Holden V8



The Holden V8 was a V8 engine produced by General Motors–Holden in Australia between 1969 and 2000. The Holden 'bent eight' was the first and only Australian-designed and built V8 engine to be produced in volume. More than 541,000 Holden V8s were produced over a 30-year period.

The home grownV8 was first exhibited in the futuristic Holden Hurricane concept car and 1969 HT model buyers could choose between 253 cubic inch (4.2 litre) and 308 cubic inch (5.0 litre) versions, which were promoted for their caravan-towing torque.

The engine was used initially in the Kingswood and Monaro model ranges; it was later utilised in the Torana and Commodore ranges. The final iteration, the HEC 5000i, was phased out in the VT I Commodore in 1999, replaced by the imported American GM-Powertrain Gen III V8. The engine continued briefly in the VS III Commodore utility which continued to be sold alongside the VT model until the VT/X-based Holden Ute referred to as the VU series debuted in 2000.

In addition to being Holden's mainstream performance engine throughout its production run, it was also a popular powerplant for kit cars and specials as well as for motorsport in Holden's efforts in the Australian Touring Car Championship and the Bathurst 1000 right up until 1995. Australian company Repco developed and built the Repco-Holden Formula 5000 engine for Formula 5000 and other racing applications using the block and head castings of the Holden 308 V8 as its basis. The engine featured many modifications including Lucas fuel injection and dual coil Bosch ignition and more than 150 special components designed by Repco.


Initially offered in 253-cubic-inch (4.2 L) and 308-cubic-inch (5.0 L) versions, the engines were intended to be offered on the 1968 HK versions of the new Kingswood ranges but the project ran behind schedule. The success of Ford Australia's 289 ci V8 powered XR Falcon GT - in particular the publicity that followed the cars success at the 1967 Gallaher 500 - saw the V8 added to the plans for the forthcoming coupe adaptation of the HK Kingswood, to be known as the Monaro and the luxury version of the Kingswood, the Brougham, and the utility panel vans. The engine was offered as part of the Kingswood/Monaro model ranges, alongside the 350 ci (5.7 L) Chevrolet Small-Block engine throughout their combined lives which came to an end in 1980.

The engine also appeared from 1971 in the Statesman range of large size luxury cars which Holden established as a separate marque, replacing the Holden badged Brougham. In 1974 the engines were added to the new larger LH Torana range and was offered as well on the LX model range, but not the final UC range which appeared in 1978.

Both engine capacities were offered on the first Commodores which appeared in 1978. The 253 ci version was dropped in 1984 and was not offered in the VK model range. At the same time the special editions modified by Holden's official after-market tuner, Holden Dealer Team began introducing the 304 ci (4.9 L) version of the engine, created to slip underneath the 5000 cc engine capacity cut-off in Group A touring car regulations, allowing Commodore competitors to run at a lower competition weight.

A re-engineered 'unleaded' Holden V8 was introduced in 1986. Approval to build a fuel-injected concept engine had been given in 1985 and the first limited production of this significantly upgraded version powered the VL Group A Commodore in 1989. Much more powerful and fuel efficient than its carburettor-fed predecessor, the fuel-injected V8 went into volume production with the release of the VN Commodore range in 1989 with Group A touring car racing in mind, this car produced by replacement after-market tuner Holden Special Vehicles (HSV). While Group A disappeared after the VN model range, the fuel injected 304 engine was offered in Commodores right up until the VS III Commodore utility.


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308 V8 Holden Calais (1988-1991 VN series)

The 253/308 was actually a Pontiac in disguise there where no interchageable parts from the "307/327/350" chev series.
Iit had the Pontiac firing order.
It was designed as a RHD engine with the starter on the LH side. integral oil pump and filter housing on the LH front of the cover that also had an integral water pump for reduced length as the "Kingswood" at time was a narrow chassis design and packaging the 307/350 was to hard.
The crank was common 3.0625 stroke with 3.625 dia pistons for the 253/4.2 and 4.000 dia for the 308/5.1.
Rods where 5.625" lg. the 253 used 5/16 bolts and the 308 used 3/8 bolts.
Main and rod bearings where peculiar to this engine.


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308 V8 Holden cut-away
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308 V8 Holden cut-away
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308 V8 Holden cut-away
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308 V8 Holden cut-away

How do I tell the difference inbetween a 253 and 308 engine?:

There are several external differences inbetween the 253 and 308 engine,other than the internal differences ie..bore size,crankshaft counterweights etc etc. Visually it can be quite difficult to ascertain which is the 308 and which is the 253. The following details are provided so the user can denote quickly as to what motor they are looking at.(as most people will get abit shitty if you start to pull the engine apart in front of them!!)

  1. Manifold- the first difference visually is manifold design, the 253 engine comes with a 2 barrell inlet manifold, with a WW stromberg carburettor, except for Commodores VC onwards and WB Holdens which have a rejetted 4bbl Quadrajet, The 308 engine comes with a 4 barrell inlet manifold and a rochester Quadrajet carburettor, however a common modification is to use a 308 manifold on a 253 engine. so further inspection is always a must.
  2. Engine_Prefixes- This is the fool-proof method on checking whether or not you are looking at a 253 or 308 engine, this is assuming that they visually look the same. The Engine Prefixes are different.
  3. Check the block- The "308 or "253" is cast into the engine block on the starter motor side of the engine(passenger side)you may have to get a little dirty and often it is extremley difficult to find the stamped "308" or "253" on the side of the engine block due to extractors, starter motor, engine wiring harnesses etc.
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253 Holden V8
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253 Holden V8
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253 casting on engine block
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308 Holden V8
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308 casting on engine block

Holden 253-308 V8 Powered Vehicles

  • 1969 HT Holden (Kingswood, Premier,Statesman) (253,308)
  • 1970 HG Holden (Kingswood, Premier,Statesman) (253,308)
  • 1971 HQ Holden (Kingswood, Premier,Statesman) (253,308)
  • 1974 HJ Holden (Kingswood, Premier,Statesman) (253,308)
  • 1974 LH Torana SL/R 5000 (308)
  • 1974 LH Torana L34 (308)
  • 1976 HX Holden (Kingswood, Premier,Statesman) (253,308)
  • 1977 HZ Holden (Kingswood, Premier,Statesman) (253,308)
  • 1978 VB Comodore (253,308)
  • 1980 VC Commodore (253,308)
  • 1981 VH Commodore (253,308)
  • 1984 VK Commodore (308)
  • 1985 VK Commodore (304)
  • 1986 VL Comodore (308)
  • 1988 VN Commodore (308)
  • 1991 VP Commodore (308)
  • 1995 VR Commodore (308)
  • 1997 VT Commodore (308)
  • 2000 VU Commodore Ute (308)