Dodge offered its venerable 426 HEMI V8 engine in any trim level Coronet for the 1966 model year, from the entry-level model to the range-topping Coronet 500. The Coronet 500 was the most common recipient of the 425 horsepower HEMI, with Dodge building around 340 426-equipped Coronet 500s in 1966.
One of these rare pieces of Mopar’s past is today owned by former Tonight Show host Jay Leno, who recently featured the vehicle on an episode of his ‘Jay Leno’s Garage’ YouTube show. Leno’s car is a good example of the breed, featuring an attractive dark green exterior paint with a black roof and matching black dish wheels.
In Leno’s words, the image of the 426-equipped Coronet in 1966 was similar to the Hellcat’s today. Other American muscle cars were fast, but the Coronet HEMI was infamous for essentially being a factory-prepped drag racer. Dodge only offered a 90-day warranty on the engine as they knew what those who bought it were going to do and do with it: race it. Both legally and illegally.
Hear what Leno has to say about one of his favorite American muscle cars in the episode embedded above.