Tom Hoover, "Godfather of the 426 Hemi," Dies at 85

Mark Stevenson
by Mark Stevenson
tom hoover godfather of the 426 hemi dies at 85

After battling a “long-term illness,” former Chrysler engineer and “Godfather of the 426 Hemi,” Tom Hoover passed away on April 30. He was 85

According to Hemmings, Hoover joined Chrysler in 1955 to work on the Bendix Electrojector system, an early electronic fuel injection system that ultimately proved to be fraught with issues. His next assignment took him to the engine lab to work on an English straight-six engine for evaluation. However, it was his later connection with drag racing that made Hoover a known quantity outside of Chrysler.

The rest of Tom Hoover’s story can be found at Hemmings.

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  • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on May 03, 2015

    May he rest in peace. He was innovative. He saw the Porsche had a good idea using hemispherical combustion chambers and adapted that to a US V8 design. Very original.

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    • Multicam Multicam on May 04, 2015

      @CJinSD Is CJ from South Dakota? I've always read it as San Diego.

  • PrincipalDan PrincipalDan on May 03, 2015

    RIP - this is why CHrysler was known as an "Engineering Company" for many years. Hemi, torqueflite, torsion bars, the unkillable Slant 6, unit body when the rest of the Big 3 were BOF...

    • Blueflame6 Blueflame6 on May 03, 2015

      I just wanted to say thanks for reminding me of something my late father used to say from time to time. I got to visit the Chrysler museum before it closed to the public and it very much reenforced that notion as well. Pretty much all the non-car exhibits were focused on engineering advancements.

  • Ron B. Ron B. on May 03, 2015

    Tom Hoover has been a type of Hero to me since I first heard of the Silver Bullet a very long time ago. I've owned a few non Chrysler Hemis, (Riley 15/6,Peugeot 404, Mercedes 280 with m110,several of those) But I have also raced a Chrysler Hemi on the Salt (see DLRA results for 1998)and I can vouch for the early Hemi's ease of making huge power over the wedge I have also owned (426 Max wedge ,64 Fury ). I see a question regarding proof of the efficiency of hemi heads.While yes,it is a fact that hemi is not quite as thermodynamically efficient as today's Pent roof chamber design with it's four valves etc (another invention and design from the 1900's) let us not forget that every week 1/4 mile records are being smashed with Hemi powered Dragsters,not wedge or Four valve engines but plain simple Chrysler derived Hemis. Over the Decades since the 1950's many attempts at equalling the power made by Chryslers were made using Pontiac,Buick,Oldsmobile engines . Even some speciality designs with four overhead cams(sainty etc ) but none could produce the power needed to unseat the Hemi. There is your proof.

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    • Nrd515 Nrd515 on May 04, 2015

      @Big Al from Oz The McGee engine was NOT successful at all, they might have equaled the power output of the 426 based motors, but they never developed to the point they were remotely as reliable (A relative term in the nitro cars) as the hemi and NRHA banned it, and the other competing designs simply to try, unsuccessfully it turns out, to keep costs down, and to prevent a horsepower "race". At roughly 10,000 HP, more power really isn't needed, and everyone using the same basic parts does something to keep costs under control. No competitor to the 426 hemi replicas has ever really done well. A lot of it was simply due to most all them not having a decent block with replaceable cylinder liners and complexity of the valve train vs the Hemi's 2 valve heads.

  • Thornmark Thornmark on May 04, 2015

    Chrylser Australia did engineer the Hemi Six, however robust, it was not a true hemi.