The HEMI badge is one of the most iconic in American automobile history, and 2014 marks the 50th year since it first appeared. Throughout this year, Mopar--Chrysler's service, parts and customer care brand--will celebrate the HEMI's anniversary, with a new badge, special merchandise and events marking the engine's significance to road vehicles and motor sport alike.
Named for its hemispherical combustion chambers, the second-generation 426 Race HEMI engine debuted in 1964, dominating that year's Daytona 500. At the wheel was Richard Petty, driving a 1964 Plymouth. Three other HEMI-powered vehicles finished behind him, giving them a clean sweep of the top four. HEMI engines went on to take dozens of other victories as well as numerous drag racing records, with versions of the engine available for both road racing and drag racing. The engines found their way into production vehicles from 1966, enabling a return to NASCAR after a one-year hiatus based on rules requiring racing engines to be based on a production vehicle unit.
Those street engines prompted a craze for modifying the units, something that has continued to this day--where the HEMI name can still be found on Chrysler's modern vehicles, albeit no longer attached to actual hemispherical engines. For 2014, Mopar has introduced a new HEMI badge with a 50th anniversary logo, and a unique line of HEMI merchandise, launched throughout this month. New items include clothing, decorative lighting, clocks, a pub table, stools, and more. If wearing the badge isn't enough, Mopar will launch several marketing initiatives and events throughout the year, encouraging Mopar and HEMI fans to take part in nationwide celebrations.
Oh, and there are the cars, too--with Chrysler's modern HEMI V-8 engines available across the Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge ranges, perhaps the best way to celebrate HEMI's 50th anniversary is just to drive one.