Dodge's Dominators: The 10 Most Powerful Engines Over The Years
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Dodge's Dominators: The 10 Most Powerful Engines Over The Years

May 13, 2023

Chrysler trademarked the Hemi moniker in the '60s, leading the way with some of the most powerful muscle car engines the world has ever seen.

Without a doubt, Dodge has produced some of the most iconic American muscle cars of all time, playing a huge role in defining what many call the golden era of muscle cars. While it would be impossible to deny that not all Dodge engines have been winners, that does not take away from the fact that the engines they got right went on to find success across both racing and production platforms for decades.

Chrysler found success in the early '60s, producing iconic muscle car designs that would stand the test of time. The history of the legendary Chrysler Hemi engine forged a line of engines that continue to push the boundaries of V8 engine technology. With the news that the V8 will get phased out of production shortly, this list of the most powerful Mopar engines of all time may be the final homage to the tried and true big-block engine.

Time will tell, but one thing is for certain and that is that under the Chrysler brand, Dodge produced some of the most powerful muscle car engines ever.

The birth child of Chrysler's military development projects with fighter jet engines, the first Firepower Hemi V8 engine was a 331 cu in prototype produced in 1948. By 1951, the Firepower power plant featured in the Chrysler Imperial and New Yorker models, but its first real claim to fame came when the Chrysler Saratoga claimed the Firepower engine's first NASCAR Grand National win.

By 1958, the Chrysler 300 sported a 392 cu in overhead valve Hemi V8 engine producing 380 hp, making it the horsepower king of its day. This Firepower V8 had a bore and stroke of 4.00 x 3.90, a hotter cam than previous versions, and hydraulic lifters. This high-performance version of the first-generation Hemi paved the way for the evolution of the Chrysler 300.

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The Dodge 440 cu in V8 engine is still a favorite for Mopar diehards to this day. Its precision cast-iron block, light-wall construction, and iron heads oozed build quality. The golden era pony-car engine had a 10.3:1 compression ratio and three 2-barrel Holley carburetors known as the six-pack.

In 1970, the 440 engine featured upgrades in the form of a heavy-duty crankshaft, new rods, and a new exhaust manifold allowing the 7.2-liter V8 to put out 390 hp and 490 ft-lbs of torque.

A great condition, numbers-matching 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T with the 440 6-Pack is extremely rare and can sell for upwards of $150K on auction sites like proving that the engine's reputation still precedes it.

The 1962 413 cu in Max Wedge V8 engine was built strictly for racing, and it wasn't until 1963 that the engine got bored out to 426 cu in and further refined for production.

The Stage 3 Max Wedge V8 Engine introduced in 1964 had a revised cylinder head and a new camshaft design. Multi-carb setups, the upgraded camshaft, revised valve and port shape designs, and bottom-end reliability pushed the Max Wedge to a maximum power output of 425 hp and 480 ft-lbs of torque.

The Max Wedge 426 V8 engine featured in the ultra-rare Dodge 440 Lightweight, among other models, and paved the way for the re-introduction of the Hemi motor that would become known as the Elephant.

By 1964, Chrysler had made quite an impression already with their engines proving to be outstanding performers on the racetrack. 1964 saw the Motor City manufacturer build the 2nd-generation Hemi V8 engine specifically to race in NASCAR. As per homologation rules, there were requirements to make the engine available in a minimum amount of production models.

1966 saw the debut of the very special Mopar 426 Hemi V8 Elephant engine in what would become iconic models such as the Plymouth Road Runner, Dodge Charger, and Dodge Challenger. This powerplant got rated at 425 hp but is well known to put out closer to the 450 hp mark in reality. The 426 Hemi engine still sells for over $30K by itself on sites like Bring A

RELATED: The Real Story Behind The Plymouth Road Runner 426 Hemi

The 392 Hemi Apache V8 engine is essentially a bored and stroked "Eagle" Hemi bringing displacement up to 6.4 liters from the Eagle's 6.1-liters. It features upgraded aluminum heads, runners, bigger valves, and a new active intake system that pushes power up to 475 hp and 470 ft-lbs of torque.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT-8 and Dodge Durango SRT-8 both sport the 392 Hemi Apache V8 engine, giving both of these modern SUVs incredible performance from vehicles that can comfortably seat the whole family. The venerable 6.4-liter Hemi SRT V8 engine also provides the horsepower muscle for the Dodge Scat Pack vehicles such as the Challenger Scat Pack and Charger Scat Pack.

The Dodge Viper SRT10 has a reputation for being a difficult car to tame and the incredibly powerful V10 engine lies at the heart of the issue. With 645 hp and 600 ft-lbs of torque on tap in the 5th-generation Viper, the RWD sports car is not lacking in the power department but even the 1st-generations 400 hp was enough to get drivers in trouble.

The 5th-generation Vipers V10 power plant makes its incredible power thanks partially to an aluminum block with forged pistons, aluminum head, and sodium-filled exhaust valves. While the early Vipers were prone to spinning out due to having no electronic aids to assist with the high horsepower, the 5th-generation models include sophisticated traction control which makes this Dodge V10 engine your friend instead of your foe. ​​​​​​​

Arguably, Dodge's supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi V8 Hellcat engine is one of the best modern engines ever built, due in no small part to the lessons learned from its predecessors. The Hellcat Redeye V8 engine sports 717 hp and 656 ft-lbs of torque giving it 10 more horsepower and 6 more ft-lbs of torque over the standard Hellcat engine.

The Hellcat V8 engine saved Dodge at a time when they began to fall behind the likes of Ford and Chevrolet in the horsepower wars. Powering the modern Challenger and Charger models as well as the RAM 1500 TRX and Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, the Hellcat V8 is responsible for many owners' exciting daily driving experiences. The Hellcat also set the stage for even more powerful Hellcrate engines to come. ​​​​​​​

RELATED: 8 Most Badass Hellcats Ever Made, Ranked

The Dodge Direct Connection 7.0-liter V8 Hellephant A30 is better known as just the "Hellephant". It is a crate engine based on the C30 engine with the "A" indicating an aluminum block vs. the "C" indicating a cast iron block. The "30" in A30 points to the engine's usage of premium 30-proof fuel or E15 equivalent.

With 4340 H-beam rods, forged aluminum pistons, and a 3.0L twin-screw IHI supercharger with 3.17-inch supercharger pulley, the 427 cu in V8 puts out 1,000 hp, and incredibly it does this on premium pump gas. The Hellephant V8 engine sold out within 2 days of release but fear not, Dodge Direct Connection already revealed plans for even more V8 crate engine options.​​​​​​​

The Hellcat 6.2-liter V8 D170 based on the C170 crate engine sees every single engine part upgraded with only the camshaft left untouched. Upgrades include a 3.0-liter supercharger with 3.02 in pulley, 105 mm throttle body, upgraded valvetrain, heads, fasteners, rods and rod bearings, and more.

This is the engine powering the 2023 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon 170 to 0-60 in 1.66 seconds. The D170 V8 is truly an engineering masterpiece proven by the Demon 170 being the first factory production car to run the quarter mile in under 9 seconds. It puts down an 8.9 second 1/4-mile time with a trap speed of 151 mph, a mind-bending performance from a production vehicle.

The Hellephant A170 is a crate engine based on the C170 but features an aluminum block, a 3.0L twin-screw IHI supercharger with 3.17-inch supercharger pulley, and an upgraded fuel system and flex-fuel capability. This allows the 7.0-liter V8 to run E85 fuel hence the "170" in the name alluding to the fuel being 170-proof.

Making upwards of 1,100-HP, the crate engine is not for the faint of heart nor for the faint of wallet. The turnkey Hellcrate engine will be worth every penny to those lucky enough (and rich enough) to experience one the most powerful big-block engines of all time.

Eric King is a motorcycle enthusiast at heart but loves all things with a motor and wheels. From watching racing to riding and racing roadbikes as well as dirtbikes, he loves it all! He has experience writing articles for a motorcycle publication and enjoys the process of writing about one of his greatest passions. Along with a deep knowledge of bikes, he also enjoys working on, driving, and writing about cars and trucks.