Mercedes 300SL - Front

These Are The Sickest Straight-Six Engined Cars Ever Made

It is 2022, and inline-six engines are gaining the popularity they deserve—plaudits to BMW, who never stopped using these powerplants. Many manufacturers who had abandoned the long engine format are bringing it back into the fold. Jaguar Land Rover just debuted two inline-six mild-hybrid engines to replace the aging V6 and power the new F-Pace 400 and 300 Sport SUVs. Mercedes is phasing out the V6 and returning to a turbocharged straight-six engine since ditching it in 199, and the new one will power the CLS 53 AMG, AMG E53, and CLS450 4Matic cars. So, what makes the Inline-six motors so attractive?



They are more refined than a V6 engine of similar displacement and are more balanced during the combustion and induction strokes. Also, they allow more effective fitment of performance-enhancing features like turbos and supercharges in the engine bay compared to the bigger V8s. The straight-sixes have served as the beating heart of many a great car throughout automotive history.

9 Toyota Supra MK4

The legendary 2JZ-GTE powerplant in the MK4 Supra is one of the best straight six engines ever built and a tuner’s delight. Strength was key, and Toyota over-engineered the cast-iron block with a closed engine design. This lets tuners inject massive amounts of boost on the stock internals.

The long-lasting engine is one of the factors that make the car special. With 3-liters capacity and sequential turbos, the fourth generation Supra pushed 321 ponies and 315lb-ft of torque and could sprint to 60mph in 4.7 seconds, making it one of the fastest cars in its class.

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8 Chevrolet Corvette C1

The infamous 235 engine features in Chevy’s lineup of iconic straight six motors. It powered many GMC trucks and Chevy cars, and many of the classic Chevy vehicles on the road today have this engine under the hood. Arguably the 235’s best application was in the first-generation Corvette.

The Blue Flame on the first Corvette came in 3.9-liters making 150hp in 1953. Also, the car came in limited, with only 300 copies leaving Chevrolet factories. They were handmade with evolving techniques, meaning each car differed slightly from the other. The engine is very reliable; today, 200 hundred original copies are still operational.

7 Mercedes Benz 300SL

The Mercedes-Benz 300SL stands a big chance of winning the most beautiful classic car contest. Also, it is among the most coveted collectors’ items. According to Hagerty, the alloy-bodied version is the holy grail among the Gullwings, and one in mint condition has an average value of $6.7 million.

While the gullwing doors are at the center of the car’s design, the M198 3-liter straight-six heart gave the car exceptional speed, making it one of the most competitive cars of its day and among the most impressive German sports cars ever. Producing 240 ponies is still impressive by today’s standards, and the cars have proven surprisingly reliable.

6 Nissan Fairlady Z 432

In the States, the Fairlady Z famously goes by 240Z and is one of the most iconic Nissan cars ever built. It exploded onto the market in 1969 and helped change the American attitude towards Japanese cars. The car found its way into the motorsport world, became an instant hit with privateer racing teams, and shone on treacherous rally stages.

Its success is partly thanks to the potent S20 straight-six engine borrowed from the dominant Skyline GT-R. The 432R remains Nissan’s most hardcore homologation special built for the Japanese Automobile Federation’s GT Prototype. It is comparable to the original 1967 Porsche 911 R.

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5 Toyota 2000GT

The Toyota 2000GT was the first supercar to come out of Japan, and the legendary sports car is a rare and genuine collector’s item with 351 copies. According to Bring a Trailer, Toyota built only 109 left-handed copies for export, with only 54 originally finding their way Stateside. It proved Japan could make good-looking sports cars that could give European exotics a run for their money.

It was one of the most exciting and enjoyable cars to drive. At the heart of the 2000GT was the 1988cc inline-six engine producing 148 hp and 129lb-ft mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. These numbers aren’t impressive today, but the Yamaha co-developed engine remains a piece of art.

4 Nissan Skyline GT-R

We’ve mentioned the S20 engine featured on the Fairlady and the legendary Skyline 2000GT-R, which won an incredible 49 consecutive races between 1969 and 1971. But this is just one of several sixes built by Nissan. The RB26DETT motor is another straight-six masterpiece by the Yokohama-based automaker.

Nissan produced the RB engine between 1985 and 2004, but it peaked when deployed in the R32 Skyline GT-R in the 2,568cc 26DETT guise featuring factory-installed twin-turbo forced induction. The GT-R showcased the engine’s capabilities through its exploits in Group A racing. Nissan used improved versions of the engine in the R33 and R34, and they are a darling among tuners.

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3 Jaguar D-Type & XK-SS

The early to mid-fifties were a golden period for Jaguar as they dominated the history 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race. The legend began when the C-Type won the 1951 and 1953 races, followed by D-Type’s wins in 55, 56, and 57. These two racers shared one thing in common with the E-Type and the road-going D-Type, the XK-SS.

They all featured versions of the versatile XK6 crossflow DOHC Straight-six motor. Jaguar built only 25 copies of the XK-SS, with nine cars reserved for export to the States dying in a tragic fire at the factory. Over 60 years later, Jaguar is building the nine cars following the exact specifications of the original, showing the car’s greatness.

2 TVR Sagaris & Tuscan Speed Six

TVR is yet another automaker to adore the straight-six engines. They have several lightweight and powerful sports cars in their lineup, including the Typhoon, Chimaera, Sagaris, Cerbera, and their latest creation, the TVR Griffith. But the British outfit showed great ambition by naming their 4-liter straight six engines after the legendary and innovative Le Mans champion, the 6.5-liter Bentley Speed Six.

The Speed Six produced 400hp and 349lb-ft of torque and featured on the Sagaris, Tuscan, and Typhoon models.

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1 BMW M3 Competition

This list would be incomplete without a Beamer since the German automaker has faithfully remained royal to the straight-six configuration. They’ve deployed this engine configuration on many iconic performance heroes, from their only mid-engined car, the M1, to the E28 M5 of the 80s and the E46 M3.

Perhaps their best interpretation of the engine is in their latest models. The new M3’s high-revving S58 motor has proven highly effective even in the new X3 with the M badge. Its best application has to be in the M3 Competition, where it makes 503hp and 479lb-ft of torque, turning the latest iteration of the M3 the most powerful and fastest yet.

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