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Pete Hagenbuch, Chrysler engineer

by David Zatz on

Charles “Pete” Hagenbuch, who once headed Chrysler’s production engine performance tuning and has worked on many of the company’s most famous engines, died this morning.

Pete graduated from West Virginia University in 1956, and earned an MAE degree from the Chrysler Institute of Engineering in 1958. He worked on the  the 426 Hemi, the B/RB-series big blocks, the LA small blocks, the 2.2 turbos, and even the Australian Hemi Six.

In retirement, Pete was friendly and approachable, and volunteered a good deal of his time at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum in Auburn Hills. He participated in a two part interview with Allpar, and answered more questions by email later. He is survived by his wife, Ann, by his children, Cathy, Peter, and Daniel, and by nine grand-children and one great-grandchild.

Services will be held on Saturday at 3:30 pm at the University Presbyterian Church in Rochester Hills, Michigan. In lieu of flowers, Ann Hagenbuch requested that people donate to the Walter P. Chrysler Museum.

Dyno operator Ed Poplawski wrote, “Pete was a great guy to work for…Pete was very hands on involved in all phases of the testing. He always had a plan in place and you knew where you stood with him. He made a point to make sure all our equipment was running and backed me up if any problems came up.”

Burke Brown, who was in charge of the original LX cars’ development, wrote, “I would call him the consummate absolute role model of the dyno development performance engineer. He was all about running the dyno, getting really good data, sitting down and looking at that data, he understood all that stuff really well.”

While with Chrysler, he gained some fame as a slot car builder, and is to be featured soon in a book on the subject.

With the Detroit Auto Show over, it may be worth some time to look at one of the men who made yesterday’s and today’s Mopars possible.

David Zatz founded Allpar in 1998 (based on a site he had begun in 1993-94), after years of writing reviews for retail trades. He has been quoted by the New York Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Detroit News, and USA Today. Before making Allpar a full-time career, he was a consultant in organizational psychology. You can reach him by using our contact form (much preferred) or by calling (313) 766-2304

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