I THINK we can all agree the Barra is “Australia’s greatest ever engine” (MOTOR Annual 2017), but I also think credit is due for the Chrysler Hemi six. I imagine this isn’t the first letter from a grumpy old Mopar bloke, so I’ll keep mine brief.
The Hemi Six found itself deep within the planning department of Chrysler Australia in Lonsdale, South Australia, within weeks of its initial blueprint presentation in Detroit where it was proposed as a new truck power plant.
Our local engineers then embarked upon a five-year program to power Aussie passenger cars with a lightweight, efficient, and torquey family of engines to cater for all applications.
The result was a success.
Every Con, Nick and Harry drove a Hemi.
They quickly gained a reputation for tough reliability and power.
At the time, Chrysler’s advertising promoted the “made solely in Australia” Hemi as the “most advanced six cylinder in the world”, a boast generally conceded by the motoring journos of the time. These days, the Hemis never lose any beer and bikie engine blasting competition; the only way to kill ’em is by loosening some rod bolts!
Available in 3.5-, 4.0-, and 4.3-litre iterations, the culmination, of course, was the E49 package at 302bhp (225kW) which propelled a Valiant Charger through the quarter in 14.4 seconds in 1972 – the quickest Aussie-built car for 25 years. Moreover, this 265ci (4.3-litre) six was naturally aspirated like all factory Hemis. Anyone involved in the street/drag racing scene will tell you aftermarket turbo, stock long-block Hemis pushed Valiants into the 11-second bracket.
So, due credit where it’s due. Next time please mention other great Aussie built and designed six, the Chrysler Hemi. And many thanks for the great monthly read.