For that feeling of pure satisfaction, it’s hard to beat building your own engine. That’s a fact. But here’s another reality: Thanks to the miracle of mass production, it’s often cheaper to buy an engine off the rack. More truth: Many guys lack the tools and skills to rebuild their own engines at home, while others just want to get out on the road today, not next month. So for many rodders, a crate engine is a perfectly logical choice.
Given the latest manufacturing processes and economies of scale, there are some great deals in crate engines to be had these days. You just need to be alert about a few things. Terms such as complete, dressed, and long-block can differ considerably in their meaning among suppliers, so study the product descriptions carefully and when in doubt, ask what is included. The same caution applies to product photos: specific models may vary, and you know that they say, “Prices and specifications are subject to change without notice.” Once again, never assume and don’t be afraid to ask.
Nevertheless, all this variety in marketing can work in your favor. By purchasing only and exactly what you need, you can save some bucks. Say, if you are transferring the distributor and intake setup from your old engine, or if you have some trick parts stashed under the workbench, you can select a long-block or partial engine assembly and pocket the savings.
You’ll want to consider freight and core charges in your price comparisons, too—they can be considerable. Some retailers include shipping, which is nice. With some careful shopping, you can drop a clean, fresh, tight engine into your heap for cheap. Check out these deals—maybe there’s a bargain here with your name on it.
Chevrolet Performance 350/290 HP Deluxe
Part number: 16 19244450
Street Price: $2,600
With millions of units sold over the years, here’s the kingpin of factory crate engines: the Chevrolet Performance 350/290 HP Deluxe. Built from all-new components with zero recycled or remanufactured parts, the 290hp V-8 sports four-bolt main caps and an early style, two-piece rear main seal. Iron 76cc heads (with traditional five-bolt intake pattern) yield an 8.5:1 compression ratio and can tolerate 87-octane fuel all day. For $2,500-$2,600 you can have the Deluxe version shown here with nifty chrome rocker and timing covers and a dual-plane intake manifold, however, both plain-Jane long-blocks and complete assemblies with accessory drives are also available.
Ford Racing Performance Parts X302 Long-Block
Part number: M-6007-X302
Street Price: $3,700
The people over at Ford Racing are really jacked about their new Windsor-based X302 crate engine line. Displacing 306 ci on a remanufactured Ford block, the piece features .030-over Mahle 9:1 forged pistons and Ford Racing X306 aluminum heads with 64cc chambers and 1.94/1.54-inch stainless valves. A Ford Racing E303 hydraulic roller cam with .498-inch lift and 330 degrees of gross duration is matched to 1.6:1 roller rockers, and a dual-sump oil pan allows stock fitment in Fox-bodied vehicles. For a few more bucks, there will soon be a complete assembly with an Edelbrock RPM Air-Gap manifold and 650 Holley rated at 340 hp. An OE-quality unit, the X302 is warranted for two years and 24,000 miles.
Blueprint Engines Chrysler 408 Stroker 375 HP
Part number: BPC4082CT
Street Price: $3,600
Here’s the sole Mopar in our group, the 408ci stroker from Blueprint Engines. Built on a remanufactured 360 Chrysler LA block, the 408 employs an all-new balanced rotating assembly with a cast-iron stroker crank and 9.5:1 hypereutectic pistons. With the furnished hydraulic flat-tappet cam sporting a .474-inch lift, 238 degrees duration at .050-inch lift, and a 110-degree lobe separation angle, the stroker is rated at 375 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque, according to Blueprint. Valve covers, oil pan, and timing cover are included, along with a 30-month, 50,000-mile warranty.
ATK Engines GM 350/350HP Vortec Stage 2
Part number: HP32M
Street Price: $3,000
If you like your small-block Chevrolet V-8s in the Vortec flavor, here’s the ATK 350/350 crate job. With a remanufactured late-style block with one-piece main seal, OE-style roller lifters, and 64cc Vortec iron heads, it makes 350 hp at 5,400 rpm and over 400 lb-ft of torque. ATK conveniently markets its engines in three stages of completion: Stage 2 includes sheetmetal dress, water pump, flexplate, MSD distributor, and Weiand intake manifold. Just add your carb, fuel pump, plugs, and wires—or step up to the turnkey Stage 3 version (shown) and you’re good to go.
Chevrolet Performance 350/195 HP
Part number: 10067353
Street Price: $1,600
Here’s your entry-level small-block Chevy crate engine. It’s nothing fancy, but it could be just the ticket for rehabbing an old-school hot rod or freshening up the tow vehicle. All iron, check. Four-bolt mains, check. Dipstick provisions on both sides, check. An 8.5:1 compression ratio, runs on goat juice, check. Chevy Performance says it makes up to 260 hp in stock form, and in OE replacement installations on ’75-85 GM vehicles, this thing is warranted for a full 100,000 miles. In the long-block form shown here, the street price is only $1,600—cheap as dirt.
Chevrolet Performance 6.0L 364CI Reman
Part number: 12491357
Street Price: $3,200
The Chevy LS performance crowd loves the LQ4/LQ9 engine subfamily. Essentially a bull-sturdy cast-iron block with 4.00-inch bores mated to a pair of LS6-style heads, more or less, this engine is a highly coveted item. The only trick is finding a good used one at a decent price that doesn’t already have a bazillion miles on it, since they were originally offered in trucks and SUVs. Well, here’s a nice, fresh LQ4 remanufactured by Chevy Performance that’s ready to dress out and drop in. It won’t even get your shop floor dirty.
Blueprint Engines Ford 347 Stroker 330 HP
Part number: BP3472CT
Street Price: $3,300
Here’s a value-priced 347ci Windsor stroker built around a remanufactured cast-iron Ford block that’s been bored .040 over for 9.6:1 hypereutectic aluminum pistons. Meanwhile, a new cast crank and rods with 150,000-psi bolts complete the balanced lower end. The modified cast-iron Ford heads feature swirl-polished stainless valves and hardened pushrods and retainers, while the cam is a flat-tappet hydraulic dual-pattern grind, to wit: .496-inch intake and .520-inch exhaust lift; 224 degrees intake and 234 degrees exhaust duration at .050-inch lift. This combination will make nearly 400 lb-ft of torque over a wide band, says the maker, and it comes with a 30-month, 50,000-mile warranty.
Edelbrock 350 E-Street Long-Block
Part number: 45070
Street Price: $3,700
The E-Series brings the renowned quality of the Edelbrock brand to the value-priced end of the crate engine market. Starting with a GM-manufactured 350 iron short-block with four-bolt mains and cast crank and pistons, Edelbrock adds a pair of E-Street aluminum cylinder heads sporting high-velocity 185cc intake runners for crisp street performance with the Edelbrock 2102 Performer cam. Topped off with a pair of slick Signature series valve covers, the E-Street long-block squeaks in right at our $3,700 budget limit, but if you’d like to spend a bit more, complete assemblies with carb or EFI are also offered.