2017 marks the 80th anniversary of the Mopar® brand. Which makes it the perfect time to look back at how we got here; the trial runs and tribulations on the track and off. Let’s see just what makes Mopar such a dominant name on the street and at the track.
Invariably, the muscle car wars of the ’60s and ’70s, building upon engine technology developed in the ’40s and ’50s, shined the spotlight on the one engine that would quickly become the standard in racing circles – the 426 HEMI® engine.
Today, Mopar is helping every Mopar car enthusiast relive those glory days of maximum performance with the incredible line of HEMI crate engines that recreate the magic of the HEMI engine heyday.
But First, a History Lesson
In 1962, behind the scenes at Chrysler Corporation, the engineering staff was put on high priority to develop a new engine that could win consistently on stock car tracks. Another phase of the engine program had to target drag racing performance. The idea of winning on Sunday and selling on Monday was born!
What was initiated in late 1963 would become the mission to develop what would evolve into the most dominant, most feared and most outlawed engine in racing history, the 426 HEMI® engine. It would prove to be equally dominant on the street.
Chrysler Corporation had been producing a very powerful series of HEMI engines in the ’50s that were often favored by racers. This basic engine design would serve as a suitable starting point on the new initiative.
“Big Daddy” Don Garlits, an innovator in drag racing, powered most of his earliest “Swamp Rat” dragsters in the late ’50s with 331 or 392 cubic inch Chrysler HEMI engines. In fact, in 1962, Garlits raced a supercharged 413 Wedge-powered Swamp Rat 4 dragster.
Garlits was the king of the sport and he knew very quickly that Mopar® power would be the key to his success. Back in the engineering lab, critical to that new Chrysler Corporation engine development program, were members of the Ramchargers, including the acknowledged “father of the HEMI (engine),” Tom Hoover. Hoover was one of the brains behind the Max Wedge engines of ’61 and ’62, and was a drag racing record-holder himself.
While the Ramchargers continued their passion of racing on weekends – and winning – the 426 HEMI engine development continued until its race debut in 1964.
The Elephant is Born
The 426 HEMI engine in race trim changed the sport forever.
The engine propelled Mopar to fi nish 1-2-3 at the fi rst race, NASCAR’s 1964 Daytona 500. Richard Petty won that day, then went on to win many championships on the way to an illustrious career.
While people raced to local dealers to get a glimpse of this new engine, it wasn’t until 1966 that a street version of the 426 HEMI engine was available. And, meanwhile, on the drag strip, the 426 was taking names.
Don Garlits was the first to put the 426 HEMI engine in his Swamp Rat dragsters. In time, he figured out the proper tune for the “elephant” motor and began rewriting the record books. The Mopar 426 HEMI engine-powered Swamp Rat dragsters forced everyone to use Mopar power to keep up.
The switch to a Mopar 426 HEMI engine in top fuel and funny car categories stuck. Even to this day, every single fuel category car or dragster is powered by a variation of the original 426 HEMI engine. The Mopar legacy endures.
One of the fi nal validation points of the ’60s era was the introduction of factory-produced “package cars” from Dodge and Plymouth. The 1968 HEMI® engine Dart and Plymouth Barracuda came in a limited production lightweight version known as the LO23 Darts and the BO29 Barracudas. They were sold for “acceleration trials.”
But you didn’t need to buy a factory racecar to be the baddest on the street. Any ’60s or ’70s muscle car with a 426 HEMI engine pounding under the hood was both revered and feared for its massive torque and horsepower.
And That Brings Us Back to Today
Mopar® rolls back the clock with three crate HEMI engines that will revitalize any pre-1976 muscle car with HEMI engine power. And to simplify the transplant process, Mopar sells the installation kits that allow you to “plug and play.”
There are three crate HEMI engine kits to choose from.
345 Crate HEMI Engine P/N 68303088AA
392 Crate HEMI Engine P/N 68303090AA
6.2L Supercharged Crate HEMI Engine P/N 68303089AA
Step 1 – Pick Your Engine
Some will choose the legendary 5.7L 345 crate HEMI® engine that generates 383 hp and 417 lb.-ft. of torque. The complete assembly includes the water pump, flywheel, clutch, oil pan, intake manifold with throttle body, fuel injectors and coil packs.
Or select the mid-level 6.4L SRT® HEMI engine that generates 485 hp and 475 lb.-ft. of torque. You also get the water pump, flywheel, clutch, oil pan, intake manifold with throttle body, fuel injectors and coil packs.
For the ultimate, choose the 6.2L “Hellcrate” HEMI engine that blasts out a monstrous supercharged 707 hp and 650 lb.-ft. of torque. This complete assembly includes water pump, fl ywheel, clutch, oil pan, intake manifold with throttle body, fuel injectors and coil packs.
Step 2 – Plug It In
Mopar® offers complete installation kits to make the job easier. The “plug and play” kits include wiring harnesses, PCMs, oxygen sensors and other components that make everything work right, the first time.
6.2L Supercharged Crate HEMI Engine Kit P/N 77072452
392 Crate HEMI Engine Kit P/N 77072454AB
345 Crate HEMI Engine Kit P/N 77072455AB
Step 3 – Amp It Up
Finally, choose a Mopar Front-End Engine Accessory Drive Kit featuring a new alternator, pullies, bolts and drive belt that get the juices flowing.
Now, anyone can recapture the glory days of HEMI engine power in their beloved vintage muscle cars. For more information on Mopar Crate HEMI Engine Assemblies, contact your local Mopar dealer or visit CrateHEMI.com.