Dodge 360 Specsby Rob Wagner
The Chrysler Corporation, also operating as Chrysler LLC, introduced the Dodge 360-cubic-inch V8 engine in the waning years of the muscle car era in 1971. Production ended in 2002. The 360 V8 was part of Chrysler's "LA" family of engines. In addition to powering Dodge Chargers, the 360 was also found in the Plymouth Duster and Roadrunner and the Chrysler LeBaron among other Chrysler vehicles. The 360 was a standard engine for Dodge trucks.
The basic design of the 360 V8 remained unchanged for more than 30 years and served as a template for the high performance Dodge Viper V10 engine. It architecture was timeless, fuel-efficient and durable for the era it was produced. The "L" in "LA" stood for lightweight. Chrysler used a thin-walled block and a smaller wedge configured combustion chamber to reduce the engine's weight by 50 lbs. The 360 ultimately replaced the 1968 to 1973 340-cubic-inch V8 with a slightly smaller cylinder bore of 4 inches compared to the 340's 4.04 inches. The 360's stroke, however, was longer at 3.58 inches, while the 340 featured a 3.31-inch stroke. The standard 360 was equipped with a two-barrel carburetor. A four-barrel version became available in 1973. When Chrysler dropped the 340 in 1973, the 360 was the automaker's most powerful engine.
With its introduction in1971, the Dodge 360 was one of nine V8 engines offered. Its initial horsepower rating was the second lowest of the V8 family for the model year. The 360 featured an 8.7:1 compression ration and 255 horsepower at 4,400 rpm. Its torque was 360 ft.-lbs. at 2,400 rpm. Torque provides the acceleration for the vehicle. The 360's normal oil pressure range was identical to its siblings at 45 to 65 psi. The 360's closet rival in raw power was the 383, which had a larger cylinder bore at 4.35 inches, but a shorter stroke at 3.38 inches. The 383 generated 275 horsepower and 375 ft.-lbs. of torque. By 1972, however, tougher government emission standards sapped the 360's strength. Chrysler detuned the 360 to generate only 175 horsepower and 285 ft.-lbs. of torque.
The model years 1973 and 1974 were only slightly brighter for Chrysler's V8s. The 340 was gone, but the 360 now came with a four-barrel carb, giving buyers three 360 engine choices. All three featured an 8.4:1 compression ratio, with the two-barrel version providing 180 horsepower and 290 ft.-lbs. of torque. Two four-barrel versions pushed the 360 to the top spot in power. They wielded 200 horsepower and 290 ft.-lbs. of torque or 245 horsepower and 320 ft.-lbs. of torque (See References 1-3).
Early 1970s Dodge vehicles complemented the 360 with a TorqueFlite three-speed automatic transmission and standard 2.45 rear axle ratio. Optional rear axle ratios included 2.71, 3.21, the 2.71 Sure Grip and the 3.21 Sure Grip. Model year 1976 Dodge passenger cars, such as the Charger, matched the 360 with the three-speed automatic. The standard rear gear ratio on all 1976 Chrysler products equipped with the 360 was 2.71. Optional gear ratios matching the 360 were 2.45, 2.94, the 2.71 Sure Grip and the 3.21 Sure Grip. The 360 was the base engine for the 1970s Chargers.
Rob Wagner is a journalist with over 35 years experience reporting and editing for newspapers and magazines. His experience ranges from legal affairs reporting to covering the Middle East. He served stints as a newspaper and magazine editor in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Wagner attended California State University, Los Angeles, and has a degree in journalism.