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What's Hot In The Performance Engine World

Suggestions And Sales Trends From The Builders Themselves

Oct 20, 2005
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Let's face it; these days there are more crate and turnkey engines available than you can shake a stick at. Everywhere you look, Super Chevy magazine included, you see ad upon ad for OEM and professional engine builders' offerings. With this in mind, we've decided to delve deeper into the mix and find out straight from the horse's mouth just what's hot, and what packages the professionals themselves suggest as the hot setups for the street and strip. We think we'll get a better understanding, and in turn, be able to share with you, some professional suggestions that'll give you a bit more to think about rather than relying on ads and specification charts alone. In our quest for the inside scoop on what's available and recommended in the way of professionally built high-performance street and strip engine combos these days, the same three basic questions were asked of all the suppliers contacted: What is the most popular seller?; Which of their engines would they personally recommend for a hot street-driven pump-gas powerplant?; and which of their offerings would they choose (or have chosen) for their own street car? With these parameters set, let's see what the pros have to say. Keep in mind that in-depth specs and additional info can be found at the respective Web sites, or by phone.

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A lengthy conversation with Kolby and Kory Enger at Turn Key Engine Supply got the ball rolling. When asked what was their most popular seller, they stated that their 450hp LS1 was it. This particular package offers 440 lb-ft of torque with a 6,400-rpm rev limit, a performance cam, Chromoly pushrods, heavy-duty valvesprings, and a marine-grade wiring harness complete with a Delphi ECM with turn-key calibration.

Their choice for a hot, street-driven engine is their 550hp LS2. This bad boy features a performance camshaft, CNC-ported heads, SLP 1.8 high-ratio rockers, A.R.P rod and head bolts, Chromoly Manley pushrods, a Fast 90mm manual throttle body, high-flow injectors, coil packs, wires and plugs, a Delphi ECM with turnkey calibration, and a custom marine-grade engine wiring harness.When asked which of their offerings they'd choose for their own musclecars, without missing a beat they both said their new 700hp Kenne Bell twin-screw supercharged and inter-cooled LS2 (pictured here).

For more info on both Turn Key Engine Supply and the particular engines mentioned here contact: Turn Key Engine Supply, 2620 Temple Heights Dr., Unit B, Dept. SC, Oceanside, CA 92056, (760) 941-2741,

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Bill Mitchell of World Products has raised the bar for commercially available small-block Chevy engines. When asked what was hot in his lineup, we were told that the new 454 Limited Edition Motown engine has become the hot ticket. Cranking out a whopping 600 hp and 585 lb-ft torque on pump gasoline, it's clearly their most popular seller. Each one is dyno tested and certified to meet or exceed published performance figures, and also covered by a two-year, 24,000-mile warranty by an independent insurer. The 454 features a World Products "Motown" cast-iron block and cylinder heads (220cc intake ports) and the new Motown intake manifold. A full complement of premium quality internal engine components are used, and its 4.250-inch bore and 4.000-inch stroke combine to deliver the massive 454ci displacement, with a compression ratio of 10:1 used to deliver huge power on pump gasoline.

When it came to the question of a hot street motor suggestion, it's like they say, there's no substitute for cubic inches. His suggestion is his humongous 632-cube monster he designed specifically for the street. It's available in 760hp with cast-iron heads, and with aluminum heads sporting CNC-machined combustion chambers added to the mix, the dyno will hit 780 horses and a stump-pulling 765 lb-ft of torque. The 760-780-plus-hp ratings on pump gas are partially due to the 10.4 compression JE/SRP-forged aluminum pistons. Naturally, you'll want to run high-octane.

What is Mitchell's personal favorite? Without a doubt it's the Hardcore 454 that he used in his own hot rod '33 three-window coupe.For additional information: call World's tech crew at (631) 981-1918 or go online to

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George Ullrich at Speed-O-Motive is always a pleasure to talk to, and he was enthusiastic about helping us out. His most popular offering is his 500hp 383 Street Warrior, which features a nodular 3.750 stroker crank, 5.565 stage-one rods, Federal Mogul flat-tops, Dart Iron Eagle heads, roller rockers, and a flat-tappet cam.

The Street Master was his suggestion for an awesome tire melter. It delivers over 400 lb-ft of torque from 2,400-5,400 rpm and pumps out 425hp on pump gas. It also idles smoothly and makes good vacuum for power brakes. Ullrich's personal choice is the fire-breathing 680hp 436-cube Circle-Track Killer. The 436 is based on one of the finest blocks in the marketplace, the Dart "Little M", and features 4340 H-beam SOM rods, JE forged pistons, bowl-blended Dart Iron Eagle cylinder heads, and a COMP solid roller cam. Get the full scoop on all the awesome engines available from SOM by contacting them at: Speed-O-Motive, 131 N. Lang Ave., Dept. SC, West Covina, CA 91790, (626) 869-0270,

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With the wide array of available engines offered by MAS Performance, I was curious what I'd find out from their head honcho, John Steele. His most popular offering is the "Perfect 350." This motor puts out a whopping 390 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque on 87-octane pump gas. It's based on a four-bolt GM block with an Eagle nodular crank, and Eagle SIR rods. Pistons are Speed Pro, the cam is a COMP unit, and the heads are from GM Vortec.

Steele recommends their "Red-Hot 383." They put together a bullet-proof pump-gas stroker that puts out a whopping 420hp and 450 lb-ft of torque. When pressed for his personal favorite, he confessed that he'd go for the max in his choice, that being the 490-horse roller motor that makes an extremely healthy 460 lb-ft of torque. It is equipped with all the top-quality goodies, as are his other stroked small-blocks, but this one includes a set of Edelbrock Etec 170 cylinder heads, and an Edelbrock Air Gap RPM intake manifold. To see the particulars on the aforementioned engines and the complete MAS line of performance engines, contact: MAS Performance, W6337 US Hwy. 10, Dept. SC, Ellsworth, WI 54011, (877) 261-7430,

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Though I should have known better, I originally associated Shafiroff with just race engines--boy, was I mistaken. When I got hold of Frank Budano, he immediately set me straight by giving me the lowdown on the company's line of UltraStreet performance engines. Budano said that although it was really close, the EC434 seemed to be the bestseller at the moment. The EC 434 "Extended Cruising 434" is designed for the person who really enjoys driving their hot rod on a "daily" basis. It works well with small-tube exhaust and stock converter/gear combinations. This engine utilizes a hydraulic roller cam with 9.5-1 compression ratio that gives you day-to-day cruisability, 92-octane compatibility and plenty of horsepower (595 hp) for those times when you want to light up the tires, or just scare the breakfast out of your brother-in-law. Stepping up from that is their "Saturday Night Special" 540-cube, 785hp big-block designed for the hot rodder that puts performance above all else. It combines "limited" streetability with "race engine" performance in a pump gas version. This is the "bad boy" of the bunch but keep in mind, this monster requires competition drivetrain, chassis, and exhaust modifications to deliver its maximum potential. With its slightly higher compression, more aggressive cam, and fully ported 335cc heads, it requires a minimum of 94-octane, but that's a small price to pay for the incredible performance this version delivers.

When asked what he'd use in his next project, Budano admitted he'd have to go with the Saturday Night Special. Check out what Shafiroff has to offer at: Shafiroff Race Engines, 35 Davinci Dr., Dept. SC, Bohemia, NY 11716, (800) 295-7142,

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The folks over at Edelbrock were next on my list. An early-morning call netted some insight into their bestseller and recommendations for a couple of powerplants that'll get your attention. One of the company's most popular assemblies is the Performer RPM E-Tec 435. As the name implies, it specs out at 435 hp with a matching 435 lb-ft of torque. Like all of Edelbrocks turnkey offerings, they're based on new GM short-blocks that are custom-assembled by Edelbrock technicians utilizing the best combinations of components the company offers.

As far as recomendations for a streetable performance package, the E-Tec EFI 440hp package was their recommendation. This one's built to the same high-quality standards as the 435, but it offers upgrades like a Pro-Flo EFI system, and an MSD Pro Billet distributor with a Blaster II coil.When asked what Edelbrock engine package would be their choice for their personal ride, their instant answer was the 460hp Signature Series. This one's a limited edition 383 stroker motor based on GM's tried-and-true ZZ383 short-block. With 460 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque at 5,500 rpm, this one's sure to get attention. For the straight scoop on the RPM Series of engines contact: Edelbrock, 2700 California St., Dept. SC, Torrance, CA 90503, (310) 781-2222,

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Mark Campbell's Street & Performance has been a performance engine mainstay supplying the street rodding segment for years, and is one of the foremost experts in fuel electronic injection. One of S&P's most popular engine packages is their 400hp LS2. This high-tech beauty specs out at 364-cubes and packs 400 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm.

If that's not enough, Mark also recommends their supercharged LS6 for those looking for a harder kick in the pants. This 346ci dynamo comes topped with a Magnuson Supercharger, and puts out a powerful 535 hp and 530 lb-ft of torque.

For massive appeal, Campbell's favorite is the Ram Jet 502. Fully dressed in its fully polished or chromed finest, the Ram Jet produces 502 hp at 5,100 rpm, and a whopping 565 lb-ft of torque. Plus, just like all of S&P's engine packages, it comes complete with all accessories including Chromex thermal-coated headers, a custom oil pan, a color-keyed block, a wiring harness, and computer chips programmed for each specific application. For more info on S&P's complete line of turnkey engine packages contact: Street & Performance, 1 Hot Rod Ln., Dept. SC, Mena, AR 71593, (479) 394-5711,

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Over the past 30 years, Ron Shaver has been the leading powerplant builder for many of the championship winning teams in the World Of Outlaws, NHRA, and SCORE. The Shaver family has been involved in racing since the 1930s, when Offenhauser racing engines came to them for manufacturing and machining. So I was really interested in hearing what the hot tickets were in the way of Shaver street performance engines. One of the company's most popular offerings is its 375hp 350. It's based on a GM four-bolt main block, and equipped with 9.5:1 hypereutectic pistons, a Barry Grant carb, a polished dual-plane intake, an aluminum water pump, an MSD distributor, an Isky cam with a special Shaver grind, hydraulic roller lifters, and aluminum Pro 200cc runner heads.

For those who'd like a bit more excitement, his next choice would be their 475hp ZZ4. This one offers the same high-quality components and assembly as the smaller 375, but it includes upgrades like a Crane cam with a Shaver grind, mechanical roller lifters, polished aluminum Pro 235cc runner heads, a degreed damper, Shaver valvetrain parts, Scorpion roller-tip rockers, and a Melling high-volume oil pump with welded pickup.

Shaver's choice for his ideal road burner is one of his 525-horse big-blocks. These rats use an OEM GM short-block, JE pistons, a Hogan's tuned port injection, a Shaver hydraulic roller cam, a forged crank, stainless valves, and Pro 320 aluminum heads. To get the full lowdown on these contact: Shaver Specialties Racing Engines, 20608 Earl St., Dept. SC, Torrance, CA 90503, (310) 370-6941,

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From not-so-mild 463hp 383s to killer 1,112hp supercharged 604s all running on 91-octane pump gas, BRE offers at least 15 different dyno-proven engine combinations. One of their most popular engines for the street is their 383 Pro Street. This powerhouse produces an impressive 510 hp at 6,300 rpm, and 482 lb-ft of torque at 5,100 rpm, on 91-octane pump gas.If that's not enough, they suggest checking out their 496 Pro Street engine. This one will really get your juices flowing with 608hp and 591 lb-ft of torque--still on pump high-test!

A favorite for the ultimate hot rod is from their popular Street Kill engine series, BRE's 604 Street Kill. It's built with a Dart Big M tall deck block, a 4340 steel Nitrited 4.750 stroke crank, SCAT 4340 0.400 long rods, SRP/JE-forged pistons, and Dart Pro 1 aluminum heads. With its lopey idle from the Crane hydraulic roller cam, you won't sneak up on anybody. Topped by an Edelbrock Super Victor intake manifold, a Holley Dominator carb, and an MSD billet magnetic trigger distributor, the 604-inch Street Kill produces an amazing 802 hp at 5,800 rpm, and 813 lb-ft of torque at 4,800 rpm on 91-octane pump gas. Get the skinny on BRE engine combos by contacting: BRE Motorsports, 2639 N. 33rd Ave., Dept. SC, Phoenix, AZ 85009, (602) 477-1700,

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Suppliers like JEG'S and Summit Racing offer a plethora of complete engine packages. When it comes to super Chevys, good old GM Performance engines are extremely popular. The engine of choice for many street rods, drag racers, and show cars is the ZZ4. With 355 hp and 405 lb-ft of torque, this small-block aluminum head engine features a four-bolt main block, an undercut rolled/forged steel crankshaft, PM Steel connecting rods, and high-silicon aluminum pistons w/offset pins. After all this you can understand how over 400 lb-ft of torque is generated. Add to the mix angle plug aluminum cylinder heads with 58cc combustion chambers, and 1.94-inch int./ 1.50-inch exh. valves, and you get a responsive 10:1 compression ratio. Helping this combination breathe is a steel hydraulic roller tappet camshaft with 0.474-inch int./0.510-inch exh. lift that has just enough lope for that musclecar sound.

Next in line is the ZZ383. It offers big-block performance with a small-block price tag. It starts with the legendary Fast Burn cylinder heads and a 383ci block, to offer an incredible 460 lb-ft of torque at 4,500 rpm. The combination of a 4.00-inch bore and 3.75-inch stroke steel crank and a stout 0.509-inch/0.528-inch lift hydraulic roller camshaft produces 425 hp at 5,400 rpm, making the ZZ383 a desirable performance engine.

The king of GM's big-block crate engines is the ZZ502, with torque and horsepower that'll bring a smile to your face. This engine is full of heavy-duty parts, which will ensure awesome power for a long time. With forged-aluminum pistons, forged shot-peened steel connecting rods w/ 7/16-inch bolts, a forged steel crank, a four-bolt main block, stainless steel valves, a 6-quart oil pan, a windage tray, a roller camshaft, and big valve aluminum heads, the ZZ 502/502 seems more like a custom race engine than a crate engine, especially when you consider its 502 hp and 567 lb-ft of torque. You can check what's hot in the GM lineup by contacting: JEG'S High Performance, (800) 345-4545,, or Summit Racing Equipment, (800) 230-3030,

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A call to the performance professionals over at Hardcore Racing netted us their most popular combination--their supercharged 750hp, 6-Liter LS1. It features a 560 lift hydraulic roller cam and forged bottom end. It runs on pump gas, and uses a D-1 SC Pro Charger Blower.

When asked about the next step, the guys were a bit hesitant to be specific as they can build you anything you desire, from a 500hp package to a 1500-plus-hp drag race engine.

What would they put in their own hot rod? How's a 6-liter-based 402-cube, pump-gas reliable monster that makes about 600 hp for under $10,000? For the whole scoop on all of their engines and services contact: Hardcore Racing, G-5200 Clio Rd., Dept. SC, Flint, MI 48504, (810) 787-960,


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