Even though Hemi is the current buzzword for musclecar enthusiasts, Mopar's 440 engine is also a significant big-block V8. It was introduced in 1966, the same year the 426 engine was replaced by the same-displacement, legendary 426 Hemi "elephant engine," and found its way into both luxury and performance vehicles.
The high-performance 440 initially appeared in the 1967 GTX and R/T models. In 1969, the first 440-6 barrel engine package was produced with special rods, crankshaft, timing chain, camshaft, valve springs and intake system. This package was continued in 1970 and 1971.
In 1971, the 440-6 barrel and the Hemi were the last truly high performance cars produced. One of the greatest moments in the 'B' engine's history was its return to Grand National racing. On July 4, 1971, four cars with 426 cubic inch versions of the 440 with ported 440 heads entered the Daytona Grand National race, and they finished 1-2-3-4. Both performance and reliability have always been trademarks of the 'B' engine family.
Achieving these two traits requires some experience and knowledge, though. For some expert advice on the proper buildup of a Mopar 440, we sought out an old pro, Jim VanGordon of VanGordon Racing. His company has a lengthy history of building engines for Cup cars, along with an impressive range of musclecars, street rods, strip cars, offshore boats, racing trucks, and both Super Late and Late Model oval track cars. In addition, he's now the designated builder of the newly reintroduced Mr. Norm's Hemi Dart.
Heart and Soul
For this particular buildup, we'll focus mostly on the bottom end, in particular the thrust bearing, which he feels is the heart of the engine. This entire process of prepping the block takes almost two weeks in order to do it properly. But that's time well spent for both reliability and performance.