Small Engine Big Motor


I was recently given the opportunity to part out a 1981 Diplomat. The car was very rusty, and the engine was seized (the mighty leaning tower of power), but it had very low mileage (52K). All I could think of is the start- er and alternator, which look similar to what’s on my ’66 Belvedere and ’72 Barracuda. When I got home, I noticed that the starter is larger than what’s in either of my cars. I just know that you’ll explain why that is, and if it is something I should hold on to.

Yes, it is a keeper. That’s a 1.8HP Chrysler/Indianapolis built starter. The 1.8 HP version (all your oldies are 1.5 HP) was introduced in 1975 to crank the harder-starting smogger big-blocks and 360s. For 1981, it came in for several improvements (mostly durability-related), and became the standard RWD starter across the board. This was as good as it got in Mopar-built starters, it continued in production, virtually unchanged, until replaced by the “Nintendo” PM starter in 1988.

Starting in 1975, a high-torque version (1.8 HP) of the famous 1962 Indianapolis gear-reduction starter was introduced, which can be identified by the longer field housing (shown above). In 1981, there were several detail engineering upgrades, and the older (small) 1.5 HP version was discontinued, so even slant- six cars got the beef.
5 1 vote
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x