Hemi Exhibit Now Open at AACA Museum

Hershey, PA – In its first new feature exhibit since reopening June 26, the AACA Museum addresses just what it means for a vehicle to have a “Hemi.”

Photo: AACA Museum

The term — in this case referring to an engine with domed or hemispherically-shaped combustion chambers — became a standard during the 1960s muscle car era when the Chrysler Corporation debuted their 426-cubic-inch V8 for production vehicles and racing applications. The engine, available from 1964 to 1971, was actually Chrysler’s second successful go-round with a hemispherical-headed V8. The first generation, which bore the moniker “Firepower,” was in production from 1951 to 1958. The modern Hemi was introduced in 2003 and is currently available in select Chrysler Corporation cars and trucks.

“While the Hemi engine is unquestionably linked to Chrysler, they did not invent the technology, which actually dates back to the first decade of the 20th century,” said Jeffrey Bliemeister, the museum’s executive director. “This exhibition is possibly the first historical overview of this subject ever presented by a major automotive museum; with more than 35 vehicles and nearly 20 engine and cutaway assemblies, it is certainly the most comprehensive.”

Guest curator and museum volunteer Bill Sangrey delved deep into the subject’s history. His quest to show the variety of vehicles that have Hemi engine characteristics put him in touch with people across the country, and vehicles have come from as far away as Maine, Florida and Nevada.

“We have over a dozen manufacturers represented with vehicles ranging from a 1914 Sterns-Knight to a current Dodge truck.” Sangrey said. “Of special note is the Nishwitz-Barnhart 354-cubc-inch Dragster that was successfully campaigned throughout the Northeast.” Watch video of it being put on display.

Chrysler cars from all of its divisions are well represented, including original and restored examples of Imperials, Chryslers, Desotos, Dodges and Plymouths. Also part of the exhibit are motorcycles, race cars and European marques including BMW, Alfa Romeo, Saab, Porsche and Aston Martin.