comp (short for High Compression) form it developed 410.31 bhp at 6400 rpm.
The Hi-Comp version (which requires 95 RON unleaded to allow for the increased compression ratio from which it derives its name) adds high-flow intake and exhaust headers, individual throttle bodies for each cylinder, a more aggressive cam profile, a richer air/fuel ratio (again leading to a higher compression ratio, though at the expense of economy), and for the first time in any Albury engine, exhaust bypass valves as standard - they were optional on base variants.
From the outset, these engines were very popular among tuners and specialist manufacturers due to their superior reliability and affordability compared to competing engines, especially since economy was not as much of a concern as it is now. Unsurprisingly, Albury restarted its engine export program in the same year the New Universal V8 was introduced. However, just a half-decade after launch, the technical partnership with Harris would pay dividends again: in 2005, the whole family was updated with variable valve timing and direct injection, thereby considerably improving economy and emissions.
The Standard trim remained mostly unchanged otherwise, except for a much higher compression ratio (9:1 instead of 7.8:1) compared to the pre-DFI version. The Hi-Comp trim, on the other hand, had an even higher compression ratio of 10.7:1, and in fact had a slightly milder cam profile to improve economy slightly compared to its predecessor. Most significantly of all, a longer stroke increased the Hi-Comp version’s capacity to 6.2 litres. Thus, while the Standard version now put out 388.22 bhp at 6500 rpm, the Hi-Comp made 457.16 bhp at 6600 rpm. Another difference was that the Hi-Comp also had reinforced internals, thereby giving it the same 7000-rpm redline as the Standard version. Both variants, however, had massively improved reliability compared to their immediate predecessors, which more than offset the extra cost - as a result of these improvements, sales of cars equipped with either of these engines improved markedly.
Once again the larger Hi-Comp version benefited from a high-flow intake and exhaust, as well as bypass valves. Although the increased quality made it more expensive, it paid dividends in reliability.
In 2013, both variants received an even longer stroke, taking the capacity to 6.4 litres. Further improvements in reliability resulted in a virtually indestructible and highly adaptable engine, and one highly popular with tuners and specialists alike. The standard version also received bypass valves for the first time as standard equipment.
Compared to the 419.54-bhp Standard version (which still required 91RON unleaded), the Hi-Comp made 493 bhp at 6800 rpm - as much as a 991 GT3 RS - but with more torque and with the ability to use 95RON premium unleaded. Once again, its reinforced internals allowed the redline to be extended to 7000 rpm - 300 more than the Standard version. And although Albury V8s had always been known for their ample torque, this has never been truer than with the new Hi-Comp engine. Easy compatibility with forced induction is another advantage - since the introduction of the New Universal V8, some tuners have created twin-turbo conversions with significantly increased power and torque, with potential for over 1000 bhp. In addition, a supercharged variant of the 6.4 Hi-Comp is currently in development. However, this type of forced induction is absent from the current stable release in which these engines were made.
As described earlier, the immense durability of the Albury V8 has always made it a tuners’ favorite, but this has never been more true than it is now. Mason Motorsports, an American tuner and hypercar builder, developed two twin-turbo conversions for the 6.4-liter V8 shortly after it was released. While the lesser version, with 750 bhp, was fast enough for most, the Plus conversion shown below was utterly insane, with well over 1000 bhp (on 98 octane) - more than enough to cancel out the increased lag.
Compared to the standard Twin Turbo kit, the Plus conversion has a much richer AFR and retarded ignition timing to accommodate the increased boost pressure and compression ratio; the compressor and turbine have also been enlarged. Moreover, this version has CNC-milled internals to save weight and improve durability even further. Most impressively, though, both turbocharged versions clearly develop much more torque than the standard engines, particularly the Plus variant. However, the standard Twin Turbo conversion is compatible with 98 octane.
For the 2016 model year (and to celebrate 50 years since the first Albury V8), a special Hi-Comp Plus version of the 6.4 was released for limited use as a crate engine. With a richer air/fuel ratio, reinforced top and bottom ends, a high-quality exhaust, CNC-milled parts (hence the extended redline of 7400 rpm) and an even higher compression ratio, it developed even more power than the Hi-Comp - 526.37 bhp on 98 RON unleaded at 7000 rpm, to be precise.
Despite environmental pressures, the New Universal V8 was, and still is, extremely popular among enthusiasts, and will most likely continue to be the backbone of the brand’s identity for many years to come. Exactly how long this situation will persist is uncertain, though, given current trends. However, it is likely that the New Universal V8 will not be obsolete until 2025 at the earliest, 60 years after the first Albury V8 was introduced. In total, 16 variants across two engine families have been developed over the past half-century.
It is worth noting that the original New Universal V8 was offered with an optional stroker kit if specified in Hi-Comp form. Initially exclusive to the Crusader III (and a few hundred Mk.V Centurions), this upgrade became standard when direct injection was introduced in 2005.
Recently, the New Universal V8 has been updated yet again; cheaper to produce, yet still more powerful than ever, and now with a track-focused tune, this is set to be the standard-bearer for Australian-made engines for years to come. With Mason Motorsports having developed a twin-turbo version pumping out >1000 bhp, the future looks bright for this all-alloy powerhouse.
I have once again provided the entire family of engines for download in the link below, for those wanting to use them. A word of warning: the NA DFI variants are quite tall and may not fit in some mid-engined cars’ engine bays. They will easily fit in most front-engined car bodies, though. In short, this family’s blend of power, affordability and reliability makes it ideal for sports, muscle, supercar and hypercar applications. In fact, even an SUV or light truck can be livened up with one of these beasts under its hood!
The attachment below has been updated to include additional aftermarket twin-turbo variants as well as the stroker kit.
ahertono - Albury New Universal V8.zip (120.6 KB)