Few things are as recognizable as the sound of a vintage Chrysler starter. Those gear reduction units are music to many Mopar-lovers’ ears and known for their signature cranking tones. Unfortunately, they’re also known for their bulk and heft. Luckily, Mopar High-Torque Mini Starter cures all those issues while shaving a few pounds.
Our 1970 Charger R/T’s faithful crank-spinner had served it well for fifty years, but there are few things worse than being stranded in a parking lot with nothing but “click-click-click” keeping you company. As a preventative measure and to shave a few pounds from the big B-body, we picked up Proform Parts High-Torque Mini starter #440-415 to save ourselves a potential future headache.
Above: Proform Parts offers many Officially Licensed products including our High-Torque Mini starter. We recently upgraded our 1970 Charger R/T with a Mopar Electric Conversion Distributor kit, which you can read here.
Featuring a 4.41:1 gear reduction ratio, this starter puts out more torque at a lower weight and size than the Chrysler units of the ’60’s and ’70’s. The housing is fresh cast aluminum and filled with new, not rebuilt, internals. Weighing in at 8 pounds, 5 ounces on our shop scale, it’s almost half of the original’s 15 pound, 10 ounce burden. It’s also shorter in length and a bit more narrow to maximize header and oil pan clearance.
The smaller size of Promform Parts High-Torque Mini starter helps it stay cooler. Its size will all better air flow around the starter and it is physically further away from exhaust to attract less heat. Heat soak can be a real pain in the butt when making a quick stop for fuel or other things. The cast aluminum design also dissipates heat better allowing the smaller starter to stay cooler.
Above: You can quickly see the physical differences between the original and new mini starter. We through both of them on our scales to see exactly how much lighter the new Proform mini starter was. The new starter was just shy of weighing half as much as the original.
It may be small but do not under estimate its power. Proform’s starter delivers 40-50 percent more cranking power than factory. Add in the years your original starter has been in use and that percentage could be even more. The high-torque will spin up to a 15:1 compression motor.
As always, installation started with unhooking the battery cables to curb any surprise sparks. Since the Charger still has its original HP manifolds, exhaust interference wasn’t a problem for disassembly or reassembly. Those with headers may have to loosen or remove some exhaust components to get the old starter out.
Top Left: The original monster starter is starting to show its age. Top Right: You can see how close the starter is to the exhaust and transmission lines. Bottom Left: With an extension and our ratchet we removed the two bolts holding the starter in. Bottom Right: Be careful removing the starter with the bolts out as its weight can easily smash a finger.
Mopar’s High-Torque Mini starter comes outfitted to fit Chrysler V6, small block V8 and big block V8 motors. Since we were installing the starter on our 1970 Charger’s big block 440, we had to remove the adapter plate that was preinstalled. To remove just loosen the two terminal nuts and remove the plate. Do not throw the nuts away as you will need them later on.
Once the adapter plate is removed the wiring scheme is the same as original, so it was a true, easy bolt-in for us. Even without headers, we noticed the steering, brake lines, proportioning valve, and exhaust flange were instantly more accessible with the lightweight unit in place.
Above: After bolting the Proform’s mini starter in place you can see how much more clearance there is around the exhaust and transmission lines compared to before.
Minds of the numbers-matching types will be put to ease knowing that the original starter was boxed, labeled, and saved for the Charger’s future restoration. But we don’t think the 440 Magnum will miss it. Back down off the lift, the big block sprung to life in just a few high-powered turns. We now have peace of mind that with Proform Parts Mopar High-Torque Mini starter we will not be stranded due to the factory unit failing.