The Best And Worst Years For The Mopar 360 Engine

If you want to start an argument among a group of automobile enthusiasts, simply ask, "What is a Mopar?" The brand is a portmanteau of "motor" and "parts" and was established by Chrysler in 1937 as the automaker's parts and accessories division, and the term has since come to cover all the actual car and truck brands Chrysler has owned. Initially, that meant Chrysler, Plymouth, Dodge, and DeSoto, although DeSoto went under in 1960. When Chrysler acquired Jeep along with AMC in 1987 and started labeling Dodge trucks as Rams in 2009, those two badges became part of the Mopar family, even to most purists. 

Fiat bought Chrysler in 2014, and Fiat-Chrysler joined forces with the Peugeot group in 2021 to form Stellantis. Even the most inclusive gearheads would stop short of lumping Peugeot or Citroën in with older Mopar brands, mostly because the cars from those French makers share little in common with their distant Dodge, Plymouth, AMC, and Jeep cousins.

The Mopar brands had their heyday in the 1960s and 1970s, highlighted by the production of some memorable AMC muscle cars and the development of more than a half-dozen versions of the venerable slant six engine.

Mopar hoods also shrouded some large and powerful big block V8s and V10s – but a small-block 360 cubic inch lived in various forms from 1971 through the late 1990s and persisted through a couple of major design changes. 

[Featured image by Mr. Choppers via Wikimedia Commons|Cropped and scaled|CC-By 3.0]

Mid-'70s 360s were hindered by smog restrictions

These LA and Magnum series 360s aren't to be confused with AMC's 360-inch V8, which powered various AMC and Jeep models from 1970 through 1991. That AMC motor was such a powerhouse that Chrysler kept it in the Jeep lineup after purchasing the brand in 1987. 

For now, let's focus on the Mopar 360 that first appeared in 1971 as a midpoint between Chrysler's existing 318 and 383 cubic inch V8s. The 360 was first offered as an option in the Plymouth Fury and Dodge Polara and as standard equipment in the Chrysler Newport Royal, all of which were built on the C-body platform. 

Initially, it was topped with a two-barrel carburetor that gave it 255 gross horsepower and 360 lb-ft of torque (via Motales). A truck version came in 1974, with a four-barrel carb, mild cam, and 200 horsepower and 290 lb-ft of torque. A California-legal version of the four barrel appeared the next year and dropped those numbers to 190 horsepower and 270 lb-ft. These smog restrictions didn't quite put a potato in the tailpipe, but the mid-'70s versions of this motor had some of the lowest output numbers of any Mopar 360 V8.