1 Classic ‘American’ V8 Is Only Built in Mexico
No engine is more American than the classic V8. And while turbocharged I6s and electric drivetrains may be the way of the future, every Detroit automaker is still proud to sell you a traditional V8. But if you buy any new V8 Hemi–whether in a Dodge muscle car or Ram truck–it was built in Mexico.
The Hemi is a classic American V8
Chrysler first experimented with hemispherical combustion chambers during WWII. The technology, which improves the cylinder’s surface-to-volume ratio, was central to the powerplant Chrysler built for the M47 Patton tanks. Chrysler also used the technology in a 2,500-horsepower engine it pioneered as an upgrade for the P-47 Thunderbolt fighter plane.
The war ended before Chrysler could go into production with its airplane engine. But it used the technology when it debuted its first overhead-valve V8: the Chrysler FirePower. This engine–also known as the DeSoto FireDome and Dodge Red Ram–became a sought-after powerplant for hot rods and drag racers through the 1950s and 1960s.
Chrysler Corporation first used the “Hemi” name for the second generation of its Hemispherical head V8. This engine was the 426 cubic-inch (7-liter) V8 built for NASCAR. When NASCAR demanded Chrysler offer this engine on the market for homologation purposes, the 1966 street Hemi was born. The legendary big-block made 425 horsepower and 490 lb-ft of torque. It was one of the most famous engines of the muscle car era horsepower wars.
The third-generation Hemi V8 debuted in the 2003 Dodge Ram trucks. At first, it was only available in a 5.7-liter configuration, but the company soon branched out to the 6.4-liter. Dodge doubled down on the new V8 when it designed its revived Charger and Challenger around the powerplant. Finally, Dodge’s SRT division engineered a supercharged 6.2-liter “Hellcat” variant for 2015, making an unprecedented 707 horsepower.
Saltillo is the Detroit of Mexico
Both General Motors and Chrysler Corporation opened their first plants in Saltillo, Mexico, back in the 1950s. This city is just 180 miles from the U.S. border and is the capital of Mexico’s third-largest state. Because of its location and size, it has become known as the Detroit of Mexico–according to Tetakwai.
Today, Chrysler operates two engine plants, two assembly plants, and a stamping plant in Saltillo. The Saltillo engine plant opened in 1981 and has produced Hemi V8s since 2002 and Hellcat V8s since 2014. Every single 2023 Hemi will come from Saltillo.
The engine plant employs 2,056 members of the National Union of Integrated Automotive and Allied Industries of Mexico. Chrysler Corporation has built 21 million engines in Saltillo–according to Mopar Insiders. FCA’s Mexico workers have won multiple company-wide awards for excellent build quality.
Ram’s Saltillo van assembly plant builds the ProMaster. Ram’s Saltillo truck assembly plant has built four million vehicles, and will build many 2023 Ram 1500 Classics and heavy-duty Ram trucks. These two plants employ another 6,700+ workers.
Thanks in part to Stellantis’ investment, Saltillo has one of the best-trained manufacturing workforces in the world. As young people from all over Mexico flock to Saltillo for manufacturing jobs, the city’s average age has dropped to 27. Unsurprisingly, Tesla is planning a major factory just one hour away, near Monterrey, Mexico.
Read more about Tesla’s Mexico factory.
Where are Stellantis’ North American engines made?
Stellantis is a major conglomerate that includes Dodge, Chrysler, Ram, and Jeep. While its latest generation of I4 and I6 engines were engineered in Europe, U.S. market versions will be assembled in North America. You can see where every 2023 Stellantis engine sold in the U.S. is made in the chart below:
|2.0-liter GMET4 Turbo I4
|Jeep Wrangler, Cherokee
|2.4-liter Tigershark I4
|Out of production by Q2 2023
|1.6-liter Turbo I4
|Future hybrid vehicles
|3.2-liter Pentastar V6
|3.6-liter Pentastar V6 “Classic”
|Dodge Charger, Challenger, Durango, Chrysler 300, Ram 1500 Classic
|3.6-liter Pentastar V6 “Upgrade”
|Trenton North, Michigan
|3.0-liter Hurricane twin-turbo I6
|Wagoneer, Grand Wagoneer, Wagoneer L, Grand Wagoneer L
|5.7-liter Hemi V8
|Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, Challenger, Ram 1500, Jeep Grand Cherokee
|6.4-liter “BGE” Hemi V8
|Ram 2500 Heavy Duty, Ram 3500 Heavy Duty
|6.4-liter “Apache” SRT Hemi
|Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT, Dodge Challenger SRT/TA, Dodge Charger SRT 392, Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392, Dodge Durango SRT
|6.2-liter “Hellcat” Supercharged SRT Hemi
|Dodge Challenger SRT, Dodge Charger SRT, Ram 1500 TRX
Find out which one full-size truck made the American-made list, or learn more about manufacturing in Mexico in the video above.