[[trackingImage]] No Limits Magazine from the Automotive History Preservation Society
No Limits Magazine from the Auto History Preservation Society
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Wednesday, November 17, 2021
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Chrysler's Small Block V-8 - Odd Beginnings, Great Finish

Chrysler Corp's "A" 318 V-8 & Viper V-10

The "A" Series 318 CID V-8 juxtaposed with the 1993 Viper V-10.
Almost strange how the former set the stage for the latter.   

By Society Staff -
reprint with permission only

Did you know that the Viper V-10 has its roots in the 1955 Plymouth V-8? We wouldn't be surprised that your response would be, "huh?". Well, it's true.

For all you skeptics, let's wander back to the early 50's when Chrysler began its OHV V-8 program. As you may know, each brand got to decide what they would produce and what configuration the engine would have. Unlike today, when most corporations settle on a single design for an engine and then tweak it with compression, turbos, superchargers and cam timing, the corporations let their brands' engineering groups build their own motors.

Chrysler's only mandate was that none of the lesser brands could have a V-8 in size and power of the Chrysler Hemi. DeSoto chose a scaled down Hemi with some of their own tweaks, Dodge chose to go the same route, with a Hemi that was a bit smaller than the DeSoto. Plymouth was saddled with another mandate - no Hemi! Why? Cost mainly.

The "A" Series V-8

What is interesting is that Plymouth came up with a smaller V-8 that used the "Polyspherical" cylinder head  a cross between a typical wedge, as pioneered by Cadillac and Olds, and the Hemi. If you want the details on the "Poly" head, click HERE. The 277 CID Poly head was a compact, single rocker shaft design that showed good power. It was good enough that Dodge would also use the block on their less expensive models from 1955 on, and surprisingly, that Chrysler would design a version of this head to be fitted to the Hemi block for the Windsor line.

As a note, the first Plymouth Poly was a 1954 Dodge block with Poly heads. This block was retired when Plymouth's first "A" block bowed in mid-year. From 1955 through 1967, the "A" block would be Chrysler Corporation's small workhorse V-8.

The Plymouth "A" block was also designed to be lightweight by the standards of the day and relatively compact. The engine grew in size from 277 CID to 318 CID during its lifetime. Until 1958 when Chrysler moved to the corporate "B" and "RB" wedge, this block was the premier V-8 in the Plymouth line, developing 290 HP in the 1957 and 1958 Fury when equipped with dual 4-barrel carbs.

When the "B" block became Plymouth's performance engine, the "A" series Poly head stayed at 318 CID, but became the workhorse V-8. It was mostly detuned to deliver 260 HP in 4-barrel form from '58 - '59. After this the "A" 318 became the yeoman V-8, and performance was limited to a two-barrel carb and HP ratings from 190 to 230 HP.

For a complete listing of the "A" Series V-8s, click HERE.

The "LA" Series V-8

Plymouth took the "A" Series design and created a much smaller displacement but lighter wedge head - the efficient 273 CID engine. It appeared in the Barracuda initially and would grow from 180 HP in 2-barrel form to 235 HP waith a 4-barrel (and in Dodge 275 HP).

In 1968, the 273 would grow to 340 CID and receive as much street performance options as possible. At the same time, these engineering changes would be applied to the 318 (albeit without the performance parts). The 340 was a compact powerhouse, growing from 275 to 290 HP in 6-pack configuration.

Once emissions regulations were in place, the 340 was replaced by the 360 CID V-8. The 360 would remain in service through 1991, in all Chrysler Corporation vehicles. In 1992 the LA was redesigned again and became the "Magnum V-8".

For a complete listing of the "LA" Series V-8s, click HERE.

The Magnum V-8

The Magnum, released in 1992, was an evolutionary development of the 318 CID (5.2 L) "LA" engine with the same displacement. The 5.2 L was the first of the Magnum upgraded engines, followed in 1993 by the 5.9 L V8 and the 3.9 L V6. At the time of its introduction, the 5.2 L Magnum created 230 HP SAE net. Production of this engine lasted until 2003, when it was completely replaced by the 4.7 L.

The Magnum would spawn the Viper V-10, which had been designed alongside the V-8 and was developed as a 8 Liter truck engine.

For a complete listing of the  "Magnum" Series V-10s, click HERE.


Our New Website - It's No Longer a Dream!

Our New Website is on the way

by Society Staff
reprint with permission only

Our current website is very stable, and deals with the immense amount of material we have seamlessly and quickly.

BUT, it uses very archaic web software - it limits us in layout (especially for cell phones), and critically hurts our SEO (search engine optimization). We knew it needs replacement, however on our limited budget, it seemed like it was even less a dream and more of a fantasy.

But sometimes even a fantasy can become reality. Two major donors stepped up this year and allowed us to fund new software and hire a startup developer. Even better, a Society member surfaced with the skills to turn the raw site into something we are really going to be proud of!

More news as we get closer to launch - but our current projections call for a majority of material to be transferred over by May 2022.

We'll keep you posted - stay tuned. We may even have a fully functional site we can demonstrate right after the first of the year!


The Society Store

AHPS Store

We have redone our store's main page to fully illustrate all the great items we have for sale. Click on the image above or the store link below and have fun shopping!

All purchases help the Society defray the cost of acquisition and operations. Everything ships FREE!

To Visit the Store - click HERE

The GM Club Apparel store is a proud sponsor of the Society.
For the very best in GM wear, visit their store.

GM Club Apparel

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