Happy 3/18 – Let’s Celebrate The Chrysler 318, The 318 Poly, and One Other 318ci Mill You May Not Think About

Happy 3/18 – Let’s Celebrate The Chrysler 318, The 318 Poly, and One Other 318ci Mill You May Not Think About

Ah yes, 3/18 the day we look back at the venerable 318ci Chrysler small block, the 318ci Chrysler Polyspheric, and a diesel engine that is not necessarily known for its displacement but more for the awesome noise it created, the 318ci 6V53 Detroit Diesel.

These are three good engines for sure. All of them had long production runs with the 318 LA-series small block being the king of that mountain having been produced from 1967-2001 in various versions. Most of those versions had a two barrel carb on top but there were 4bbl versions of the engine (in the cop cars of the 1980s and later in trucks) and the fuel injected version of the engine was its last hurrah surviving through the 1990s and into the current millennium. This thing was the definition of a workhorse, if not an outright performance engine. The good news is that as time has gone on, more and more hot rodders have taken advantage of the plentiful supply of these small blocks and it is not uncommon to see stroker versions along with examples that have stuck closer to stock displacement making more than respectable power. The 318 is not the sexiest Mopar small block but it certainly is the easiest to find and at this point one of the cheapest to hot rod. Yes, it gives up some displacement to the 340 and 360 versions of the LA but what’s a few cubes between friends?

The engine that preceded the LA-series small block was the Chrysler “Poly” V8 family. Produced from 1956-1967 it was found in a wide array of passenger cars and trucks. Using a combustion chamber that was “kind of” like a Hemi, using opposed valves like a Hemi, and made in displacements that ranged from 277 through 318ci it was another working mill that did have a performance side. There was a dual quad version called the V-800 that was rated at 290hp which was the factory performance peak of the motor. Hot rodders have taken this engine under their wing and made improvements over the years and while it would never been mistaken for a thundering hemi, respectable power in a period hot rod can be made while giving the car a truly cool look. The sawtooth style valve covers throw lots of people off when they look at the engine because they are pretty uncommon to see these days.

The last engine we’re talking about today is the 6V53 Detroit Diesel two stroke six cylinder. This engine was introduced in 1957 and was one of a myriad of mills that Detroit Diesel produced in their famed two stroke line up. When you talk to someone that knows diesels and bring up a 318 Detroit, you are not talking about this engine but instead the 318hp rated 8V71 engine. The 6V53 can be found in all manner of heavy equipment and was a popular truck engine during its time as well. 1938 was the year that the 71-series (71ci per cylinder) was introduced and the 53-series engines were smaller displacement variants of that. The awesome 6V53 is actually still being produced by MTU (or it was up until recently) for military applications around the globe. We love the sound and the history of this engine so it is only fair we remember it today on 3/18!


Onto the videos! The engine at the bottom is the one you may have forgotten about!

Here’s the 318 Poly –

Here’s the 318ci 6V53 two-stroke Detroit Diesel!


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