14. Hemi 426
One of the most famous engines in the muscle car era was the Chrysler 426 Hemi V8. They conceived it in the early ’50s with an innovative way of constructing the heads of the engine with big, hemispherical combustion chambers and side-mounted valves. This configuration proved to deliver more power, torque, and revs than regular V8 engines. Soon, Chrysler adopted it for most of its cars. The Hemi family started with the 331 CID engine and went all the way to 392 CID before they discontinued it in the late ’50s. However, while looking for racing engines, Chrysler engineers remembered the Hemi. They decided to resurrect it in 1964 as a pure racing engine with 426 CID or 7.0-liters of displacement. The new engine proved to be fantastic for drag racing and on the NASCAR ovals, too.
It didn’t take long for management to understand its commercial potential. So in 1966, the 426 Hemi became a regular production option on selected Dodge and Plymouth models. Compared to other muscle car engines of the period, the Hemi was the king and soon earned the nickname “The Elephant” for its size and power. In street trim, they rated the engine at 425 HP, but it was obvious it delivered around 500 HP straight from the factory. Soon, the Hemi became the most desirable engine for all street racers The last year of the 426 Hemi production was 1971. For five years, they installed around 10,000 engines in Dodge and Plymouth cars, and even in drag racing boats.