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'54 Dodge Red Ram - Baby Hemi?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by stan292, Jun 11, 2006.

  1. stan292
    Joined: Dec 6, 2002
    Posts: 857


    Hey gang -

    I stumbled across (what I was told is) a 1954 Dodge Red Ram hemi at a garage sale last Friday. The seller said its 241 C.I. He was building a very nice-looking hemi-powered '33/'34 Plymouth sedan, so I figured he knew what he was talking about. It looked complete, and he said it turned over fine when he bought it a couple years ago.

    Now, I'm no hemi guy by any means (and had no business buying another motor - LOL), but what the hell. It was so freakin' cool (love those Red Ram valve covers), I bought it anyway. The motor appears fully complete - as removed from a stock sedan.

    I'm only somewhat familiar with the Chrysler family of hemis (331-354-392) - as popularly used for drag racing back in "the day" - and no next to nothing about the Red Rams. Can any of you MoPar gurus clue me in on what I've bought? Maybe how to make a positive ID? I've seen the term "Baby hemi" used in reference to the smaller sized motors. Does this thing fit in that general group? Am I right in thinking the Dodges are completely different motors than the Chryslers?

    I'm picking it up tomorrow after work - and will hopefully be able to talk with the seller at greater length. And of course, I can get photos, after I take it to the car wash, if that would help in getting it ID'd.

    Meanwhile, what's the skinny on parts availability - stock and performance? What about tranny options? Basically any an all information about the thing will be of help (any links to info would also be appreciated).

    Thanks in advance for your help -
  2. Big-Olaf
    Joined: May 9, 2006
    Posts: 241


    The Red Ram's were made in '53 and '54... They have no similarities between the Chryslers, or Desoto's... Hot rod parts are a little hard to come by, but Hot Heads Research has lots of stuff for them.. Including some performance stuff....
  3. hotcargo
    Joined: Nov 9, 2005
    Posts: 307


    Hi Stan , as I did with mine , get on to The Hemi .com site I'm sure I'm sure the good fella's will help ya
  4. The 241 and the 270 are the same size. They have a dual point distributor and small 2 barrel carbs. There is an aluminum adapter on the back of the block that the starter and the trans bolts to. There is some speed equipment for them. Usually takes some hunting to find. The 241 in stock form is 120 hp. I had one in a 27 roadster. Not too speedy. Without a cam change, there's not much exhaust noise.

  5. snap too
    Joined: Dec 13, 2005
    Posts: 259

    snap too
    from lost wages

    The Red Ram has almost reached a cult status for those that own them . True , not much in the way of aftermarket was made for them and pieces are hard find but they are cool just the same . They came in a low block design , 241 , 270 and a rare '55 Plymouth 255 poly that will use the RR heads . The tall deck is a 315 Poly or Hemi and a 325 Hemi. Chrysler adaptors will work to mate this 'lil bomb to popular trannys . The 241-270 did have some oiling issues that caused premature rod bearing failure but I think Hot Heads can supply what you need .
  6. gasheat
    Joined: Nov 7, 2005
    Posts: 713

    from Dallas

    What you have is a peach. Its not a barn burner and speed equipment is not plentiful. If it yours, you did good. You did not mention how much you paid. Trans options are wide. The Red Ram is a good looking motor and it gets plenty of attention. Yes it is wide and there is a weight issue. Its not cheap to build but what is ? But the 241 puts you in E class at Bonneville if you decide to go fast.
  7. lolife
    Joined: May 23, 2006
    Posts: 1,120


    Yep, the dodge was called baby hemi, all the way up to the 325. You have a low-deck motor there, and the 315, 325 was the high-deck. Most of the good (racy) intake manifolds were made for the high-deck.

    Dodge, Desoto, and Chrysler never compared notes, and they all built nothing in common except the bellhousing bolt holes.

    Look on top of the motor at the front, just in front of the valley cover. The ID is stamped there. Then go look up the number on google. VT- is a 241 truck, D50 and D44 were cars. D44 was '53 and D50 was later.

    You can still get transmission adapters for GM, and mopar trannies, I think ford too. The 241 intake manifold is the same as the 270, so if you can find a 4bbl for a 270 you could use that, but the only aluminum one I've seen is the Offy 3-deuce and I think Hot Heads sells them. The word hemi means "show me da money." It is slang for give me your wallet. There's nothing cheap about them. New valves will run you about $20 each and they weigh about a pound. If your best friend owns a CNC machine, you're in luck.

    The 241 distributor is the same as a 318/340. The windage tray from mopar performance for the 318 fits as well. Most of the baby hemis had front sump, so one of the first things to do, is cut the bottom off and weld up a nice rear sump.

    I wouldn't buy one unless I could take off the heads. It's a real tragedy what happens inside these motors when they haven't been run in years. At least take the valve covers and spark plugs out and spin the motor. So bring your compressor and impact wrench, and you can disassemble it in about 10 minutes.

    None of the 241's had cast-in motor mounts.
  8. 4tford
    Joined: Aug 27, 2005
    Posts: 1,692


    A good book to get is "The complete Chrysler Hemi Engine Manual" by Ron Ceridono and Tex Smith publishing. It will help to get an ideal what you will need to do with an old Hemi.
  9. konokazi
    Joined: Jan 25, 2009
    Posts: 2

    from phelan ,CA

    new to the HAMB. i have a chance to buy a "baby hemi" its in a 55 dodge truck and it runs good . the valve covers say red ram on them. of course i will leak it down and check oil pressure before buying but sounds good so far. my question is what is this motor worth? he is asking $1500 . i was thinking of putting this motor in my 1930 model A coupe i bought two days ago.any help would be greatly appreciated. :confused:
  10. Weasel
    Joined: Dec 30, 2007
    Posts: 6,694


    The low deck Dodge is rightly celebrated as it fits in many early cars and you can still close the hood and not mess with the firewall. Aftermarket intakes are not common but they are out there - aluminum 4 bbl, 3-2s and Weiand 4-2s - there's even a super rare 6-2, as well as the awesome looking Hilborn setup. I believe Tex Smith called it "The Crown Jewel of the early hemis".

    It is never going to be about brute power, but they have the hemi look, compact and organically beautiful IMO. If you want driveability, decent gas mileage - especially with a T5 or overdrive auto - then this is for you. There is a great in-depth build article on these engines on Doc Frohmader's
  11. Revhead
    Joined: Mar 19, 2001
    Posts: 3,027

    from Dallas, TX

    I just bought a 241 not too long ago. is that $1500 for the truck and hemi? Well, you won't be able to rebuild one for $1500 so that price might be ok. I paid 2k for a crapped out suburban with a 241 red ram, offy 3x2 intake and carbs. transmission came with it too.
  12. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 14,637


    55 is most likely a 270 although I've heard that Dodge used some 241's in the trucks after they stopped using them in cars.

    If it runs good enough to use as-is, without a rebuild, the price seems fair, considering a rebuild on one of these things would be at least double that. If you're going to go through the whole motor, then I don't think it's a deal, it's too much to pay for a core.
  13. As lolife said "its a tragidy what happens to these enginea when they sit" Don't start the engine until you clean and oil the rockers and valve guides. No matter how tempting it is to fire it up if it turns over.
    Joined: Aug 9, 2006
    Posts: 1,411


    Pick it up, I put about 2 g's in mine including adapter and muncie trans
  15. I'm new to the early hemi stuff...although I'm a mopar man through and through...anyway have been doing lots of heading obout the early hemi's here on the HAMB...Scootermcrad has a great archive set-up!!

    Anyway another thing to look at and consider for these 241, 270 Hemi's is that they never came with a harmonic the occasional cracked crank is possible. Although you can use a blancer off a 318 with set of tappered keys by Hotheads.

    I'm thinking about looking at a local baby Hemi in an old dodge 55 custom royal 4 dr sedan...guys asking about $2200? Any thoughts?
  16. strombergs97
    Joined: May 22, 2006
    Posts: 1,888

    from California

    Here is my 241 in a 1935 Ford Sedan..Dropped right in. I do have lots of $$$$$$$$$$$$ in the engine.. It's a HEMI and thats what I wanted.
    run great, not real fast but fast enough for me..
    If you need any help pm me..

    Attached Files:

    classiccarjack likes this.
  17. George
    Joined: Jan 1, 2005
    Posts: 7,335


    If it includes the car. 1500 for a core sounds high. 500-800 for a low deck Dodge Sounds better.
  18. 73RR
    Joined: Jan 29, 2007
    Posts: 6,464


    The crank key needs to be stepped, no taper involved. You can also re-broach the dampener. Either way you get to make new timing marks.
    Anyone with a small mill can make the key.
    Is $2200 just the engine price?? Sounds pretty steep, unless it is a very good runner, and, it is exactly what you want.

  19. krooser
    Joined: Jul 25, 2004
    Posts: 4,585


    Do a search for Scooter's "hemi-tech" on the forum... lots of good info.
  20. Kirk Hanning
    Joined: Feb 27, 2005
    Posts: 1,603

    Kirk Hanning

    I bought a complete 53' 241" with a brand new hotheads adapter (adapt. plate, flywheel & hardware) to a GM trans for $1300 off of a fellow hamber. I thought it was a fair deal.
  21. scootermcrad
    Joined: Sep 20, 2005
    Posts: 12,348


    How dare you get us all excited about your new purchase and NOT post pictures!! JEESH!! We're going to need that!!

    Please keep us posted one what you do and what you learn. There is not enough information on Dodge Hemis in the Tech info! Welcome aboard! The link to the HEMI stuff is in my signature line. Click on the banner...


  22. Ooops...right taper...I'm still a newbie to the early hemi stuff and have been over loading the noodle with all this info....;):p

    No the $2200 is for a complete car...and he says it MIGHT run...:(

    I found a 291 Desoto Hemi on craislists close to me for $800 and it was a good running motor 6 years ago when pulled from the car...I like the sound of this one better.
  23. stan292
    Joined: Dec 6, 2002
    Posts: 857


    I'm surprised to see this thread surface after so much time (originally started in '06). For whatever reason, I'm not sure I ever saw most (if any) of it. Thanks to all who took time to reply.

    FWIW - Here's a little background on what happened to this particular "baby".

    After the initial glow of owning my first hemi wore off, it didn't take long for me to realize this wasn't the motor I needed at present. It looked to be expensive to rebuild, with limited performance parts availability - and quite honestly, limited performance potential. And, god - are those hemis large (maybe I should say w-i-d-e). They do look great though, and work well in lots of applications. Just not mine.

    Anyway, I ended up selling it on the HotHeads site classified listing. It was only listed a few days before I was contacted by a delightful fellow named Steve, who was located in New Zealand of all places. Turns out there's quite the active hot rod scene there - traditional and "modern".

    I won't say what I paid, except that it was a VERY good deal. Steve was quite happy to get it for a decent amount less than he had recently bid (and lost) for one not as nice on e-bay. Fortunately, I found a "just right" shipping box (with a heavy-duty floor, no less) that had been discarded where I work, so packing was cheap and relatively easy. Just dropped it in, strapped it shut, and called Yellow freight to California.

    Those Kiwi boys are pretty sharp, in that several of them share the cost of one rail container. With the help of an ex-pat friend at the port of Long Beach, they let the giant box fill as full as possible with American goodies - including entire cars - then have it shipped South. I guess this happens a couple or three times each year.

    I've attached a couple "as found" pix, as well as a couple shots of where it ended up.

    Don't know how all of you might feel about sending goodies like this off to "ferriners", but Steve seemed more than deserving.The difficulties New Zealand rodders face, along with the killer expense (I bet Steve paid almost as much for shipping as for the motor itself) would overwhelm a lesser man (like myself - LOL). It's simply amazing what they get accomplished under those conditions.

    Steve had another project in the works that needed attention before he was going to be able to address the '36 project. I need to re-contact him and find out what's happening.

    Attached Files:

  24. 60srailjob
    Joined: Nov 14, 2008
    Posts: 1,219

    from nowhere

    241 and the 270 will interchange, there are intakes out there , I have seen a few 3x2, more than any other intake (except 2bbl).You can get intakes, valley pan covers, cams, valve covers, a look alike mag or call Hunt and get a real one. The average horse power is are 300, not a real burner but you can have fun......I have one and I took it out of the car with 48000 on it I paid 400.oo. I made the fuel block off and the valley pan cover on the mill. I finned them for the old ribbed look....Mine is on the stand to be put in the front office. Have fun with it.............
  25. continentaljohn
    Joined: Jul 24, 2002
    Posts: 4,696


    Great Little motor and here's my 53 241ci in my Cabriolet:D

    Attached Files:

  26. stan292
    Joined: Dec 6, 2002
    Posts: 857


    Beautiful! Perfect setting for that motor.
    continentaljohn likes this.
  27. it was a good running motor 6 years ago when pulled from the car...

    You know what that means... absolutely nothing.

  28. You know what that means... absolutely nothing.[/quote]

    So true.....After reading as much as I have I know not to fire these hemi's after they have been sitting for a few years without first oiling rockers and guides properly.;)

    From what I've found today seems the 291 Hemi was a one year only motor and there are limited parts available for them?? I guess the parts from 276's will interchange as well??
  29. 73RR
    Joined: Jan 29, 2007
    Posts: 6,464


    The 276 and 291 are essentially the same engine just as the 241-260-270 are the same.
    Although the DeSoto is hard to get alot of eye candy for, it is a great little engine and makes decent torque with basic hot rod parts.

  30. 53 hemi
    Joined: Jan 8, 2009
    Posts: 482

    53 hemi

    i've been running my 241 for a few years. it has about 48000 miles and is the best running car i have ever owned. performance of a brick but a sweet sound through straight pipes. and cool. factory dual points and 196 speed records in 1953. yeah. i've been cleaning and rebuilding before spending on new but the cheapest intake i've found ( forget about a factory 270 four barrel ) is a company called u-fab-it. a 3 duece kit for under $200. build it as 2 x 2 and its reliable and cheap. hot heads has everything else.

    Attached Files:

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