7 Greatest Hemi Hits
7 Of The Greatest Hemi Engines
Tom Hoover, known as "The Father of the Hemi," has died at the age of 85. Hoover was instrumental in adding hemispherical combustion chambers in Chrysler's burly V8 engine lineup, and without his influence, the famed 426 Hemi would not exist today.
In honor of Hoover's contribution to automotive history, here are seven of the greatest Hemi engines Chrysler ever had a hand in producing.
1945: 36-liter XIV-2220 V16
Let’s start with the first Hemi, a mammoth 36-liter, sixteen-cylinder designed near the end of World War II for service in the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt. It produced 2,500 horsepower, although it arrived too late to be of any use in the war. Chrysler learned a number of lessons during the XIV-2220’s development, though, which later proved useful in its development of Hemi-engined production cars. Chrysler’s wartime service also saw it develop a V12 Hemi that served in the M47 Patton medium tank.
1951 to 1959: FirePower V8
Chrysler’s first Hemi to be found in a production car wasn’t even badged as such. Instead, it was known as the FirePower, and was offered in three different sizes, including the 180-horsepower variant shown above. The real icons of the FirePower line, though, include the famous 331-cubic-inch, 355-horsepower version found in the 1955 C-300 and the 392-cubic-inch FirePower offered in the 300C and 300D, where owners had access to 375 horsepower. Beyond production cars, the FirePower V8 was used in the world’s most powerful air-raid siren (seriously), had a prestigious history in drag racing, and even went to Le Mans and won Sebring with Briggs Cunningham.
1964 to 1971: 426-cubic-inch Hemi V8
Ah, the one everyone thinks of when they hear the word “Hemi.” The legendary 426-cubic-inch Hemi sits in arguably the most collectable muscle cars of the 1960s and 1970s, including the Plymouth Superbird and Dodge Daytona twins, as well as more common production models, like the Barracuda, Challenger, Charger, and Dart. Beyond that, the 426 has long been an icon in the NHRA, which still uses an engine based very loosely on the classic Hemi, while adding a supercharger and nitromethane injection. They produce around 7,000 horsepower.
1970 to 1981: Hemi-6
Not all of Chrysler’s production Hemi engines had eight cylinders. In Australia, the company sold a straight-6 available in three different varieties for use in the third- and fourth-generation Valiant.
2003 to Present: 5.7-liter Hemi V8
“That thang gotta Hemi?” Chrysler relaunched its Hemi branding with the famous 5.7-liter, found in everything from the then-new Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger, as well as the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Durango and Ram 1500.
The 5.7 has been massaged and refined over the years, gaining advanced features like cylinder deactivation, while output has climbed from the 340 horsepower of the 2005 300C to the 375 horsepower of the current Challenger R/T. Compared to most big American sedans, like the Ford Taurus and Chevrolet Impala, the presence of the 5.7-liter Hemi was a boon for what was, at the time, DaimlerChrysler.
2005 to Present: SRT Hemi V8
The pioneering engine for Chrysler’s high-performance SRT group, the 6.1-liter found its way into the SRT8 Charger, Challenger, Magnum, 300, and Grand Cherokee. Its 425 horsepower came at a time when the Ford Mustang GT was struggling to break 300 horsepower. In 2011, the 6.1 was replaced by a 6.4, which was branded as a 392. Power was up from 425 to 470 ponies, allowing the heavier Dodge Challenger to better compete with the 5.0-liter Ford Mustang GT and the 6.2-liter Chevrolet Camaro SS.
2015 to Present: 6.2-liter Hellcat V8
The big boy. Chrysler shocked the world when it debuted the SRT Hellcat V8, a 6.2-liter monster that uses a 2.4-liter twin-screw supercharger to produce 707 horsepower, or 114 ponies per liter. It makes the Dodge Challenger the most powerful production muscle car ever produced, while the four-door Charger Hellcat is the fastest sedan on the planet, topping out at 204 miles per hour.