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The Death of the Mopar HEMI V8 Will Be an All-Time Automotive Tragedy, Here’s Why

A short time ago, we told the story of how the first generation classic Mopar HEMI engines of the 1950s laid the foundation for the icon the moniker would become later on. But if you've been paying attention to the auto industry lately, you'll know that, sadly, the days of the HEMI V8 engine are numbered.
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If you ask us, that's an automotive tragedy on par with any of the great losses the American car biz has seen in the last 30 years, if not longer. To understand why the death of the Mopar V8 is so substantial, you need to see it from the perspective of the people who own them. You see, Mopar fans and HEMI fans, by extension, are not like your average car enthusiast. Sure, you're bound to see fans of other international car brands take a passing interest in the technology other companies manufacture.

But so often with Mopar fans, you'll find that a not unsubstantial percentage of them have never owned a vehicle without a Chrysler, Dodge, or Plymouth badge in the grille. Even cars from other domestic manufacturers tend to fall by the wayside to these people. So to say, they're some of the most passionate and loyal varieties of petrolhead ever to have driven this Earth. It must be said that so much of the mythos that the HEMI engine enjoys these days comes from a time when hemispherical combustion chambers made a difference.

A time when flathead engines from other brands failed to take advantage of the extra combustion space of a HEMI engine to make that little bit extra horsepower to pull ahead in a drag race. In the 21st century, a time where the amount of computer hardware under the hood is just as if not more important in making power as the shape of the engine heads, it's doubtful HEMI engines pack any advantage over any other V8 other than 60 years worth of strategic marketing.

But do you hear any Mopar or HEMI fans complaining about this fact? We sure haven't. If anything, the HEMI fanbase has only grown exponentially in the 21st century. It's a testament to just how dedicated and faithful the following HEMIs have with their North American buyers. Love and appreciation of HEMI V8s is an American tradition passed down from mother to daughter, father to son, and generation to generation. With this in mind, it doesn't matter how archaic the engines in question are.

So long as the horsepower keeps rising and the spirit of rebellion remains strong, the HEMI could, in theory, live forever. Of course, the hero worship of historic sports cars is nothing new. But can many cars really claim in confidence that their engine is just as iconic as the car itself? Especially with the beastly Hellcat HEMI V8s of the last seven years, that's a distinction that only Mopar and a handful of other engines in the world can lay claim to. Apart from possibly the General Motors LS engine, it's the only engine in America with that status.

This time last year, we interviewed a rising muscle car Instagrammer called JohnHemi. A man who drives a custom 2016 Dodge Charger with a HEMI V8 inspired by a 1969 Charger RT. He also never drove a car that didn't have the Dodge logo in front of it. We can recall that when asked about the state of the auto industry in the early 2020s, he noted how the kind of people who think as he does aren't interested in new cars anymore.

It's all a result of an industry-wide transition away from internal combustion in favor of battery EVs. One that, to lots of muscle car fans, is happening completely against their will. So to say, when Mopar does inevitably sunset the HEMI V8 in the near future and replaces the drivetrains in the next-gen Charger and Challenger with some form of an EV drivetrain, HEMI fans will likely not be all that interested.

It doesn't matter if the body on top of the car harkens back to the styling of old 1960s muscle cars in ways the current guard doesn't. If the engine underneath isn't a dino-juice-powered HEMI, then in their minds, it's not a car worth messing with, end of the story. For people in Stellantis' sales department, that's got to be bad news. It'd be wrong to say that all Mopar/HEMI fans are this dogmatic, but it's just enough of a figure for Stellantis to take notice.

Check back soon for more from V8 Month here on autoevolution.


 
 
 
 
 

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