rebuilding the early hemi, MY FAVORITE ENGINE


Staff member
if all engine parts cost the same and all engines weighted about the same theres absolutely no question in my mind as to which engines I prefer, its mechanically laid out to be both structurally very strong & rigid and too maximize air flow through the cylinders
these five engines would be my preferred engine families
early hemis 392 & the later series, 426
BBC 427-572
chrysler 440
pontiac 389-455
ford 385 series (429-460-514-557) ... rly-hemis/

but you obviously need to know what blocks and heads to use in each type of engine and theres some junk available in each group.


the early hemi 392 was one of my favorite engines its very well designed, these early 392 hemi,s are TOTALLY different engines,from the later 426 hemi most muscle car guys think of when you mention a "HEMI" the fast way to tell the early hemi, is the location of the distributor
early hemi,s had it vertical in the rear of the engine block, and a very distinctive block.
I wish Id saved or not sold off several 392 hemi,s I had when I was younger, but at the time they were very easy to come by from salvage yards, and I also had several 396-427 big block Chevy engines and 389, 400, 421 and 428 Pontiac
be aware THAT many pumps ETC, used industrial EARLY hemi engines of 331-354 displacement


later versions of the 354 and 392 had a removable bell housing design, making them much better suited as car engines

later 426 hemi engines had the distributor in front and leaning towards the pass side cylinder head, and a block similar to the 440 wedge engine

426block.jpg ... /index.htm ... emi_engine ... o_32.html#
my three favorite engines are the big block Chevy and the 392 mopar, and 426 mopar, Ive built enough of each of those to respect and admire their potential, and the 392 mopar is the best design of the three in my opinion, to work on

how can ANY hot rodder not respect the older 392 & 426 hemis


ebay%20pics%20050.jpg ... index.html
Last edited by a moderator:
some interesting info


earlyhemiguide.jpg ... _of_death/ ... es_part_2/
yeah! I assume youll eventually notice the early hemi powered truck











If your rebuilding an early hemi, be sure you totally dis-assemble and clean each component parts an amazing collection of crud can be collected inside the rocker shafts and push rods and blocks oil passages in an engine thats 60 plus years old





yeah they have a great ALUMINUM BBC BLOCK ALSO!





Last edited by a moderator:
Lots of great pictures there! What?!? Where!?! There was a picture of an early hemi powered truck?!?
Yeah, my 331 will probably be about as much a budget build as possible. And that closet full of dollars...! Well, I figure I can sell a few body parts. You know those that I have two of! =)
Updated – There’s A New Hemi In Town – Bear Block’s 392 Hemi Block

The all-new 392 Hemi block from Bear Block Motors.

We received a call from Doug, and he explained that after extending their research and development efforts, Bear Block has added more meat into the lifter area of this all-new block and will be ready for production soon. Updated photos are below.

Previous Article:

Only produced for a two-year model run between 1957 and 1958, the 392 Hemi engine from Chrysler proved to be incredibly stout in the drag racing arena and has been highly sought-after ever since.

The 392 was sold as original equipment in the 1957-’58 Chrysler New Yorker, ’57-’58 Chrysler Imperial, ’57 Chrysler 300C, and ’58 Chrysler 300D, but its legend has lived on since in the eyes of Mopar enthusiasts.

As one might imagine, ‘scarce’ would be a good word to describe the availability of engine blocks – until now. Bear Block Motors, led by developer and longtime machinist Doug Park, has cast the very first all-new iron-block 392 Hemi engine in 57 years, albeit with a number of improvements intended to bring the block’s design forward into the 21st century.

(Left) The main area of an OE 392 Hemi block. (Right) The main area of BBM's new casting. Note the billet caps and four-bolt fastener arrangement. Better casting techniques and materials advance this archaic engine block design into the 21st century.

“This block is the prototype, and we’re mocking it up currently,” explains Park. “Everything is good, but we do plan to add some more meat into the lifter valley in the final casting design.”

The company is working towards an end-of-year release to the public. Perfection is what Park and his team strive for – the machinist has decades of experience and doesn’t want his customers to experience any issues with the product once it hits the market, so great care is taken during the development process to test the engine with all different types of rotating assembly, gasket, and cylinder head configurations.

“We want to make sure every single detail is ironed out. So far we’re about 90 percent finished, and within a few weeks we’ll have the mockup process wrapped up,” explains Park.

The block will be cast from the same material as the company’s Ford FE block, capable of handling over 1,000 horsepower with ease.

“I enjoy the vintage engines. I can see that there’s a lack of supply, but there are a lot of enthusiasts out there. We got started with the Ford FE engine block, and after talking to potential customers, these Hemi blocks were the next logical step,” Park explains.

Material has been added to the block’s casting in areas where it can improve the strength, and Park says the block has been sonic mapped and shows solid wall thickness throughout. 4.125-inch bores are easily attainable, and he says the deck surfaces are .600-inch thick — good to keep the deck stability under control in boosted applications. As the stock block was delivered with a 4.000-inch bore, the step up in displacement capability is also a welcome sight.

The front and back faces of the block.

“There are a number of different grades of cast-iron material; we use a diesel-grade cast iron, which costs more, but I want our customers to have peace of mind,” says Park.

As the 392 has been adapted to all sorts of vehicles from street rods to A-Fuelers over the years, the emergence of this new piece from BBM has to be a welcome relief for nostalgic owners who are tired of offering up body parts in order to fund the purchase of a well-used block.

Four-bolt splayed billet main caps have also been added to the design to improve strength.

Various views of the billet main caps and main area.

The blocks are cast overseas in a state of the art foundry in South Korea, and Park says that he’s established a great relationship with the foundry that’s capable of casting the quality he’s looking for in the product. In fact, BBM also manufactures a well-received Ford FE engine block that’s cast in the same facility; they’ve sold dozens of these blocks without issue.

“We use nothing but virgin materials in our blocks,” says Park. The virgin material allows the casting foundry to be sure of the material quality, eliminating porosity concerns and producing a higher-quality product in the process.
Last edited:
the only way to know for sure would be to have a local shop sonic test the blocks bore walls with the correct tools and I would not think your likely to see a 1/8th inch over bore be successful, but like i stated,the only way to know for sure would be to have a local shop sonic test the blocks bore walls with the correct tools
one thing working in your favor is that block casting tech back in the early 1950s was not nearly as precise as it is now so block castings were significantly thicker and more machine work was required back then, thats one reason why some early blocks could be given, .100-.125 inch over bores.

stop and think through your budget and goals before you jump into any project!
I remember about 30 years ago I had a guy in my shop that wanted to build and install a kick, butt and take names 1970 440 road runner, stroker engine
we spend a few days looking up the price and availability of a stroker crank kit, balance work, having the heads reworked, a new cam, and valve train, intake carb, etc.
then we got detailed quotes on the required machine work etc.
even if I did the engine and install for free..
when we totaled it all up the guy very quickly realized he could purchase a stroker 480 cubic inch HEMI engine for about $1200 more than that cost,
would be a lot easier to just buy and install. and would certainly increase the value of the car more later.
so he dropped the project ...... about two years later I ran into the guy at a car show... he had traded in his old road runner on a hemi cuda and was thrilled as at that time his old car and several thousand dollars less was required for him to buy that 1970 hemi cuda.
no it did not have the power level either the 440 stroker or hemi engine in his old 1970 road runner would have had but he told me he was more concerned with having a car that turned heads and caused envy than collecting drag strip time slips.
Last edited:
I noticed in the pics above that the Hemi has zoomies, that must be for storage until it's in the car.

Is the ONLY time zoomies make performance sense is when the motor has forced induction?
I noticed in the pics above that the Hemi has zoomies, that must be for storage until it's in the car.

Is the ONLY time zoomies make performance sense is when the motor has forced induction?
It's For Nitromethane use.
Regular Long Tubes will melt right off the Engine.
Well grumphy

It seems I am restoring my first " your favourite " engine.
I have gone trough your links and have found many sources! Thx
PLEASE ,post lots of clear and detailed pictures,
as you rebuild that engine
A few years ago I went to Hot Heads Hemi in Low Gap N.C. and talked with Bob Walker and took a tour of his place. You would be surprised at what he has there .This was right after the fire that burned his race car. Use to be in all his ads in magazines. Time is flying by, as it was a lot years ago now. But the business is still going.
thank you for posting the related early hemi , build pictures
You asked .we aim to please20181015_114855-784x1612.jpg 20181022_080852-1612x784.jpg


  • 20181015_091258-1612x784.jpg
    93.2 KB · Views: 1
  • 20181016_104946-1612x784.jpg
    126.2 KB · Views: 1
  • 20181022_080852-1612x784.jpg
    92.6 KB · Views: 4