Sat. Sep 30th, 2023
The Legendary 1966 Plymouth Satellite with the 426 HEMI: A Rare Gem

Owning an early 426 HEMI Mopar is considered extremely lucky. The Plymouth Satellite from 1966, equipped with a numbers matching 426 cubic-inch V8 and a close-ratio four-speed transmission, is one such gem.

The 1966 Plymouth Satellite is a rare treat for die-hard Mopar enthusiasts. It was one of only 503 hardtop Satellites built with a 426 HEMI engine and a four-speed manual transmission. While Chrysler built 35,399 Plymouth Satellites in 1966, only 817 of them had the powerful HEMI engine. The HEMI engine gained attention and popularity in the racing world, with Richard Petty winning his first Grand National title in 1964 using the high-performance variant of this engine.

In 1965, both the HEMI engine and Ford’s single overhead camshaft V8, known as the Cammer, were banned from NASCAR due to protests regarding their availability for race purposes only. Chrysler realized the potential of the HEMI engine and detuned it to make it suitable for street use. The street version produced 425 horsepower and 490 lb-ft of torque, thrilling car enthusiasts.

Chrysler engineers made several modifications to the racing engine to create a streetable variant. This included replacing the ram-type magnesium intake manifold with an aluminum non-ram model, using cast-iron cylinder heads instead of aluminum ones, installing Carter carbs instead of Holleys, and making other adjustments to reduce compression and provide for manifold heat.

The 1966 Plymouth Satellite with the 426 HEMI was not easily identifiable as a performance car. Except for subtle ‘426 HEMI’ badges on the front fenders and a small ‘426’ scripting on the hood ornament, the car appeared inconspicuous. The performance tires and drum brakes on the car had their limitations, but the HEMI engine made up for it with its tire-smoking power.

The green Plymouth Satellite featured in the video has been meticulously restored and well-maintained. The solid lifters and unique engine architecture add to its powerful sound and performance. The previous owner cautioned about the car’s behavior beyond second gear, but the current owner took a risk at the dragstrip and experienced the full force of the car’s power.

Owning a 1966 Plymouth Satellite with the 426 HEMI is owning a piece of automotive history. Its rarity, power, and legendary status make it a desirable collector’s item for avid Mopar fans.