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Lights, Camera, LOTS of Action: Hemis in the Movies

Filmakers like Hemis in cars because they instantly convey power and performance. Here are some movies where the beloved Hemi play a major part in the film.

Not intended to be a complete list of every film in which a Hemi powered might be shown or mentioned, this is simply a list of a few of the more entertaining films that feature a Hemi more prominently. The list is also limited to just Generation II (426) Hemi engines, are Generation I models appear in countless films across the 1950s and films are being made now with Generation III Hemis.

Speedway

A horrible film starring Elvis Presley and Nancy Sinatra (need I say more) with Elvis as a stock car racer battling the IRS. The only redeeming value is the appearance of several NASCAR stars of the day along with honest-to- goodness 426 race Hemi powered Grand National (that’s what they used to call The Cup) cars.

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2 Fast 2 Furious

For the film, replicas were built by a muscle car restorer’s best friend, Year One.  No real 1970 Challenger R/Ts were harmed in the making of this movie, the car was a non-numbers matching fake. The engine was gorgeous though,  a 426 CID Hemi  V8 with dual 750cfm Holley carbs on a cross-ram manifold.

Two Lane Blacktop

Early in the film Two Lane Blacktop, some of the main characters race a local and refer to the car as a Hemi ‘Cuda, the actual line from the film (delivered by Beach Boy drummer Dennis Wilson) was “That Plymouth had a Hemi with a Torqueflite,” though there’s some dispute among Chrysler aficionados as to what model it actually was (perhaps an AAR). It was shot at night so details are difficult to spot.

Gone in 60 Seconds

Among the vehicles the group in Gone in 60 Seconds must steal is a 1971 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda, code named Shannon. Like some other cars on our list, it is likely a reproduction as less than two dozen Hemi ‘Cuda convertibles were manufactured that year. Regardless, its great to see those fabulous colors Plymouth used in that era for their cars on the big screen.

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Heart Like a Wheel

Actress Bonnie Bedilia (later of NBC’s Parenthood) plays barrier-breaking female drag racer Shirley Muldowney in this biopic. Where many of the other films on this list show just a flash of Hemi, the big motor is inescapable in this film, as so much of the action takes place on the drag strip.

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Fireball 500

The surf/beach party films that were the mainstay of teen movies of the early ’60s had worn our their welcome and the kids of those days (our parents and grandparents) wanted more gritty story lines. Fireball featured the same lovable goof Frany Avalon as a stock car driver forced to run moonshine (I know, the plot stinks). The coolest part is the Hemi-powered Barracuda Franky drives, constructed by the guru of car customization, the recently-departed George Barris.

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Phantasm 1- 4

This four-part movie series prominently featured a “Cuda throughout, although only the third and fourth installations were Hemi powered cars. Not numbers matching factory-installed Hemis, but aftermarket clones with the might 426 Hemi replacing the stock engine.

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The Fast and the Furious

While implied throughout the series that Dom Toretto’s seemingly indestructible Dodge Charger is powered by a Chrysler Hemi, only when the car is first revealed in the garage in “The Fast and the Furious” do we see the Elephant Motor. Most road work is done by Chargers powered by less valuable Mopar engines and in some cases by Chevy crate motors. There is mention that in the Fast Five film the car was powered by a 528 CID Hemi (a Mopar crate engine displacement).

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Chris Riley
About Chris Riley

I have been wrecking cars for as long as I've been driving them but I keep coming back for more. Two wheels or four, I'm all in. GearHeads.org gives me a chance to give something back to the automobile community.

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