The History of the Detroit Diesel 6-71 TIB

by Evan Gillespie
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Produced from the 1930s to the 1990s, Detroit Diesel's Series 71 engine is one of the most persistent diesel engine designs ever developed. Originally conceived as a highway-capable alternative to General Motors' large locomotive diesel engines, the Series 71 proved itself to be worthy of use in a multitude of marine, industrial and military applications.

Company History

General Motors' entry into the development of diesel engines began in 1930, when the company acquired Winton Engines -- a maker of marine diesel engines -- and Electro-Motive Engineering, a manufacturer of diesel-powered railroad locomotive engines. GM's locomotive engine business was quickly successful, and the company established its Detroit Diesel Engine Division in 1937 to begin development of smaller engines for industrial and marine applications. The division continued to produce engines for GM through the post-war years, and in 1970 it was merged with the company's Allison division. Declining sales in the 1980s led GM to look for a buyer for Detroit Diesel, and controlling interest in the company was acquired by Roger Penske's Penske Corporation in 1988.

Series 71 Origins

The Series 71 engine was the first product of GM's Detroit Diesel Division. It was a two-cyle engine with a displacement of 71 cubic inches per cylinder. Initially intended to be used in GM's trucks and buses, the engine was also designed to take advantage of a variety of manifolds, mountings, generators and transmissions, allowing it to be used in a wide range of marine and industrial applications. When the United States entered World War II, the Series 71 was adapted for use in marine landing craft and tanks, as well as many other military applications.


The Series 71 proved to be extremely versatile. It was used in industrial applications such as power generation, refrigeration and pumping, and in marine contexts it was often used for ships services power and for propulsion in small tugboats and workboats. After World War II, Detroit Diesel introduced versions of the engine that could be used in highway trucks.


Series 71 engines were produced in one-, two-, three-, four- and six-cylinder versions, all in in-line configurations. In the 1950s, Series 71 engines in V configurations were introduced in six-, eight-, 12- and 16-cylinder versions. The engine's configuration is indicated in its name, so a 6-71 is an in-line six-cylinder engine, while a 6V-71 is a V-6. Suffixes appended to the name indicate when an engine is equipped with turbochargers, intercoolers or Roots-type blowers; a 6-71TIB engine features all of this equipment.

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