Chrysler's Hemi is considered by many to be the finest engine ever mass
produced. I created and maintain this website to be a useful resource
for those interested in the Hemi. I am always trying to add more info,
and love hearing from people that may have details to include.
EARLY HEMI R&D
The years following World War II brought upon new designs for performance.
Chrysler had to find a way to increase power without increasing
compression, which would require higher octane fuel. The key was thought
to be in the better designed cylinder head, perhaps hemispherical with
conventional valve-in-head. Using hemi heads would increase thermal and
volumetric efficiency, as well as provide a low surface-to-volume ratio
(thus minimizes loss due to combustion-chamber deposits). Why was
this design not used earlier in autos, see as it has been around since at
least 1904? Complexity and high costs did not allow easy mass production,
and this rugged design loved high octane gas. Chrysler teams researched
every engine available, and the hemi head design proved to be the most
powerful and efficient model they could find.
See the comparison yourself -- click here
HEMI HEAD DURABILITY
The 426 Hemi engine was designed and built with a very short deadline,
but that did not stop it from being the most well-built engine ever made.
The engine had a max vertical separating load of 18,800 lb @ 7200 rpm
along the crankshaft center line. Frank Bialk had the job of designing
the new main bearing caps, which he took advantage of the deep skirt walls
by adding cross bolts through the block into the caps. With this, the
engine block skirt helped the main bearing caps in resisting the loads.
Bolting the heads to the block is crucial to get max power. The hemi
heads were designed with an extra bolt, the fifth head bolt
, to give
it the extra strength. The position of that bolt was going to be directly
in the way of the pushrods and intak port, which would restrict power.
Again, Frank Bialk came up with a design to bring the bolts up from the
bottom instead. The new pattern worked extremely well, and the Hemi
engine was put into production.
LIMITS OF THE HEMI
While the Hemi is an extraordinary beast, it does have its limitations.
The big disadvantage is in the really high RPM range. With the valves
opposing each other, cylinder pressure at really high RPMs is lost on the
overlap cycle of the cam. At lower RPMs, say 7500 or less, the Hemi is
unbeatable. Also, the Chrysler Hemi has the cam pretty low in the block
and has a skirted bottom end. This can limit the crank to be used. With
the classic 426 block, about 570 inches is the max. Fortunately, newer
blocks have the cam moved higher in the block, so 600+ inches is easy.