Unveiling the Legends: The Fierce Mopar Max Wedge Cars of the 1960s - 044

The roar of the 426-cubic-inch (7.0-liter) HEMI V8 engine is undoubtedly etched into the annals of automotive history as one of Chrysler's most iconic powerplants. Yet, in the spirited 1960s, before the HEMI took center stage, Mopar aficionados had the privilege of embracing the fierce Max Wedge.

Chrysler's foray into the hemispherical combustion chamber began in 1951, paused in 1958, and staged a triumphant return in 1964 with the second-generation HEMI, the mighty 426 V8. Often lovingly nicknamed the "elephant engine," it was destined for NASCAR glory and triumphed on the race tracks when paired with the Plymouth Belvedere.

The journey from the racetrack to the streets marked its presence in production cars for the 1966 model year, primarily for homologation purposes. This marked the birth of a powerhouse era that would energize all Plymouth and Dodge muscle cars through 1971. The HEMI was not only an icon; it was a powerhouse legacy.

But before the HEMI's rise to dominance, there was the Max Wedge. Conceived during the heat of the Detroit drag race wars in the early 1960s, the Max Wedge took shape based on the robust RB block and first debuted in 1962 as a 413-cubic-inch (6.8-liter) juggernaut.

With an 11.0:1 compression ratio, it unleashed 410 horses, while the 13.5:1 ratio variant delivered a staggering 420 horsepower. Crafted for the race track, it bore the name "Ramcharger 413" in Dodge models and "Super Stock 413" in Plymouth's lineup.

Chrysler's relentless pursuit of power led to an expansion of the Max Wedge engine to 426 cubic inches in 1963, enhancing the horsepower figures for both compression ratios. The 11.0:1 version provided 415 horsepower, while the 13.5:1 mill roared with 425 horsepower—figures that placed it on par with the iconic HEMI that would follow.

The Max Wedge was an exclusive powerplant for the intermediate Mopar models of the B-body class. Dodge enthusiasts could revel in the power of the Max Wedge in the Dart, Polara, 330, and 440.

On the other hand, Plymouth graced the Fury, Savoy, and Belvedere with this iconic engine. Notably, the Max Wedge powerhouses led the charge for Chrysler's domination of the drag racing scene and were the genesis of some of the finest muscle cars of the early 1960s.

Though not as prominently celebrated as their HEMI counterparts, the Max Wedge cars are an even rarer breed. The reason? A mere few hundred of these cars were produced by Dodge and Plymouth from 1962 through 1964. The 1963 Dodge 330, featured here, is a one-of-a-kind gem and a holy grail for Mopar enthusiasts.

Out of a total of 34 produced that year, this 330 stands alone, cloaked in silver over red—an authentic treasure among Mopar aficionados. Its history is meticulously preserved, having taken its inaugural laps at Minnesota Dragway and later competing at the 1963 NHRA Nationals in Indianapolis.

The original owner parted with it in 1965, but the 330 remained a regular contender at the drag strip across various classes until the 1970s. Remarkably, this Mopar braved the racetrack for more than a decade and lived to recount its story. After a thorough restoration, it is once again a sight to behold, authentically returning to its 1963 specifications.

Notably, this remarkable vehicle still retains its factory lightweight components, including the aluminum hood, fenders, and bumper. The 425-horsepower Max Wedge engine remains in highly original condition, alongside the 727 push-button automatic gearbox.

While it may not boast the same fame as the Ramcharger, this 330 is undeniably one of the most authentic Max Wedge specimens you'll encounter.

In a rare appearance at the 2023 Chattanooga Motorcar Festival, this Mopar made its mark, offering enthusiasts a chance to explore its rich history. Witness its majestic presence and savor the incredible sound of the mighty Max Wedge as it roars through its exhaust cutouts in the video below. This is an experience you won't want to miss.

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