Meet the Aussies' 4.0-liter answer to the Toyota 2JZ-GTE.
Let's open this with two questions. What is a Barra engine, and why are Australians so fond of it? Ford Australia worked with Tickford Vehicle Engineering to develop a replacement for the Ford Falcon's 4.0-liter single overhead cam (SOHC) engine and came up with the Ford Barra. Ford launched the Barra inline-six engine in 2002, and tuners quickly discovered it could take a lot of extra horsepower without strengthening internal parts. When Australians start taking Ford engined and swapping them into Holden cars, you know it's special. These two camps have a rivalry that can put import and domestic squabbles to shame. The Barra engine is one of these transcendent engines.
We'll exclusively be talking about the six-cylinder Barra motor here. The inline-six Barra shouldn't be confused with the V8 Barra engine based on the Ford modular engine built in Ontario, Canada. Aussie tuners prefer the less expensive yearly registration fees that come with fewer cylinders, and the turbocharged inline-six makes more power.
When the Barra engine was developed, Ford built it upon the tried-and-tested bottom end of the Ford Falcon's 4.0-liter SOHC engine. The Barra engine has a dual overhead cam (DOHC) setup with Variable Cam Timing but keeps its 4.0 liters of displacement. There are three naturally aspirated versions of the engine; the Barra 182, Barra 190, and Barra 195. From the factory, they made 244 horsepower, 255 hp, and 261 hp, respectively. The first two Barra engines made 282 lb-ft of torque, while the Barra 195 had 288 lb-ft of twist. The turbocharged version also arrived in 2002 with 322 hp, while the most potent factory version, the Barra 325T, makes a mighty 436 hp with 425 lb-ft of torque.
While the Barra engine's horsepower numbers out of the box are great, the internals can take a huge amount of strain. That's demonstrated by the fact that when Ford turbocharged the Barra, it didn't replace internal parts with forged items. According to enthusiasts that have taken the engine to breaking point, it can be pushed to around 800 hp before upgraded parts in the bottom end are required. See why it's the Aussie 2JZ-GTE? With that strength comes reliability, and the Barra is known to go 250,000 miles plus in stock form without any major problems. That makes it an excellent choice for just about all disciplines anywhere between off-roading and drag racing. And because of all that, a huge aftermarket industry has evolved around the Barra, including conversion kits for engine swaps.
We wondered what cars had the Ford Barra engine from the factory other than the (sadly now defunct) Falcon; we couldn't find many. However, along with the last generations of the mundane Fairlane and LTD cars and Territory SUV, the Barra engine served in fleets, including taxis, powered by Liquid Propane Gas (LPG). Unfortunately, the Barra engine went out of production in 2016, and the engine isn't as easy to come by as it was. Plenty out there need a rebuild, which isn't a costly proposition, but finding an untouched low-mileage one that tuners haven't snapped up is becoming harder now. As it's a six-cylinder engine, its popularity with tuners is immense. Still, Ford Barra crate engines were never popular, as racers in Australia tend to base their cars around a V8.
It's a pity that Ford didn't bring the Barra engine here to the US, since something to fill the hole left by the legendary Toyota 2JZ that departed in the 2000s would surely have been embraced by tuners. But it's not all doom and gloom. You can find a Ford Barra engine for sale in the US from importers, and people have built cars here using the Barra engine. After all, fitting a 2JZ into a Mustang would be just wrong and it's a little easier to overnight parts from Australia than Japan. However, the Barra is a little heavier than the 2JZ. The Barra engine weight is around 525 pounds while a 2JZ comes in around 440 pounds. One of the most famous examples of an American Barra-powered car is YouTuber Adam LZ's Mustang Shelby GT350 swap.
When it comes to an Australian-developed engine, the Barra is the finest example we know of. Regardless of where your particular favorite straight-six turbo engine is made, nobody can deny that the Barra is one of the best straight-sixes built yet. In its base naturally aspirated form, it's solid and tunable for just about any use, including off-roading. For people that just want to drive their car, the Ford Falcon XR6 Turbo was one of Australia's finest sports sedans and came with rear-wheel-drive, European-tuned suspension, and over 400 hp on tap. It's the kind of car we've missed from Ford for a long time.
With the ability to go to 800 hp without forged parts, the Barra engine can be tuned to suit any build. With forged parts, the sky seems to be the limit power-wise. To demonstrate that, drag racer Maria Passo recently laid down 2,048 hp to the wheels with his methanol-drinking street-spec car while using forged parts in the stock bottom end. It's also an ode to Australia's love affair with power, which can't be tempered by adding taxes to cylinders on cars, anti-hoon laws, or whatever the latest stupid regulation Aussie politicians try to enact is.