Why the 426 Hemi is Called the Elephant Engine

Few words in the muscle car world are more recognizable than the word Hemi. The 426 Hemi is so iconic its been given a few nicknames, like the elephant. Why is it called the elephant engine?

The 426 Hemi is called the elephant engine due to its wide size, weight and power. It is one of the most highly rated horsepower engines in its era. The 426 Hemi has wider dimensions and weighs more than most engines due to its hemispherical cylinder heads.

This article will examine each reason it’s called the elephant. We’ll take a close look at the dimensions, weight and horsepower of the engine.

The following specifications and facts were learned from my personal experience and research, Mopar engine manuals, books, videos, webinars and articles.

Why the 426 is Called the Elephant

The wide 426 Hemi Engine squeezed into a Dodge Dart with little clearance room
The wide 426 Hemi Engine squeezed into a Dodge Dart with little clearance room

An elephant is big, wide, heavy and has lots of power. The 426 Hemi is also big, wide, heavy and has lots of power. That’s why its called the elephant engine.

Let’s take a look at each of the reasons the mighty engine has its nickname.

The first time I saw a 426 Hemi I was drawn to its sheer width and huge black valve covers. It’s a moment I’ll never forget.

Dimensions and Width

The following are the dimensions of the 426 Hemi Engine:

Dimensional Measurement426 Hemi (Gen 2)
Rear bellhousing face to front of block23.625″
Rear bellhousing face to water pump pulley centerline32.0″
Oil pan rail to top of valve cover20.375
Bottom of oil pan sump to top of intake manifold24.0″
Bottom of oil pan sump to top of carburetor32.0″
Width from outside valve cover to outside valve cover30.5″
The dimensions of the generation 2 426 Hemi Engine.

Due to the hemispherical design of the cylinder heads, the Hemi heads are much wider than the heads on a Mopar wedge engine.

The video below shows the width and other differences of the Hemi head compared to a wedge engine.

The Hemi head comparison is at the beginning of the video.

Due to its wide cylinder head dimensions, the engine wouldn’t fit into some cars like the A-bodied Barracuda.

This is why the E-body was engineered. Its main purpose was to fit the Hemi into the engine compartment for assembly line production.

The 426 Hemi is 6.7″ wider than the 426 or 440 wedge engines from outside valve cover to outside valve cover. It’s also 5.7″ taller than the 426 or 440 from the bottom of the rear sump to the top of the carburetor.

The graphic below shows the dimensions of the 426 Hemi and other Chrysler engines.

Mopar engine size dimensions
Mopar engine and 426 Hemi dimensions Measurements are inches

Weight

Due to the sheer size of the engine, many people ask how much does a 426 Hemi weigh?

The 426 Hemi weighs 765 to 843 pounds fully assembled. Its bare weight is 690 pounds.

The engine weighs more than most other V8s from the same era.

Cylinder Head Material

The heads are made of cast iron. None of the street versions were made of the weight saving aluminum like in some of the Chevy engines.

Due to the combination of being made out of iron and its wide size, it contributed to the weight of the engine.

Find out the all differences between a Race and Street Hemi in my article, The Difference Between a 426 Street Hemi and a 426 Race Hemi.

Hemi cylinder he'd compared to a wedge engine head.
The wider 426 Hemi Head is at the bottom The wedge head is at the top

Horsepower

The power the Hemi possesses is another reason why it has its nickname. The power of an elephant is undisputed. It can lift over 700 pounds with its trunk alone and carry more than its body weight.

The 426 Hemi Engine is rated at 425 horsepower, almost one per cubic inch. It also has 490 foot pounds of torque.

Many feel these numbers are underrated, and they were. Check out the real horsepower in my article, 426 Hemi Horsepower and Torque – Rated and Real HP.

Comparing the 426 Hemi and 440 valve covers showing how big the Hemi ones are
Comparing the 426 Hemi and 440 valve covers showing how big the Hemi ones are

Find out about the mythical 426 Hemi DOHC in my article, The 426 Hemi Dual Overhead Cam Engine – The “Doomsday Hemi”

Any questions or if you have more information you’d like to contribute, send us an email found on our contact page.

Read More 426 Hemi Articles!

How Fast is a 426 Hemi? 1/4 Mile & 0-60 Results

426 Hemi Horsepower and Torque – Rated and Real HP

What Hemi Means in an Engine: Generation 1, 2 and 3 Hemis

The First Year of the 426 Hemi

Transmissions a 426 Hemi Used

Hemi Engines Made Before the 426 Hemi

The Carburetors on a 426 Hemi

Why the 426 Hemi was Banned From Nascar

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