Decisions, decisions, decisions...when it comes to building a truck, the one thing that never ends is bubbling in option A, B, C, or D. Choosing is just the name of the game. One area that necessitates some heavy pondering is the heart of the matter, the living, breathing pulse that lies beneath the hood, also known as the motor.

When choosing a motor, the options tend to look like a neverending bowl of pasta. Between the various makes, cubic inches, horsepower ratings, carbureted, fuel injected, supercharged, and countless other options, one also has to decide on a shopbuilt motor, a crate motor, or a motor pulled from another source, such as a junkyard, swap meet, or whatever's down the street. All have their various advantages, which can make things tricky. But for the most part, truck owners seem to go with a shopbuilt or a crate motor.

On the plus side of a shopbuilt motor, a dyno-tested engine is pieced together by hand to ensure you get what you paid for. Yet you pay for that hands-on touch. A crate motor is conveniently delivered to your door. However, most crate motors are mass-assembled on a set game plan, and dyno testing isn't even an afterthought. Oftentimes buyers really want something in the middle, and in those cases Smeding Performance in Rancho Cordova, California will get you a quals ity, convenient, and truly blueprinted heartbeat.

Smeding Performance specializes in quality handbuilt dyno-tested crate motors. With over a dozen standardorder crate motors for Chevy and Ford applications, it's pretty safe to say the crew at Smeding have crate motors down to a science. All Smeding motors are built from brand-new parts built to Smeding's specs. Instead of buying performance parts from various manufacturers, owner Ben Smeding designed the components in his motors, such as pistons, cranks, camshafts, and more, to his liking.Because Smeding engineered its motors around its design, each motor is truly a quality blueprinted piece. On top of that, every Smeding motor is hand-assembled by a Smeding technician. Taking things one step further, every Smeding motor takes a trip to Smeding's in-house dyno to make sure the motor is in top running order and performing as designed, and to break in the motor for optimum driving. Therefore, all a customer has to do is drop the motor in and let it rip.

Smeding's family of crate motors ranges from small-block Chevys and Fords all the way up to monstrous 572 Chevys and 427 Windsors. However, Smeding is best known for their arsenal of streetable stroker motors. Whether it's a stroked 383 Chevy or a 347 Ford, Smeding has various horsepower-rated strokers to suit any small-block-minded fan with a taste for big-block torque. Besides offering their set crate motors along with various blown crate motors, Smeding will also outfit your motor with fuel injection, three-deuces, Webers, serpentine belt systems, different valve covers, and so on.

We got word that Smeding was debuting a brand-new crate motor, dubbed the Hot Rod, in their lineup. Granted, Smeding already has a motor named the Hot Rod, but this is the new and improved aluminum-headed Hot Rod. Upon hearing the news of the new Smeding 383 stroker with aluminum heads, an estimated 400 hp, and a price tag right at $5,500, we headed up to their shop to take a look. As it turns out, we were there for the new motor's christening. This 383 is the first one to roll off the line. Check out what goes nto getting a handbuilt, dyno-tested and tuned premium crate motor that's good to go the day it arrives at your door. Then check back next month when we'll finish up the build and hit the dyno to see if the estimated 400 hp is fact or fiction.