265 Hemi Engine - Then and Now

During the 1950s, there was a flourish of Hemi engines due to continuous experiments by Chrysler. World War II played a major role in how the Hemi would become so popular, but it would take some time to perfect the engine itself. Unfortunately, by 1958, the Hemi idea had all but evaporated into thin air. In fact, the only vehicles still using a Hemi were the Dodge Coronets with a 265, and the bigger 392 Hemi in the Chrysler Imperial.

Once we reached the 1960s, experiencing another hemi engine was on hiatus until the 426 became street legal in 1966. However, the 265 Hemi engine would make another mark on the industry until Chrysler came out with the Valiant Charger in 1971. It could hit 60mph in 6.3 seconds and run a quarter-mile in 14.8 seconds. Contrary to what was on paper, the Valiant was running faster with a 265 Hemi six-cylinder than most cars did with a 351 V8.


For instance, the Ford Falcon GT was well known for its 0-100 capabilities in 19.2 seconds. The Valiant Charger was able to do it two seconds faster. The 265 also helped it run faster from 0-60 by 1.4 seconds, and 2.4 seconds faster in the quarter-mile. It was definitely hard to believe, and it was due to the six hemispherical-head cylinders and the triple Weber carbs. In fact, the 265 was even outperforming Chrysler's 340 V8s, which were very popular at the time.

Throughout the 265 hemi engine's existence, it went through a host of modifications. There have been several carburetor changes, various intake manifold setups, compression ratio tinkering, and a host of other differences. Even the pistons and ports have been reworked from time to time. Regardless of all the "tweaking," the 265 Hemi still offers a straight-six engine block.

Eventually the 265 Hemi was built more for durability as opposed to power. City officials utilized this engine in police cars and government vehicles for a long period of time. You could also find them in those "hardworking" cars like taxis and delivery vans. The modifications for this type of street use allowed it to have decent power, but still focusing more on economic fuel benefits and reliability.

The Hemi Six has always been a reliable engine, and it could generate 302 horsepower with about 320 ft-lbs of torque. The horsepower almost doubled the basic 215 Hemi (140), so it was utilized successfully until the 392 and 426 surfaced. The standard version could only develop 203hp.

Today, if you find a 265 Hemi engine of the hood of a car (excluding the Valiant Charger), it's probably a crate engine. The parts needed to build the 265 are not easy to find. Since most car lovers don't have the time to research every single piece, they purchase a crate engine that is already intact. These can provide you with the same amount of horsepower as the antique from the early 1970s.

While it was a popular choice for standard vehicles, today collectors and restorers would rather have a 426, 472, or 528 Hemi engine for their car. It's because these were a huge part of the muscle car era and later on in the 70s and 80s. If you want a workhorse that doesn't need as much maintenance, the 265 Hemi is the right choice, especially if you're looking for longevity.

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