This is an original Chrysler Spitfire straight-8 engine from 1949, it has a displacement of 323 cubic inches, or 5.3 liters, and depending on specification it would be capable of up to 165 hp at 3,600 rpm and 268 lb ft of torque at 2,000 rpm.
Chrysler first developed this line of flathead engines in 1924, over the course of the 30+ year production run they would built inline-fours, inline-sixes, and inlign-eight versions of the engine, all with an iron block and either an iron or aluminum cylinder head.
The first straight-eight version of the Chrysler flathead would appear in 1930, a number of versions would be built between 1930 and the 1950s, and they would power a wide array of cars and trucks. Some later found their way into speed boats, where their effortless torque, smooth running, and good reliability were put to good use.
The engine you see here is a 1949 model that benefits from a rebuild to display condition, it has a compression ratio of 7.25:1, mechanical lifters, a Carter downdraft carburetor, lightweight aluminum pistons, and it’s mated to a Fluid Drive/Prestomatic semi-automatic transmission.
It could be said that the American love affair with the V8 engine started with the Ford Flathead V8 that first appeared in 1932, but for many years straight-8 engines like this one were among the most desirable. Today the inline-eight engine layout has largely been forgotten in favor of inline-sixes and V8s, though cars with straight-eights always seem to have a crowd around them at shows – indicating that the fascination with them still persists.
This engine will likely be bought by one of two people; someone who wants to swap it into a classic Chrysler or hot rod, or someone who wants to display it just as is. If the new owner intends to use it in a car it would be worth contacting the seller and discussing what would be required to recommission the engine for use.
This engine will be crossing the auction block with Mecum with no reserve in mid-August, if you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can click here to visit the listing.
Images courtesy of Mecum
Articles that Ben has written have been covered on CNN, Popular Mechanics, Smithsonian Magazine, Road & Track Magazine, the official Pinterest blog, the official eBay Motors blog, BuzzFeed, Autoweek Magazine, Wired Magazine, Autoblog, Gear Patrol, Jalopnik, The Verge, and many more.
Silodrome was founded by Ben back in 2010, in the years since the site has grown to become a world leader in the alternative and vintage motoring sector, with well over a million monthly readers from around the world and many hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.