Friday, April 16, 2010
Castro Valley Street Sighting - 1953 Dodge Coronet
Those are some of the most famous words in the vocabulary of any Chrysler fan. The Hemi engine remains something of a mythical beast, a highly desirable option in any model in which it was offered. It can mean the difference between an affordable muscle car and a multi-hundred-thousand-dollar Barrett-Jackson auction special.
The Chrysler Hemi was first developed in 1950 as the FirePower engine. Designed with hemispherical combustion chambers, it was a very old but rarely-used solution (dating back to 1901 at least), one which allowed for improved engine breathing. The air/fuel mixture was able to reach the pistons better, improving performance. After a long period of selling six-cylinder cars, the FirePower was a real kick in the pants.
Dodge first received the Hemi in 1953, in the form of the Red Ram 241 cubic inch V8. It was put in cars like this '53 Dodge Coronet and was good for 140 horsepower. Dodge would eventually receive much larger-displacement Hemi engines in the next decade (426, anyone?) but the "Baby Hemi" Red Ram of 1953 was the original and still popular today among hot rod builders.