I’m sure you remember the television commercials that ran a few years back with the Gomer Pyle-esque main character asking if the owner of the other character’s Chrysler-brand vehicle was powered by a Hemi engine. It’s a bit of a misnomer though, as the head shares more in common in combustion chamber shape with the older poly-spherical (or “Poly”) heads than the traditional “true” hemi-spherical (or “Hemi”) heads. Somehow I don’t think “That thing got a Poly in it?” would sell as many vehicles though.
You may wonder what all this has to do with the Highboy Deuce in primer gray you see above. Well folks, this ain’t no glass-bodied, gold-chaining, sbc-powered Deuce. This thing has a real Hemi beating under the hood. And a Desoto Hemi at that!
If you’re not familiar with the “early” Hemi line-up, you should be. Back when the Hemi came out it was called the FirePower V8. When it split to be divided among the Chrysler brands they all got unique versions of the Hemi engine, all with unique names. Much like the Turbo-Fire Chevrolet V8s, Rocket Oldsmobile V8s and Fireball Buick V8s, you had the Chrysler FirePower V8s, Dodge Red Ram V8s and Desoto Fire Dome V8s. And just like The GM V8s, the Chrysler Hemi engines didn’t share many parts among each other.
The Desoto Fire Dome came in various displacements, from 276 all the way up to 345 cubic inches and made anywhere from 160 to 345hp stock. Unfortunately the owner was busy talking to someone else, and I didn’t want to dig around on it to look for casting numbers, so I honestly can not tell what displacement it is… which is too bad.
This is an awesome example of what would be a pretty-period correct 60’s hot rod (minus the slot wheels, I would imagine) would look like, and the Hemi powerplant only adds to the authenticity. It makes my day to see a car enthusiast look past the low-cost, ease and availability of parts and bandwagon approach to powering every vehicle made with a small block chevy.