Once upon a time, auto shows were important events for manufacturers, giving them a venue to reveal their latest models — and latest technology — to an eager buying public. Display engines were a part of this, giving the average person a passing understanding of the internal combustion dark arts, while teasing enthusiasts with the latest high-output options. On Friday, May 17, a trio of Mopar display engines from the Steven Juliano Collection will head to auction in Indianapolis, giving buyers an opportunity to own a unique piece of Chrysler high-performance history.
The lots include a Plymouth 426 Race Hemi, likely from the 1965 model year; a circa-1969 Dodge 426 Street Hemi, painted a most unusual color; and a circa-1970 Plymouth 440 6BBL (six-barrel). All were created for Chrysler by third-party vendors and displayed on the auto show circuit, and the Plymouth 426 Hemi was later donated to a school’s Vo-Tech program.
Plymouth 426 Hemi display engine.
The Plymouth Hemi carries a plaque on its stand identifying the engine as a Super Commando “HEMI” 426. While the Super Commando name is typically associated with Plymouth’s high-output 440-cu.in. V-8, Allpar states that the moniker was also used to denote a race version of the 426 R Hemi. In a December 1964 service bulletin, highlighting a 1965 Plymouth Belvedere equipped with the “Super Commando 426,” Chrysler states the output at 425 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque, thanks in part to the engine’s 12.5:1 compression ratio.
This cutaway Super Commando 426 is rated at the same output, and features pistons that bump the compression to 12.5:1, a cross-ram intake topped by a pair of Carter AFB carburetors, a high-lift camshaft and aluminum heads. Equipped as such, the factory horsepower rating was calculated by the NHRA to be 500 horsepower, though the engine was approved by the sanctioning body for Super Stock drag racing.
Dodge 426 Street Hemi.
It’s not clear why the Dodge 426 Street Hemi is painted in a shade of green that never — to the best of our knowledge — graced a production 426 Hemi V-8. That mystery aside, the engine comes mounted on a Scat Pack stand, which was created for auto show display during the 1968-’69 season, helping to date the engine to a rather specific period. As configured with a pair of Carter AFB carburetors and 10.25:1 compression ratio the Street Hemi was rated at an output of 425 horsepower and 490 lb-ft of torque.
Signed by drag racer “Dandy” Dick Landy and Tom Hoover, the “godfather” of the 426 Hemi V-8, the engine’s cutaways help to demonstrate the stages of a four-stroke engine (intake, compression, ignition, and exhaust), and further allow viewing of internal components like the thermostat, clutch assembly, water pump impeller, and exhaust passage.
Plymouth 440 6BBL.
The Plymouth 440 6BBL V-8 is also painted in an unusual color, as production examples of the RB engine in high-performance trim would have been finished in Street Hemi Orange through 1971, switching to a medium blue for 1972 and later production. Described in the auction listing as one of the final cutaway engines built for Chrysler, this would have seen use during the Rapid Transit System years, which ran from 1970 to ’72.
The 440 6BBL was less expensive than the 426 Hemi, and for those who drove primarily on the street, likely a more forgiving option. On paper, the 440 6BBL produced 390 hp, or 35 hp less than the Street Hemi, but produced the same 490 lb-ft of torque (at 3,200 rpm, instead of the Hemi’s 4,000 rpm). Today — at least in terms of display engines — the 440 6BBL is the more desirable one to have. While ample Hemi cutaways have survived the decades, it’s believed that no more than six of the high-output RB display engines remain.
All three display engines are operated by electric motors and are functional for their intended educational purpose. Mecum has not set pre-auction estimates for these lots, which head to auction during the company’s Indianapolis sale, taking place May 14-19 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.
For additional information on the sale, visit Mecum.com.