Our new 2011 392 HEMI® Challenger SRT8 has only been in production for a couple of months and it already has the performance community taking notice. With 470 horsepower on tap, it can lay down rubber the length of an aircraft carrier at will. The equally impressive 470 ft.-lb. of torque will plant you firmly in the seat and peel your eyelids back. Personally, we think that both of these great attributes are pre-requisites for any muscle car. We can tell you this, one spin behind the wheel while rowing the six-speed transmission, will leave you with a crazed grin on your face.

To fully appreciate the 392, we need to go back five decades to the drag strips and sun baked dry lake beds of Southern California. It was the engine to beat in the Top Fuel and Gasser glasses throughout the late 1950’s and early 60’s. Legendary drag racers such as “Big Daddy” Don Garlits, Don “The Snake” Prudhomme, “TV” Tommy Ivo and many more blazed a trail and set new records everywhere they showed up. These pioneers of the sport realized early that the 392 HEMI® had strong internals that would withstand the punishment of racing. However, it was the design of the HEMI cylinder head that allowed it to move the insane volumes of air and fuel, when a supercharger was bolted on. With the guidance of famed engine builder Keith Black, the growing high-performance parts industry began developing bigger superchargers, high-lift camshafts and headers and other hardware that would significantly increase the power of the 392 over any other production based V8 engine at the time.

We took our 392 HEMI® Challenger SRT8 to the hallowed grounds of the LA County Fairplex, home of the 51st annual NHRA Winternationals to meet its great ancestors that rewrote drag racing history. These front engine 392 HEMI® dragsters were the cutting edge of extreme performance some 50 years ago. It was at this same track that racers pushed these machines to the extremes and came home with trophies. Technology may have advanced and changed over time, however the basic superior design of the HEMI® engine head, remains the same. Even thought the first generation HEMI® doesn’t share any parts with the current GEN III offspring, there’s still some DNA along with magic in the numbers 392!

Article Courtesy of RedLetterDodge

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