The 5 Best Mopar V8 Engines of All-Time
Chrysler has blessed the world with some of the most exciting V8 engines of all time. Whether it's the classic muscle car Hemi or the more modern supercharged Hellcat, Mopar has never been afraid to unfurl the eight-cylinder banner.
Which Chrysler, Dodge, and Plymouth V8 engines stand out in the histories of their respective automakers? Here are the 5 best Mopar V8s of all time.
413/426 Max Wedge
The RB series of engines—so named after their 'raised block'—originated as a cheaper-to-produce alternative to the early hemi-headed motors favored by Chrysler's performance cars in the 1950s. Moving to a wedge-shaped combustion chamber allowed for a less complicated, but still potent formula that first found expression in the 413 cubic inch 'Max Wedge' motor in 1962.
Rated at 420 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque, the Max Wedge was an instant sensation on the drag strip and boulevard alike. Dual quad carburetors, a cross-ram intake, and easy-breathing ports and valves helped feed the engine's forged internals.
The following year the Max Wedge was given a displacement boost to 426 cubic inches, which was good for another 15 to 25 hp, depending on how the engine was ordered. The Wedge was one of the rowdiest Mopar V8 motors ever built, with its aggressive cam and octane-seeking compression ratio of up to 13.5:1, and it forced both Ford and General Motors to get serious about its factory-backed NHRA drag teams (and in making those quarter mile improvements available to the average buyer).
Recognizing that new technology allowed for the design of an engine that was just as potent as the Max Wedge but much more refined in daily operation, Chrysler created one of the most famous of its RB big blocks by boring out its existing 383 cubic inch engine to a healthy 440 cubic inches.
Arriving in 1966, the 440 was good for 375 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque, numbers that grew to 390 hp and 490 lb-ft with the addition of Mopar's 'Six-Pack' triple-carb setup. Not only was the 440 mighty, but it was also reasonably affordable, at least compared with the 426 Hemi grabbing headlines at the time.
Chrysler put the 440 in nearly anything it built from the mid-size segment on up, and it helped to fuel the golden era of the muscle car by appearing under the hoods of vehicles like the Dodge Charger, the Plymouth 'Cuda, and the Plymouth GTX and Road Runner. Once that chapter had closed, the 440 lived on for several years motivating full-size sedans as well as trucks and vans grateful for its gobs of low-end torque.
The 426 cubic inch Hemi is the V8 Mopar motor that solidified the brand's legend as an iconic muscle car builder. Just as important, it served as the backbone of Plymouth and Dodge's motorsports efforts in the 1960s, dominating NASCAR and NHRA competition almost from the moment it arrived in the middle of that decade.
The secret to the Hemi's power were its hemispherical heads, a redux of a concept Chrysler had explored the previous decade. The new motor maintained the 58.5 degree valve positioning of the original motor, but punched out its displacement, deck height, and bore spacing to make it one the largest and heaviest motors on the market.
Street versions dialed down the aggressiveness of the camshaft but kept the same internal components as the race motors, and featured a dual-quad carburetor setup, 10.25:1 compression, and traditional exhaust manifolds. Horsepower was advertised at 425 (along with 490 lb-ft of torque), but dynos of the day pushed that number much closer to 450 hp, with Chrysler keeping actual output under wraps for fear of upsetting insurance companies.
The 426 Hemi enjoyed a brief moment in the sun, lasting until the 1971 model year in the Charger, GTX, 'Cuda, Super Bee, Belvedere, Superbird, Challenger, and Charger Daytona product line-ups. A rare choice due to its cost, it's since become the most sought-after Mopar V8 among collectors.
Chrysler decided to revive the Hemi name for its new overheard valve V8 design in the early 2000s. Despite fudging the details somewhat—combustion chambers in the new 'Hemi' heads aren't quite a match for the rounded domes of the 1950s and '60s—power output on these modern motors is impressive.
Early versions of the motor, which displaced 5.7L (or 345 cubic inches to use old school terminology), were good for up to 345 hp, with some versions of the motor pushing out 390 lb-ft of torque. For some motors, these numbers jumped to over 390 hp and pushed past 400 lb-ft of torque after a 2009 redesign.
The 5.7L Hemi is notable for its dual-plug setup, the introduction of variable camshaft timing and variable displacement technology, as well as being compatible with a 48-volt 'eTorque' mild hybrid system on the latest editions. A versatile and long-lasting engine, it has proven to be a mainstay not just in the Charger and Challenger muscle cars, but also Ram trucks and Jeep SUVs.
The ultimate evolution of the modern Hemi engine is the 6.2L Hellcat V8. This supercharged monstrosity has been tuned to produce between 707 hp and 840 hp over its near-decade on the market, with torque peaking at a terrific 650 lb-ft.
Similar in design to the 6.4L Hemi motor found in other SRT products, the Hellcat benefits from not just additional displacement but a lower compression ratio of 9.5:1 to help it accommodate the 11.6 psi of boost from its 2.4L twin-screw supercharger. A special 'Demon' version of this motor, featuring 60 percent redesigned parts as well as a 2.7L supercharger, was able to make the jump from 707 hp to 840 hp (on 100 octane fuel) a few years after the Hellcat's introduction. This larger supercharger stuck around for the 797 hp 'Redeye' version of the V8 that followed the Demon onto the market.
The most aggressive mic drop in decades of high performance V8 engineering, the Hellcat is a modern classic that has no peer on the street at its price. It's been deployed across nearly the entire Chrysler line-up, finding a home not just in the Charger and the Challenger, but also the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, the Ram 1500 TRX, and the Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat.