Chrysler B engine
Chrysler's B and RB engines are a series of big-block V8s which in 1958 replaced the first-generation Hemi engines. B and RB engines are often referred to as 'wedge' engines since they use wedge-shaped combustion chambers; this differentiates them from Chrysler's 426 Hemi big block engines, which are typically referred to as 'Hemi' or '426 Hemi' due to their hemispherical shaped combustion chambers.
Design features include 17 capscrews per cylinder head, a cylinder block that extends 3 inches (76 mm) below the crankshaft centerline, an intake manifold not exposed to crankcase oil on the underside, stamped-steel, shaft-mounted rocker arms (race versions used forged steel rockers), and a front-mounted external oil pump driven by the camshaft.
The 'B' series wedge engine was introduced in 1958 with 350 and 361 cubic inch versions; the 361 would last until the end of the series, albeit for trucks only. The RB (“raised B”) arrived just one year after the launch of the B series engines, with the 413, and just as all the B-engines had a 3.375-inch stroke, all the RB engines had a 3.75 inch stroke.
For 1960, a “ram induction” system shot the 413’s torque up to 495 lb-ft on the Chrysler 300F, trumping the old 392 Hemi by a good margin.
The last 'B-RB' wedge headed engine was produced in August 1978, ending the history of Chrysler Corporation big-block engines, however due to its popularity with hot-rodders, racers and enthusiasts, complete B/RB engines can now be built using entirely new parts, which are available from either aftermarket manufacturers and/or Chrysler Corporations 'Mopar' parts division.
All Low Block B-series engines have a 3.375 in (85.7 mm) stroke, a 9.98 inch deck height and 6.358 inch long connecting rods, resulting in a 1.88:1 rod ratio.
The 350 cu in (5.7 L) B engine was, along with the 361, the first production B engine, first available in 1958. It had a bore of 4.0625 inches (103.19 mm). The 350 was classified as a big block engine; all parts except for the pistons and water pump are fully compatible with the 383.
Plymouth called their versions of the early B engine the Commando, variants of which included the Golden Commando and SonoRamic Commando. It produced 305 bhp (227 kW). DeSoto's B engine was named TurboFlash. It put out 295 bhp (220 kW). Dodge had a high power variant that was called the D500 and produced 320 bhp (240 kW) but the bread and butter version was a 2-barrel with 295 bhp (220 kW) called the Super Red Ram.
The 361 was essentially a bored 350. Both the 350 and 361 had a fuel injected version in 1960 only. Very few of fuel injected B engines were made, and only a handful—at most—remain since most were brought back to the dealer to fitted with carburetors.
The 361 cu in (5.9 L) B engine also introduced in 1958 was essentially the same as the 350 except for a larger 4.125 in (104.8 mm) bore. In 1964, the Dodge Polara 500 came standard with a 315 bhp (235 kW) version of the 361 that had a four-barrel carburetor, dual-point distributor, and dual exhausts.
The 361 would last until the end of the series, albeit for trucks only. In its early years, the 305-horsepower 361 was optional on many vehicles, and standard on, among others, the Dodge 880.
The 383 cu in (6.3 L) B engine—not to be confused with the RB version— was essentially a larger bore version of the 361 and used a 4.25 in (108 mm) bore, and was introduced in 1959. Over 3,000,000 B 383 engines were produced between 1959 and 1971. Dodge's version, the D500 had a cross-ram induction manifold and dual 4-barrel carburetors as options. In some Dodge applications, this engine was labeled as the Magnum, while the Plymouth's version was called the Golden Commando. The Golden Commando came with a dual-point distributor, a drag-racing derivation.
The 383 became the model Mopar performance engine for the next decade: The big bore allowed for larger (2.08”) intake valves, and the relatively short stroke helped it to be a free-revving engine as well as a free-breathing one.
Pushing out a maximum of 330 horsepower (gross) and 460 lb-ft of torque in 1960, the 383 trumped the 392 Hemi, which had never beaten 435 lb-ft. The 1960 383 engines boasted the same basic ram induction system as the Chrysler 300F’s 413 RB engines (named SonoRamic Commando when sold in Plymouth form).
The 400 cu in (6.6 L) B engine was introduced in 1972 to replace the venerable 383. Chrysler increased the bore size of the 383 to create the 400. Its bore—4.34 inches—was the largest used in any production Chrysler V8 to date. All parts except for the pistons were interchangeable between the 383 and 400.
Crankshafts were of cast iron composition. Two versions of this engine were available: a four barrel version rated at 320 HP at 4,800 rpm, 410 ft-lbs of torque at 3,200 rpm and a two-barrel version producing 310 HP at 4,400 rpm with 405 ft-lbs of torque at 2,400 rpm. Both four and two-barrel versions used the same 8.2 to 1 compression ratio. The 400 was used in both cars, trucks and motorhome chassis. Horsepower and torque ratings gradually declined through the years due to the addition of more federally mandated emissions controls, until all Chrysler passenger vehicle big-block production ceased in 1978.
Due to its large factory bore size, short (compared to RB engines) deck height, and impressive bottom end strength, which is greater than any other production B or RB engine due to extra material added around the main bearing caps, 400 B engine blocks have become a popular choice for high performance engine build ups, and used/secondhand blocks are sought after to this day. Common modifications include fitting a modified 440 RB or aftermarket crankshaft to increase the factory stroke, which results in engine displacements of 451 cubic inches or greater on the lighter and more compact low deck platform.
The RB engines, produced from 1959 to 1979, are Raised-Block (taller) versions of the B engines. All RB engines have a 3.75 in (95 mm) stroke, with the bore being the defining factor in engine size. All RB wedge engines share a deck height of 10.725 inches, and were fitted with 6.768 inch long connecting rods, resulting in a 1.80:1 rod ratio. Bore center distance is 4.84 inches (123 mm). All RBs are oversquare.
Not to be confused with the 383 B engine, the 383 RB had a 4.03 inch bore and was only available in 1959-1960 on the US-built Chrysler Windsors and Saratogas; one of Trenton Engine’s lines had been converted to the new RB engine (to make the 413), and demand for the 383 B engine was too high for the remaining line. The solution was to create a 383 RB to fill the gap until the plant figured out how to quickly switch from one block to the other.
The 413 cu in (6.8 L) RB had a 4.1875 inches (106.36 mm) and was used from 1959 to 1965 in cars. During that period, it powered almost all Chrysler New Yorker and all Imperial models, and was also available on the lesser Chryslers, Dodge Polara, Dodge Monaco, and Plymouth Fury as an alternative to the B-block 383 and/or the A-block 318. It was also fitted to some European cars such as the later Facel Vega Facel II
In the 1959 Chrysler 300E the 413 wedge was fitted with inline dual 4-barrel carburetors; it was factory-rated at 380 brake horsepower (283 kW) at 5000 rpm and 450 lb·ft (610 N·m) at 3600 rpm. In 1960, a long-tube ram induction system was made standard on the Chrysler 300. It continued as standard on the 1961 300-G, and remained on the option sheets for Chrysler 300s through 1964. In 1962, a special version known as the "Max Wedge" was made available for drag racing and street use; this version produced 420 bhp (313 kW) at 5000 rpm. The 413 remained in use in medium- and heavy-duty trucks until 1979.
1959–1961 with 4-Barrel Carb Max Brake Horsepower: 355 @ 4600 rpm Max Torque: 525 @ 2800 rpm Stroke: 3.75 Bore: 4.1875 Compression: 10.0
1959 with 2 × 4-Barrel Carbs Max Brake Horsepower: 380 @ 5000 rpm Max Torque: 450 @ 3600 rpm Stroke: 3.75 Bore: 4.1875 Compression: 10.0
1960–1961 with 2 × 4-Barrel Carbs Max Brake Horsepower: 375 @ 5000 rpm Max Torque: 495 @ 2800 rpm Stroke: 3.75 Bore: 4.1875 Compression: 10.0
1962: 1965 with 4-Barrel Carb Max Brake Horsepower: 340 @ 4600 rpm Max Torque: 470 @ 2800 rpm Stroke: 3.75 Bore: 4.1875 Compression: 10.1
1962 with 2 × 4-Barrel Carbs Max Brake Horsepower: 380 @ 5000 rpm Max Torque: 495 @ 2800 rpm Stroke: 3.75 Bore: 4.1875 Compression: 10.1
1963: 1965 with 4-Barrel Carb Max Brake Horsepower: 360 @ 4600 rpm Max Torque: 470 @ 2800 rpm Stroke: 3.75 Bore: 4.1875 Compression: 10.1
1963: 1964 with 2 × 4-Barrel Carbs Max Brake Horsepower: 390 @ 4800 rpm Max Torque: 485 @ 3600 rpm Stroke: 3.75 Bore: 4.1875 Compression: 9.6
Not to be confused with the 426 Hemi, the 426 cu in (7.0 L) RB was a wedge-head RB block with a 4.25 in (108 mm) bore. The 426 Wedge served as Chrysler's main performance engine until the introduction of the 426 Hemi. It was initially offered as the "non-catalogued" option S42 in Chryslers (the number of such produced is uncertain), offered with 373 or 385 bhp (278 or 287 kW) via a single 4-barrel carburetor (11.0 or 12.0:1 compression ratio, respectively), or 413 or 421 bhp (308 or 314 kW) via ram-inducted dual 4-barrel carburetors (with the same compression ratios). For 1963, horsepower ratings would slightly increase (see below), and it became optional in B-bodied Dodges and Plymouths. After 1963, it would be used only in Dodges and Plymouths.
The Max Wedge was a race-only version of the 426 Wedge engine offered from the factory. Known as the Super Stock Plymouth and Ramcharger Dodge, the Max Wedge featured high-flow cylinder heads developed through state-of-the-art (at the time) airflow testing. They had 1⅞-inch exhaust valves, which required the cylinder bores to be notched for clearance. The blocks were a special severe-duty casting with larger oil-feed passages than other RB engines, and the blocks were stress-relieved by the factory. Induction came by means of a cross-ram intake manifold tuned for peak power above 4000 rpm and two Carter AFB-3447SA 4-barrel carburetors. The Max Wedge also included high-flow cast-iron exhaust manifolds that, on the later versions, resembled steel tube headers. The Max Wedge was factory rated at 415 or 425 bhp (309 or 317 kW) (depending on compression), and 480 lb·ft (650 N·m) at 4400 rpm.
Before the end of the 1963 model year, Chrysler introduced the Stage II Max Wedge with improved combustion chamber design and an improved camshaft. The last performance year for the Max Wedge came in 1964 with the Stage III. The factory-advertised power rating never changed despite the Stage II and III improvements.
A 426 Street Wedge block was also available in 1964 and 1965. It bears little relation to the Max Wedge except for basic architecture and dimensions. The Street Wedge was available only in B-body cars (Plymouth and Dodge) and light-duty Dodge D Series trucks. It was little more than an increased-bore version of the standard New Yorker 413 single 4-barrel engine.
The 440 cu in (7.2 L) RB was produced from 1966 until 1978, making it the last version of the Chrysler RB block. It had a precision cast-iron block with iron heads and a bore of 4.32 inches (110 mm), for an overall displacement of 439.7 cu in (7,206 cc).
From 1967 to 1971, the high-performance version was rated at 375 bhp (280 kW) (370 bhp (276 kW) in 1971) at 4700 rpm with a single four-barrel carburetor, and from 1969 to 1971, the highest-output version had an intake setup with three two-barrel carburetors ("440 Six Pack" for Dodge, "440 6 Barrel" for Plymouth) producing 420 brake horsepower (313 kilowatts) (415 bhp (309 kW) in '71).
In 1972, changes were made to the horsepower ratings of vehicle engines from gross (engine only, without air cleaner, exhaust system, alternator, or other power-consuming components) to net (with alternator, air cleaner, mufflers, and other vehicle equipment installed). The new rating system produced lower, more realistic numbers for any given engine. At the same time, emissions regulations were demanding cleaner exhaust. Engines including the 440 were made with reduced compression, modified cam timing, and other tuning measures to comply with the newly tightened emissions regulations. The 1972 440 produced 335 bhp (250 kW) (gross) at 4400 rpm; the new net rating was 225 horsepower (168 kilowatts)—which very closely coincided with period German DIN ratings and TÜV measurements.
The high-output 440 was marketed as the Magnum in Dodges, the Super Commando in Plymouths, and the TNT in Chryslers.
The large variety of aftermarket components manufactured for the Chrysler B/RB (and Hemi) family makes it possible to build a complete B/RB big block engine that contains no Chrysler components. Blocks made of both iron and aluminum alloys are available in stock or modified which accept B/RB wedge cylinder heads, with bore sizes up to and beyond 4.50 inches - larger than the largest production bore size of 4.34 in the 400 B engine. New Cylinder Block suppliers include Keith Black, World Products and Koffel's Place. Many aftermarket cylinder heads and crankshafts are also available for the B/RB as well as all other components.
Chrysler Corporation also offers complete new 'crate' engines through its Mopar parts division in various displacements, these engines are built from entirely new parts.
- In the film The Blues Brothers, in describing the Bluesmobile to his brother, Jake, Elwood said, "It's got a cop motor, a 440-cubic-inch plant. It's got cop tires, cop suspension, cop shocks. It's a model made before catalytic converters so it'll run good on regular gas." The Bluesmobile has the ability to perform seemingly impossible stunts, such as jumping over an open drawbridge, flipping backwards in midair and even "flying" for very brief periods of time.
- 440 Source. "Everything you've ever wanted to know about B/RB blocks and more...". 440Source.com.
- Mopar Performance, Atherton, Larry. S-A Design Publishing CO: 1978.
- Collectible Automobile, Dec. 1994, pg. 57 Article: 1960-62 Chrysler "Positively No Jr. Editions", by Jeffrey I. Godshall
- Flory, J. "Kelly", Jr. American Cars 1960–1972 (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Coy, 2004), p.220.
- Mopar Performance, Atherton, Larry. S-A Design Publishing CO: 1978
- Lösch, Annamaria, ed. (1981). World Cars 1981. Pelham, NY: The Automobile Club of Italy/Herald Books. p. 234. ISBN 0-910714-13-4.