Mopar Muscle – Go Before Show
Our Muscle Car Mania series highlights some of the most iconic muscle cars in history. Next in line: Mopar.*
Mopar muscle has been respected for decades in classic auto-enthusiast circles. The iconic cars have been reverently dubbed as “go before show” kind of vehicles – letting their engines do most of the talking and adding trim pieces, nose cones, wings, and decals for style. While technically the parts division of Chrysler,* Mopar has shared powertrains across brands like Didge* and Plymouth* to create numerous specialty classics like the Charger Daytona,* Coronet Super Bee,* Roadrunner Superbird,* AAR ‘Cuda,*Scat Pack* and Rapid Transit System* editions.
THE SMALL BLOCKS
Many early Mopar models came equipped with a modest 318-cubic-inch V8, referred to as an LA engine in 1967. These lightweight engines were based upon Chrysler’s low-cost A-series engines. Although not considered the most powerful on the roster, the 318’s cast-iron crank and hydraulic lifters were robust and put out a reliable 230 hp.
Like many V8s in the 1970s, the 318 underwent significant changes and was detuned to run on lower-octane fuel and become more fuel efficient due to the shortages and regulations of the time. These changes continued into the next decade and, in 1985, the 318 received its first roller cam, making it no longer reliant on high-ZDDP motor oil. The Mopar 318 model enjoyed a long life until it was eventually discontinued in the early 2000s.
In 1968, Chrysler introduced a small-block engine built for performance: the Mopar 340. The 340 cubic-inch V8’s larger intake, valves and exhaust manifold, high-flow carburetor, forged-steel crank and high-performance heads together put out 275 hp in a four-barrel configuration, making it a dominating presence from the start. A few years later, the famous 340 “Six-Pack” was born, which featured three 2-barrel carburetors and put out an even higher 290 hp. One of the most famous vehicles with this combination was the AAR ‘Cuda.
THE BIG BLOCKS
For those who wanted big-block engine power, the 383 V8 B-series engine was the standard offering on the B platform of Mopar vehicles. The 383 came equipped with either a standard two-barrel carburetor with 305 hp or a Power Pack version with a high-performance cam, dual exhaust and a four-barrel carburetor that produced 330 hp. If your lucky, you might even come across a 383 with a cross ram intake – one of the unique engineering designs from Mopar. Although only offered for five years, the Mopar 383 saw an almost 20 percent drop in compression ratios and subsequent horsepower declines due to the changing regulations before it was discontinued in 1971.
Mopar’s holy grail engine might be the 426 Hemi. Introduced as a race-only engine, Mopar accomplished the unimaginable in 1964 at the Daytona 500 by sweeping the top four spots with four 426 Hemi-powered vehicles. Such a feat even led NASCAR to modify some of its rules in order to level future playing fields. It’s no surprise with that sort of record that the 426 became one of the most sought-after classic cars under the Mopar brand. After dominating performances on the track, the Hemi 426 was released to the public in 1965 as a street Hemi” and was reserved for Dodge and Plymouth models. It still maintained its impressive 425 hp and 490 lb.-ft. of torque even after its race modifications were removed.
In 2006 the Mopar name started to make a comeback. Dodge relaunched the Charger* and Challenger* models with 5.7L Hemi V8 engines, and since then the two have seen countless special editions and power additions like the 6.4L 392 Apache*, the 6.2L SRT Hellcat* and the 6.2L Demon.*
More recently, Mopar has been working on development of the 426 Hemi Hellephant,* which pays homage to the classic 426 Hemi, but with an added supercharger to boost out a whopping 1,000 hp and 950 lb.-ft. of torque. While right now it’s only a crate engine, we’ll have to wait and see what Mopar has planned for its future.
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