The Best Mopar V8 Engines Ever

We talked about the best Ford V8 engines and the best V8 Japanese engines, and then we took one step further and looked at the best German V8 engines ever, but we can’t discuss the best V8 engines ever without looking at Mopar.

From the 340ci Small Block all the way up to the 6.2L Hellcat, there have been a lot of great V8 engines from Mopar throughout the years, and while they’re not as active in the motorsports world as they once were, Mopar is still a big name in the world of drag racing where every bit power and consistency you can get is required.

And when I say “Mopar,” I’m referring to more than just Dodge. Mopar encompasses Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, and Plymouth. And for this article and video, we’re really only looking at street engines, so we’re not including anything like their Nascar or motorsports engines.

And to kick this off, we’re going to start with the smallest engine on the list, the legendary 340ci Small Block.

#1 340ci Small Block

This engine was introduced for the 1968 model year in vehicles such as the Dodge Dart GTS, Plymouth Duster, Road Runner, and so on. At that time, the 318ci V8 really wasn’t offering much performance, which was fine because the big block engines of the time did offer good performance.

But that meant there was a big category in the engine options for Mopar vehicles, which was a performance-oriented small-block engine. And that’s exactly where the 340ci slots into place. Right off the bat, it offered an impressive 275hp and 340lb-ft of torque, but many Mopar enthusiasts say this is underrated, and the real power figure is likely closer to 325hp.

You might be wondering why they’d knowingly advertise a lower power figure compared to what the engine actually produces, and the answer to that is simple: NHRA. The advertised 275hp was for NHRA Stock classification to make it more competitive. You might consider this cheating to some degree, but that’s just how the automotive world works.

Compared to the existing 318ci engine, the 340ci not only got that extra 22ci of displacement, but a dual timing chain system, larger intake and exhaust valves inside of high flowing heads, a high-rise dual plane intake, larger carb, larger camshaft, improved oil pump, different crank, and much more.

Plain and simple, the 340ci was miles ahead of the 318ci in terms of performance. It was ready to go right out of the box. And by 1970, we saw the advertised power bumped to 290hp and 345lb-ft of torque in the Challenger T/A, but this is where things started to go south for the 340ci as emissions requirements basically killed in 1972.

To meet these new emissions requirements, the compression ratio was reduced, the valve size was decreased, and more, which resulted in a power decrease down to 230hp and 290lb-ft of torque, and by 1973 the 340ci was retired from use.

That power level might sound pretty bad for a 340ci engine, but for reference, the 360ci Mopar engine of the same year offered an even more embarrassing 175 hp and 285 lb-ft.

The interesting part of the 340ci is that it is the only small block ever offered as a performance-only engine. Other small block engines, such as the 273ci, 318ci, and 360ci, had high-performance versions; they were based on the low-performance versions, whereas the 340ci never had a low-performance version.

It’s sad to know the 340ci had such a short life, but the bright side is that some of the 340ci’s components were used in a high-performance version 360ci engine in 1974, which helped bump that engine from 175hp to 245hp.

Chrysler’s 340ci V8 was one of the best engines of the 1960s and 70s for performance, especially compared to their own small-block engines and even competing small-block engines. Hell, it offered great performance compared to some big block engines.

#2 413ci and 426ci Max Wedge

That takes us back in time to 1959 with the launch and introduction of the all-new 413ci Max Wedge engine, which I have to say is kind of a goofy name for an engine but whatever. What makes this engine interesting is that it was the first version of Chrysler’s raised-block or RB design, and for a short time, the 413ci was the most powerful engine in the entire lineup.

It made its initial appearance in Chrysler’s New Yorker, Imperial, and 300 series, where it stayed until 1964. The unique wedge-shaped combustion chambers are what give this engine the aforementioned and kind of strange “Max Wedge” name.

Overall, the 413ci Max Wedge is quite a bit different from an ordinary 413ci. More specifically, the Max Wedge uses completely different cylinder heads with 25% larger ports and bigger valves. It also comes equipped with a unique high-lift 300-degree camshaft, double valve springs, a new intake manifold with very long intake runners, and twin Carter 650cfm carburetors.

Inside the 413ci Max Wedge, you’ll find forged connecting rods, 11:1 or 13.5:1 forged pistons, depending on the specific version of the engine, and a baffled oil pan. Strangely enough, when this engine was equipped in Dodge cars, it was known as the Ram-Charger 413ci, and Plymouth called it a Super Stock 413ci.

Depending on the application and year, power output varied from 390hp up to 415 hp depending on the compression ratio. And more importantly, the 415hp version offers an even more impressive 470 lb-ft of torque. And I know modern engines might make that figure seem bad, but you have to remember this engine was developed and offered in the 1960s.

And that takes us to the larger version of the Max Wedge 413ci, which was the Max Wedge 426ci, which, as the name implies, is the larger engine. This larger version was introduced in 1963 and used a larger 4.25-inch bore to reach that larger displacement and was offered with three compression ratios of 11.0:1, 12.0:1, or 12.5:1 depending on the configuration.

While the performance of this Max Wedge engine was marginally better than the earlier engine at 425hp and 480lb-ft of torque, this served as Chrysler’s main performance engine until they released the 426ci Hemi.

The 413ci and 426ci Max Wedge engines were produced up until 1964, when it was replaced with the new 426ci Hemi engine in 1965. What’s crazy about the Max Wedge engines is that from 1962 to 1964, you could option these engines in literally any B-Body Chrysler product.

The 413ci and 426ci Max Wedge engines remain competitive to this day in stock drag racing classes, which really just goes to show how impressive these engines were at the time and what Mopar engines were capable of when performance was put above all else.

#3 426ci Hemi

That takes us to arguably the most important Mopar engine of all time, which is 426ci Hemi. This is the engine that made them such an iconic muscle car company and, more importantly, solidified them as a powerhouse in American motorsports.

The 426ci Hemi was the backbone of Plymouth and Dodge’s motorsports efforts in the 1960s and helped them to dominate in NASCAR and NHRA from the second the 426ci Hemi arrived.

The key to the 426ci Hemi’s success? The new hemispherical cylinder heads weren’t really new. In fact, this was really a rendition of some work Chrysler had done in the decade. The new 426ci Hemi maintained the 58.5-degree valve positioning of the aforementioned earlier work but with massively increased displacement, different deck height, and different bore spacing.

The unfortunate downside to making an engine this large was that it was also one of the heaviest motors on the market at the time.

What’s even more insane is that the 426ci Hemi originally arrived as a competition-only engine in 1964, and it wasn’t until 1965 that we saw it offered in street cars, but the street version of the engine kept the same rotating assembly as the race engine. The biggest thing that separated the street engines from the race engines was a more mild and more street-able camshaft.

On top of the motor, we saw dual quad carbs, and inside was a 10.25:1 compression ratio. All of this, paired with really a lack of any emissions components or regulations, allowed the 426ci Hemi to produce 425hp and 490lb-ft of torque, although again, many Mopar enthusiasts say this is underrated and the real number 450hp.

This time around, they kept under advertised the power rating to keep insurance companies happy, as 450hp would’ve been a pretty crazy number to advertise for a street car in 1965. I mean, even today, insurance companies aren’t afraid to offer ridiculously expensive policies for seemingly anything over 400hp, but that’s a different topic.

Unfortunately wasn’t exactly a cheap option, so it is a pretty rare thing to find, and it’s undoubtedly the most sought-after Mopar V8, and understandably so. It was produced in 1971, and it’s likely one of the most iconic and important American engines of all time.

#4 5.7L Hemi

Alright enough with the dinosaur engines. They’re certainly cool and impressively powerful, considering when they were built, but let’s take a look at something that was built this century, and that’s the 5.7L Hemi.

When Chrysler decided to revive the Hemi name for improved marketability with their newest V8 engine they were developing in the early 2000s, they ended up kind of messing up the details. It has the Hemi name on it, but the combustion chambers in 5.7L Heads aren’t nearly anything like the Hemi heads found in the 50s and 60s Mopar Hemi engines.

Despite the Hemi name on the 5.7L being somewhat of a marketing gimmick, this new engine has been one of their most successful to date. It was first released in 2003 for Dodge Ram pickups, and it was meant to complement the existing 5.9L Magnum engine.

Initially putting out 345 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque, it was a pretty decent engine right off the bat, but it was then heavily modified in 2009 with the addition of revised cylinder heads, intake, Variable Camshaft Timing (VCT), and a Multi-Displacement System (MDS), which offered improved mileage by utilizing cylinder-deactivation at cruising speed.

Interestingly enough, the new modified 5.7L Hemi was known as “Eagle” internally amongst Chrysler, and this rendition of the engine outputs 395hp and 410lb-ft of torque.

The 5.7L Hemi is most notable for its dual-plug setup, as well as the introduction of variable camshaft timing and variable displacement technology. It’s since been proven as a very versatile and long-lasting engine that’s been used in the Charger, Challenger, Ram trucks, Jeep SUVs, and so on.

#5 6.2L Hellcat

That takes us to the elephant in the room. Or a cat in the room? I don’t know. Either way, the Hellcat engine was Mopar’s last attempt to take share back from GM and Ford with their muscle cars, and the Hellcat motor will go down as their performance V8 engine as they begin towards electrification of their lineups.

And this truly is the ultimate evolution of the modern Hemi engine, it’s the peak of it all. And while it’s easy to hate on the Hellcat engine for seemingly being overrated and slow, that’s simply because of modern Mopar platforms and very heavy.

The motor itself, though, is a very impressive feat of performance producing between 707 hp and 840 hp over its near-decade run on the market, with torque peaking at a 650 lb-ft.

The design for the Hellcat motor actually comes from the 6.4L Hemi and not the 5.7L Hemi. With a decrease in displacement and a lower compression ratio, they were able to construct an engine that safely survives 11.6psi of boost pressure from a pretty large 2.4L twin-screw supercharger.

The Demon variant features quite a few major modifications, including a much larger 2.7L supercharger that allows it to output 840hp on 100 octane fuel. And then there’s also the Redeye edition which uses the Demon’s larger supercharger but at a lower 797 horsepower.

At this point, it’s been used across nearly the entire Fiat Chrysler lineup, finding a home not just in the Charger and the Challenger but also the Jeep Trackhawk, the Ram TRX, and the Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat, and hopefully, one day a Hellcat Pacifica, but that’s a long shot.


Some honorable mentions that we can’t finish this article and video without including the 360ci small block, 383ci B engine, the 440ci RB engine, and the 6.4L Hemi. Mopar has put together quite a few very impressive V8 engines dating all the way back to the 50s, but that won’t last too much longer as they go towards smaller motors and electrification.

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