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Production-Car Improvements

There were changes in the Hemi-engine line-up for 1956. At Chrysler, the 301 ci Hemi was dropped and a new 354 ci Hemi was introduced. The displacement increase was achieved by increasing the bore from 3.81 to 3.92 in. while keeping the 3.63 in. stroke. The 354 Hemi had a 9.0:1 compression ratio and produced 280 hp at 4600 rpm, with 380 Ib-ft of torque at 2800 rpm. This engine was standard in the New Yorker, New Yorker Newport and New Yorker St. Regis. This was the last year for the Chrysler 331 ci Hemi in the Windsor line, which was now offered in a 225 hp version, or the optional 250 hp powerplant. Chrysler's performance flagship, the 300, now took on its famous letter designation sequence. The 300 B was powered by a 340 hp 354 Hemi, churning out 385 Ib-ft of torque at 3400 rpm. The optional 10.0:1 compression engine developed 355 hp at 5200 rpm, and 405 Ib-ft of torque at 3400 rpm.

The Chrysler 300 really did have a mystique about it. With its now-legendary racing victories and awesome horsepower, the 300 B turned heads whenever one drove by. The legend grew in 1956, with Chrysler again taking the NASCAR title. The colorful Carl Kiekhaefer-sponsored team won sixteen races in a row. Chrysler capitalized on the success of its 300 in its advertising. In an ad picturing a 300 B getting the checkered flag under the bright lights of a nighttime race, the copy read, "Let's get one thing straight . . . Chrysler has won every major competition in 1956! And don't confuse Chrysler's Grand Slam wins in all the big events with those 'in their class' wins that you may have read about. When Chrysler competes it competes against all comers!"

Almost lost in the hoopla over the 300 B were improvements in the Dodge and DeSoto Hemis for 1956. Dodge introduced a raised-block (RB or raised-B) Hemi with 315 ci, having a bore and stroke of 3.63x3.60 in. It developed 218 hp in standard trim for use in the Custom and Custom Royal. There were two optional 315 ci Hemis, one developing 230 hp and the other 260 hp. The small 270 ci Hemi was still standard in the Coronet, now rated at 189 hp. The 354 ci Hemi was optional in the Coronet; with a 10.0:1 compression ratio, it pumped out 340 hp at 5200 rpm and 380 Ib-ft of torque at 3800 rpm.

DeSoto also received a raised-block Hemi in 1956. This new two-barrel, 330 ci FireDome V-8 developed 230 hp, but the four-barrel Firef light version offered 255 hp. DeSoto buyers demanding maximum power ordered the dual four-barrel 341.1 ci Adventurer with 320 hp. The DeSoto received a boost in its lagging image when it was selected as pace car for the 1956 lndy 500.

All of Chrysler Corporation's car divisions received all-new sheet metal for 1957, and the Fin Era was now in full swing. Chrysler reduced its offerings from seven distinct models to four: Windsor, Saratoga (absent since 1953), New Yorker and the 300 C. Horsepower kept climbing, as did compression ratios. The venerable 331 Hemi was dropped. The Windsor was now powered by a 285 hp 354 ci Hemi, running a 9.25:1 compression ratio. The Saratoga had 10 hp more. Now, there was a new Hemi: the 392 V-8. This was a raised-block design with a bore and stroke of 4.00x3.90 in. With the new increase in displacement came larger valves: intake valves were 2.0 in. and exhaust valves 1.75 in. This increased displacement and breathing, of course, brought increased power: 325 hp at 4600 rpm with 430 Ib-ft of torque at 2800 rpm. The New Yorker came standard with this engine.

The most powerful Chrysler 392 Hemi that year was reserved for the 300 C. The dual four-barrel, radically cammed 392 Hemi with 9.25:1 compression developed 375 hp at 5200 rpm, with 420 Ib-ft of torque at 4000 rpm. The optional 10.0:1 compression 392 was rated at 390 hp, with 10 Ib-ft more torque at slightly higher rpm. Some wondered just where this horsepower would end, but in truth it had already begun to level off.

The Chrysler Imperial also received its annual horsepower boost. The 280 hp 354 Hemi of the previous year was replaced by a 325 hp 392 for 1957. There was no optional engine for the three Imperial models, and really, in a luxury car like this, one didn't need it.

The Dodge line of models was expanded and now included the six- and eight-cylinder Coronet, Coronet Custom, Royal, Custom Royal, Suburban, Sierra and Custom Sierra. The standard V-8 in the Coronet, Royal, Custom Royal and Suburban was the 315 bored out to 325 ci. Power was now 245 hp with 320 Ib-ft of torque. There were three op-tional V-8 engines for the Coronet: the 285 or 310 hp 325 with 9.25:1 compres-sion, or the top-of-the-line 340 hp 354 from the previous year. Optional in the Royal and Custom Royal were the 285 and 310 hp 325s. If you ordered the optional 285 hp 325 for your Suburban, it became the Sierra; if you opted for the 310 hp version, it became the Custom Sierra.

Some automotive pundits felt the late 1950s were the era of excess. This was evident in model names as well as aesthetics. DeSoto was a prime example. For 1957, you could choose from the Firesweep, FireDome, Fireflight and Adventurer. For less fanciful types, there was also the Explorer and Shopper sta-tion wagons. This was to be the last year for the Hemi engine in DeSotos. There was the two-barrel FireDome 341 ci engine with 270 hp, the four-barrel 341 ci Fireflight with 295 hp, and the dual four-barrel 345 ci engine offered in the Adventurer with 345 hp. The Hemi would be replaced the following year by the Turboflash V-8. All this fire and flash was to no avail, however, as DeSoto ceased car production with its 1961 line.

The days for the Chrysler Corporation Hemi were indeed numbered. The company had been working on a less-expensive Wedge-head design, and engines with the new cylinder head made their debut in 1958. At Dodge, the lone Hemi offering was the 325, which was at a distinct disadvantage when stacked up against the new 350 and 361 ci Wedge engines that developed more horse-power.

The situation was somewhat better at Chrysler, where the Hemi still dominated the engine line-up. The Windsor came equipped with the 290 hp 354, the Saratoga with the 310 hp 354 and the New Yorker with the 345 hp 392. The new 300 D came with a 380 hp 392; the optional 392 with fuel injection was rated at 390 hp. All Chrysler Hemi engines this year packed a 10.0:1 compression ratio. The Imperial models came with the same engine as the New Yorker. According to Chrysler Corporation literature, this was the last year of production for the first-generation Hemi engine in Chrysler, Dodge and Imperial.

Why was such a thoroughly proven engine scrapped? Drinkard will be the first to state the Hemi was replaced for purely economic reasons. Welch agrees, but says there were other reasons involved as well.
"To our chagrin," he says, "our management thought we were spending more producing our engine than Ford and General Motors were with their wedge-shaped combustion chambers, and manufacturing was interested in building a new, central engine plant to build engines [for all divisions]. So, for primarily economic reasons, the B and raised-B engines built at Trention eventually replaced the Hemi. They were somewhat lighter than the Hemi and more economical as far as material is concerned, and then, of course, the cars began to get heavier, so that the V-8 for the Dodge and DeSoto ended up being too small. That combination of things replaced the first generation family of Hemis with the B and raised-B."

 


 
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TITLE: Car Consumer Reports and Consumer Guide at Auto Lemon - Used Car History Check

Cars Directory : Auto, Automobile, Automotive, Car, Cars, Vehicle, Vehicles, Used Cars, New Cars, Used Car, New Car Price

Site Description: Car Consumer Reports and Consumer Guide on automobile, brake, buying car, car care, car cost, car safety, cooling system, drivetrain, electrical, exhaust, emission, fluid check, fuel system, ignition system, lubrication system, suspension and steering. Offers Free VIN Check VIN check

Cars Topics: car consumer reports on automobile, brake, buying car, car care, car cost, car safety, cooling system, drivetrain, electrical, exhaust, emission, fluid check, fuel system, ignition system, lubrication system, suspension and steering.