Building “The Elephant”
426 awesome cubic inches of Hemi for a ’69 Cuda
When Chrysler decided to get back into the Hemi engine building business in 1964, it got back in a big way.
The largest displacement the company made when it stopped production of the first generation of Hemis in 1958 was a mere 392 cubic inches. But when Chrysler revived the Hemi engine primarily for NASCAR racing, it upped the ante to 426 cubic inches thanks to a 3.75 inch stroke and 4.25 inch cylinder bore.
That was 1964, and by 1966 you could finally buy one in a street car thanks to NASCAR’s homologation requirements. The 426 was dubbed the “Elephant” because of the large package size that resulted from the large bore and stroke along with the acreage on top of the Hemi heads required to mount the rockers.
The street Hemi was produced by Chrysler between 1966 and 1971. Officially, it produced 472 lbs-ft of torque and 425 horsepower in its dual-carb form. We spent some time with KT Engine Development as they rebuilt an Elephant that will find its way back to its natural habitat in a ’69 Cuda. This build will keep the 426 close to its roots with a stock block, heads, crankshaft and rocker setup, but a few modern touches are going to be thrown in to maximize the fun while minimizing maintenance and aggravation. And at around 10:1 compression, this big boy should run happy and cool all day long on unleaded pump gas.
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KT Engine Development