12 Crate Engines - Budget Crates!

Twelve Killer Crate Engine Deals for Every Budget

Stephen Kim Jun 25, 2012 0 Comment(s)
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Let’s go easy on the doom and gloom, OK? Sure, the global economy has seen better days, but as hot rodders, we’re accustomed to transcending adversity. As a group who’s collectively survived OPEC oil embargos and performance-straining smog laws, the current state of affairs is nothing. We’ve gone from 165hp Corvettes in the mid ’70s to the 639hp C6 models that are available today. Hot rodders are a stubborn bunch, and the industry has a way of adapting to our demands. For proof, all you have to do is check out the current crop of crate motors. There are tons of budget-oriented options that are out there, which is why we decided to round a dozen of them up for a closer look. Our search found two small-blocks that hit 400 hp for about $3,000, a sub-$4,000 LS long-block, and a 590hp Rat that comes in under $7,000. Factor in the money you save on shipping dozens of parts to your door, and the gas saved hauling those parts to the machine shop and back, and the value and convenience of a crate motor makes even more sense compared to building a motor yourself. The deals are out there, so let’s take a look.

YearOne 357

1208chp 01 12 Crate Engines Yearone 2/13

Nothing fancy here, just a good ’ol 357 small-block for peanuts that makes an even 400 hp and 400 lb-ft. YearOne is best known for making just about every restoration part imaginable for your classic Bow Tie, but the company also offers a line of value-oriented crate motors. This 357 is a perfect example. YearOne starts with a stock four-bolt block, bores it 0.040 over, and matches it up with a stock crank, rods, and a fresh set of 9.7:1 pistons. Keeping the cylinders full of air are aluminum heads and a dual-plane intake manifold. With a mild hydraulic roller cam actuating the valves, the combo puts out a solid 400 hp. The motor includes a timing cover, oil pan, balancer, and flexplate. Just slap on a water pump, carb, and distributor, and you’re good to go.

YearOne
800.932.7663 · yearone.com

Specifications
Cubes: 357
Bore/Stroke: 4.040x3.480 inches
Output: 400 hp and 400 lb-ft
Block: Factory GM iron
Crank: GM iron
Rods: GM 5.700-inch powdered metal
Pistons: Hypereutectic 9.7:1
Cylinder Heads: Edelbrock E-Tec aluminum
Intake: Edelbrock E-Tec dual-plane
Warranty: Two years, 24,000 miles
Price: $3,499

Smeding 383

1208chp 02 O  12 Crate Engines Smeding 3/13

Listening to customer feedback is an essential tool for any manufacturer, and with Smeding Performance’s new E-Series small-blocks, the company has done just that. According to Smeding, customers have asked for crate engines that are big on power and small on cost, and the result is this 420hp 383. Smeding starts with a brand-new GM four-bolt block, then adds a cast-steel crank, forged rods, and 9.5:1 hypereutectic pistons. The airflow comes from aluminum heads and an RPM Air-Gap intake manifold, courtesy of Edelbrock. Furthermore, a mild 230/236-at-0.050 hydraulic flat-tappet offers a nice balance of power and driveability. The real value in this combination is its drop-in-and-go simplicity. The Smeding 383 comes complete with a carb, oil pan, balancer, distributor, spark plugs, and plug wires. To top it all off, Smeding backs it up with a three-year, unlimited-mile warranty.

Smeding Performance
210.338.8585 smedingperformance.com

                                                                                                                   
Specifications
Cubes:383
Bore/Stroke:4.000x3.800 inches
Output:420 hp and 450 lb-ft
Block:Factory GM iron
Crank:Smeding cast steel
Rods:Smeding 5.700-inch forged steel
Pistons:Hypereutectic 9.5:1
Cylinder Heads:Edelbrock aluminum
Intake:Edelbrock RPM Air-Gap
Warranty:Three years, unlimited miles
Price:$4,295

Edelbrock 350

1208chp 03 O  12 Crate Engines Edelbrock 4/13

Here’s one for the mature crowd, and we mean that in a good way. While many young guys drool over big cam specs and cubic inches, only to end up with a motor that’s unstreetable, older and more experienced hot rodders often opt for a combo like this Edelbrock 350. This thing flat out gets the job done for not a lot of money. Edelbrock starts with a new GM four-bolt block, fits it with cast internals, then tops if off with a set of its E-Street aluminum heads, a Performer EPS intake manifold, a 600-cfm carb, and an MSD distributor. For stock-like driveability, the 350 utilizes a conservative 204/214-at-0.050 hydraulic flat-tappet cam. The result is a respectable 315 hp and 381 lb-ft of torque. It even runs on 87-octane fuel.

Edelbrock
310.781.2222 · edelbrock.com

                                                                                                                   
Specifications
Cubes:350
Bore/Stroke:4.000x3.480 inches
Output:315 hp and 381 lb-ft
Block:Factory GM iron
Crank:Cast iron
Rods:GM 5.700-inch powdered metal
Pistons:Hypereutectic 9.0:1
Cylinder Heads:Edelbrock E-Street aluminum
Intake:Edelbrock Performer EPS
Warranty:Two years, unlimited miles
Price:$4,349

Dart 427

1208chp 04 O  12 Crate Engines Dart 427 5/13

Big-inch small-blocks used to be exotic high-dollar propositions. They’re still exotic, but Dart has made it much more affordable to plop one in your muscle car. The company has been designing its blocks to play nice with big-bore, long-stroke rotating assemblies for quite some time, and it’s now using that know-how to build its own short-blocks. The foundation of the Dart 427 Chevy is an SHP block bored to 4.125 inches. It’s fitted with a forged rotating assembly with the option of either flat-top or -20cc pistons. All you have to do is throw on some heads and an intake, and this thing’s ready to rip. With a set of Dart Pro 1 heads and a mild hydraulic roller cam, Dart says the 427 will dish out 550 hp on the dyno.

Dart Machinery
248.362.1188 · dartheads.com

Specifications
Cubes: 427
Bore/Stroke: 4.125x4.000 inches
Output: 550 hp and 550 lb-ft
Block: Dart SHP iron
Crank: Dart 4340 forged steel
Rods: Dart forged steel
Pistons: Forged flat-top or -20cc dish
Cylinder Heads: None
Intake: None
Warranty: None
Price: $5,398

Summit/Chevrolet Performance LS 327

1208chp 05 O  12 Crate Engines Chevrolet Ls 327 6/13

Who says you need to go broke to jump on the LS bandwagon? Available through Summit Racing, this Chevrolet Performance LS 327 long-block offers big bark out of a small package. It’s essentially the same durable 5.3L motor that powers millions of fullsize GM trucks and SUVs. Based on a rugged six-bolt iron block, the LS 327 is fitted with a nodular iron crank, powdered metal rods, and 9.5:1 hypereutectic pistons. Capping it off are cathedral-port aluminum heads capable of flowing well over 300 cfm when fully ported. Since it’s sold as a long-block, sourcing an intake manifold and water pump is up to the end user. If it sounds like a perfect recipe for some mild boost, you’d be correct in your assessment. Boosting one of these long-blocks to 8 psi is good for well over 500 hp, and the stock-block can handle 1,000 hp without a hiccup.

Summit Racing Equipment
800.230.3030 · summitracing.com

Specifications
Cubes: 327
Bore/Stroke: 3.780x3.622 inches
Output: 327 hp and 347 lb-ft
Block: Factory GM iron
Crank: GM iron
Rods: GM 6.098-inch powdered metal
Pistons: Hypereutectic 9.5:1
Cylinder Heads: GM cathedral-port aluminum
Intake: None
Warranty: Two years, 50,000 miles
Price: $3,789

Speedway/BluePrint 496

1208chp 06 12 Crate Engines Speedway Blueprint 496 7/13

Big-block Chevys have always been associated with big power and big money. Fortunately, thanks to Speedway Motors and BluePrint engines, you can now step up to big-block power without going broke. Available exclusively through Speedway Motors, this 496 produces 590 hp for just $6,999. The combo starts life as a GM Mark IV block, and after boring it 0.060-inch over, BluePrint stuffs it with a forged crank and rods, and 10.1:1 hypereutectic pistons. Aluminum rectangular-port heads and a dual-plane intake provide the airflow, and a 242/248-at-0.050 hydraulic roller cam actuates the valves. The 496 comes complete with the exception of a water pump and carb. Finally, there’s now an affordable way to lay some big-block–style patch.

Speedway Motors
800.979.0122 speedwaymotors.com

Specifications
Cubes: 496
Bore/Stroke: 4.310x4.250 inches
Output: 590 hp and 600 lb-ft
Block: Factory Mark IV iron
Crank: Forged 4340 steel
Rods: Forged H-beam
Pistons: Hypereutectic 10.1:1
Cylinder Heads: Aluminum rectangle port
Intake: Aluminum dual-plane
Warranty: 30 months, 50,000 miles
Price: $6,999

Competition Products 383

1208chp 07 12 Crate Engines Competition Products 8/13

While it’s certainly possible to build much larger small-blocks these days, the good ol’ 383 keeps chugging along. The same balance of performance and value that made it popular decades ago still applies today, and Competition Products’ 383 proves the point. For a little over $4,000, it kicks out 410 hp and 450 lb-ft. The company starts with a four-bolt block, punches it 0.030-inch over, then fits it with a cast Scat crank, steel rods, and 9.5:1 hypereutectic pistons. The short-block breathes through aluminum cylinder heads, a dual-plane intake, and a dyno-tuned carb, all from Edelbrock. All you have to add is a water pump, and this puppy’s ready to fire up.

Competition Products
800.233.0199 competitionproducts.com

                                                                                                                   
Specifications
Cubes:383
Bore/Stroke:4.030x3.750 inches
Output:410 hp and 450 lb-ft
Block:Factory GM iron
Crank:Scat cast steel
Rods:Scat 4340 forged steel
Pistons:Hypereutectic 9.5:1
Cylinder Heads:Edelbrock aluminum
Intake:Edelbrock Performer RPM
Warranty:One year, 12,000 miles
Price:$4,175

Shafiroff 540

1208chp 08 O  12 Crate Engines Shafiroff 9/13

Let’s say you have a nice set of big-block heads laying around that came off of a drag car, but no short-block to bolt them to. Shafiroff Race Engines figured there must be tons of hot rodders in this exact predicament, so it went ahead and designed an all-new budget 540 short-block. At just $4,495, it would be awfully tough to replicate this combo for less money. That’s because it’s packed with all the right stuff, including a Dart Big M block, a forged Eagle crank and rods, and JE 13:1 forged pistons. If that’s too much squish for you, Shafiroff can outfit the 540 with a more street-friendly compression ratios. An oil pan, timing set, camshaft, balancer, oil pump, and gaskets are available as options

Shafiroff Racing Engines
631.218.7530 · shafiroff.com

Specifications
Cubes: 540
Bore/Stroke: 4.500x4.250 inches
Output: N/A
Block: Dart Big M
Crank: Forged 4340 steel
Rods: Forged H-beam
Pistons: Forged JE 13.0:1
Cylinder Heads: N/A
Intake: N/A
Warranty: N/A
Price: $4,495

Mast 416

1208chp 09 O  12 Crate Engines Mast 416 10/13

Part of the appeal of an LS-series small-block is the cutting-edge technology that they offer. Mast Motorsports has ratcheted the technology factor way up with its 570 hp L99 small-block. As if an engine boasting an aluminum LS3 block and EFI wasn’t high-tech enough, the Mast L99 adds variable valve timing to the mix. This allows both fattening up the torque curve down low, and bumping up high-rpm horsepower. It’s literally the best of both worlds. For the ultimate in durability, the 416 utilizes a forged Compstar rotating assembly. The Mast L99 ships complete with a custom-tuned Mast stand-alone engine management system and harness, a drive-by-wire gas pedal, a starter, an oil pan, a balancer, and a water pump. All you have to do is hook up a couple of wires, connect the fuel lines, and turn the key.

Mast Motorsports
936.560.2218 · mastmotorsports.com

                                                                                                                     
Specifications
Cubes:416
Bore/Stroke:4.070x4.000 inches
Output:570 hp and 540 lb-ft
Block:GM LS3 aluminum
Crank:Compstar forged 4340 steel
Rods:Compstar 6.125-inch steel
Pistons:Mahle 11.2:1 forged aluminum
Cylinder Heads:GM rectangular-port aluminum
Intake:GM LS3
Warranty:18 months, unlimited miles
Price:$13,995

Speedway/BluePrint 383

1208chp 10 12 Crate Engines Speedway Blueprint 383 11/13

Speedway Motors has teamed up with BluePrint engines to create a custom line of crate motors. One of the company’s most popular combinations is its 420hp 383. At a dollar-stretching price of $3,499, it’s easy to see why. The motor is based on a four-bolt GM block, and is fitted with a cast-steel stroker crank, powdered metal rods, and 10.0:1 hypereutectic pistons. The top end consists of aluminum 195cc heads, and a dual-plane intake manifold. Managing the valve events is a 229/230-at-0.050 hydraulic flat-tappet cam. An oil pan, harmonic balancer, timing cover, flexplate, and distributor are included as well. All you have to add is a carb and a water pump.

Speedway Motors
800.979.0122 · speedwaymotors.com

Specifications
Cubes: 383
Bore/Stroke: 4.030x3.750 inches
Output: 420 hp and 450 lb-ft
Block: Factory GM iron
Crank: Cast steel
Rods: GM 5.700-inch powdered metal
Pistons: Hypereutectic 10.0:1
Cylinder Heads: Aluminum 195cc castings
Intake: Aluminum dual-plane
Warranty: 30 months, 50,000 miles
Price: $3,499

Edelbrock Supercharged LS3

1208chp 11 O  12 Crate Engines Edelbrock Supercharged Ls3 12/13

If you want to know why LS small-blocks have become so popular in recent years, look no further than this Edelbrock supercharged 416. It packs big-block power in a small, lightweight aluminum package, which is what LS motors are all about. Edelbrock starts with an aluminum LS3 block, bolts in a Manley forged rotating assembly, then finishes it off with LS3 heads and an Eaton TVS 2300 supercharger. That bumps the output to 720 hp and 695 lb-ft of torque in a compact package you can fit under a stock hood. All the supporting hardware for the supercharger—such as the intercooler plumbing, heat exchanger, water pump, and hoses—are included as well.

Edelbrock
310.781.2222 · edelbrock.com

                                                                                                                     
Specifications
Cubes:416
Bore/Stroke:4.065x4.000 inches
Output:720 hp and 695 lb-ft
Block:GM LS3 aluminum
Crank:Manley forged 4340 steel
Rods:Manley 6.125-inch steel
Pistons:Manley 9.5:1 forged aluminum
Cylinder Heads:GM rectangular-port aluminum
Intake:Eaton/Edelbrock
Warranty:Two years, unlimited miles
Price:$17,999

Smeding 572

1208chp 12 O  12 Crate Engines Smeding 572 13/13

We know this is supposed to be a roundup of budget-priced crate motors, but even at $17,995, this blown Smeding 572 is a great value. First off, building a 900hp motor is never cheap, and this blown Rat comes packed with goodies like a Dart block, a forged rotating assembly, AFR heads, and a monster 8-71 supercharger. Secondly, a combo like this can pay for itself with all the money you stand to win grudge racing your buddies at the track. With nearly 800 lb-ft of torque just off idle, the biggest challenge will be getting all that grunt to hook. Plus, you can’t put a price on the intimidation factor of a big blower and dual quads sticking out of the hood, either. Like all Smeding crate motors, the blown 572 includes an oil pan, timing cover, carbs, distributor, plug wires, and spark plugs.

Smeding Performance
210.338.8585 · smedingperformance.com

                                                                                                                     
Specifications
Cubes:572
Bore/Stroke:4.560x4.3750 inches
Output:900 hp and 880 lb-ft
Block:Dart Big M
Crank:Smeding 4340 forged steel
Rods:Smeding 6.535-inch forged steel
Pistons:Forged 8.8:1
Cylinder Heads:AFR aluminum
Intake:Blower Shop
Warranty:Three years, unlimited miles
Price:$17,995

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