392 Hemi Engine - Then and Now

Back in the 1950s and 1960s, the automobile world was changing.  Households were going from a standard production vehicle with little horsepower under the hood, to faster and more powerful vehicles.  It's not something you would find in a typical domestic home, but there were plenty of other places you could come across a Hemi engine.

One of the first times we saw the 392 Hemi engine wasn't from a Dodge or Plymouth.  It actually was used in the oil business.  Back then you had your own servicing equipment to pull the pipe out of wells.  The best piece of equipment offered the 392, which allowed it to pull the pipes out faster.  When it was all said and done, the horsepower made everything easier.

Chrysler went through countless trials and tests to form the perfect Hemi engine.  Oddly enough, it seemed they were using the racing industry to run tests and see how the Hemi would compete against Ford and GM engines.  If their V-8 wasn't up to par, they would tweak its performance.

Long before the 392 Hemi engine (back in the 1930s), Chrysler was working on engine designs for tanks and aircrafts.  Even though some designs showed great success, they were never sent to production.  This was due to World War II coming to a close in 1945.  However, it was a building block for the Hemi engine.

The 392 wouldn't be released until 1957, but it was well worth the wait.  The deck height was a half inch taller than normal, which created a wider area for the heads.  It allowed Chrysler to use intake manifolds from older versions.

The four vehicles using the 392 Hemi engine were:

    • Chrysler 300C (1957)
    • Chrysler 300D (1958)
    • Chrysler Imperial (1957-58)
    • Chrysler New Yorker (1957-58)

During the late 1950s and early 1960s, the 392 Hemi engine was one of the most popular choices amongst the drag racers.  In fact, there was so much success; some individuals were using it into the 1970s.  However, the 426 began taking over the NASCAR and drag racing worlds in 1964.  By the mid-1970s, the 392 Hemi engine was a classic, but not a mainstream engine.

The 2nd generation 392 Hemi engine surfaced in 2007, even though it is considered a crate engine.  By 2011, the Dodge Challenger SRT8 could be driven off the showroom floor with a 392 Hemi in it.  This version produced 525 horsepower and 510 ft-lbs of torque.

It's funny how our history tends to come out of the shadows every so often.  Due to slow economic times since the real estate crash of 2008, major motor companies have been looking for ways to entice buyers with lower prices and more power.  Chrysler has been doing an exceptional job with their 2nd generation 392 Hemi engine.  In fact, they also plan to offer the newer version in the Dodge Charger SRT8, Chrysler 300SRT8, and Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8.

We don't believe this will be the last you see of the 392 Hemi engine.  It will just have the appropriate modifications to be acceptable in the 21st century.

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