What's not to like about the 383? It seems these engines have recently fallen out of favor as attention has turned to big-blocks of ever-increasing cubic inches. Big inches are good, but it takes equally big heads to get your money's worth out of them. Smaller engines need to make up for their size with speed, and speed here means rpm. In this regard, the 383 truly fits the bill. A good "rev motor" has a big bore to make room for large valves, and a short stroke to keep piston speeds down and rod ratios up. Take a head from a 440, and that 383 at 15 percent smaller will give you roughly 15 percent more useable rpms. So, a 5,500-rpm combo in the bigger engine will turn into a 6,300-rpm combo in the 383. Though it won't make the same lower rpm torque, the outright peak power number will be surprisingly close. For a moderate investment, a good 383 can be built into a high-revving powerhouse; Chrysler's most common performance big-block has a bore/stroke the other guys would kill for.

Study the 383's numbers compared to the popular engines of the competition. The 383 carries a bore and stroke of 4.25-inch x 3.375-inch, while the 396 Rat had an embarrassingly undersized bore of 4.094-inch, and a 3.766-inch stroke-as long an arm as a 440. At the Ford camp, the 390 was even worse, with a bore only slightly bigger than a 340 at 4.050-inch, and again a 440ish stroke length of 3.780-inch. The 383 was a thoroughbred by comparison to the competition's similarly sized big-blocks. In fact, the FE Ford fan's coveted 427 block had less bore diameter than the dirt-common Mopar 383. Even the Chevy guys' big guns, the 427 rat and the 454, had bores no bigger than Chrysler's 383. You won't see Ford or Chevy fans passing up 427 FEs or 427 and 454 Rats, but we tend to walk by those 383 Furys with nary a second look. Despite the shadow of the 440, the 383 is a great engine.

We decided to explore the B-Magnum's hidden potential. Anyone who remembers the 383-equipped musclecars knows that these engines can run. Garden variety 383 Road Runners, Super Bees, Challengers, 'Cudas and A-Bodies vastly outnumbered the more exotic Hemi and Six Pack cars back in that era, and these 383 cars contributed far more to the musclecar mystique and legend than they are given credit for today. We decided to put a 383 together to blueprint-stock specs to see just how much power a stock 383 put out. In the day, the 383 was one of the most modified engines ever installed in performance cars, responding eagerly to basic bolt-on speed equipment. To tap into that potential, next month we'll baseline the stock engine on the dyno, and then use some of today's best performance hardware, taking our 383 from resto-stock to racy-rad.