The 340: Classic Mopar Performance in a small package
When it comes to Mopar engines built during the muscle car era, most of the attention is focused on the legendary big blocks and the iconic Hemi. Let’s talk about small blocks. Chrysler small-block performance really got its start with the release of the “LA” series in 1964. Although the venerable 318 “A” engine had been around since 1957, it was simply a workhorse V8 with very few performance pretensions. With the LA engine, Chrysler had its first modern “thinwall” V8. Debuting in 273 cubic-inch form, the engine was installed in the small A-body series of cars such as the Valiant and early Barracuda. The solid-cammed, 4-bbl 273 in the ‘66 Barracuda Formula S made 235 horsepower which was certainly respectable and fun in the lightweight car. The serious small-block performance, though, arrived with the 340 in 1968.
The 340 was designed from the outset as a performance engine. From the forged-steel crankshaft and connecting rods (which were also shot-peened by the factory for stress-relief), to the big-valve (2.02” intake, 1.60” exhaust) free-flowing heads, the 340 was built to run hard and live doing it. The ‘68 edition made 275 horsepower with a single 4-bbl Carter carburetor.
Chrysler’s 340 reached its highest state of tune in 1970 with the famous 340-6 bbl engine. Designed for use in the popular and hotly contested SCCA Trans-Am racing series in the Plymouth AAR ‘Cuda and Dodge Challenger T/A, the engine’s most striking feature was the use of three 2-bbl Holley carburetors on an aluminum intake manifold. Chrysler engineers designed a special block for the AAR/TA engine which featured extra-thick main webbing to allow for 4-bolt main bearing caps. The previously mentioned forged crank, rods and pistons were carried over. Compression remained at 10.5:1, while the hydraulic camshaft was also the same (.430” intake, .445” exhaust) grind used in the standard 340. The cylinder heads had special, widened intake ports that were made possible by relocating the intake pushrods. Another unique aspect of the AAR/TA 340 was a fully adjustable valvetrain, with 2.02” intake and 1.60” exhaust valves. Chrysler severely underrated this screamer at 290 horsepower. This was, not coincidentally, the same rating applied to Chevy’s Z/28 302 and Ford’s Boss 302, both of which were also Trans-Am “specials”. In competition form and destroked to the SCCA-mandated 305 cubic inches, the AAR/TA engine produced around 440 horsepower.
The bean-counters got to the later versions of the 340. While the engines still made good power, some of the components weren’t quite as strong as on earlier models. Of course, this made them less expensive to produce, and the manufacturers were starting to see the writing on the wall with respect to emissions and insurance regulations. The 360 replaced the venerable 340 in 1974, and actually made use of many of the 340s components.
Mopar’s 340 is one of the all-time great small block engines. In a nice, light A-body with a 4-speed, the screamer small-block would humble some of the best-known big-inch muscle cars of the day – which makes the 340 one of the legends of the muscle car era.
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Thursday, November 19, 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Teaming up with Horsepower TV to build a road race Mustang is cool. Building the car as a rolling tribute to Vic Edelbrock, Jr., an icon in the hot-rodding world, is even cooler. But what pegs the cool meter is giving the car away to one lucky enthusiast after everything is wrapped up!
You read that correctly - the YearOne/Horsepower TV/Edelbrock tribute Mustang will be given away when it's done. Until then, of course, be sure to follow the build progress on the show, and check here for updates as well.
Click here for more details on the car, and be sure to check back often for the latest news.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Time has a way of hurrying past, and believe it or not the final event of our 2009 Braselton Bash car show season is November 14th. We’re closing out 2009 in style, however, with our special Christmas in Braselton event. Here’s your chance to help make a deserving child happy at Christmas, and check out a bunch of cool cars at the same time – what could be better? The Christmas in Braselton Hot Rodders Children's Charity show benefits the Holiday Connection Jackson County charity, which provides deserving children with gifts and support for the holidays. Admission to enter the show is a new, unwrapped toy. Help us close out our 2009 Braselton Bash show season by helping spread good cheer at Christmas.
November 2009 Braselton Bash
Christmas In Braselton
Charity: Holiday Connection Jackson County
Date: Saturday, November 14, 2009
Event hours: 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Car Show entry fee: New unwrapped toy
Car Show Events & Activities:
All makes and models welcome
Participant vote top 25 cars with awards presented
Free Kid's Play Area (Presented by: Hometown Community Bank)
Holiday Music by Jackson County Comprehensive High School Chorus
Leave Your Mark BFGoodrich Burnout Exhibition (not a contest)
1001 Cherry Dr.
Braselton, GA. 30517