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Albury Motors Engines - Reliable Performance since 1965

Albury Motors Engines - Reliable Performance since 1965

Albury Motors, a volume manufacturer based in Albury, NSW (hence the name), is known for its wide range of cars across multiple categories, but its most famous export is arguably the Albury Eight, a series of overhead-valve cross-plane V8 engines which has been in continuous production since 1965 and renowned for its relative affordability and reliability compared to most imported equivalents. The first engine family in this series was the Universal Eight, an undersquare all-iron unit. It was their first fully in-house V8 - they had fettled several American V8 engines of various capacities for well over a decade before then.

A link for the entire family of engines is provided in the link below for those willing to use these engines in their classic cars.

ahertono - Albury Universal Eight.zip (135.0 KB)

Originally, the engine was available in two sizes: 4.3 and 5.0 litres. The 4.3 developed 199 bhp at 4400 rpm; the 5.0 made 242 bhp at 4500 rpm. In 1967, an even larger 5.7-litre version was introduced; this cranked out 300 bhp at 4800 rpm. All of these variants had a pair of four-barrel carburetors; the two larger sizes added a high-flow intake and exhaust, the latter incorporating reverse-flow mufflers. They also ran on regular leaded fuel, which means that any car equipped with these engines can use 95 RON premium unleaded today.

Here is a screenshot of the 4.3-litre version. This variant has a milder cam profile and lower compression ratio than the larger variants, while a standard intake and tubular exhaust with baffled mufflers were used.

The 5.0-litre version added a higher compression ratio, a more aggressive cam profile, a performance intake, and long tubular exhaust with reverse-flow mufflers.

The 5.7-litre version had an even greater compression ratio with still more aggressive cams and a slightly richer air/fuel ratio (13.4/1 compared to 13.5:1 for lesser variants). It was also the first variant with I-beam conrods, thus allowing for an extended rev range compared to the smaller variants.

In 1974, the 4.3 was dropped and the 5.0 became the base engine. However, by this time the unleaded fuel mandate and introduction of catalytic converters reduced outputs considerably. Nevertheless, the 5.7 still developed 227 bhp - considerably more than the 190-bhp 5.0. Sadly, the oil crisis forced the abandonment of Albury’s engine export program as performance cars became unfashionable for a few years.

Again, the larger engine had a higher compression ratio and more aggressive cams, but both now had a 15:1 air/fuel ratio to improve economy.

1982 saw the introduction of multi-point fuel injection and three-way catalytic converters on all variants; engines so equipped had red valve covers. This led to a considerable improvement in economy and emissions. The 5.0 was once again the base engine, with a 5.7 available as an option in some models.

Whereas the 5.0 had a standard intake, one throttle per cylinder bank, a standard intake and tubular headers, the 5.7 had a throttle for each cylinder, a performance intake and a long tubular exhaust. Again, the larger engine also benefited from a higher compression ratio and more aggressive cams, thereby developing 259 bhp compared to the 5.0’s 221 bhp.

1992 saw the last revisions to the original Universal Eight; the 5.7 was now a dedicated performance engine running on 95 RON unleaded, compared to the base 5.0. Both engines now had a high-flow three-way catalytic converter as standard, as well as lightweight forged pistons for reduced weight and increased smoothness.

The 5.7 now developed 319 bhp - 76 more than the 5.0. However, by the time these latest versions had been introduced, other companies had managed to play the efficiency card instead by using variable valve timing on at least the intake side (and, in later years, variable valve lift). Nevertheless, the Universal Eight remained popular among buyers and tuners alike in the last few years of its life due to its reliability.

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As I work in Albury for 3 month stretches on an occasional basis, I can only imagine just how much Albury would be transformed if it actually had such a local industry in real life. It certainly would go a long way to relieving the “remote/inland despair” youth frequently suffer in areas of poor educational/skills diversity (see: Tasmania in general). It’s too bad that Australia has let its manufacturing sector go completely to waste. I mean, half the place is hospitality, a quarter of it retail, and the other quarter hairdressing salons, and everyone working in the latter two want to move elsewhere.

looks pretty good so far, plus you have that single engine family serving you for so long, it’s something i just started recently to look into

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)

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Albury Six-Cylinder Engines: Entry-Level Workhorses

In addition to its legendary V8 engines, Albury Motors has also made a range of reliable six-cylinder engines. Originally, these were all-iron overhead-valve straight-sixes, but since 1996 a series of all-alloy V6s with variable valve timing and lift has been used.

The Albury Straight Six was the company’s first in-house engine, available as a 3.0 or 3.6-litre straight-six. Both had three single-barrel carburetors, but the larger straight-six benefited from enlarged carbs and tubular headers.

In 1964, both variants were updated with more power and, crucially, torque. The redline was now extended slightly to make the most of the increased output.

Just a decade later, both engines were detuned to run on regular unleaded fuel and fitted with a catalytic converter. This caused a considerable loss of output, but at least lead would no longer be spat out of the exhaust pipe.

In 1982, the venerable Albury Straight Six was updated for the last time. Now fitted with multi-point electronic fuel injection, both variants almost matched the outputs of the revised pre-cat version from 1964. However, although these engines were quite reliable and easily met emissions and economy regulations in many regions, they would eventually be made obsolete by the introduction of VVT/VVL by other manufacturers. Thus, Albury’s powertrain division requested technical assistance from Harris Cars Ltd. for developing a new all-alloy V6 incorporating both of these technologies.

The project began with a prototype of a 3-liter all-aluminum V6, introduced in 1992 for use in the Centurion Mk.IV. This engine had low-friction internals and variable valve timing on the intake and exhaust valves.

The definitive Albury V6 was introduced for the 1996 model year, and became available from Q3 1995 onwards. Initially it retained port injection, but still had one throttle per cylinder bank. Low-friction cast pistons, combined with VVT and VVL, ensured a further improvement in economy compared with the V6 prototype it replaced.

By 2000, a 3.6-litre version was available on the Centurion; this new engine variant was the first in the family with more than 200 bhp. It was also the first six-cylinder Albury engine to be exported outside Australia, and the first to be offered to specialist manufacturers across the globe.

In 2005, the engine was updated with direct injection, and a 3.6-liter version (with forged internals) became available. This helped bridge the gap between the 3.0 V6 and V8 variants of the Centurion. However, production of the 3.0-liter version was suspended in 2013 due to low sales, while the 3.6 was updated again that same year, thus making it nearly as efficient as the original port-injected 3.0.

Currently the Albury V6 is only offered in 3.6 form, but the 3.0 could be reintroduced by the fourth quarter of 2016 due to concerns about economy. However, whether or not this will actually happen is uncertain given that V8-powered Centurions make up a significant portion of the model’s sales.

It is expected that the Albury V6 will remain a viable entry-level powerplant for full-size cars until 2020 at the very least. However, since 2013 it has served as the base powerplant for the reborn Starhawk, which could contribute to a further increase in popularity. In addition, in 2016, the economy-focused entry-level 3.0 made a comeback as the base engine for the Centurion and Starhawk.

I have provided a pair of links to the Albury V6 engine families for those in need of a mid-range powerplant suitable for a wide variety of applications. Also, a link to the Albury Straight Six is now available, for those more interested in classic models.

ahertono - Albury V6 Prototype.zip (75.5 KB)

ahertono - Albury Straight Six.zip (124.2 KB)

ahertono - Albury V6.zip (120.2 KB)

The Harris-Albury CGA16 Four: An Engine Born Out Of Necessity

Four-cylinder engines in the Albury lineup have been reserved for entry-level small cars, but until 2007 these were almost all fully imported. However, the obsolescence of the existing engines prompted them to develop a new one from scratch for use by Harris-Albury. The plan was to have it run on regular fuel, and give it an emphasis on economy. That would have been it for the design brief, but after taking over Harris Cars’ abandoned project for a small mid-engined sports car powered by a 1-liter turbo straight-four, the top brass at Albury requested that they use a variant of their own four-cylinder engine. This was a tall order given that a redline of at least 9,000 rpm would be required for this application, but since the engine was oversquare, this would not be much of a problem with the right tuning and bottom end components. The time had come for Albury to spring a surprise on the world… but with a hard-core version of that car imminent, a few minor changes would be needed for that variant.

As used in the CST-16, the new straight-four (codenamed CGA16) developed nearly 200 bhp at 8600 rpm and redlined at 9200 rpm - much higher than even the most exotic contemporary supercars. This was achieved through the use of an extremely aggressive cam profile and CNC-machined bottom-end components, as well as a very high compression ratio. It was still a reliable and economical engine for its type, though.

This transformation is made all the more amazing when you consider that this version was derived from what was basically an economy car engine developing just 105 bhp and with a redline 2700 rpm lower. That variant was very economical, though, even though it was normally aspirated and ran on regular unleaded fuel.

The Cup version of the CST-16 used the same engine tune as the base car, but with two minor differences: the cam profile was slightly more aggressive and a pair of straight-through exhausts were installed. These changes only intensified the intensity present in the 197 version developed specifically for this model.

The base version remained in production until recently, albeit in revised form (and with reduced emissions, plus slightly more power and improved efficiency), and remained normally aspirated due to cost constraints and concerns about real-world economy. Brian Spencer described the two variants rather succinctly: “They were like Jekyll and Hyde. The variant used in our CST-16 was almost unrecognizable compared with the engine it was derived from, what with all the tuning work we did on it, but quite frankly, anything that revs to at least 9,000 rpm, which this engine could (and often did) is a delight for the ears. In fact, I won’t be surprised if someone splices two of them together to create a flat-crank bent-eight with at least twice the power. As for the engine from which it is derived, it defies convention and is all the better for it - our skepticism about real-world mileage with a turbo meant that our job was much simpler.”

Harris eventually bought the rights to this engine, slapped a turbo on it and slotted the resulting inline-four into the RMA-4. Now developing 200 horsepower, it is nevertheless quite efficient and responsive.

For those requiring either an economical straight-four or a race-tuned high-revving one, or even the latest turbo version, I have provided a link to this engine family for download.

ahertono - Harris CGA16 I4.zip (52.6 KB)

Return of the Albury I6: A New Engine for A New Era

After 20 years, Albury Motors decided to replace its venerable V6 with an all-new turbocharged I6 co-developed with Harris Cars Ltd. This new I6 is available in two states of tune: one with 280 horsepower and one with 360 horsepower, with the latter requiring 95RON premium unleaded fuel. It is currently offered in the Albury Centurion and Pilbara, as well as all three of Harris’ premium sedans - the Nimrod, Redoubtable and Conqueror.

In base form, the Harris-Albury I6 is economical, yet sprightly; in its more potent guise, it is a proper torque monster, especially when upgraded.

ahertono - CSR45 - abg7 engine.zip (30.4 KB)