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1964 Mopar - Build A Max Wedge For Under Seven Grand

Photography by Steve Magnante

'Of all the classic Detroit Super Stock engines, the '62-'64 Mopar Max Wedge is the wildest of the bunch. Say what you want about "real fine" 409s, High-Riser Ford 427s, Super Duty Pontiac 421s, and the like. None can match the sheer visual impact of the 413/426 Max Wedge. With that crazy cross-ram intake manifold and those beautiful upswept exhaust manifolds, it's a surefire party starter in both the looks and performance departments. But the big problem with the original Max Wedge cross-ram intake manifold is that it was part of a factory-matched system that also included big-port heads-some 20 percent larger than standard passenger-car big-block wedge stuff.

So let's say you score an original Max Wedge cross-ram manifold at the swap meet. If you're lucky and have superdeep pockets, you can search out a set of matching original Max Wedge heads, which wear casting number 2402286 ('62 413), 2463209 ('63 Stage II 426), or 2406518 (late '63-'64 Stage III 426). Just make sure they're not full of cracks and repairs, which most are, some four decades from new. And yes, there are a number of brand-new big-port Max Wedge-style head castings from Mopar Performance, Indy Cylinder Head, and others that'll accept the cross-ram with no hassle. All it takes is money.

But what if you're one of the huddled masses with a run-of-the-mill raised-deck 413, 426, or 440 RB passenger-car wedge and you just want the look? Your non-Maxie head castings are no match (literally) for the cross-ram. Oh, sure, over the last four decades guys have tried bolting the original cross-ram onto basic 516, 915, 906, 346, and 452 big-block wedge heads, and yes, it does fit. But the massive port mismatch yields a power-snuffing flow disturbance, and the dead-end exhaust-heat crossover passages are prone to leakage unless they're plugged with molten aluminum, steel shim gaskets, or other Band-Aids.

But now those problems are solved thanks to Rick Allison and the guys at A&A Transmission, who have just released a picture-perfect reproduction Max Wedge cross-ram-with a twist. It has smaller passenger-car-sized intake runners in place of the sewer-sized Max Wedge openings. That means it'll bolt right up to any non-Max big-block wedge head. It's a true breakthrough that opens the door for anybody with a 413, 426, or 440 Mopar to run a cross-ram with no need to swap heads.

We scored one and had Joe Jill and the crew at Superior Automotive stick it on a budget-oriented cast crank 440 we pulled from a '78 Dodge motorhome. With 9.75:1 compression, a mild hydraulic cam, box-stock Edelbrock 500s, and light bowl blending on the motorhome heads, we got 436.9 hp at 5,500 rpm and 491.2 lb-ft of torque at 4,100 rpm on 91-octane unleaded pump gas.

We're not saying the combination shown here trumps the original 426 Max Wedge's 13.5:1 compression ratio, dual 750-cfm Carter AFBs, 0.520-lift solid cam, larger exhaust valves, and 20-percent-larger port volumes. That would defy logic, and at a supposed 425 hp at 5,600 rpm (and 480 lb-ft at 4,400 rpm), those things were intentionally underrated by at least 50 hp to fool the competition. But with a whopping 465 lb-ft way down at 3,000 rpm, it appears the A&A cross-ram's reduced runner volume complements any standard-port big-block head and does wonders for low- and midrange torque output. This isn't just a showoff piece; it really works. Best of all, for under $7,000 we got the look-and most of the power-of the mighty Max Wedge.

Tech Specs
Displacement: 446 ci (with 0.030 overbore)
Horsepower: 436.9 @ 5,500 rpm
Torque: 491.2-lb/ft @ 4,100 rpm
Compression ratio: 9.75:1
Bore/stroke: 4.350 x 3.750 (with 0.030 overbore)
Maximum safe engine speed: 6,500 rpm
Recommended shift point: 6,000 rpm

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