[ Chrysler Group LLC press release ]
Mopar to Celebrate 50th Anniversary of the Iconic 426 HEMI in 2014
Mopar Unveils Logo, Special Product Line and Plans Marketing Events
- 2014 marks 50th anniversary of the introduction of the Gen II 426 Race HEMI
- Mopar unveils 50th anniversary HEMI logo celebrating the iconic engine
- Engine made its legendary debut in February 1964 by dominating the Daytona 500
- A version of the Gen II 426 HEMI still powers NHRA Funny Car and Top Fuel vehicles
- Special 50th anniversary HEMI merchandise product line available on
- Marketing events planned for fans throughout the year
January 9, 2014, Auburn Hills, Mich. - Throughout 2014, Mopar will celebrate
the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the iconic second generation (Gen
II) 426 Race HEMI engine to motorsports competition and its eventual
initiation to production vehicles.
To kick off the year-long commemoration of the legendary engine, Mopar has
created a 50th anniversary logo. The design incorporates an elephant in
reference to the engine's moniker, which resulted from the powerplant's
imposing size, strength and power. The logo also features the trademark
HEMI-orange color that covered the engine and made it even more recognizable.
"Mopar is proud to mark the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the Gen II
426 HEMI, a revolutionary engine that inspired a long line of quality products
in our brand's portfolio," said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO -- Mopar,
Chrysler Group LLC's service, parts and customer-care brand. "The 426 HEMI is
such a vital part of our heritage and a key ingredient in helping make Mopar
what it is today. The success of the Race HEMI launched a unique brand of
sought after muscle cars that had fans began to refer to as Mopars, and that
is something we are very proud of."
While Chrysler engineers initially introduced the original hemispherical
combustion engine design for passenger cars in 1951 and celebrated its 60th
anniversary in 2011, the iconic and revolutionary second generation HEMI
engine, so closely associated with the muscle car era, made its memorable
debut in 1964.
The new second generation HEMI measured 426 cubic inches and was built
specifically to win races. Two versions of this 426 race engine were built --
one called the "Circuit" or "Track" engine and the other the "Acceleration" or
The Gen II 426 Race HEMI was first introduced at the Daytona 500 in February
1964 with legendary driver Richard Petty winning the race handily in his
Plymouth, while a dominating performance by three other HEMI-powered entries
gave four of the top five finishing positions to the new powerplant. Petty
drove to eight victories and earned the NASCAR championship in 1964 with
HEMI-powered cars amassing a total of 26 race wins. The HEMI used for the
season was rated at 400 horsepower and had a compression ratio of 12.5:1.
That same year in National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) drag racing competition,
Don Garlits broke the 200-mph barrier in the Gen II 426 Race HEMI-powered car
travelling the quarter-mile straight-line distance in 7.78 seconds at 201.34
For the following season, NASCAR's sanctioning body changed the rules
mandating that all engines used for its races must be available in production
vehicles. This led to the withdrawal from NASCAR competition for the 1965
season and saw Chrysler engineers concentrate their efforts in drag racing.
A new lighter drag racing package, referred to as A-990, debuted in the NHRA
Super Stock class in 1965 in Dodge and Plymouth vehicles with altered
wheelbases, launching the popularity of Funny Cars. To this day, a version of
that engine still powers every single Funny Car and Top Fuel engine regardless
of being badged by other manufacturers.
With the introduction of the 426 "Street" HEMI in 1966 for production
vehicles, the HEMI made a return to NASCAR racing. During the next several
years, vehicles with HEMI engines won countless races, numerous championships
in various professional categories and were feared by competitors.
With the availability of a Street HEMI, Chrysler no longer offered a special
drag racing engine. Instead, drag racers were provided with the street
version, which they could modify at their discretion. The only exception was
the limited edition 1968 Dodge Dart and Plymouth Barracudas that remained
powered by the 426 Race HEMI, with only 75 of each model produced.
The heritage of those special vehicles is celebrated each year by Mopar with
the HEMI Challenge that takes place in the Sportsman class at the NHRA's
prestigious U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis. The HEMI Challenge made its debut
in 2001 and features these classic muscle cars, which contributed to the
brand's legendary reputation and success at the drag strip.
In anticipation of the 50th anniversary of the 426 Race HEMI engine, Mopar
also established the "Tom Hoover Sportsman Challenge" at the start of the 2013
season, with a winner selected from the Sportsman Stock or Super Stock classes
by amassing the most points at the wheel of a Chrysler Group vehicle in the
course of a season during NHRA sanctioned races nationwide.
Since its 1964 debut, the second generation Gen II 426 HEMI remains a legend
due to its reputation and performance on and away from the racetrack, the
dedication and skill that Chrysler designers put into it, as well as its
rarity since availability was discontinued in production vehicles in 1971.
The innovative engine's offspring live on, not only in the NHRA within all
Funny Car and Top Fuel machines, but also within both new production and
classic heritage vehicles thanks to the availability of current day products
(including the installation of a crate engine), to transform them into a
To mark the 50th anniversary celebration, and complement the availability and
continued development of these engines, a unique product line of HEMI
merchandise has been created and will be launched throughout the month of
January at WearMopar.com. This new product line features the HEMI 50th
anniversary logo and will include items such as clothing, decorative lighting,
clocks, a pub table, stools, and much more.
Numerous marketing initiatives and events surrounding the 50th anniversary,
designed to encourage Mopar fans to partake in the celebrations nationwide,
are also planned for 2014 and will be announced shortly.
Mopar is Chrysler Group LLC's service, parts and customer-care brand and
distributes 280,000 parts and accessories. With the creation of the industrial
alliance between Chrysler Group and FIAT SpA, Mopar is extending its global
reach, integrating service, parts and customer-care operations in order to
enhance dealer and customer support worldwide. Mopar's global portfolio
includes more than 500,000 parts and accessories that are distributed in more
than 130 markets. Mopar is the source for genuine parts and accessories for
Chrysler Group brands as well as FIAT brands.
Mopar parts are unique in that they are engineered with the same teams that
create factory-authorized vehicle specifications for Chrysler Group and FIAT
vehicles -- a direct connection that no other aftermarket parts company can
provide. A complete list of Mopar accessories and performance parts is
available at www.mopar.com.
More than 75 Years of Mopar
Mopar (a simple contraction of the words Motor and PARts) was trademarked for
antifreeze product in 1937. The Mopar brand made its mark in the 1960s -- the
muscle-car era. The former Chrysler Corporation built race-ready Dodge and
Plymouth "package cars" equipped with special high-performance parts. Mopar
carried a line of "special parts" for super-stock drag racers and developed
its racing parts division called Mopar Performance Parts to enhance speed and
handling for both road and racing use. The brand has expanded to include
technical service and customer support.