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The RB Engines: 383 - 413 - 426 - 440

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The RB Engines: 383 - 413 - 426 - 440

by David Zatz

Chrysler's first big block V8s were, from the start, designed with a low-deck and raised-deck series - the LB (or B) engines and the RB ("raised-deck B"). Chrysler standardized the stroke of each series: the B-engines had a 3.38-inch stroke and RB engines had a 3.75 inch stroke.

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Thanks to Eddie Hostler, Curtis Redgap, and the Mopar Engines and Chrysler Engines books.

The first RB engine was the 1959 413 (6.8 liters), launched a year after the first B 350 and 361 came out. The RB engines were shared by all Chrysler brands, but that still left room for variety, as retired plant worker "Superduckie" wrote:

Just in 1969, the big block V8s had around sixty variations. There were 413s with two-barrel carburetors, for school buses and dump trucks. There were six blocks, five cylinder-head variations, four camshafts, three timing chains, four flywheels, four torque converters, five different oil pans, and many different linkage brackets.
It was still easier to manage than the bewildering array of earlier Chrysler V8s.


The 413, a high-torque, medium-horsepower powerplant, went into the 1959-65 cars, and 1959-79 trucks. The engine was also sold to high-end European automakers, such as Facel Vega.

See 413 dyno tests conducted at Chrysler in 1959

Chrysler carEngine19591960
Windsor, SaratogaRB - 38347,21952,349
New Yorker, 300RB - 41317,02520,602
ImperialRB - 41317,26217,719

The 413 was quickly adapted to high performance use by racers, including the Pettys, and by Chrysler itself. In its launch year, the 1959 Chrysler 300E used twin four-barrel carburetors to produce 380 brake horsepower at 5000 rpm and 450 lb-ft at 3600 rpm.

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Meanwhile, Chrysler engineers had discovered that intake manifolds could create a supercharging effect; air/fuel coming to the cylinder would hit the closed valve, bounce off, and then return, mixing with the rush of incoming air at a higher density (pressure), pushing more fuel and air into the cylinder and effectively increasing the engine's displacement. The effect was tuned by changing the length of the intake tubes, with 30 inches being "just right" for boosting passing power. That meant a large, heavy intake with two carburetors on opposite sides of the engine from the cylinders they were feeding, and also reduced power at the highest engine speeds.

Thus, the 1960 Chrysler 300F and 1961 300G had a long-tube ram induction system, boosting power to 495 pound-feet; it remained on the option sheets for Chrysler 300s through the 1964 cars.

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Dodge Ramcharger and Plymouth Super Stock cars could run the 1962 Max Wedge 413, displacing 426 cubic inches; sold for drag racing, it boasted an official 420 bhp at 5,000 rpm. Street legal but not street practical, cars with the same engine booked four class records in 1962 NHRA racing, and made mid-twelve-second quarter-mile runs commonplace. On NASCAR tracks the long-ram setup was less than ideal, since it traded off power at one engine speed band for power in another, and was difficult to tune, due to the huge manifold.

Engine Specifications: 413 V8 as used in Chrysler 300F
Bore, Stroke, Compression4.18 x 3.75; 10.1 to 1
Max. BHP @ RPM375 @ 5,000 (std) or 400 @ 5,200
Max. Torque @ RPM495 @ 2,800 (std) or 465 @ 3,600
Firing Order1, 8, 4, 3, 6, 5, 7, 2
Valve ArrangementOverhead, in-line, hydraulic
ValvesIntake: 2.08" Exhaust: 1.60", with 0.430" lift; 268° open duration
Valve Overlap48°: Intake opens 20° before top dead center, exhaust closes 28° after top dead center
Piston and RingsAluminum alloy pistol with three rings
CrankshaftDrop forged steel

The next step was expanding the bore to 4.25 inches, for a 426 cubic inch displacement, debuting on the 1963 cars. Buyers could get high-performing 300J heads or normal-performance 516 heads. The street-tuned 426 Wedge was a conventional four-barrel setup, with performance not far above the similarly outfitted 383.

The 413 Max Wedge package was replaced by a 426 Max Wedge, sold in Stage II and Stage III versions; these engines, intended for racing, had special blocks, rods, crankshafts, pistons, heads, valves, valve gear, intake manifolds, carburetors and exhaust manifolds. The 426 was rated by Dodge at 415-425 gross horsepower and 470-480 lb-ft of torque; the 413, at 410-420 hp and 460-470 lb-ft.

The new engines dominated NHRA's Super Stock class and the Stage II motors boosted NASCAR racing wins. Ronnie Cox won Top Stock Eliminator, tying Al Eckstrand's record of the 112 mph quarter-mile trap speed (in 12.4 seconds for Eckstrand, 12.92 for Cox).

Ads for the 1963 Dodge "Ramcharger" V8 pointed to records set by NHRA campaigners in 1962 (with the 413), with Jim Nelson setting a quarter mile time of 8.59 seconds (AA/D), Dick Ladeen hitting 12.71 seconds (SS/S), and Bill "Maverick" Golden getting to 12.50 seconds (SS/SA). An A/FX record of 12.26 in the Golden

The 1963 Ramcharger V8s (413 and 426) had numerous performance and reliability features, according to Dodge:

How do you identify these engines? Just to the right of the distributor is a bit of smooth steel which has a number code stamped in it. The first line has a letter for the year (D = 1968) and the three digits for displacement (e.g. 440). The date - month and day - are on a line below, sometimes with an HP denoting High Performance. If you don't find "tag," try the passenger side of the block, below the distributor, which is where it sits on B engines.

  • New short-ram intake manifold (15 inches rather than 30) to increase power output over at speeds over 4,000 rpm; tappets could be adjusted with the manifold in place
  • Extra large valves (2.08 inches intake)
  • Port areas of each cylinder head around 25% larger than with the standard 413 engines, with stainless steel head gaskets and a special deck structure for better sealing
  • Oversized long-branch exhaust with three inch outlets and cutouts; two-inch diameter twin tailpipes
  • Three-valve fuel pump with high spring load; electric fuel pumps available as an option
  • Forged aluminum pistons with a chrome-plated iron top compression ring; connecting rods were individually magnaflux-inspected.
  • Larger oil galleries, a larger oil intake tube, larger main and rod bearing oil grooves, and a fore-aft swinging oil intake in the sump to assure circulation when the oil moves to the rear of the pan (on hard acceleration).
  • Mechanical lifters for high engine speeds with high strength valvespring retainers and springs. Rocker arms included lock nuts on the lash adjusting screw.
  • Hardened journals and alloy bearings for extra crankshaft capacity; specially balanced drive shaft
  • Special distributor and dual breaker points
  • Heavy duty manual gearbox or optional automatic, set to upshift at 5,600 rpm, with highest maximum overall breakaway ratio (5.39:1) and overall efficiency of any stock automatic.
  • Sure-Grip rear axle and heavy duty rear springs standard with the Ramcharger engine.

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Mopar Action's Rick Ehrenberg answered a reader's question about fuels. He wrote, "Today's 93 "pump" (R+M/2) octane is roughly equal to 97 research octane. This is just barely - just barely - enough for a dead-stock 10:1 iron-head 440 when all is correct and there's no carbon, with 180° antifreeze. If you still have detonation, make sure the TDC mark is accurate, the timing curve (advance rate) is stock, and the antifreeze is not over 180°F; and check to see if the heads have ever been milled or de-carboned. The engine probably needs more octane, a gallon or two of race gas in the tank. Any detonation you can hear is very bad and very destructive. Long term, the best fix is a pair of 440 source aluminum heads with Cometic gaskets." The reader pointed out that the engine was new, and timing was set for full advance, and Rick said that the mechanical timing curve was probably too "fast."

The A-864 hemi was introduced in 1964 in the "light weight" Plymouth and Dodge models as a race only package, to be replaced by the A-990 hemi in 1965 (also as a race only engine). Meanwhile, the Dodge Ramcharger drivers continued to pile up records with the 426 Wedge, upgraded with larger Carter AFB-3705S carburetors (with .25-inch larger primary bores), larger air horn diameters, new larger primary riser openers in the intake manifold, a higher lift and longer exhaust duration cam, modified combustion chambers and intake valve ports, more durable head gaskets, new fan and drive unit, and optional aluminum front-end package that cut the Ramcharger package weight by nearly 150 pounds.

In 1966, thanks to the new precision thin-wall casting techniques used to make the 1964 small 273 ci V-8, the RB block could be pushed out to 4.32 inches, providing the 440, the largest V8 ever made by Chrysler. (Ironically, the largest engine overall - the Viper V10 - was based on the little 273's engine family).

The 440 engine was introduced in 1966, the same year the 426 engine was replaced by the same-displacement, legendary 426 Hemi "elephant engine." A large-bore version of the 413, it was used not only for performance, but also for luxury yachts such as the Imperial. Horsepower was slightly higher than in the 413, but torque leaped up, at 480 lb-ft.

The high performance 440 was introduced in the 1967 GTX and R/T models (see Super Commando photo below); the company slotted in brand new, better-flowing heads and a more aggressive, hydraulic camshaft. The Magnum and Super Commando (A134) engines produced 375 horsepower, yet were reliable and relatively easy to tune.

In 1968, the 383 Road Runner and Super Bee models were introduced, starting the biggest performance surge since the early 1960s; they were essentially created by taking the new head and camshaft designs and putting them into the 383.

In 1969, the first 440-6 barrel engine package was produced with special rods, crankshaft, timing chain, camshaft, valve springs and intake system; it enjoyed a three year run. The three two-barrel carburetors were dubbed a "Six Pack." Midyear, the company added a high-rise Edelbrock manifold (this was cut early in 1970).

It is worth noting that early 1969 440s had the same connecting rods and crankshaft as in 1968, but heavier connecting rods were introduced around three months into 1969 model-year production; to offset the added weight, a new crankshaft and rebalanced vibration damper and flywheel were used. Mixing and matching these parts results in nasty vibration problems.

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For 1970, strong "Six Pack" connecting rods were added to all 440 high-performance engines. They were used until 1975.

In 1971, the 440-6 barrel and the Hemi were the last truly high performance cars produced in the era; the year also saw the use of a cast iron 383 crankshaft as a cost saving measure, on automatic-transmission cars.

On July 4, 1971, four cars with 426 cubic inch versions of the 440 with ported 440 heads were entered in the Daytona Grand National race, and they finished 1-2-3-4.

1970 3831971 3831970-71 426 Hemi1971 4401971 440+6 1977 440
Compression ratio9.5:18.5:110.28:9.5:110.3:1
Horsepower (gross)335 @ 5200300 @ 4,800425 @ 5,000370 @ 4,600385 @ 4,700
Horsepower (net) 250 @ 4,800350 @ 5,000*305 @ 4,600330 @ 4,700195 @ 3,600
Torque (gross)425 @ 3400410 @ 3,400490 @ 4,000480 @ 3,200490 @ 3,200
Torque (net) 325 @ 3,400390 @ 4,000400 @ 3,200410 @ 3,200320 @ 2,000
Dual 4-barrel
3 x 2bbl
4 barrel
Intake/exhaust duration268° / 284°268° / 284°284° / 284° 268° / 284°268° / 284°
Base transmission3-spd stick3-spd stick3-spd auto3-spd auto4-spd manual3-spd auto
Gears2.55, 1.49, 1:1 2.45, 1.45, 1:1
Standard axle ratio 3.23:13.23:13.35:13.23:1

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See the 440 six-barrel (440 Six-Pack) engines


Net Power
Torque (lb-ft)
440Base225 @ 4,800345 @ 3200
440 Dual snorkel230 @ 4,400355 @ 2,800
440Dual exhaust245 @ 4,400360 @ 3,200
440High Perf.280 @ 4,800375 @ 3,200
440Cold Air Pak290 @ 4,800380 @ 3,200
4403-two barrel330 @ 4,800410 @ 3,600

The performance aspects of the 'B' and 'RB' engines faded from 1972 on, though not as suddenly as casual observers may expect, because net horsepower ratings were adopted in 1972 as well. This resulted in a substantial drop in rated horsepower as the effects of using an air cleaner, water pump, alternator, muffler, and other "accessories" were included. The company did provide both gross and net numbers for some engines in 1971, providing some perspective. The measurement difference was responsible for a "drop" of 50-65 horsepower.

There were some drops in power in 1972 as compression was dropped to reduce emissions, a cheap way to meet new pollution standards. The company also switched to a ductile iron crankshaft (at some point from 1972 to 1974), replacing the forged steel crank, to cut costs. Hemi Andersen wrote that changing the crankshaft also meant the need for an eccentric weight in the harmonic balancer, and the addition of a weight to the torque converter. In short, the engine needed to be externally balanced, while the past B and RB engines did not

By 1977, when Lean Burn system made its appearance on the 440 "for better driveability and overall performance" (until, many would say, the system stopped working), the engine was used for big luxury cars: it was standard on Chrysler New Yorker Brougham and Town & Country, and optional on Chrysler Newport, Plymouth Gran Fury, and Dodge Monaco. Performance was now to be found in the 360 four-barrel equipped F-bodies, not the B bodies.

The last 'B-RB' engine was produced in August 1978, ending the history of Chrysler Corporation big-block engines - though it took over a year to clear the already-made engines out of stock. The 440 high-performance engine had a slight power boost to 255 hp, but it was only available as an option for B-body patrol cars. The 413 was used in medium- and heavy-duty trucks until 1979, using old stock.

<a name="383"></a>The two 383 engines

In 1963, Dodge buyers had a choice of the 383 with a two-barrel carb (305 hp) or a Power Pack version, with a high performance cam, dual-breaker ignition, dual exhausts, and four-barrel carb (330 hp).

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Chrysler also wanted a 383 cubic inch engine, to avoid having a smaller engine than the lesser Dodge. Trenton Engine, at the time, had a line for the B engine and one for the RB; the B line was busy pushing out 383s and 361s, while the RB line was underused, producing just the 413. Chrysler engineers created a 383 engine out of the RB 413 block, with a narrower bore - so there was a large-bore, short-stroke Dodge 383 and a small-bore, long-stroke Chrysler "Golden Lion" 383.

The 383 RB was only available in 1959 and 1960 on the US-built Chrysler Windsor and Saratoga (thanks, Ian Smale and Bill Watson). In 1961, the plant figured out how to quickly switch from one block to the other, and they dropped the RB 383.

Mopar B and RB engine parts

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Over 750,000 440 engines have been produced, so parts tend to be available. The RB engine size was stamped on a pad at the left front of the engine adjacent to the front tappet rail. Distributors are at the right front of the engine. Parts replacement information (such as undersize crankshaft) is next to the engine size.

1961 was the first year for the now-universal closed crankcase ventilation system, then used on all cars sold in California; it used a flexible tube to connect a valve to a carburetor fitting just below the throttle blades. The carburetor would draw the crankcase vapors in, burning them to painlessly eliminate a source of pollution.

Chrysler wrote this about the 440, in 1978: "The combination of its large displacement, large intake and exhaust valve ports and manifold passages, 4-barrel carburetor and low-restriction exhaust system give the 440 extra power for quick acceleration at all speeds-low, middle, or highway cruising-or for towing large travel trailers. The 440 V-8 features a deep-skirt engine block, rugged cast ductile iron crankshaft and aluminum-on-steel main and connecting-rod bearings for exceptional durability and smooth operation."

B engines: 350, 361, 383, 400Max Wedge440 Six-Pack

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RB-engine articles by Rick Ehrenberg

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