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Hemi: The Ultimate American V-8 and Mopar Muscle: Fifty Years, Dodge, Plymouth and Chrysler Performance

Long before Hemi ‘Cudas went over a million bucks, and before it was considered cool to make a muscle car out of a ’62 Belvedere there weren’t too many books available devoted to Chrysler products. With the explosion of interest in Mopar has come a wave of books devoted to the subject. Motorbooks International and long time enthusiast author Robert Genat have been especially prolific on the subject. In 2002 MBI released Genat’s “Hemi: The Ultimate American V-8” and in 2004 and 2006 released “Mopar Muscle: Fifty Years, Dodge, Plymouth and Chrysler Performance”. Both titles are worthy of a place on your shelf.

“Hemi” is a 150-page coffee table book devoted to the Chrysler Hemi with lots of full color plates by the author himself. Factory photos, corporate literature illustrations and some other photographers fill any gaps left in the visual record. Among the nicer features of the design is the use of black and white photography and limited use of photos that wind up broken by crossing the spine. Possibly the coolest design feature is a special text box called “The Competition” which serves up a glimpse into what Ford and Chevy offered to compete with the Hemi. There are numerous engine close ups showing well-detailed correct engine bays and engines. There are also many shots of engines on stands which are perfect for the would be Hemi restorer.

“Hemi” starts off with a pretty comprehensive, blow-by-blow account of the Hemi from the fifties and on up to the present. This section is larded with tidbits like the carburetor numbers for the Street Hemi and quotes from Chrysler engineers and racers. From here on the book is broken into segments by chronological and model order with a chapter on Hemi race cars bringing up the rear along with a chapter on Hemi clone cars. Rounding out the deal is an appendix featuring HP and torque numbers for all the Hemis from 1951 to 1971.

The examples Genat chose for the book are all nicely restored cars, but what is most significant about these choices are the cars that are omitted. It seems odd that excellent examples of iconic body styles like the ’68 Hemi Charger, Road Runner or Super Bee were impossible to find for this book. There is also not one shot of a Hemi powered altered wheelbase car. To Genat’s credit he did find some incredible examples of strange Mopar combos like the black on black graphics on a ’71 Charger R/T and the white top, white billboard, on black Hemi ‘Cuda. This book makes a fine companion volume to Anthony Young’s Motorbooks title “Muscle Car Color History: Hemi” which contains a wealth of early factory photos and drawings.

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