What's it like, driving a Hemi?

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  1. 66 Sat

    66 Sat Well-Known Member

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    So I'm on my second Mopar. I had a '69 fastback Barracuda in the late 90's which had a 318, and now I have a '66 Satellite with another 318 (this time a poly). Both were/are hopped up and leave all the everyday cars for dead (the Barracuda was in the UK where a big engine was 2 litres).
    I've dreamed of having a Hemi powered car since I was a kid, and now could probably afford one, but what are they like to drive? Obviously to own they are something special, just knowing what's under the hood, but is the driving experience going to be world's apart from what I have now? My poly has plenty of grunt (for me), could probably run a quarter in the mid 14"s, and sounds pretty good. Can the guys out there with hemi cars, who grew up with them and own them now, describe the experience and what I'm missing out on? I've watched videos on YouTube but you can't really tell. 20190920_204711.jpg
     
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    • Richard Cranium

      Richard Cranium FBBO Gold Member FBBO Gold Member

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      In street form, Hemis are eye candy and ego boosters when the hood is popped. For the most part, wedge engines are better street engines.
       
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      • Lefty71

        Lefty71 FBBO Gold Member FBBO Gold Member

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        Hmmmm. Only a trip to the track will tell for sure. :poke:

        Im sure a Gen 2 hemi is plenty of fun to drive, albeit not everyday. But Richards right, I knew a guy way back in high school with a '67 440 RT, quite similar to your car. He put a very warm 440 in it, and as soon as he did, all his focus was turned to traction. Even at the drag strip on the launch pad, that car was going nowhere until a few seconds passed, in second gear. BTW, his best was like 13.2 in the quarter, and that car flew.
         
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        • TetanusShot

          TetanusShot Well-Known Member

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          What are they like to drive? They're a blast.

          With a stock intake, carbs, & progressive linkage, you drive around only using the rear carb's primary butterflies. Basically, you cruise around like its got a 2bbl. Then, when you want to go fast, wack the throttle open & build rpm. If its got solid lifters as God intended, you shift at about 6500.

          Bad street engine? Hogwash. Just bad tuners.
           
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          • 68sprtsat383

            68sprtsat383 FBBO Gold Member FBBO Gold Member

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            Never drove one but when I was a kid my dads old Hemi GTX was badass never lost a race in that car.
             
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            • Jerry Hall

              Jerry Hall Well-Known Member

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              My experience at small town tracks in the 60's and early 70's was: In stock form and tuned correctly a 440 car was 1 to 1 1/2 car lengths faster than a 383 car and about the same slower than a Hemi car. With upgrades mostly hidden or only detected by a teardown my 67 383 Satellite ran everything from G stock all the way up to A super stock. If there wasn't any protests I usually took home spending money for the next week. Ofcourse in today's world one would get thrown into jail and the key lost for what I did for real spending money and car improvements. That was street racing instigated by going to small town hangouts and and shaking down the badass gear heads that always thought their cars were unbeatable. Other than the dangers of street racing my worst loss was to an Jaguar XKE roadster that looked 100% stock. Because I was just looking for easy picking I didn't even ask to see the engine compartment. Later I found that this guy had shoehorned a 440 and torqueflite in it. At launch all I saw was taillights steadily pulling away.
               
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              • Andew Sury

                Andew Sury FBBO Gold Member FBBO Gold Member

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                Meh, they aight.
                 
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                • 69hemibeep

                  69hemibeep Well-Known Member

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                  Basicly when the wedge lays down on the top end the hemi keeps going
                   
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                  • Richard Cranium

                    Richard Cranium FBBO Gold Member FBBO Gold Member

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                    I will say that the induction noise when you floor it is a hoot.
                     
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                    • oldbee

                      oldbee FBBO Gold Member FBBO Gold Member

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                      How about racing against one? My 383 against an also new R/T hemi. 0-100 he got me by a car length; rolling start 20-100 got me by 2-1/2 cars. Both auto trans& 3.23 rears. Boy when hit 40/50mph even I could hear that air rushing into those carbs!
                       
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                      • chargervert

                        chargervert Well-Known Member

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                        These days they make a lot of good aftermarket wedge cylinder heads that allow them to make a lot more power than they did back in the day,so the gap between the wedge engines and Hemi engines has shrunk some since back in the day. A properly tuned Hemi engine was a force to be reckoned with back then. Not many were around to compare them too. But once a Hemi was opened up by a good engine builder, and modded there was no comparison.
                         
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                        • Outlaw525

                          Outlaw525 Well-Known Member

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                          I've had the opportunity to own two hemi cars. In '82, after selling my six barrel, 4 speed '70 Runner, I bought a 1969 GTX hemi /auto that had spent most of it's life as a race car. Rat Roaster, big solid cam, headers, 4.56 gears. It was my daily for about 6 months, after owning the six pac car, I was not happy with the hemi on the street. It was god awful fast but very finicky for obvious reasons. So I sold it and bought another six pac car, a 69 1/2 Super Bee. My current '68 Hemi GTX runs a 472, hydraulic cam, single Holley and is a blast to drive, albeit from gas station to gas station. As mentioned the power is different, wedge motors make low end torque and awesome mid range. The hemi is like riding a 2 stroke big bore motorcycle. OK bottom end but at 3500 RPM you better be ready, that's when mine starts to wake up and will boil the tires at will. Different engines, but both are bad ass in their own way.
                           
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                          • Johnpat

                            Johnpat Well-Known Member

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                            Have a 66street hemi in a 66 Satellite,4spd,3.54
                            gears Edelbrock Carbs
                            Now 492cu inch.
                            Torque unreal,keeps you back In the seat all
                            though the gears.
                            Better be pointed straight when you hit the
                            loud pedal at start.
                            Idles a drives great,runs cool 185 degress
                             
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                            • beanhead

                              beanhead FBBO Gold Member FBBO Gold Member

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                              The only REAL hemi I've ridden in, was in a '68 roadrunner(solid lifter). The original owner bought it after returning to the states from vietnam, and though it was his only car he raced it on weekends. (Still has the mid 11 timeslips). Somewhere in the real early 70s he put higher compression pistons and what he called a 'nascar' cam in it as there wasn't much available back then, and the car survives in this configuration still today.
                              So, the engine's not exactly stock on the inside, but what a ride! Watching the old dude banging through the column-shifted gears was tons of fun. It felt like as the RPMs got up high it was just coming alive...incredible top end charge. Car's never been re-painted or restored and in addition to driving it out from Jersey in the late 70s he kept on driving it.(with what he called 'the requisite fuel cocktail'..)
                               
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                              • black64

                                black64 FBBO Gold Member FBBO Gold Member

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                                Drove a 69 Charger Hemi back in 1969 that car still brings a smile to my face. It's different from the wedge cars but worth having at least one in a life time. I currently have a hemi but its not in a mopar I have on in a 40Ford Its a hand full.
                                 
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                                • Moparnocar

                                  Moparnocar Well-Known Member

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                                  I rode in one, I remember it SOUNDED different, had lots of grunt
                                   
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                                  • 66 Sat

                                    66 Sat Well-Known Member

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                                    Thanks for all the replies guys, it's great to hear real world information and old stories.
                                    I suppose because the road tests from back in the day were comparing stock v stock, then the hemi was a real beast compared to the more lowly models, but it seems although in a stock hemi v modified "normal" engine comparison, the gap closes somewhat.
                                    If I ever spent the big money on a hemi I'd be hesitant to modify it (due to the value). Maybe it would be better to aim for a hemi crate engine instead, where originality wouldn't be a concern and it could be modified to perform well on the street? Or maybe just keep dreaming, keeping the legend alive in my mind...
                                     
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                                    • Andew Sury

                                      Andew Sury FBBO Gold Member FBBO Gold Member

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                                      Let me extrapolate a little. My 67 Hemi GTX is SHIT stock.

                                      The downsides are extremely limited. Heavy throttle springs, crappy handling, great for the time but questionable at brakes at best. Not so comfy seats and a C pillar that really gets in the way.

                                      The upsides are pretty good. I'm rolling repop red lines so it will literally smoke the tires anything under 35 mph. The idle exhaust is amazing, even with a repop Gardner exhaust. Wide open it just revs and growls. To me, the GTX is THE sexiest car ever made. And bone stock that Torqueflite upshifts at 6600 rpm.

                                      Oh yeah, it's a Hemi!

                                      So, that being said, if you want one, buy the nicest one you can find. These Mopars are balls ass expensive to restore.

                                      70606481_10218024203990709_5065286929126260736_n.jpg
                                       
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                                      • hemi*guy

                                        hemi*guy FBBO Gold Member FBBO Gold Member

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                                        I have a 2018 SRT Durango that will walk my 1970 Hemi Charger, but there is no comparison when it comes to fun when driving them. My charger wins hands down.... the brute force, sound and smell of the Hemi just pulling and pulling once it gets some air in it is unbelievable. Just my opinion.
                                         
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                                        • GetX'd

                                          GetX'd FBBO Gold Member FBBO Gold Member

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                                          I don’t know - I read in Motor Trend back in the day (cover story) I think it was Motor Trend - that the 440:was a hair faster than the Hemi. I’ve never had the pleasure of riding in a Hemi just got to admire them on the street and at shows. Never got to race one either with my 440. One thing I know for sure is they will sure burn thru your bank account if you wanted to buy one. A lot of mystique there.
                                           
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