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Starters for Vintage Engines

Bill Watson wrote:

When the slant six came on the market in 1960, the starter used a direct-drive Bendix setup. This starter was replaced, in the United States, by the new Chrysler-built reduction gear starter. It is with this starter that the ring gear on the torque converter changed.

The reduction gear starter was used on all U.S.-built Chrysler products, except the 1962-1964 Dodge 880 and Chrysler Newports with the manual transmission. They hung on to the direct drive starter.

In Canada, the slant six engine used the Prestolite direct-drive starter up to 1966, while all V8-powered Chryco vehicles used the reduction-gear starter. So, if you have a Canadian-built 1962-1966 Chrysler product with the slant six, you will need to use the Prestolite starter.

And, if you get your transmission rebuilt, make sure the shop uses the 1961 slant six torque converter. A friend had the Torqueflite transmission on his Canadian-built 1964 Valiant V200 slant six (model VVX1-H-41) rebuilt, and the shop, being an American franchise outfit, used their American parts lists. So, he landed up with an American model 1964 torque converter. When he tried to start the car, it sounded as if the starter and ring gear were not mating. A couple of days later, he cracked the starter gear.

The starter was taken into a local electrical shop and the starter was rebuilt. Again, the starter and ring gear did not seem to mesh. At this point he told me his problems and I checked Chrysler of Canada's parts catalogues for the 1960-1964 Valiants. Sure enough, the starters and torque converters on the Canadian Valiants did not change in 1962, as they did in the U.S. We went to a local yard and acquired the starter, solenoid and associated wiring from a 1972 Dart and installed it in his Valiant. The car fired up the first time the key was turned. I bought his direct-drive starter and used it in my Canadian-built 1962 Valiant, which was in need of a new starter.

Also, the starters from the 273/318 V8's can be used in the slant six, for those vehicles with the reduction gear starter. They will not work in the pre-1962 Chrysler products, or in the 1962-1966 Canadian-built slant six models. Beware, too, that the 1966 Barracuda, Belvedere and Coronet were not built in Canada, so they will have the reduction gear starter.

The reduction gear starter was smaller and lighter than the direct-drive starter. Plus, the solenoid is separate from the starter. As Autolite was the source of the direct drive starter prior to the Ford takeover, it is very similar to the Ford starter. Solenoids for Autolite/Prestolite starters are becoming hard to find, and apparently the more common Ford solenoid will work on the Chrysler starters.

Hope this helps answer a few questions and solve a few problems.

Sandy Colter wrote:

I use small Nippondenso starter that came out in the early 1990s or late 1980s; these spin the motor much faster than the old reduction gear type. Great for instant starts!!! I have been able to get a few "bad" ones from friends that have got remans for theirs. I just pay the core charge or give them an old style core to take back for the core.

All that ever goes in the Nippondenso units is the contacts inside. They cost less than $10 to buy at a starter repair shop (they are even used in front wheel drive and some Toyotas). Simple to change and you have what mopar sells a "light weight high torque starter$$$$$" for almost nothing. I love theses things! The only drawback is you loose the nnnnnn- no- way nnnnn no way or dowannnnna- go-dowannnna- go sound from the reduction gear style. I have one on almost everything I own.

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