My association with the 426 Hemi engine goes way back to 1965 when Argyle Chrysler Dodge purchased the first Canadian 426 Hemi engine with aluminum heads from Chrysler U.S. in a 1965 Dodge Coronet. I had prior experience with the 426 stage 3 wedge engine in my ’63 Plymouth Savoy A/MP car. The big block engines from the early and mid ’60s were designed more for NASCAR’s needs and not so much for drag racing needs. Chrysler U.S. was successfully running 392 Hemi’s in the Drag Racing sport. Little did Chrysler engineers ever think that the 426 Hemi would become the icon and mainstay engine of Drag Racing professionals today.
In the early days Chevy and Ford had both manufactured similiar engine designs for all kinds of racing. Ford had the closest comparison to the 426 Hemi in its own version of a 427 S.O.H.C Hemi called a 427 Cammer.
Chrysler became reluctant in fortifying the longevity of the 426 Hemi. And little did they know how popular this engine would be in all classes in the Drag Racing industry. Chrysler had a real winner in running the engine on gasoline, alcohol and nitro with minimal breakdowns. My first experience with the 426 Hemi was when I started to drive for Argyle Chrysler Dodge in 1965. Ralph Algar the shop foreman and lead mechanic for Argyle’s was showing me a lot of very interesting facits of this unique engine. I immediately developed a liking for this Hemi. I worked with Ralph to understand the entire operations of this engine. When I ran the 426 stage 3 Wedge in 1964, I thought that this engine was the best horsepower maker in my class of racing. Being young and naive I soon learned the benefits of a hemispherical head and piston design, and what it could mean to me in making mass amounts of horsepower at a mid to high range compression ratio. When I started building my own 426 Hemi’s I could see the results of my labours on the track. The Hemi’s always proved to be fast and reliable for my needs. 50 YEARS STRONG (1964-2014+)!!!!
John Osbourne was able to work magic when machining my HEMI engine parts. You are sorely missed by all your MOPAR friends…JP.
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