073: The Barra — Indestructible Monster or Overhyped Taxi Engine?
Ford Australia’s straight-six Barra engine enjoys an almost mythical status in many parts of the internet, but is that status justified? This week on Tuned In, we’re talking to The Skid Factory’s Al Butler to get to the bottom of the Barra question, as well as many other topics like turbo-sizing, wastegate location, chopping up ultra-desirable classics, and much more.
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Al Butler, also known as “Turbo Yoda” by many, has spent his life messing around with cars, and after many years as a mechanic and performance workshop owner, Al decided to strike out into the online world by starting a YouTube channel with friend and co-host Woody. The Skid Factory channel now has a quarter of a million subscribers and features the varied custom work that Al gets up to — everything from a blown big block Toyota Crown, to a 1000+hp Barra-powered Bedford van, and even a rare Hakosuka Skyline motivated by a monster Nissan VK56 V8.
In this conversation, we first talk about Al’s background as a long-time mechanic and how the profession has changed dramatically in the last few decades, as well as the types of skills a modern mechanic now needs in order to do his or her job.
Befitting of the “Turbo Yoda” nickname, podcast host Andre Simon and Al then get down into the weeds on all things turbocharging, including turbo sizing for a given application, wastegate location, and the technological advancement that has broadened just what is possible with modern forced induction.
This inevitably brings up the Aussiest of motors — Ford’s highly-regarded Barra 4.0-litre straight six. There’s a lot of talk about this engine and its capabilities online, so we take the opportunity to get the facts and debunk some myths with Al, a guy who has worked on and built countless Barras over the years.
With some great insight into starting and running a YouTube channel as a full-time gig, as well as a breakdown of the internet-famous VK56 Hakosuka built, this episode is going to be a great listen for anyone wanting to step up and out from the grassroots and onto the next level.
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