No Limits Magazine from Wild About Cars
Profiling High Performance Cars and the Golden Era of Detroit Iron
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Monday April 14, 2014
Chevy 396 BB Exposed, '63 Olds Jetfire, '63 300J, & '65 Vette 396 Tests, '03 Corvette Conversion, David Payton's 1936 Ford - and More!

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Today's Story -
Part 1: Introduction of the Chevrolet Mark IV V8 at 396 Cubic Inches
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The Mark IV 396 intro Photograph by Chevrolet in 1965. The intro engine made 425 horsepower - and it wasn't over-rated!

From Beginning to End

The 396 with the valve covers removed - you can clearly
see the canted valve configuration.

The 396 425 HP engine was very sturdy. Not the 4-bolt
mains and hefty main webs.

by Wild About Cars Staff - reprint with permission only.

To recap, the predecessor "W" series 348-427 V8 was designed in anticipation of the larger and heavier cars & trucks that Chevrolet had in the pipeline in the late 50s and early 60s. But the "W" engine had one big drawback, the combustion chamber was in the block, resulting in lots of torque but that configuration made it unhappy at higher rpm.

Chevrolet's answer was to build a "test" motor called the Canted Valve V8 (Hot Rod Magazine labeled it the "Mystery engine, not Chevrolet) which, when it was released in 1963, was more "W" series 409-427 than anything else, using a modified 409 block and special heads that were unique, yet similar in design to the engine we are going to talk about today – the Mark IV 396-454.

First, let's clear one thing up; the Mark IV ("Rat Motor") was a whole new design that borrowed the concept of the "Mystery" 427 motor, but came from a clean sheet of paper. Some of the components in the Mystery motor can directly exchange in a "W" series engine, but nothing can directly exchange between the Mystery motor and the Mark IV.

All that being said, it was the astounding results from the Mystery motor's one shot in the Daytona 500 and some pre race testing that convinced the Chevrolet brass to come up with the Mark IV. While GM wasn't in the professional racing game after January 1963, they sure as heck knew that race wins resulted in new car sales with the growing "youth market". Knowing that, they knew they had to be competitive on the street and on the track with whatever they designed as a replacement for the "W" series engine.

They clearly recognized that the small block, still capable of some great performance, could not be expanded much beyond 350 cubes and be reliable - and yet produce the torque that would be necessary to give full-size cars the performance they needed to stay competitive. Lessons learned in racing all the Chevrolet V8s were poured into the new motor - and when launched, it was an immediate success. When released for production in mid-1965, the "Mark IV" big block was referred to in sales literature as the "Turbo-Jet V8".

The Beginnings - the 1965 396 cubic inch Mark IV

The 396 had a bore of 4.095" and a stroke of 3.760". t was more "square" than the 409/427 which had a 3.50/3.65" stroke and 4.3125" bore. The first version of the 396 was a pure performance piece and was equipped with four bolt main bearing caps. Unlike the W engine, it proved its new design by being very comfortable when operated in the upper 6000 rpm range.

The new 396 was slightly heavier than the "W" model, with a dry weight of about 685 pounds, due mostly to adding reinforcement to make the block more durable. The block did use the same cylinder bore centers of 4.84" of the old engine, however larger 2.75" main bearing journals were fitted - an increase from the 2.50" journals in the "W" engine. A little known fact is that the shorter stroke 348 and 409 crankshafts could be installed in the Mark IV with the use of "spacers" in the main journals but without modifying the crankshaft. This was done to make 366 cubes, for engines competing in classes that only allowed 6 liters max.

The highly efficient "side oiling" lubrication system of the 409 was also retained. This assured maximum oil flow to the main and connecting rod bearings at all times. Later blocks intended for performance use had this main oil gallery moved up in the block near the cam bearing bore area and this provided "priority main" oiling, improving the oil delivery system even further.

When the 396 was released, surprisingly, it was initially only available in the Corvette and rated at 425 HP, likely the only time a horsepower figure on the performance versions was close to an honest number . . .

To Read the rest of the 396 Intro Story - Click HERE!

To Read Back in the Day 396 V8 Intro stories - Click Here!

To See some neat Corvette 396 intro Ads - Click Here!


More Stories at Wild About Cars and the Auto History Digital Documents Library
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1963 Olds Jetfire Turbo Test 1963 Oldsmobile Jetfire 4-Speed Road Test

Car Life Magazine tested the 1963 Olds Jetfire (turbocharged) V8 in their April 1963 issue. It was a redux for CL as they had been disappointed with a test of an automatic version. See what they had to say about the little V8's prowess in this test.

And if you'd like to see what could be done with a little "souping up"; click HERE to see a period hop up article in Motor Trend.

Click here to read the 1963 Olds Jetfire Test!

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1963 Chrysler 300J Test 1963 Chrysler 300J Road Test

Motor Trend Magazine tested the Chrysler 300J in their April 1963 issue. Some say that the 300J was the last performance 300, given it could be equipped with a 413 with the long ram manifold, a hot cam and other performance goodies. Unfortunately the market for performance cars had moved downstream and the 426 Plymouths and Dodges were the rage from then on. See what they had to say - you might be surprised.

To read the 1963 Chrysler 300J Test - Click HERE!

1964 Olds Starfire Convertible Test 1965 Corvette 396 Road Test

OK, we covered this test back in January - but it's appropriate to list it again in this issue. Car Life Magazine tested the 396 V8 engined Corvette in their August 1965 issue. It should be understood that many in 1965 considered the installation of a big block V8 in a Corvette "blasphemy", so Car Life sought to find out if that was the case. See their conclusions.

To read this 1965 Corvette 396 V8 Test - Click HERE!

2003 to 1953 Corvette Conversion Modern Muscle - 1953 Corvette Commemorative Edition Conversion Foldout

In 2003 Advanced Automotive Technologies came up with a body kit to convert any 1998-2003 Corvette into a 1953 look alike. Check out this neat brochure and the keys to doing a conversion - especially if you are bored with your period Corvette ride!

To see the 2003 to 1953 Corvette Conversion - Click HERE!

Conway Wind Indy Car Long Beach Race News - Mike Conway drives Ed Carpenter Chevrolet to win in Long Beach

Mike Conway won the crash-filled Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach for the second time, the first being for Andretti Autosport in 2011. Conway, who drove most of the 80-lap race with a broken front wing, capitalized on a seven-car crash ignited at the front of the pack. He then waited on Scott Dixon to pit for more fuel and held off Will Power . . .

Click here to read more about Conway's win in Autoweek Race News!

David Payton 1936 Ford
Featured Car - David Payton's 1936 Ford Standard Touring Sedan

David Payton had always wanted an early flathead V8 Ford, and when he saw an ad for a 1936 Standard Touring sedan in his local paper in Bakersfield, California, he bought it.  The fellow selling it, who was doing so because he needed money to finish a street rod project, had bought the car in Kansas sight unseen. He gave David what contact info he had regarding the former owners, and David tried to contact them by both letter and telephone, but he had no luck . . .

CLICK HERE to see the David's 1936 Ford Sedan.

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