Street racers were always on the prowl for the Next Hot Thing and in 1962, the ones on the cutting edge were trolling for action in two-door Plymouth sedans. Now, one didn’t mess casually with a 421 Super Duty Catalina or even a Ford Galaxie if it had the 405-horsepower 406. But those machines were scarce on the street and rare even at the strip. No, the real top dog was a Chevy Bel Air with a 409-horsepower 409-cubic-inch V-8. It took guts to take on one of these pop-song-prompting 409s. But in 1962 Chrysler did with its new 413-cubic-inch Max Wedge V-8.

Armed with twin 659cfm Carter AFB carburetors mounted in tandem, the 413 made 410 horsepower. Chrysler arrived at the 413 by stroking the B-Block 383, which had been around since 1959, into a taller-deck B-Block known as the “Raised-Block B-Block,” or “RB-Block” V-8. It had a bore of 4.19 inches, a stroke of 3.75, solid lifters, dual valve springs to combat valve float over 6000 rpm, magnafluxed rods, wedge-shaped combustion chambers, and short-ram induction manifolds.

The Plymouth’s engine bay was too narrow to allow the 413’s exhaust headers to exit downward. So Chrysler routed the cast-iron headers upward first in a ram’s-horn sweep that, along with the tandem carbs, became a trademark of this “maximum wedge” engine.

The 413 Max Wedge came to Dodge and Plymouth full-size cars in the spring of ’62 as a limited, high-performance option. Plymouth called it the Super Stock 413; Dodge the RamCharger 413. Most found their way into bare-bones, no-frills two-door sedans ordered primarily for the strip. Already lighter than the full-size Fords, Chevys, Pontiacs -- and even its Dodge Dart cousin -- a 3100-pound Plymouth Savoy or Belvedere could shed even more weight by being ordered without heater, radio, and sound deadening.

Chrysler’s push-button TorqueFlite automatic was the hot choice behind the 413; the three-speed manual was actually slightly slower in the quarter, and the company didn’t offer a four-speed with the engine.

The Max Wedge 413 was as rare -- and as difficult to manage -- on the street as any other factory engine built primarily for competition. But even in such exclusive company, it quickly upset the established pecking order. Super Stock/Automatic records fell like flies and while a 413 lost to the dreaded 409 in the NHRA’s ’62 Super Stock Eliminator world championship, MoPar’s new engine did take a Plymouth where no passenger car had gone before. In July 1962, Tom Grove drove his Super Stock Plymouth to an ET of 11.93 seconds at 118.57 mph. His was the first stock passenger automobile to beat 12 seconds in the quarter. It was just the beginning.

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