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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Is there any truth that Chrysler dropped the "B" series 400 and 440 big-block V8s even for the Dodge Power Wagon (Ram in 1981) trucks for the 1979 model year because of how much money Chrysler had lost from the effects of the 1973 oil crisis that plagued sales of their 1974-77 C-bodies (Dodge (Royal) Monaco, Plymouth (Gran) Fury, the Chrysler Newport/New Yorker and the 1974-75 Imperial LeBaron)?

I also ask this to say: until the day it finally asked the U.S. government for financial help, as well as that year's impending oil crisis, did Chrysler think of continuing to offer the 400 and 440 V8s for the 1979 Dodge Power Wagon line?

I know both GM and Ford carried on with offering big block V8s for their full-size trucks during both the '73 and '79 crises (Ford dropped its fabled 385 series 460 V8 after 1998 in favor of the "Triton" 6.8 SOHC V10--essentially the 5.4 small-block SOHC V8 with two more cylinders), while GM continued making the 8.1, a 454 derivative, until 2008).

~Ben
 

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I'd take a guess that big blocks were a small percentage of truck builds. Since Dodge truck sales were a fraction of Ford's, it likely didn't make financial sense to continue to operate the big block production line.
 

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Chrysler was strapped for cash and the market for large v8's was disappearing. The large C body cars were discontinued about the same time so Chrysler's only remaining market was for truck use and their market share was not big enough to support the engine line.
 

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Not only did Chrysler get rid of the 440 but they also got rid of the molds to make the blocks.
 

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I think it was a miscalculation at the time.

Iaccoca wrote about how Chrysler was far ahead of the pack as to downsizing per upcoming regulations.

Chrysler very successfully made luxury New Yorkers, etc. out of K cars almost overnight.

Not to mention the sporty Daytona and minivan etc, Chrysler was on a roll.

Regulations were relaxed as the others were slower to adapt.

They weren't selling many trucks but then the Cummins changed that.

When they realized there was a market for large gas Engines the V10 was the solution.

Castings are no problem for a manufacturer but the tooling machinery was junked.

Otherwise the B/RB could have lived on, like the Chevy 454 and Ford 460.

The tooling for bore centers as very expensive so the LA tooling was used for the V10.

The tooling for the 2.2/2.5 was adapted from the slant 6 and used for the Neon and 2.4.

There was lots of discussion on what Engine would power the Viper before the Viper team found out about the up coming cobbled together truck V10 !!

Thanks
Randy
 

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I think it was a miscalculation at the time.

Iaccoca wrote about how Chrysler was far ahead of the pack as to downsizing per upcoming regulations.

Chrysler very successfully made luxury New Yorkers, etc. out of K cars almost overnight.

Not to mention the sporty Daytona and minivan etc, Chrysler was on a roll.

Regulations were relaxed as the others were slower to adapt.

They weren't selling many trucks but then the Cummins changed that.

When they realized there was a market for large gas Engines the V10 was the solution.

Castings are no problem for a manufacturer but the tooling machinery was junked.

Otherwise the B/RB could have lived on, like the Chevy 454 and Ford 460.

The tooling for bore centers as very expensive so the LA tooling was used for the V10.

The tooling for the 2.2/2.5 was adapted from the slant 6 and used for the Neon and 2.4.

There was lots of discussion on what Engine would power the Viper before the Viper team found out about the up coming cobbled together truck V10 !!

Thanks
Randy
Exactly......................tooling is always the big ticket item especially in cylinder blocks and heads. As far as the Viper engine went, a set of drawings for the truck engine was sent to Lamborghini with a request to design an aluminum version. They did so and also sent back a small number of castings to kick the program off.
 

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Even the RV market that used the big Dodge truck chassis, engines and drivetrains tanked during these years.
Our 1978 Ford E300 motorhome with the 351M/2-bbl had sufficient torque for most driving demands.
Trucks and Police cars also did fine with the Chrysler 360 w/4-bbl.
The 'No replacement for displacement' crowd had to defer to new realities in the automotive market.
Better fuel economy and emissions was in everyone's best interest.
Chrysler had to save money where they could. The VW 1.7 was a good stop-gap engine, but we needed our own 4-cyls badly.
 
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I'd take a guess that big blocks were a small percentage of truck builds. Since Dodge truck sales were a fraction of Ford's, it likely didn't make financial sense to continue to operate the big block production line.
Chrysler was strapped for cash and the market for large v8's was disappearing. The large C body cars were discontinued about the same time so Chrysler's only remaining market was for truck use and their market share was not big enough to support the engine line.
The only cars left after 1978 that could use the big blocks were the 79 Cordoba/Magnum and the 79-81 St Regis/Newpoert/New Yorker and the 80-81 Gran Fury.
None of these cars sold well.

And as for trucks and vans, the numbers were small and the take rate for big blocks among that small pool of truck and van buyers was very small.
 

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The gas crunch didn't do much good, all the companies were downsizing, then smog, which is why Keith Black ended up with the 484 instead of Chrysler, and then the biggie, insurance rates. I remember the comeback for the 454 in Chevy trucks, lower compression across the board for everyone, and lighter than light with smaller engines to boot. There were a lot of reasons why the big blocks disappeared, but it wasn't because we asked them to.
Fast Eddie, do you have any of the 484 Keith Black info you remember?
 
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The gas crunch didn't do much good, all the companies were downsizing, then smog, which is why Keith Black ended up with the 484 instead of Chrysler, and then the biggie, insurance rates. I remember the comeback for the 454 in Chevy trucks, lower compression across the board for everyone, and lighter than light with smaller engines to boot. There were a lot of reasons why the big blocks disappeared, but it wasn't because we asked them to.
Fast Eddie, do you have any of the 484 Keith Black info you remember?
Never heard of it!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

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Wow, that's a first. I think I read it around 1981 or 1982 from Keith Black in a Hotrod Magazine, how he purchased the blueprints from Chrysler, his comment it was supposed to be the next generation for the Chryslers right before the gas crunch and smog regulations kicked in. I've had that story for more than what, 35 years?
 

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I thought Keith Black made his own Hemi, loosely based on the Chrysler 426 Hemi. It was used for racing only.

The bore was so big on the 400/440 engines that the extra flame travel made emission standards more difficult. The extra weigh of the engine/trans would hurt MPG.
 

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Smog and MPG ratings. Insurance rates for HP was another. Isn't that enough?
 

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The miscalculation was scrapping the tooling, thinking a large v8 would never be wanted again.

As mentioned, bore center tooling is very expensive and is the back bone of mass produced Engines.

The 1956 Plymouth A series set the bore center dimension that is still used today!!

From the A to the LA, the Magnum, the 3.9 V6, V10 and Gen III Hemi, all are 4.460"

Same thing at Chevy, with standardized bore centers.

Chevy from the 1955 265 V8, eventually named the Small Block, to the present day LS, all are 4.44"

Included are Chevy's in line 6, 194, 230, 250, 292 with same bore centers, as the SBC, 4.44

Chevy's large V8's, eventually named Big Blocks, 348, 409, 396, 402, 427, 454, 496, 502, 572 were all 4.84"

Chrysler's B/RB and Gen II Hemi were all 4.80" and that's the tooling that was discarded.

Modern day demand and efficiencies have brought back small runs of 4.80" Mopar blocks.

Having Chrysler (4.5635"), Desoto (4.3125"), Dodge (4.1875), and A and B V8 bore centers over the 1951 to 1958 period added enormously to cost!!

Standardizing the A and B dimensions streamlined manufacturing and costs considerably, from 5 to 2 bore centers.

Thanks
Randy







What do you think was the biggest miscalculation on Chrysler's part that led to the 1979 discontinuation of the 400 and 440 BBMs? BBM=big block Mopar

~Ben
 

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What do you think was the biggest miscalculation on Chrysler's part that led to the 1979 discontinuation of the 400 and 440 BBMs? BBM=big block Mopar

~Ben
I think it was a smart financial move. The cost of maintaining this engine line for only a limited number of uses didn't make sense. It wasn't just the engine; bigger manifolds, exhaust systems, cat converters, transmissions, accessory brackets, torsion bars, etc all added to the price.

And don't hate me for saying this, I think that they killed the RB hemi at the right time. It was a very expensive motor to build, and had done its job [and still is] of building an unmatched reputation. ------------ Imagine a 426 Hemi smog motor?
 

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GLHS; Bore centers for boring and honing could be done for a moderate expense. But the expense for the machinery to mill the bottom end of the block would be high. And also, the machining of a crankshaft would be high. There are a lot of surfaces on a forged crank that require machining. And Forging dies. And valve seat machining.

Interesting info from Randy about the 3 divisions making 3 different non-interchangable engines.
 

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I think dropping the big blocks from production in 1979 was the proper move. The take rate for big block trucks and vans was really small.
However, I think scrapping the tooling was short sighted (though I think they got tax credits for doing some of this). This was before the era of factory crate performance motors, but the idea of a 440 crate motor 10-15 years later would have been nice.
 
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