426 HEMI Net Community+ ADD YOUR SITE (15 members)
There are so many reasons to love cars. From their stylish designs to the many extra features that are now common in the latest cars that seemed unimaginable just a few years ago, modern cars are truly pieces of art. However, car lovers will tell you that the biggest appeal in a car for them is in their engines.
As one of the Big 3 American automakers that are based in Detroit, Chrysler has created a number of innovations that have greatly advanced American automobiles. However, one of the biggest advances that Chrysler has made is in its Hemi engine. The Chrysler Hemi engine utilize a hemispherical combustion chamber that feature two valves to be placed at an angle, which allows for a sparkplug to be placed near the center of the engine. A Chrysler Hemi feature rocker arm geometry in its overhead valve engines and provide extra power that many people love.
The original Chrysler Hemi engine was its legendary 426 HEMI. The Chrysler Hemi engines were displaced 426 cubic inches, hence the name. The 426 hemi featured a deck height of 10.72” and bore-spacing of 4.63”. At the time, the biggest engine on the market, the 426 hemi engine was initially introduced in the Plymouth Belvedere in 1964 that was used for NASCAR stock car racing.
While Chrysler had enjoyed major success in the nascar circuit for years, at the time, it was being surpassed by Chevy’s 427 Mystery Motor that was introduced a year earlier. There is a saying in racing terms that goes, “win on Sunday, sell on Monday,” meaning that if a particular brand of car wins at a nascar race on Sunday, then the brand of car will sell more units due to the increased exposure. This same philosophy can be applied to the 426 hemi, which dominated the NASCAR circuit when it was first introduced. Due to increased high-RPM breathing improvement, the 426 Hemi made a major impression on Nascar drivers. In the 1964 Daytona 500 race, cars that used the 426 hemi placed first, second, and third. One of these drivers was the legendary nascar driver, Richard Petty, who immediately recognized the immense potential offered in the 426 Hemi.
Featuring an over square 4.25 inch bore and a 3.75 inch stroke, the 426 hemi overwhelmed the nascar circuit to the point that NASCAR organizers changed the requirements of the number of engines that had to be sold to qualify for nascar use. This resulted in the 426 hemi being declared ineligible for the 1965 Nascar season. However, the 426 hemi had already been properly introduced to the public due to its domination of the Nascar circuit. When Chrysler had sold the proper amount of 426 hemis, the 426 hemi was now available to be used in the 1966 nascar season. Used in Chrysler’s new Dodge Charger model that was driven by David Pearson, the 426 Hemi returned to its dominating ways. In that season, Pearson went on to win 14 nascar races and claimed the NASCAR Grand National Championship.
The 426 Hemi was also a revelation in NHRA drag racing. Featuring elephantine casting, the 426 hemi allowed for modifications of the engine, the 426 hemi continues to be the standard in drag racing. Car enthusiasts and amateur racers continue to adore the 426 Hemi and is typically considered the best muscle car engine ever. Professional drag racers demand the 426 hemi in their vehicles and accolades for the engine continues to this day. In 1990, Car and Driver writer Patrick Bedard declared that “the 426 Hemi is unquestionable the king of the muscle cars, both for its speed and for its defiance.” The reverence given to the 426 hemi has led to people referring to it as simply, “The Hemi.”
When Chrysler introduced the 426 hemi, it limited the number of available 426 hemi engines to just 11,000. While there weren’t many 426 hemi engines available for sale at the time, the 426 Hemi made an immediate impact. Nicknamed the ‘elephant engine,’ the 426 hemi has been credited for making hemi a common automotive term. The legend of the 426 reached new heights when it was tested on an episode of American Muscle Car that proposed to find “the fastest muscle car engines of all time.” In the episode, a L88 Chevy engine, a 427 tunnel port FE Ford engine, and a 426 hemi were placed in a dyno test. The 426 hemi produced 820 hp and 689 ft-lb of torque making it the overwhelming winner. Although there is some controversy over whether that particular 426 hemi had been worked on previously to maximize its results, the results of the show has only perpetuated the legend of the 426 Hemi.
With its massive success on the racing circuit, Chrysler was bombarded with demands by consumers to be able to have the 426 hemi available in consumer automobiles. The street versions of the 426 hemi were rated to be able to produce 426 hp (317 kW) with two Carter AFB carburetors. However, these reports were conservative and in actuality, the street version of the 426 hemi was able to produce up to 500hp (354 kW) and 490 ft-lb of torque. The 426 hemi was available in a number of consumer automobiles from 1965 to 1971. To this day, Chrysler continues to manufacture the 426 hemi and the popularity of the engine seems to be only increasing.
The 426 Hemi was initially used in the Dodge Coronet and the Plymouth Belvedere where it powered the 1966 to 1970 models of these vehicles. In the same year, the 426 Hemi was added to the Plymouth Satellite and the Dodge Charger. The 426 hemi would be the engine of these vehicles up to 1971. The 426 Hemi also powered the Plymouth GTX from 1967 to 1971. The 426 Hemi was also used in the 1968 Dodge Dart and the 1968 Plymouth Barracuda. From 1968 to 1971, the Dodge Super Bee and the Plymouth Roadrunner boasted a 426 hemi v8 engine. The 426 hemi engine was also used in the 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona and the 1970 Plymouth Superbird. It would also be used in the 1970 and 1971 versions of the Plymouth Barracuda and Dodge Challenger.