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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

Groovy Factoids

* The peak year for 426 Street Hemi production was 1966, the inaugural year, with 2,729 units built. By contrast, only 356 Street Hemis were sold in 1971, the final year. The approximate total number of Street Hemi-powered cars built between 1966 and 1971 was 9,955.

* The rarest 426 Street Hemi-powered vehicle is the '70 Coronet R/T convertible. Only one was built (it still exists). The most common Street Hemi-powered vehicle is the '66 Plymouth Satellite hardtop; 817 were built. These are also the most affordable Street Hemis today with prices hovering between $70,000 and $90,000 for clean examples.

* Though certainly not promoted, the Street Hemi was available in four-door sedans in 1966. Approximately five are known to have been built, and a few still exist. A red '66 Coronet four-door Hemi recently sold at Barrett-Jackson for $660,000. No documented Hemi station wagons were built, though rumors persist. Show us one and we'll buy you a pizza.

* To meet a variety of NASCAR, ARCA, and NHRA rule changes over their racing career, factory-backed 426-style Hemis have been built with 366, 396, and 404ci displacements. The only displacement sold to the public was 426, though today you can also buy 472- and 528 ci Gen II crate Hemis from Mopar Performance.

* Chrysler's Saltillo, Mexico, engine plant is geared up to manufacture as many as 440,000 Gen III Hemis per year. Both the 5.7L and SRT8 6.1L are manufactured there.

* All 6.1L SRT8 Hemis have Hemi Orange paint on the block and aluminum "barrel-ram" intake manifolds. The bread-and-butter 5.7L Hemi is painted black and has a matching plastic intake manifold. Both haul ass.

When They Were Cheap
Let's fire up the time machine and travel back two decades to 1987 for a look at some cheap Hemi cars. OK, while a Hemi-powered anything could never be considered truly cheap-heck, they sold new for between 4,000 and 5,500 bucks, nearly the price of a luxury-packed Imperial-the astonishing price spike of the past decade makes these vintage asking prices seem like pocket change.

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