Rare Car Network

Rare Car Network
Unique Classics, Replicas and Build Culture
						426 Street Hemi 7
Ready-to-Run ’69 426 HEMI Four-Speed

Numbers-matching 426 HEMI and four-speed transmission

By Dean Larson

Photos: Seller, Craigslist

It’s not everyday you see an original 426 HEMI car (unless you have one in your garage I suppose), but I’d imagine it’s even more rare to see a sight like this — a ’69 date-coded 426 street HEMI in highly original condition with its matching four-speed transmission. Offered as a package deal in ready-to-run condition, this HEMI engine is likely the most complete and authentic driveline available for you ’69 HEMI car, if you can swallow the Earth-shaking price.

There are few powerplants out there as legendary as the 426 HEMI engine. Debuted in 1964 in race-only trim, the engine was designed with all of Chrysler’s hemispherical engine know-how to clean up at the high-banked NASCAR circuits. But NASCAR didn’t approve of the HEMI’s race-only availability, and cited that the engines needed to be available in a set number of road-going cars to be legal going forward. Chrysler balked at the notion, and took the 1965 season off from the oval to teach the other brands a thing or two on the drag strip.

After flipping the script in drag racing, Chrysler was back in NASCAR in 1966, having made a slightly detuned version of the HEMI available in a few select B-body platforms. Chrysler products drove down victory lane a total of 34 times in 49 events in 1966, securing the HEMI’s status as a game changer. The HEMI would continue to dominate NASCAR until 1968, when the streamlined Ford Torino and Mercury Cyclone models arrived on the scene to challenge the HEMI’s dominance.

The HEMI was big news in an era where “win on Sunday, sell on Monday” was much more of a reality than these days. Race fans and speed-crazed kids wanted their own piece of the HEMI, and it could be had just down the street at your local Chrysler dealer. Dubbed the street HEMI, the road-going version of the now iconic “elephant engine” was only slightly detuned from race trim. Displacement stayed the same, but compression was dropped from 12.5:1 to a more manageable 10.25:1. A more street-friendly camshaft with less lift replaced the race stick and a new cast iron manifold topped the engine with a pair of Carter AFB four-barrel carburetors in line. High-flow cast iron exhaust manifolds were also installed that included a trick element to help the HEMI’s street manners. Basically a heat control valve was placed near the end of the passenger-side manifold, which directed hot exhaust gasses up special intake manifold heater pipes to get the HEMI breathing on a cold day. When up to temperature, the heat control valve would allow gas to flow normally out of the manifold.

Even with these tweaks, the street HEMI was still a monster. Chrysler rated the engine at 425 hp at 5,000 rpm and 490 lb-ft at 4,000 rpm, but it’s clear they were bluffing a bit. In stock form, 426 street HEMIs were known to make 435 hp and up, and could also be revved to nearly 6,500 rpm. According to Allpar.com, a total of 10,904 Chryslers left the factory with a 426 street HEMI under the hood from 1966 to 1971, and any original HEMI car around today should be considered a blue-chip collector, or close to it anyway.

All the history above is what makes an engine like this one a truly interesting find. The owner claims the engine was in a 1969 Dodge Super Bee and was removed with low miles, allegedly 800. There’s no way to verify that, but the seller does also indicate that the engine was recently gone through and that it retains all its stock internals with the exception of wear items and piston rings. It retains its original bore, crankshaft and the block shows no repairs.

Beyond that, it’s all the ancillary items that make this one a real knockout. Valve covers, original cast iron manifolds with intake manifold heater, Carter fuel pump, cast iron intake and original (reworked) flywheel and clutch are all present. The seller has also provided several key part numbers to show that the engine is indeed a highly original unit, not a mismatch of parts.

The transmission is nothing to discount either, as the A883 four-speed transmission received a heavy-duty input shaft for use with the HEMI, and this one has been mated with the engine since day one.

For those who aren’t Mopar gurus, it’s important to take notice here that the car’s original VIN is stamped on this engine and transmission, and the WM23J9A ****** VIN that the seller has provided from those units does indeed match a 1969 Dodge Super Bee pillared hard top with a 426 HEMI engine.

So it’s plain to see that this is a pretty significant opportunity to get into a highly original 426 street HEMI driveline that's in ready-to-run condition. But what about the cost? Well, $38,000 isn’t exactly pocket change, and I’m sure right now you’re going through the list of all the other complete cars you could buy for that sum. But remember, this is the heart of one of the most iconic cars of the muscle car era, an honest blue-chip collector these days. And the consensus in the Mopar community is that this price is pretty fair for what you’re getting. So get ready to flex the checkbook if this is exactly what your ’69 HEMI car is missing, and just remember, that’s $38,000 firm.

See the street HEMI here on Rochester Craigslist.

Comments for: Ready-to-Run ’69 426 HEMI Four-Speed

comments powered by Disqus

Related Stories You Might Like