As long as I can remember, manufacturers have been tacking a description of a car’s features right onto it, for all to see. As certain selling points become more common, cars will stop visually bragging about them and will come up with new ones. Just off the top of my head, some of the features I’ve seen plastered onto cars are as follows:

  • Front wheel drive
  • Fuel injection
  • Automatic
  • DOHC
  • Four Wheel Drive, along with its cousins
    • All Wheel Drive
    • 4 x 4
    • Quattro
    • 4-matic
  • Hybrid
  • 4 speed
  • 5 speed
  • 6 speed
  • V6
  • V8
  • V12
  • Rotary
  • 16 valve
  • 32 valve

HemiOne that’s apparently been around for decades, but that I’ve only noticed in the past few years is ““. My earliest memories of the Hemi idea are of those two hapless schmucks who dream of being able to answer in the affirmative to the question, “That thing got a hemi?”

What I don’t get is the choice of the name “hemi” for this feature. I mean, I can go to the official hemi site and read about it:

What is a Hemi?

Hemi is short for hemispherical, half of a sphere, the shape of the combustion chamber in the early Hemi engines. Why the hemispherical shape?

When you look at a high-performance engine, the valves are canted to position the intake and exhaust ports for best airflow into and out of the cylinder. Most reacing engines, up to the time the Chrysler Hemi was introduced in 1951, had canted valves. So do all Hemi engines — the FirePower/Firedome/Red Ram, the 426 Hemi — and the New 5.7L and 6.1L Hemis. The way to enclose these canted valves in a chamber is the half spherical, or hemispherical shape, which gives best airflow.

Fine. I get what it means. But the “hemi” part of “hemispherical,” just like “semi” and “demi,” means “half”. Doesn’t that seem a bit odd? We’re talking about big, powerful engines, put in vehicles with names like “Magnum,” “Ram” and “Charger”. Now, why do they choose to use names like that for the models? Because they connote big and powerful. They’re ultra-manly. Driving one of these vehicles is a way of saying (or hoping you’re saying) “I am big. I am powerful. I have an enormous willy.”

“Hemi,” while it’s an accurate name from an engineering standpoint, just doesn’t send that message. People know it means half, don’t they? It seems to me that the message this sends is something along the lines of “I’m a big, powerful man with a big powerful dick and I drive a big powerful truck. Why yes, I’d love some tea, but just a demitasse. Any more than that and I’ll have to go pee pee.”

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