Dodge 318 Engine Informationby Rob Wagner
The Dodge 318 V-8 engine was produced by the Flint, Michigan-based Chrysler Corporation, now Chrysler LLC, from 1967 to 2002. The 318 was not just limited to Dodges, but also powered Plymouth and Chrysler cars as well. The engine was remarkably efficient, durable and proved to be Chrysler's mainstay for many of its vehicles over the decades.
Chrysler was known for its superiority in engine technology over Ford and General Motors. The automaker produced a wide variety of six-cylinder and V-8 engines. Chrysler's Slant-6 served as a base engine for many of the low-end Dodge and Plymouth offerings in the early 1960s. In 1964, Chrysler introduced the 273-cubic-inch V-8. It was designated an "LA" for a "lightweight" A-type engine. It produced up to 235 horsepower.
Birth of the 318
The 273 set the stage for the 318, which was introduced in 1967. The 318 was engineered for the smaller Dodges and Plymouths on a 108- to 112-inch wheelbase and later the larger full-size Chrysler line of cars. The 318 initially powered the Dodge Dart and Demon and the Plymouth Barracuda, Scamp and Duster. Ultimately, virtually all Dodge cars were equipped with the optional 318.
The 318 had a 3.91-inch bore and 3.312-inch stroke. Its compression ratio in 1968 was a hefty 9.1:1, but was reduced to 8.6:1 by 1973 in the interest of fuel economy. It was equipped with a two-barrel carburetor and generated 230 horsepower at 4400 rpm and 340 foot-pounds of torque.
Lost in the Shuffle
The 318 had all the characteristics to be transformed into a high-performance engine with a little tweaking. But the 340 came along just one year after the 318 made its debut. The 360 followed in 1971. The 340 and 360 stole much of the 318's thunder as they provided the perfect size and versatility for high-performance modification. When the 383 appeared later, it usurped the 340 and 360 as Chrysler's premier high-performance engine behind the legendary Hemi V-8s.
318 Finds a Niche
While the Dodge Challenger and larger, third-generation Plymouth Barracudas were generally equipped with the bigger V-8s, the 318 proved to be a perfect engine for the early and smaller Dodge Dart and Plymouth Barracuda. The engine packed a wallop, but was not too unwieldy for the smaller frame cars. Even the modestly designed Plymouth Valiant, Volare and Aspen received the 318. It also was the engine of choice for police cruisers, such as the Dodge Diplomat and Plymouth Gran Fury.
While the 340, 360 and 383 V-8s got all the attention, the 318 proved to be Chrysler's best-selling V-8. This was due partly to keeping the 318's two-barrel carburetor that allowed a measure of fuel efficiency. Carefully maintained, the 318 could achieve 16 mpg.
Chrysler introduced the Magnum 318 in 1992 that came with a new block and heads. The Magnum featured high-flow heads for better intake. The Magnum, which was used in Dodge trucks, was a better engineered and more efficient engine. But by 2002, the 318 was dropped in favor of the 360 that remained as the only high-powered optional engine for the Dodge pickups.
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.