Let’s face it: Nostalgia still sells, especially to hardcore horsepower junkies. To highlight its latest crate engine offering, the 1,000-hp Hellephant supercharged HEMI V-8, FCA could have dropped it into a current Challenger or Charger and called it done. Instead, the automaker opted to retromod an iconic muscle car from its past, the 1968 Charger, creating the Super Charger concept. While the Super Charger will remain a one-off, the Hellephant crate engine and accessories will be available to builders early next year.
Officially, the name of the new engine is the Hellephant 426 Supercharged Mopar Crate HEMI Engine, and its logo blends the legendary 426 displacement number with an angry-looking cartoon elephant. Both are a nod to its heritage, as the 426 street Hemi was frequently called “the elephant,” both for its size and its power.
The original 426 street Hemi, which first appeared in 1964, used a bore of 4.25 inches and a stroke of 3.75 inches to return a calculated displacement of 425.59-cu.in. Fed by a pair of four-barrel carburetors, the 1964 engine made as much as 425 hp at 5,600 rpm (with 12.5:1 compression ratio), though by 1968 — the year the Super Charger concept left the assembly line — was making this same output at 5,000 rpm with 10.25:1 compression ratio. Today, the largest normally aspirated HEMI V-8 in FCA’s catalog measures 6.4 liters (392-cu.in.), far short of the original street Hemi’s displacement.
The Hellephant rights that wrong. With a bore of 4.125 inches and a stroke of 4.0 inches, its actual displacement measures nearly 428-cu.in., but that number doesn’t resonate with the Mopar faithful. In any event, such nitpicking over details misses the entire point: No domestic automaker has ever built and sold a crate engine that produces 1,000 hp and 950 lb-ft of torque, until now.
FCA says the engine block itself is all-aluminum, derived from the item delivered in Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pack race cars, but configured for street use. The built-up Hellephant engine features valve covers from the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye; valve train, valves, locks, and retainers from the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon; a high-lift cam; and custom-forged pistons. To ensure the oily bits stay on the inside under boost, the compression ratio is a more-forgiving 9.5:1.
Though available as a stand-alone unit, Mopar will also offer a series of kits to make installation as painless as possible, particularly in older cars. The Hellephant 426 Supercharged Mopar Crate HEMI Engine Kit includes an unlocked powertrain control module (PCM), tuned to produce the claimed 1,000 hp; a power distribution center; an engine wiring harness; a chassis harness; an accelerator pedal; a ground jumper; oxygen sensors; charge air temperature sensors; a fuel pump control module; and a CAN bus interface device. There’s also a front-end accessory drive kit, which includes an alternator, power-steering pump, belts, pulleys, and more.
Given that the ’68 Charger is marking its 50th birthday this year, FCA chose the car as a means to highlight the Hellephant crate engine. Fiberglass flares give the car a widebody look, while the front wheels are moved forward 2 inches (stretching the wheelbase from 117 inches to 119 inches) to reduce the front overhang. The rear ride height is lowered by 2.5 inches, while the front is dropped 3.5 inches. The hood retains the ’68 Charger’s steel structure underneath, but comes topped in fiberglass — with a hood scoop patterned on the Challenger SRT Demon — to save weight.
Throughout, the build looked to the corporate parts bin. The transmission is a stock six-speed manual T-6060, liberated from a Challenger SRT Hellcat, which also donated the 20- x 11-inch wheels used up front (the Super Charger’s rear wheels look stock, but are custom-milled 21- x 12-inch units). Up front, the chin splitter is patterned on the one fitted to the Challenger SRT Demon, while the rear spoiler is similar to the one used on the current-generation Dodge Charger R/T. For a clean look, the headlamps (borrowed from a Challenger SRT Hellcat) are hidden behind the grille (eliminating the Charger’s pop-up doors), while the door handles and drip rails have been removed. Out back, the exhaust outlets (which incorporate double-walled pipes from the Alfa Romeo Stelvio) were routed out through the taillamps, with the LED brake lights surrounding the pipes.
Inside, the steering wheel and seats come from the Viper, while the instruments are straight from the Mopar accessory catalog. The rear seat has been pulled to save weight, while Sabelt harnesses for driver and passenger, and a 2-inch steel rollcage are installed to ensure occupant safety. The Hellephant mascot adorns the steering wheel, the gas cap, and the front fenders, lest anyone forget the true purpose behind this build.
For additional information on the Hellephant — or other crate engines in Mopar’s product lineup — visit Mopar.com/En-US/Store/Performance/Engine-Accessories.html.