by Rogério Ferraresi • Courtesy Rod & Custom magazine
Willys’ post-war engines for its new civilian Jeep line began with its existing flat-head 134-cubic-inch four-cylinder — the “Go-Devil” engine pumping out 60 hp (SAE gross).
Two years later, with the Jeepster (sports version of the Jeep), came the “Lightning” 148-cubic-inch straight-six, the “big brother” of the “Go-Devil.” It was also a flat-head but with six cylinders and 70 hp; a slightly larger 161 cid version started up in 1950, producing 75 hp.
Also in 1950, Willys started making a new version of the four-cylinder, the “Hurricane” engine, with 134 cubic inches and 72 horsepower. Improvements included intake valves in the head (to maintain heat) and exhaust valves in the block (to keep them cool).
In 1952, Willys started making the F6 -161 engine, designed by Barney Ross, also identified as the 685 or Willys “Hurricane.” This six cylinder pumped out 90 hp and was used in the new Aero Eagle and Aero Ace. The Hurricane Six was also used in the Woodill Wildfire, an athletic-looking, fiberglass-bodied sports car body used by Tony Curtis in the movie “Johnny Dark.”
In 1954, one year after being absorbed by Kaiser, the company introduced a flathead L6-226, producing 115 hp and known as “Super Hurricane” and “Supersonic” in Jeep literature.
The Brazilian subsidiary of Willys was founded on August 26, 1952, and four years later it began building the engine block BF 161 in Taubaté, to equip the local Jeeps.
Displacing 2600 cc (161 cid), these “Hurricane Six” engines had a single-barrel carburetor and developed 90 hp ( SAE) at 4,000 rpm.
The engine was put into cars in São Bernardo do Campo, SP, the Willys plant inaugurated on March 7, 1958.
The BF 161 was the first Brazilian motor used in a racing car — the Eclipse Special, built by Antonio Santilli at Retífica Eclipse, a machine shop that still exists in Lapa, Sao Paulo. This single-seater premiered at the 500 km Interlagos race in 1958, piloted by Waldomiro Nunes and Ivair Bombardi. The first car had the word “Hurricane” misspelled on the intake manifold; it was later replaced by the phrase “Fundido em Taubaté" (“Made in Taubaté”).
With the launch of the Aero Willys 2600 in late 1962, the engine was enhanced and built up 110 horsepower at 4,200 rpm, thanks to changes in ignition timing and the use of new cylinder head, intake manifold, exhaust (resized, type 3x2), and dual Zenith carburetion (for large fleets was still possible to buy the car with just one carburetor).
In 1962, Kaiser Jeep (internationally) began making Jeeps with an engine designed by A. C. Sampietro, who had worked with the Nash Healey sports car; the “Tornado” overhead-cam 230 cid, 140-hp six-cylinder retired both the old Lightning and Hurricane engines.
In 1966, with the release of the Itamaraty (luxury Aero Willys 2600), came the 3000 engine with 110 more horsepower; it used an alternator in place of the generator to produce far more power at low speeds. The 3000 was bored out, with more efficient rings (and the oil ring expander type, with two segments scrapers), connecting rod and piston pin floating sandwiching (thus eliminating the screws that held the rods), and bushings in the three camshaft bearings. It had a different crankshaft and connecting rods than the 2.6 liter.
In 1967, the Itamaraty engine was changed again, with a new intake manifold, swapping the dual carburetors for a single two-barrel carburetor (the DFV 444, also used by the Galaxie 500), and jumping to 132 hp. The 3-liter became optional in the Rural (Jeep Station Wagon) in 1967, standard in special utilities made in 1970.
When Ford bought Willys, its power dynamometers were “reassessed,” and the cars “won” 10 hp without any changes. The Willys cars were made until 1971, but its engine continued to be used in Rural and Jeeps. Furthermore, Ford began to adapt the 3000 to use in the Maverick.
Willys engine crankcase oil was not fully filtered; Ford developed a new full flow oil pump. Pistons, bearings , bearings , rings , valves , cylinder head, water pump, and other parts were also modified. Ford even created a water gallery for the sixth cylinder.
Considering that the Itamaraty was the most expensive model of Willys (whose fuel consumption was irrelevant), Ford replaced the intake manifold to use a single barrel carburetor. Compression was lowered from 8.1:1 to 7.7:1, reducing power (now 112 hp). It was “renamed” to 184, its displacement in cubic inches .
In mid-1975, Ford stopped producing the Willys engine, replacing it with a modern overhead-cam four -cylinder of 2.3 liters and 99 hp, not only in Maverick but also in the Jeep and Rural.
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