Horsepower and the accompanying wow factor have, are, and always will be king in our world of customized classic trucks. The minute you swap out your truck's stock mill and install a modern V-8, you have increased the horsepower substantially.
It shouldn't come as a surprise to any hot rod truck fanatic that there isn't a shortage of power options. There are numerous options should you want an "old school" hot rod motor such as a Cadillac, Pontiac, Olds, Hemi, or Ford. Due to an abundance of high-performance parts and information, Chevrolet motors have historically offered the easiest engine swap. To this day Chevrolet engines still hold claim to this title, but with the rising tide of Fords, Chryslers, and even Chevrolet's sister motors available in crate form eliminating the hassle of choosing a different brand, the small-block Chevy's stronghold has been severely undermined.
Follow along as we give you just an inkling of what's out there. What we have tried to do here is present the popular motors from small- and big-blocks, Fords, Chevys, and Mopars, with even a Pontiac or two for the hardcore GMC owners. Engine swaps have always been a staple among hot rodders, and swapping engines once or twice in the same truck is common. In the back of your mind you should always have a plan to enhance your hot rod classic truck's performance or appearance.
The Gilbert Chevrolet ZZ4 (350ci) Nostalgia Deluxe engine (428 hp @ 5,600 rpm, and 448 lb-ft of torque @ 4,600 rpm) is based on the GM Performance Parts (GMPP) ZZ4 crate engine. The company took the GMPP ZZ4, added a more aggressive hydraulic roller cam, 1.6:1 roller rockers, and modified Edelbrock classic valve covers and topped it off with the new Edelbrock Performer RPM Air-Gap dual-quad intake system. The induction system is topped off with dual chrome air cleaners to enhance its vintage looks. The ZZ4 engine features a forged steel crankshaft, forged powdermetal rods, and hypereutectic pistons.
Blueprint Engines & Comp Performance Group
Our first look comes via BluePrint Engines, which has teamed up with COMP Cams, Inglese, Racing Head Service, and TCI Automotive to offer an ideally suited 355-inch small-block Chevy for the street.
BluePrint Engines start with a sonictested, align-honed, precision-machined Chevy four-bolt main short-block. From here, top-shelf parts from around the industry are used to build the engine. They begin with a forged rotating assembly that rests within a short-block outfitted with a set of RHS Pro Action aluminum SBC cylinder heads and COMP Cams valvetrain components. Combine that with a specially designed COMP Cams camshaft engineered to provide the ultimate in Weber-carb driveability and you're guaranteed plenty of power and an awesome idle. Topping off the Chevy is an eight-stack Inglese Weber induction system.
Inglese induction systems are completely customizable from paint to stacks to match your vehicle's scheme. All Inglese induction systems come custom-tuned for your application; this is a true drop-in crate motor that provides fully dyno-tested performance right out of the crate.
Each BluePrint Engines street rod crate engine with COMP Performance Group components is available in different size/cubic-inch configurations with a variety of finishing options, from the base 355 engine to a fully dressed 383 with a starter, balancer, distributor, plug wires, and water pump.
That's nice, but should you want the in-your-face looks and seat-of-thepants kick from a big-block, how about the BluePrint Engines Chevrolet 496 engine series? These engines are all based on the Mark IV 454 block and utilize a 4.250-inch stroke. The base street-performance version (PN BP4960CTC) uses cast-iron oval port heads and makes 480 hp/550 lb-ft of torque. Next up the performance ladder is PN BP4961CTC, which uses AFR rectangular-port aluminum heads, Jessel rockers, and a roller cam. This engine makes 595 hp/615 lb-ft of torque. Both versions can be ordered with fuel injection.
With the trend toward Ford in a Ford and Chevy in a Chevy, it's only natural a true dyed-in-the-wool GMC fanatic would prefer to have the original V-8 his GMC left the factory with, a Pontiac V-8. Butler Performance is a proven Pontiac expert throughout the broad range of Pontiac powerplants. The company builds stock-to-rare factory engines, including the 389 Tripower, SD421, RAII, RAIII, RAIV, HO455, SD455, and RAV. Additionally, Butler can internally modify any of these engines to include strokers, head porting, and much, much more. Once finished, the Butler Pontiac engines feature greatly improved power and durability while maintaining a totally stock appearance.
But it doesn't stop there. The company can install the latest aftermarket accessories, such as custom valve covers, a myriad of induction systems from single four-barrel to supercharged, serpentine belt systems, air conditioning, power steering, and alternator brackets and components.
Butler's crate engines start at 500 hp and 550 lb-ft of torque and will do so on 91 octane. Now that's a real street motor. According to Butler Performance, you're just a cam and induction upgrade away from the 600-plus hp and torque range. These are based on Pontiac 400 or 455 blocks using the company's longrod stroker kits and ported Edelbrock heads. Additionally, Butler crate engines using aftermarket blocks (505 to 541 inches) feature larger bores (4.380 inches) made possible by the thickerthan- stock cylinder wall. These engines can produce upward of 700 to 750-plus hp on pump gas.
Butler offers everything from street to race motors, carb to fuel injection-it's really a matter of your personal taste for performance.
Where does one start with Edelbrock? The company has a number of crate engines ideal for any classic truck, but we have to narrow down our selection to two. Of course, you can always go online and look at everything else Edelbrock has to offer. Let's take a look at the small-block Chevy Performer crate engine with 350 inches, 363 hp, and 405 lb-ft of torque. This powerplant is based on the Goodwrench 350ci four-bolt GM short-block. Then come the Edelbrock components, such as the intake and E-Tec 170-cylinder heads, ARP bolts, Edelbrock Red Roller rockers, and MSD Pro Billet distributor with a Blaster 2 Coil. The engine features the latest Edelbrock Rollin' Thunder hydraulic roller cam and lifters.
Several packages offer your choice of a single- or dual-quad carburetor, polished accessories, and Edelbrock's EnduraShine finish. Some of the high points of the 363-horse small-block Chevy include 9.0:1 compression for compatibility with 91-octane gasoline for true street driveability, and an Edelbrock Performer EPS Vortec or RPM Air-Gap dual-quad Vortec intake manifold equipped with a Thunder Series AVS 650-cfm four-barrel on top of the E-Tec 170 heads with guideplates, swirl-polished stainless steel valves, and dyno-matched Edelbrock Rollin' Thunder hydraulic roller lifters and Performer hydraulic roller camshaft. Dressing the package are the Edelbrock Elite Series valve covers with custom badges that can be ordered with or without an Edelbrock water pump (your choice of two styles). There's also a heavy-duty 8-inch harmonic balancer.
Should you find yourself with the hankering for something really wild, how about the limited-production (only 250 are scheduled to be built) Edelbrock SS383 that pumps out 460 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque? Built on a brand-new GM ZZ383 short-block, this 383ci crate is hand-assembled by inhouse Edelbrock technicians. The heart of the performance is the Edelbrock Total Power Package, including E-Tec 200 heads, RPM roller camshaft, RPM Air-Gap intake manifold, and 800-cfm Thunder Series carburetor.
There is more than performance, as looks come into play on this engine as well with special black-anodized valve covers, a water pump, and an air cleaner providing a distinctive appearance. The valve covers and air cleaner are laser-engraved with the serial number, horsepower rating, and Vic Edelbrock's signature. Both crate engines are covered by Edelbrock's two-year/unlimited-mileage warranty.
Ford Racing Performance Parts
Ford lovers have an outstanding selection of powerplants at Ford Racing Performance Parts. At last count, Ford Racing offered 28 versions of complete crate motors. Virtually all of them will complement your classic Ford truck, and you will find just the right powerplant somewhere in the company's catalog. The pictured Aluminator engine utilizes mostly 2003-04 Cobra accessories and intake manifold. This engine features the Ford Racing M-6066-CT46 supercharger kit.
Ford Racing offers a full line of crate engines for Ford small-block, 385- series big-block, and modular engines. Ford Racing uses all-new components and has upgraded to better-thanfactory components in all its engines except current production engines. Displacement ranges from 302 to 347 cid depending on the bore and stroke configuration, which ranges from 340 to 500 hp. Windsor engines are currently available in displacements from 351 to 392 cid that range in power from 380 to 475 hp.
Compared to the Windsor-based Ford V-8 engine family, modular fourvalve engines require greater attention to detail regarding machining, torque sequences, number of fasteners, and the overall complexity of the assembly process itself. The Ford Racing Cammer motor is a high-performance derivative of the Ford 4.6-liter engine.
Ford Racing's wide variety of performance and production crate engines will now be covered under a limited 12-month/12,000-mile warranty. Engines included under the warranty program include the 302- and 351-cid V-8s, as well as production powertrains such as the 4.6-liter DOHC Mach 1 V-8.
Be on the lookout for Ford Racing's newest developments in 2008. Ford Racing is in final development of an all-new 351 aluminum block that will feature an all-aluminum 427-cid crate engine. Estimated at 550 hp, this engine will feature Ford Racing's CNC'd Z-cylinder head. On the big-block scene, the new Super Cobra Jet block will also be introduced in 2008. Expect bare blocks in mid-2008, with crate engines to follow by year's end 2008. Modular Boss 5.0L blocks will only be availablein spring 2008, and the modular 5.4Lshort-block will be available in spring 2008.
GM Performance Parts
One of the leaders in the crate engine world is GM Performance Parts, with 30-plus motors from which to select. And while we can't show all of them here, we can give you just a quick view of several that should get your heart pumping.
Nothing replaces cubic inches, and torque is the name of the game in a hotrod truck. What better way to get that seat-of-the pants acceleration feeling than with a ZZ572 and its 620 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque? You will have to look long and hard to find a pump gas motor with this kind of power, performance, and wow factor.
There are several custom-designed components that make the ZZ572 the king of the street. It has a strong fourbolt block with a 4.560-inch bore for 572 cubes of displacement. The block is fortified with a forged crank, forged rods, and forged pistons. It's topped off with a singleplane intake manifold that's been portmatched to the rectangular-port aluminum heads. A custom hydraulic roller camshaft uses .632-inch of valve lift.
The Deluxe ZZ572 comes complete from the oil pan (with windage tray) to the carburetor, including an 850-cfm Holley four-barrel, HEI distributor, spark plug wires, aluminum short-style water pump, and automatic transmission flexplate. It's the ideal combination of big-block parts designed, validated to GMPP standards, and tested.
If you want the latest technology, then the LS6 or the LS7 is your dream-machine powerplant. Both are Corvette Z06 powerplants, and the name Corvette has always been synonymous with performance. GM Performance Parts calls this amazing 350ci small-block the LS6. The 5.7L LS6 (the LS7 is 7.0L, or 427 inches) builds on the inherent strengths of the LS1 engine but benefits from a higher-lift camshaft and highercompression pistons to raise horsepower from 350 to 405, and torque from 340 lb-ft to 400 lb-ft. The LS7 has 505 hp at 6,300 rpm and 470 lb-ft of torque.
GMPP delivers the LS6 as an all-inclusive assembly, complete with a CTS-V aluminum oil pan, larger-volume composite intake manifold with single-bore throttle body, and high-performance logstyle exhaust manifolds. The LS7 uses an aluminum dry-sump block. GMPP does not utilize any used or remanufactured parts in this crate engine. GMPP crate engines include a 24-month or 50,000-mile limited warranty.
Indy Cylinder Head
Indy Cylinder Head has a 426-inch (6.1L) and 565hp New Legend Hemi for those who want all the technology, power, and wow factor you can stuff under a Mopar truck's hood. Shown is just one of a number of different New Legend Hemi engine combinations available.
The motor comes with billet main caps, ARP main and head studs, Compstar 4340 crank, Compstar H-beam rods, Mahle coated pistons, 6.1L heads, Manley springs and retainers, full CNC porting (370 cfm), and 6.1L intake port matched. The ATI balancer, stroker windage tray, COMP Cams hydraulic roller cam, and FAST fuel and ignition come dyno-tested and tuned.
Kar Kraft Engineering
If you want your trusty old Blue Oval with loads of power, driveability, and the latest in technology, then you want one of Kar Kraft's modular motors.
Kar Kraft Engineering in Livonia,Michigan, offers its new high-tech Ford 4.6 dual-overhead-cam modular engine with a vintage twist. The first series of modular engines offered with multiple carburetion setups, this engine, based on the 4.6 DOHC Cobra and Marauder, is a complete turnkey package with vintage Tri-power as used on an original Ford 289- or 302-cid engine. The simplicity of Kar Kraft's engine packages comes from the company's engineered and patented cast-aluminum adapter manifold that fits 4.6 DOHC Ford engines and accepts any vintage 289 or 302 intake manifold, including multiple carburetors. Included with Kar Kraft's turnkey engines is a new 12-volt standalone ignition system that fires the coilover plugs from a simple crank trigger system with built-in adjustable timing and spark curve. Simply add fuel and 12 volts to Kar Kraft's 4.6 Tri-power engine and turn the key for 375 instant hp.
Next up is the high-tech4.6 DOHC vintage AC Cobra Webers, as used on an original Ford 289 Hi-Po Cobra, which gives you a 4.6 Weber carbureted engine with 425 hp. A sidedraft Weber engine will be available soon, dubbed the Kross Boss engine.
Lastly, there is the 5.4 DOHC Lincoln Navigator, a complete turn- key engine package with a newly designed dual 600-cfm Holley carburetor upper intake manifold. Kar Kraft designed a new upper manifold with the same carb spacing of the original 427 side-oiler engines; coincidentally, Kar Kraft utilizes the 427 progressive linkage on its new intake. The fuel-injector holes in the lower manifold are tapped and plugged, and did we mention they just happen to be the same thread as a nitrous nozzle? Simply add fuel and 12 volts to Kar Kraft's 5.4 dual quad engine and turn the key for 385-plus instant hp!