History of the Chrysler 440by Rob Wagner
The Chrysler 440-cubic-inch V-8 engine was used to power Chrysler, Dodge and Plymouth cars. Although the 440, which was Chrysler's biggest displacement engine, was best known for its contribution to the muscle car wars of the late 1960s and early 1970s, it was also the powerplant of choice for the automaker's luxury car lineup. At its peak in 1970, the performance 440 Six-Pack delivered 390 horsepower, but the 440's potency declined beginning in 1971 due to government-imposed safety and emission control regulations.
The 440 originated with the Chrysler "B" engines that debuted in 1958 as a 350-cubic-inch V-8 variant and grew in cubic-inch displacement to 361, 383 and 400. The "RB" versions, or raised-deck "B" engines, followed with displacements of 383, 413 and 426 cubic inches. The 440 appeared in 1966. Chrysler marketed the 440 as the TNT in its Chrysler cars, the Super Commando in Plymouths and the Magnum in Dodge vehicles. The 440 remained virtually unchanged during its production run, except for the 440 Six-Pack, which featured triple two-barrel Holley carburetors. The 1970s fuel shortage doomed the 440, as Chrysler turned to more fuel-efficient engines. The automaker's ill-conceived Lean Burn system in 1977 had attempted to get the 440 to burn less fuel, but the system was fraught with problems. Production of the 440 ended just a year later.
The Chrysler 400 had a 4.32-inch bore and a 3.75-inch stroke. The bore was slightly wider than the 4.25 inches on the famed 426 Hemi engine. The 440 initially developed 350 horsepower and 480 foot-pounds of torque while equipped with a four-barrel carburetor, and had a 10-to-1 compression ratio. High-performance models from 1967 to 1970 got a horsepower boost, to 375. In mid-1969, Chrysler beefed up the 440's crankshaft and connecting rods, and reconfigured the flywheel and vibration damper to handle the new models' added weight. However, the changes only increased the engine's vibration. Beginning in 1972, horsepower plummeted to just 280. In 1977, the horsepower rating fell to 195, with 370 foot-pounds of torque.
The 440 Six-Pack was Chrysler's most powerful engine behind the 426 Hemi. The triple two-barrel Holley carburetor system gave the 440 its Six-Pack moniker. It developed 390 horsepower in 1969 and 1970, and 385 horsepower in 1971, with a 10.3-to-1 compression ratio. It also featured Edelbrock high-rise aluminum intake manifolds. Its torque rating was 490 foot-pounds. Chrysler matched the engine with a four-speed manual transmission, while the standard 440s received a three-speed manual. The 440 Six-Pack found its way into the Plymouth Road Runners, 'Cudas, Sport Fury GTs and Super Bees, as well as the Dodge Challengers and Chargers. Drag Racing magazine clocked the 1969 Road Runner achieving the quarter mile in 12.98 seconds at 111.66 mph. The 1970 Dodge Challenger, according to Car Life magazine, hit the quarter mile in 13.80 seconds at 104.20 mph.
Although the Lean Burn system hastened the demise of the 400, the engine was already on its last legs. It no longer was a performance engine for lightweight coupes, but the primary engine for Chrysler's big luxury cars: the Chrysler New Yorker Brougham, Newport and Town & Country, the Dodge Monaco and the Plymouth Gran Fury. Production ceased in 1978, although some 1979 models were equipped with 440 leftovers.
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.