Half Century Of The First 426 Hemi! 50 Years Old Engine, Everybody Is Talking About!


The Chrysler assisted Don Garlits a.k.a “Big Daddy” to win seventeen world titles, including 8 US championships and many, many records. So, imagine his surprise when we asked him if the Hemi is a bit overrated. He almost lost it. We got the same reaction from Ramcharger and Tom Hoover, an ex Chrysler engineer. The 426 Hemi engine was in function for over fifty years now. Geez, you must be proud.

This car is the mysterious person in the world of motor sports. When it starts, it seems like the end of the world is near. At that moment a thunder seems like a sweet Bach melody. As Hoover said, the 426 model Hemi was active for nearly fifty years and its reputation follows it through the years. It`s getting more fearsome as it gets older.  In what way a V8  car for passengers got that type of reputation, and who is to be held responsible for such a 426 achievement?


The answer is really simple. It`s Pontiac. During the early `60s, Pontiac-powered cars were acing the races on the daily pats as well as on the track, and all the teens in Detroit told their fathers a good night stories about the cars they saw. You cannot picture the frustration when the dad in question happened to be Townsend Lynn, Chrysler`s Chief Executive Officer.

Townsend stormed into the engineering department and ordered an engine that would win every single race as well as the adoration of car fanatics forever and ever.

Bill Weertman, the manager if Engine Design and a number of other Chrysler engineers as well as technicians, draftsmen,  dyno operators and in December, 1962 got themselves in front of a brand new task- to own an engine done before the 1964 “Daytona” 500 and  to create a drag racing version as well. The team was Tom Hoover creation.

Looking at things now, the 392 Hemi`s scaling up was much easier than making the 426 Chrysler. The wedge Rb was intended to be used, namely its design for big blocks, which thanks to a block with deep skirt, shows a great stability at the bottom. The previous research of the Hemi brought up a lot of material and a bunch of problems when it came to the main design.

Great rpm performance, exhaust outflow and maximum intake were enabled through the creation of the engine. The engine needed to boost power like crazy. At the end, regarding that the pushrods were placed to tight to the sealing grains, the engineers made a decision to tilt the heads inboard. Whatch characteristic about the 392 model is that it uses the head bolt pattern with 4 bolt for a cylinder.

It seemed like the 426 Hemi model needed 5 bolts pattern, which was placed in the block`s tappet space. The guys making the Hemi were pretty serious about boosting maximum power and acing the races, which can be noticed from the long, exhausting and expensive tasks they were undertaking.


Garlits claimed that the 392 was the one version, no one wanted to change. He and the 392 were perfectly fine, but that engine was no longer in production. Frank Wlyie asked him to compete with the most desirable thing according to the clients. The 426 was ran by few of them. Garlits, the Greek, Roland  as well as and many people had them, but the feeling was like owning another vehicle. They weren`t good runners. They soon got the nick name “the elephant” which was not something to brag about!

It was exactly elephant-like so enormous and massive, that drags along and it cannot be wrecked or somehow hurt.

The elephant draged along the fourth and the fifth years of the 60s, being awarded several trophies, but not a single time have they won the race itself.  The mammoth, seemed boring and worn out to Don in the `66. As he was sick and tired, he was planning to stop racing. That way it would have been impossible for us to meet, thus you won`t be reading this article right now. It would have been a shame, indeed.

Then he asked us if we knew about the .45 pistol.

Well, of course I had no clue. So he went through the drawers of his large working desk, found what he was looking for and showed it to us. It has been a massive handgun. He was wondering if we accidentally knew the reason why he adored that pistol. Laughingly, he answered that it was because a .46 is not to be made any time soon! A funny man, indeed.  He left us with no doubts about why he was between the first ones that found the enormous boost of the 426 model. According to him, such passion nearly ruined him.

The story continues. He went up in order to get his money and saw the owner of the track, Sr. Radar, who was at his desk, similar to the one he owned. Radar, the moose and the gun together were forming a very frightening trio.  Radar said to Garlits that he has disappointed him cuz` he didn`t ride up to two hundred. So he decided to cut his money back. As simple as that. Then he gave him five hundred dollars while holding a gun in his other hand, ordering him to get lost. He did actually, but he didn`t give him the rest of the money.


The elephant draged along 1964 and 1965, winning a few trophies, but never winning over the racers themselves. By 1966, Garlits was  sick and tired of the mammoth. He was almost ready to quit racing the big motor altogether, and if he`d done that, we may never have sat in his wood-paneled office, while he waved a gun around and retell us the story you are about to hear.

The story goes this way. As he says,Columbus was the place where everything became clear to him. Ha was part of a match race against the Lees, Jim and Alison Lee. He remembers perfectly that it was a Saturday night. With the 426 Hemi, he managed to run three runs in 8seconds, while the 392 ran in the 7s, easy, and [the 426] ran 191, 192 mph. The 392 was running 206, 210, easy. I won the race and had top time and low e.t., and I went up to the tower to get paid.”

Then he asked me if I knew what a .45 pistol is.

Well, of course I had no clue. So he went behind his big desk, which was filled with trophies and photos and a framed letter from President George H. W. Bush, thanking Big Daddy for a signed poster and sending regards from Barbara. Garlits looked through his drawer for a moment and pulled out a large handgun. Then he asked me if I had an idea why he loved the .45 so much.  Laughingly, he answered that it was because a .46 is not to be made any time soon! A funny man, indeed. Is there any wonder that a man like this, with a love for the biggest and best machinery would be among the first people to come upon  the insane power of a blown 426? According to him, such passion nearly ruined him.

The story continues. He went up in order to get paid and saw the track owner, Clark Radar, Sr., sitting there behind this big desk, like the one he owned. But not one thing on it except the stack of money and a .45 pistol, and overhead, a big moose that he`d shot. It was a very frightening situation, the gun, Mr. Radar, and the moose. He said to Garlits that he has disappointed him cuz` he didn`t run 200. So he decided to cut his money back. As simple as that. Then he shoved $500 dollars toward him with one hand, and sort of slid the gun toward him with the other, and ordered him to get lost. He did actually, but he cut him $750 and which was a fortune back then.

Then he finally chose a path.  He decided to ride the 426, just to get back at the 392 model. He just wanted to give up the sponsorship, the big chaos about it. So the very next day he  did something extraordinary. Knowing that the thing cannot push more than thirty-four, he placed forty degrees spark lead. The  walls of the cylinders were about to split. Even though we were aware of that fact, we rode the 426. His team was certain he was gonna fail.The truck was loaded with the extra engine, stady for the run. So, he proved all them wrong. He ran with 214 mph! He broke a record!  We they stopped at the pits to check for the damage caused, it looked amazing, even the oil didn`t need change! There was a moment when the whole crew was begging him to stop and not destroy the whole engine, reminding him that he just set up a new world record. That should have been enough for anyone. But not for Garlits. He used 219 degrees. After that, he was finished with the model.

Almost HEMI Engines

During the previous fifty years, the Chrysler`s team discovered and showed many varieties of the 426 Hemi. Though none of those configurations was produced, it leaves all of us wondering what kind of performances and features they would have offered if they were.

The A925

426 hemi amazing engine

The first A925 multivalve scheme required on the top of the head to be placed camshafts, saddled in cast in capes. The valve lash was determined by carefully chosen caps  with the right size. The sprockets and the cog belt determined the drive.  An evaluation fixture from DOHC was made for the assembly of the 426 model. The electric motor needed for camshaft research and valve gear was equipped with an alternator, a lube plumbing, cam and crank drive, a distributor and all the blend gave life to a powerful beast, ready to rumble.

In order to avoid any kind of eventual overhead cam engines ban, the Chrysler was fitted a more traditional A925 engine with 32 valves. The climax of this idea, was the moment when they added new camshafts, placed one next to another in order to move round the valves placed overhead. They had thirty two pushrods and sixteen tappets. No matter how awesome this idea might have looked on paper it never see the light of the day. It remained a nice dream to be ever realized.

F.R. Householder, the racing circuit manager of Chrysler, showed a Hemi`s photo to the team of NASCAR and adding that if the legality of Ford`s cammer is to be announced, the project shall go on to develop. During this period of time, Householder had its hopes up that the team Chrysler shall get the permission and go on with the production of the regular 426. But NASCAR had their very own idea about it. All these types of engines were forbidden to race. So, that`s the story of this program`s end. However, it`s nice just to picture how it would have been if they weren`t banned. We surely would have wanted to be there.

The A279

Ebay - A279 Ball Stud 426 Hemi - 3

During the `68, much work was put on enhancing the V-8 426 Hemi Chrysler to what is it to be today- a gigantic Ball stud Hemi . However, several of these beasts saw the light of the day. The rocker arm pivot of the down under 245 cubic-inches Hemi, had distinctive pedestals. Having this done, the large port contours and the valves gain on a lotta more of space. The 444 cubic-inches BSH proved itself more powerful than the RB 440  on the dyno tests. However it was still less powerful than the 426.

The Hemi 99

426 hemi crazy engine

Even though it raised many discussions, we decided to show you the new offshoot of Hemi, that we stumbled upon. During the last years of the 20th century, MP decided to present to the world of Pro Stock racing, their brand new motor Hemi. It was called the Hemi 99.

Many enthusiasts agreed upon its diversity from the 1964 426 version.  The vast covers of the valves have the name Hemi painted upon. A brave move, don`t you think? However, the new 99 block model with cast iron, having the Mopar number P4876887AB, allows the over bores and for that reason it was molded with additional 4.90 inches of bore spacing. The ultimate displacement was 500 cubic inches. It  is consisted of much more cross bolts and it is  also placed  lower that the original 9.28 inches height of the deck. The factory made  height of the deck, sizing 10.72 inches is kept at the department of 99 cylinders made out of aluminum. The aforementioned configuration pulls out an extra 800 cubic inches, which are found very beneficial in many races and competitions.

More wide centers for the cylinders were created for the use and benefit of the spread bore heads. They were placed on top of the 99. The factory made port layouts of the 426 Hemi, were placed right and made approachable for the alloy castings from MP. Their mid and low lift is being enhanced due to their new rectangular shape. The heads placed properly in their combustion chambers have a different configuration than the traditional Hemi. They`ve been rotated  for seventy degrees in order to bring them closer to the ones of the DRCE`s oldmobile, shaped like 8. The exhaust system has been put out, while the ports and the intake valves inside. The potential of the swirl have been maximized, thanks to the shallow layout of the chambers and the displacement of the 47 cc.

Another huge modification was the removing of the elder OE Hemis` system of double shaft rocker. In its place, a distinctive pivot shafts were fitted. Those guys give a lot more space to a newly made system of rocker arms. Another variety of enhancements of the structure were made available in 2006 as part of the 2nd Hemi . Also, the graphite blocks from iron were placed on the market.  The MP and Chrysler factory numbers are engraved on each and everyone of these modern hardware parts. Having all these parts incorporated, it is now completely legal for the 99 to participate in all races. However, there was nothing similar to 99 ever made.

Be the owner of your personal 426 Hemi


Ray Barton, a famous race Hemi claims that though the “Gen 3 Hemi” might not appear as awesome as the factory made 426, it can do some quite fun stuff. We offer you to take a ride in a modern MP crate 7.0-liter engine with 426 cubic inches . You can opt for an amount of 615,515 or 565 horses. The 6 hundy model horse made of aluminum shall cost you an extra $18K.

Nevertheless, if you consider yourself a hard-core old-school fanatic, you can own the amazing  crate engine Gen 2 426 Hemi  by cashing out around 16K. If you fancy the larger, Mopar has made available 572 cubic inch strokers.

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