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Pontiac Firebird - The Hemi Then And Now

Think You Know Your Elephant? Get The Facts When We Show You...

Photography by Steve Magnante

The Latest Hemi Developments
There aren't many factory guys who get their hands as dirty as Jon Clark. Jon, the department manager for Mopar Performance and Direct Connection brands, recently spent an entire week at renowned Hemi guru Ray Barton's Pennsylvania shop to make sure the latest Hemi block is as good as it can be.

Here's a sneak peek at the new aluminum Mopar Performance Hemi block. Notice the bustles around the lower cylinder barrels. They add rigidity and allow extra wall thickness for optimum ring seal. Note the oblong camshaft tunnel boss; 0.250-inch raised cams are possible to gain clearance for insanely huge stroker rotating assemblies.

Jon Clark is in charge of re-racking the entire Mopar Performance line and is especially proud of several new block, head, and intake manifold announcements. Included are compressed graphite blocks, a pure Street Hemi intake manifold reproduction, and enhanced A990 aluminum heads.

Clark says the 392 Hemi crate program is taking off and there's plenty of cool stuff on the horizon. If all goes according to plan, he'll debut an all-aluminum Gen III 426 Hemi with dual-quad carburetors, a traditional distributor, and a mechanical fuel pump at the '07 SEMA show in Las Vegas. The block may (or may not) hint at what you'll find under the '08 Challenger's hood, while the distributor and mechanical fuel pump will be possible thanks to a new front cover casting. This is a 6.1L out of an SRT8 Charger. Dig the wild cast-aluminum barrel ram intake manifold. The spirit lives!

Others present at the weeklong May 2007 Hemi dyno party were (from left to right) MP parts engineer Neil Loughlin, an unidentified Ray Barton employee, World Products' Bill Mitchell, and Ray Barton hisself. A longtime manufacturer of quality aftermarket Chevy engine blocks, Mitchell's World Products is collaborating with MP on new Hemi and wedge-block castings like the superbeefy iron version shown here. After assembly, this 528 Hemi block easily endured over 800 hp during the grueling validation process.

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