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CATEGORIES (articles) > Engines > Chrysler > Chrysler Hemi engine

Chrysler Hemi engine

Early Hemi in a 1957 Chrysler 300C.

A Chrysler Hemi engine is one of three different internal combustion engine families from the Chrysler Corporation (or its successor, DaimlerChrysler) that are Hemi engines; in other words, they utilise a hemispherical combustion chamber. A hemispherical cylinder head allows the valves to be inline rather than side-by-side, which gives a straighter, simpler airflow path, allows large valves, and gives greater efficiency. The hemi design places the sparkplug in the center, giving more even ignition.

The advantages of the hemi cylinder head come at the disadvantage of requiring intake and exhaust valve stems that point in different directions, requiring much more complicated rocker arm setups in overhead valve engines. These also increase the space taken up by the cylinder head; Hemi engines are not space-efficient.

The three generations of Chrysler Hemi engines included the first (the Chrysler FirePower engine) in the 1950s, the second from the mid 1960s through the mid 1970s, and finally in the early 2000s.


Chrysler developed their first experimental Hemi for use in the P-47 aircraft. This engine, the XP-47H (X for experimental) was a V16 rated at 2,500 hp. However, Chrysler has always been known for underrating their engines and the actual performance of this incredible prototype, which survives and is on display at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum, suggests that it actually produced between 3,000 and 3,500 hp. It was capable of pulling the P-47, which ordinarily possessed a 2,300 hp engine and topped out at 439 mph, to the incredible speed of 504 mph at an altitude of 15,000 feet, which is still an incredible feat for a piston engine. Unfortunately, the engine never saw mass production and the project was cancelled at the end of World War II.

Most historical mentions of the Chrylser engine contradict this information such as here: and here being aviation sites not usually filled with armchair auto experts with a blind eye towards particular brands.It wasn't the hemi headed engine that propelled the experimental plane to 500+ mph but only 490mph. Some articles lead you to believe the end of the war was the only reason the project was scrapped but the P-47 went on active duty with the more suited radial engine. It was in fact a radial Pratt and Whitney that propelled the plane over 500mph.

In addition to the aircraft engine, Chrysler developed an experimental V12 Hemi tank engine. Although that particular engine does not seem to have been produced, it seems that Chrysler did apply hemi heads to some of their production tank engines. Jay Leno made it into the news in 2004 by building a hot rod using a Chrysler hemi-headed Patton tank engine producing 810 hp and 1,560 ft·lbf of torque.

Edit: The tank engine used in Leno's car was an overhead cam Continental engine and not a Chrysler engine.

FirePower with the OHV V8

Main article: Chrysler FirePower engine

Using their experience with the hemispherical combustion chamber in aero-engines, Chrysler decided to use this layout in their first OHV V8 in 1951, introducing a 180 hp (134 kW) Hemi V8 with a displacement of 331 in³ (5.4 L). The term Hemi was not applied to this engine by Chrysler, however.

As soon as this engine was introduced, Briggs Cunningham chose to use the Chrysler OHV V8 in some models of his automobiles designed as race cars for international motorsports. A Chrysler-powered Cunningham C5-R won first in its class in 1953—and Team Cunningham automobiles using these engines finished as high as third place overall—at the 24 hours of Le Mans Grand Prix motor racing. Cunningham switched away from these designs in 1959 when Chrysler abandoned the hemispherical concept in favor of the wedge-head Chrysler B engine.

Hemi design reintroduced

Polished and chromed 426 Hemi engine in a 1971 Hemi 'Cuda
Cover of Car Craft magazine, showing the second generation Chrysler Hemi engine
Cover of Car Craft magazine, showing the second generation Chrysler Hemi engine

The hemispherical head design was revived in 1964. These were the first engines to officially use the "Hemi" name, a word Chrysler trademarked. All Chrysler Hemi engines of the 1960s displaced 426 in³ (7.0 L). Although just 11,000 Hemi engines were produced for consumer sale, the engine became legendary, with "Hemi" becoming one of the most familiar automobile-related words in the United States. The 426 Hemi was nicknamed the "elephant engine" at the time, a reference to its far-from-compact dimensions and extraordinary power.

The first 426 Hemi of the 1960s was the NASCAR race engine, introduced in 1964. It earned recognition when it placed first, second, and third in the 1964 Daytona 500 race. This famous engine was sized for NASCAR (which mandated engines under 428 in³/7.0 L) with an oversquare 4.25 in (107.9 mm) bore and 3.75 in (95.2 mm) stroke like the Chrysler RB engine big-block. The engine's success led the series organizers to effectively legislate the racing Hemi off the track.

The 426 Hemi was produced for consumer automobiles from 1965 through 1971, and new crate engines and parts are available today from DaimlerChrysler. There were many differences between the Hemi and the Wedge-head big-block, including cross-bolting and a different head bolt pattern. The street Hemi version was rated at a very conservative 425 hp (317 kW) with two Carter AFB carburetors. In reality, the engine could produce 450 to 475 hp (336 to 354 kW) and 490 ft·lbf of torque.

This engine was used in the following vehicles:

  • 1965–1970 Dodge Coronet/Plymouth Belvedere 426-S
  • 1965–1971 Plymouth Satellite
  • 1966–1971 Dodge Charger
  • 1967–1971 Plymouth GTX
  • 1968 Dodge Dart
  • 1968 Plymouth Barracuda
  • 1968–1971 Dodge Super Bee
  • 1968–1971 Plymouth Roadrunner
  • 1968–1971 Plymouth Barracuda
  • 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona
  • 1970 Plymouth Superbird
  • 1970–1971 Dodge Challenger

Modern Hemi

The modern Hemi is not really a Hemi at all - it has a polyspherical combustion chamber similar to that in many other modern engines. A true hemi head was considered in the design phase, but it was rejected and only the near-perpendicular valve arrangement remains. The Hemi replaced Chrysler's large LA family of engines, particularly the Magnum 5.9, in the early 2000s.


The 5.7 L Hemi was released in 2002 on the Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 pickup trucks to replace the Magnum 5.9 engine. The buying public was enthusiastic about the engine, and bought Rams and Hemi-powered Dodge Durangos at an amazing rate. Chrysler reacted by putting the 5.7 L Hemi in the 2003 Dodge Ram 1500, 2005 Chrysler 300C and Dodge Magnum, and the 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

The 5.7 L Hemi in the Ram delivered 345 hp (257 kW) and 375 ft·lbf (508 Nm), but 340 hp (254 kW) and 390 ft·lbf (529 Nm) for the 300C and Magnum. It is a 90-degree V8, 2-valve pushrod design displacing 5654 cc (345 in³), with a bore of 99.5 mm (3.92 in) and a stroke of 90.9 mm (3.58 in).

A new variable displacement technology called Multi-Displacement System (MDS) is used in some versions which can shut off a bank of cylinders under light load to improve fuel economy.

The 5.7 L Hemi is made at Chrysler's Ramos Arizpe, Mexico Saltillo Engine plant.

The Hemi was on the Ward's 10 Best Engines list for 2003 through 2006.

This engine is used in the following vehicles:

  • 2003-present Dodge Ram
  • 2004-present Dodge Durango
  • 2005-present Chrysler 300
  • 2005-present Dodge Magnum
  • 2006-present Dodge Charger
  • 2005-present Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • 2006-present Jeep Commander


Chrysler has developed another modern Hemi, this time at 6.1 L to replace the Ram Tough V10. The displacement is 370 cubic inches (6,059 cc). The engine is bored-out to 4.1 inches (103 mm), but many other changes were made to allow it to produce 425 hp (317 kW) at 6,200 rpm and 420 ft·lbf (569 Nm) at 4,800 rpm. The engine block is different, with revised coolant channels and oil jets to cool the pistons. A forged crankshaft, lighter pistons, and strengthened connecting rods add durability. A new cast aluminum intake manifold is tuned for high-RPM power and does not include variable-length technology. Chrysler's Multi-Displacement System is not used.


  • 2005-present Chrysler 300 SRT-8
  • 2005-present Dodge Magnum SRT-8
  • 2006-present Dodge Charger SRT-8
  • 2006-present Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT-8 (415 hp/310 kW)


Chrysler unveiled a larger 6.4 L (390.6 in³) engine at the 2005 SEMA auto show. This engine puts out 505 hp (377 kW) and will be available as a crate engine. There are no official plans to use it in a production car, though rumors place it as the top engine in the 2008 Dodge Challenger. If it is used in a production car in the future, it might need modifications in order to meet production requirements


Chrysler revealed plans for a 6.6L engine for the 2008/2009 Dodge Challenger as part of a plan to come out with a real performance car.

Hemi-powered cars as collector's items

Dodge & Plymouth Hemi-powered cars produced between the model years of 1965 and 1971 have become desired collector's items (as have other muscle cars manufactured during this era). At auctions like the Barrett-Jackson Car Collector's Show, it is common to see restored & mint condition Hemi-powered Dodges and Plymouths command bids of over US$100,000. In fact, a rare 1970 Plymouth Hemi Cuda Convertible was recently auctioned off at the Barrett-Jackson event at US$2,160,000.

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