That ‘New’ 392 Hemi


The announcement that Dodge would be revisiting the legendary Hemi displacement of 392 inches for the 2011 Inaugural Edition Challenger reveals that the company is still well-coupled to its heritage. The engine would have to be special, as the original 392 was available only in the top of the line models for just two model years, 1957-58, and was the final revision of the engine architecture that had started in 1951 with the 331-inch Hemi. The 392 was a heavy-walled casting that was reserved solely for the Chrysler New Yorker, 300, and Imperial models; it disappeared into the sands of time for 1959, replaced by the new lighter, larger 413” wedge engine. With twin Carter WCFB carbs, that last first-generation Hemi was rated at 390 horses at the pinnacle of its development (in the 1957 Chrysler 300C and 1958 300D), a forerunner of the horsepower wars that would soon become part and parcel of marketing new cars in the coming decade.


Perhaps that final Hemi might have been just an aside in Chrysler’s storied engineering and performance history except that some hot rodders with names like Garlits, Karamesines, Sullivan, and Ivo figured out you could put one of those big Hemis in a slingshot-type dragster, fit it for a supercharger, tip the can of nitro methane to 95% or more, and HANG ON! The 180-, 190-, and 200-mph barriers in the quarter-mile had all fallen by 1965 as a result. The 392 fuel combination was so strong that it still was being used in the dragster and funny car ranks even after the Ramchargers team and others had gotten a firm grasp on the 426-inch second-generation revision in those applications some years later. In fact, engine builder Ed Donovan took the 392’s basic design to design and build a quite successful all-aluminum race-only version he first produced in the early 1970s and continues to build today.


The new 392 (6.4L”) HEMI is the latest street V8 for Chrysler’s performance models, and will supersede the previous 6.1L (370”) version of the engine. The latest mill to wear the legendary HEMI moniker is the same basic block architecture as its 6.1L predecessor, with the displacement rise coming from both a minor bore increase (up .9 mm) and adding more stroke (3.7 mm). However, though similar to the 6.1, the 392 block is a unique casting, featuring different machining plus changes for strength, as well as modifications to the cooling and internal breathing passages.


The basic block, painted in the traditional Hemi orange hue, is topped with aluminum heads that make use of smooth core technology; this is a casting process that utilizes a special fine sand to form the runner cores. The runners themselves have been further massaged from their previous state, while valve size has also increased from the 6.1L version’s 52.8mm intake / 40.5 mm exhaust to 54.3 mm/42.0 mm, respectively.


However, the crowning touch is the intake, which is why the torque curve was so smooth on the new engine. The SRT’s new ‘active intake’ design harkens somewhat back to the ram-tuning principles Chrysler engineers first comprehended during the late 1950s, but has greatly benefited from the computer modeling of airflow now available. Once reaching approximately 4, 900 rpm, the active intake system starts physically revising the intake runner path and geometry (thus actually altering the induction tuning). This process, which was started on the SRV (Short Runner Valve) applications for 3.5L, 4.0L and the 5.7L truck engine, is for increased intake flow. That results in more power output, but the main advantage of the design is to improve low engine torque by having a longer runner available in the lower RPM level. The system uses the same internal parts as the SRV version, with cosmetic changes to its appearance and a different mount for the throttle body.


The engine is rated a 470 lbs-ft…at 2900 rpm! The same number, 470, is also the official horsepower rating, greater than any prior street-based Hemi engine. With the package appearing like an ‘an old school Hemi’ when first seen under the hood, plus the throaty sound from the well-tuned exhaust design, a displacement rich in heritage, and a powerband unlike anything to wear to ever wear that four-letter word before, my opinion is that the 392 Hemi will indeed be a Mopar milestone.


Photo Captions:Pit Slides collection photo / archive



Robert D’Agostino’s survivor 1957 300C convertible. The fact the engine proved so popular on the secondary circuit is one of the reasons these classic behemoths are so scarce today; many cars were bought, had the engine removed, and were unceremoniously sold for scrap.



The original 390-horse 392 Hemi in its dual-quad configuration in D’Agostino’s car. A handful were sold with fuel injection in 1958, though they proved to be very difficult to service and tune. The carburated versions used these twin .



By the mid-1960s, the 392s were out from the fenders of finned classics and wedged down into rail dragsters, topped with a supercharger, and breathing fat amounts of nitromethane. This is Don ‘the Snake’ Prudhomme at NHRA Nationals in 1966. Ray Mann photo / archive



Even when the 426 version became popular, the 392 continued to thrive in drag racing. This is Vern Motes’ twin-engined Top Gas car being in the pits at Martin, Mich.,


  • HEMIhead
    Posted December 14, 2010 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    So following the heritage theme, let’s see the Mopar Gen III 426 HEMI in the challenger
    for 2012 or 2011 late introduction. Now that’s awesome!
    HEMI rules!!!!!

  • HEMIhead
    Posted December 14, 2010 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    BTW, this engine is no doubt refined and technologically ahead of the old “Legend” 392 hemi,
    but to state that, “the package appearing like an ‘an old school Hemi’ when first seen under the hood”, I don’t see it? Not one similarity.

  • Mark Carpenter
    Posted December 14, 2010 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    I used to run the first genreation hemis and have many fond memories. Their biggest advantage was the massive and controlable torque. Now my son has a current generation hemi in his truck. Will I live long enough to see a fourth generation hemi?

    Posted December 15, 2010 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Yes,for what these cars MSRP at, the R/T should get the 392 and the SRT needs the 426!
    SE should get a 273
    Torque moves weight best right?

    Posted December 15, 2010 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    Curious why the 392 block is iron???

    Posted December 16, 2010 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

    RLD, I see Green With Envy is a new color for the 2011 Challenger as well as the Blackberry Pearlcoat, Toxic Orange and Redline 3 Coat Pearl. I am glad to see that you have them listed on your vehicle showroom section of your dealer websites. I see the 2011 Charger has Amped as a color. Is this yellow or orange? Oh, and is the Electric Blue similar to B5 or Surf blue? Anyhow, it is hard to tell, but is the Green With Envy similar to Sassy Grass Green? Last question, is Sublime green coming out next year? Glad to see the new color selections. Keep the good stuff coming.

  • mopowered
    Posted December 17, 2010 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    Now all we need is to bring back the 426 Hemi Cuda! Lean and mean and ready to spank a Boss mustang in a straight line and around a curve. AAR anyone?

  • HEMIhead
    Posted December 17, 2010 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    I’ll second that vote for AAR!

    Posted December 18, 2010 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    Hey RLD, I suppose this is the green with envy color If so, that is good for me because I will not have to trade in my Plum Crazy for at least another year.

  • HEMIhead
    Posted December 19, 2010 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    Sublime, I think that “green with envy” color is the same color that Ralph Gilles had on the
    challenger he drove for the Targa Race here a couple years ago. I’t definitely is not the sublime color that we all know and love. I thought Furious Fuchia was Panther Pink until I saw it at the dealer, and even my wife was disappointed.

  • rick patterson
    Posted December 19, 2010 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    how about bringing the challenger to australia

  • RLD
    Posted December 20, 2010 at 10:11 am | Permalink


    “Amped” is not currently listed among the 2011 Charger colors, so I cannot help you there. The colors officially listed thus far for both the 2011 Challenger and Charger are:

    Billet Silver Metallic Clear Coat, Blackberry Pearl Coat, Bright White Clear Coat, Brilliant Black Crystal Pearl Coat, Redline 3 Coat Pearl, Toxic Orange Pearl Coat, Tungsten Metallic Clear Coat

    As for additional colors, we have no available information, but will of course give it to you guys as soon as we have it. You should definitely hold on to that Plum Crazy though – looks great!

    -RLD Staff

    Posted December 20, 2010 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

    Hey RLD, check out your website and when you click on a local dealer and then showroom and then click on the Charger icon you get this: and it lists the color Amped first. What is that all about? I go to another website in Texas and for the Challenger you get the color Green With Envy: Do the webmasters get this information before you do? Why would they list Amped and Green With Envy unless they are going to offer it some time in the near future? We shall see.

  • HEMIhead
    Posted December 21, 2010 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    WOW! That Green With Envy looks great on the Challenger. Don’t know what’s going on with RLD vs. The Dealers, but there is crossed wires somewhere. How could a dealers website have colors listed on their site that you don’t even have officially listed? Frustrating for those who want to order.

  • MoparDaddy
    Posted December 23, 2010 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Cant wait to see and purchase another Challenger if we see a convertible.

  • demonbydesign
    Posted December 27, 2010 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    Since I will soon have a “lowly” 6.1 compared to the new mighty 6.4 I hope Dodge never brings back my beloved Hemi Orange so that us 2008-2010 owners have something truly special to brag over the 6.4 and/or the other newer models.

    Hemi Orange should = Out of Print!

    Somehow, I doubt it. Remembering back when it was a limited color originally only to submit to the mass appeal and bring it back. (yes, I know. if it didn’t happen that way i wouldn’t have it for my 2010. But still…)

  • The Oz
    Posted January 1, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    When I see a 426 then I’ll buy one, until then my 2010 Ram 1500 HEMI will have to do…

  • Mike
    Posted January 15, 2011 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    Only 4 colors for the 2011 SRT8??……The exterior colors for the SRT8 should include Bright White and Blue! I hope they will be added soon!

  • Mike
    Posted January 16, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    Does anyone know if otherexterior colors will be added this year?

  • Vanishing Point
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    I wish you could order a 2011 SRT8 – White with Black Stripes. Is that to much to ask? Does anyone know if the 2012 will be offered in White? The Shelby and Camaro can both be ordered in White…..for 2011.

  • Dominick
    Posted August 28, 2015 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    I’m more than a little annoyed as to why Dodge put the SRT392 motor in an rt. Granted the SRT (I have the ’15 SRT 392) has more options like the performance pages and better brakes thicker suspension parts but in doing that dodge has lowered the SRT392 to an after thought below the hellcat. Not to mention a $67800 challenger hellcat is being sold (if you can find a ’15 is at least $85000. As I said, I’m pissed…..

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  • Tim
    Posted June 25, 2017 at 2:15 am | Permalink

    Ok, here’s what dodge should do … put a 426 in the SRT and call it SRT426 … put the 392 in the R/T and retire the 5.7L. Done.

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