Jim Thornton’s Greatest Hits: Part 2

By Steve Magnante

 

The Dodge high performance world lost a pioneer with the June 2, 2014, passing of former Chrysler Corp. Race Vehicle Design Manager and Ramchargers race team member, Jim Thornton. Recently, we reviewed some of Mr. Thornton’s many contributions to the evolution of Dodge stock-bodied drag race vehicles. Now, let’s continue our tribute with a look at how he helped ensure that Dodge drag race package cars were ready to fully employ the mighty output of the 426 Race HEMI® engines that powered them down the drag strip.

 
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Jim Thornton’s Greatest Hits: Part 2

Strong-Arming the HEMI® Engine: 1964 and 1965 HEMI Drivers Got an Added Workout!

By Steve Magnante

 

As we celebrate 50 years of 426 HEMI® engine power, let’s remember that Chrysler Corp. actually created three distinct generations of this fabled dome-head power plant. The first generation appeared in Chrysler vehicles in 1951 and — with unique variations for use in Dodge and DeSoto models — was offered through the 1958 model run. The second generation is the one racers love. That’s the mighty 426 HEMI engine of the 1964–1971 era.

 

Of course, the third generation of the HEMI engine is what’s driving so much excitement at Dodge these days. Available in 5.7-, 6.1-, 6.2- and…

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Strong-Arming the HEMI® Engine: 1964 and 1965 HEMI Drivers Got an Added Workout!

Jim Thornton’s Greatest Hits: Part One

We recently reported with sadness the June 2, 2014, passing of former Chrysler high performance vehicle development engineer Jim Thornton at age 77. Though you’d have to be a fairly devoted muscle car and drag race enthusiast to know his name, once folks learn he was a member of the Ramchargers, a bell rings, and Thornton’s place in the automotive firmament becomes clearer to many.

 

Jim Thornton

 

To briefly recap, the Ramchargers was a group of (mostly) Chrysler employees who met evenings and weekends to share their love of drag racing and…

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Jim Thornton’s Greatest Hits: Part One