Chevrolet 153 4-cylinder engine

The Chevrolet 153 cu in engine was an inline-four engine designed in the early 1960s for use in the Chevy II. It is a four-cylinder variant of the third generation Chevrolet straight-six. After 1970 GM ceased production of the 153 engine in North America because of low demand (and the inline-six was thereafter made the base engine in the Nova), but the engine continued to be used in cars in other markets around the world, notably South Africa and Brazil. The engine was also standard equipment in the Jeep DJ-5A—used by the United States Postal Service—until American Motors bought Kaiser Jeep in 1970 and replaced the engine with the AMC straight-six in the DJ-5B. Currently descendants of the 153 engine are used in industrial (e.g. forklifts and generators) and marine applications. The 153 engine is entirely different from the 151 cu in (2.5 L) Iron Duke engine introduced by Pontiac in 1977, most noticeably never having featured the Pontiac engine's crossflow cylinder head, but the two are often confused today.

Chevrolet 153 4-cylinder engine
General Motors do Brasil
General Motors South Africa
ConfigurationInline-four engine
  • 119.6 cu in (1,960 cc) (South Africa)
  • 141.5 cu in (2,319 cc) (South Africa)
  • 150.8 cu in (2,471 cc) (Brazil)
  • 153.3 cu in (2,512 cc)
  • 181.0 cu in (2,966 cc) (industrial/marine)
Cylinder bore
  • 3 916 in (90.5 mm)
  • 3 78 in (98.4 mm)
  • 4 in (101.60 mm)
Piston stroke
  • 3 in (76.2 mm)
  • 3 14 in (82.6 mm)
  • 3.60 in (91.44 mm)
Block materialCast iron
Head materialCast iron
ValvetrainOHV 2 valves x cyl.
Fuel systemCarburetor
Multipoint fuel injection (Vortec 3000)
Fuel typeGasoline
Ethanol (Brazil)
Cooling systemWater-cooled


The compact Chevrolet Corvair was introduced in 1960 to compete with the Ford Falcon and Plymouth Valiant, but was handily outsold by its competitors. Fearing the Corvair's more radical engineering (featuring a rear-mounted air-cooled flat-six engine) was not appealing to consumers GM hastily approved the design of a new, more conventional compact car to compete with the Falcon and Valiant. Within 18 months the design of the Chevy II was completed, including new 153 cu in (2,512 cc) four-cylinder and 194 cu in (3,185 cc) six-cylinder engines to power it.

The 153 cu in engine had a 3 78-inch (98 mm) bore and 3 14-inch (82.6 mm) stroke, with two overhead valves per cylinder actuated by pushrods and a 1-3-4-2 firing order. The Chevy II's 194 cu in six-cylinder used a 3 916-inch (90.5 mm) bore, which by 1964 was enlarged to match the 153 four-cylinder's resulting in a displacement of 230 cu in (3,768 cc). The 230 cu in six and 153 cu in four are thus essentially the same design, differing only in cylinder count.


The 153 engine was used by GM do Brasil in their first locally-made product, the 1968 Chevrolet Opala. In 1973 the Brazilian engineers redesigned the engine in order to quell vibrations, decreasing the stroke to 3 inches (76 mm) and increasing the connecting rod lengths to 6 inches (150 mm).[1] To keep the power output similar to the 153 they correspondingly increased the bore to 4 inches (100 mm), resulting in 151 cu in (2,471 cc) displacement. This 2,471 cc variant of the engine was in production in the Opala until 1992. Coincidentally the bore and stroke are the exact same as the Pontiac Iron Duke engine introduced in North America in 1977, but the two engines are otherwise unrelated and do not share parts.[1] As is customary in Brazil the engine was refit to accept ethanol fuel.

South AfricaEdit

This engine was a mainstay for GMSA, who built it in their Aloes Plant (on the northern edge of Port Elizabeth) for installation in a wide range of cars. Two smaller displacement versions of this engine were also built there: a 2,319 cc (141.5 cu in) variant using the 153's bore and the Brazilian 151 cu in engine's 3-inch (76.2 mm) stroke[2], and a 1,960 cc (119.6 cu in) variant which used the 153's stroke and the 194 cu in six-cylinder's 3 916-inch (90.5 mm) bore.[3] The engine was also used by the SADF in the Eland armoured car from the Mk. 5 upgrade.


Vortec 3000Edit

GM produced a variant of the 153 for use in industrial and marine applications, with the Brazilian version's larger 4-inch (101.6 mm) bore and a longer 3.6-inch (91.4 mm) stroke. The resulting 3.0 L (181 cu in) engine, branded the Vortec 3000, was never installed in passenger cars. The Vortec 3000 is manufactured in Mexico where 1992-to-present engines have a one-piece rear seal similar to the one used with the Chevrolet small-block and 90-degree V6 (the flywheel bolt pattern for the later-production 3-liter does not interchange with the earlier 153 or 181 which uses the small-block and inline-six's 3.58-inch bolt-circle, and does not use the 1986-present one-piece rear-seal flywheels since the bolt pattern is larger).[citation needed]

Later variants of the Vortec 3000 had modified cylinder heads where machined bosses were drilled for use with multipoint fuel injection.


  1. ^ a b Sawruk, John M. (26–30 September 1977). Pontiac's New 2.5 Litre 4 Cylinder Engine (PDF). Society of Automotive Engineers: Passenger Car Meeting. Detroit. pp. 1–2. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 February 2018. Retrieved 10 August 2019.CS1 maint: date format (link)
  2. ^ a b c Mastrostefano, Raffaele, ed. (1985). Quattroruote: Tutte le Auto del Mondo 1985 (in Italian). Milano: Editoriale Domus S.p.A. p. 186. ISBN 88-7212-012-8.
  3. ^ a b Freund, Klaus, ed. (August 1979). Auto Katalog 1980 (in German). 23. Stuttgart: Vereinigte Motor-Verlage GmbH & Co. KG. pp. 128, 226–227.