Whether you enjoy tearing up the quarter-mile, carving corners at your favorite road course, or flat out cruising the streets feeling like the "King Of The Road," crate engines have become an extremely popular, lower-cost alternative among automotive enthusiasts everywhere.
With plenty of engine combinations available today, a crate motor can probably be found to suit any individual's needs.
One of the big advantages of crate engines is the cost, especially for those who might not be able to afford or wait for a one-off custom-built engine from the big-dollar local guru. Secondly, most crate engines come with a warranty of sorts-even engines packing 500-plus horsepower.
There's the variety, of course. Crates are available for many uses. There are circle track crates, drag-specific crates, and street-mannered crates-you name it and the list goes on.
Quality is another issue when it comes to purchasing a crate engine, and in most cases, the combination may have been well thought out (hence the great crate idea), but certain situations may arise.
For instance, many buyers have the misconception that all crate engines are turnkey, ready to drop in the day they're delivered to the door. Not necessarily true. Consulting with the supplier may save some disappointments, especially when you're on a tight budget.
One question you may want cleared up is hood clearance. Will this engine fit under my current hood, or match my oil pan design? Will my current components line up properly, and does this crate come with any sort of ignition components, fuel injection, or carburetion? What about your front-drive accessories? These are just a few things to consider when purchasing a crate engine. Don't assume. Ask.
To get a closer look at the inner workings of a "crate engine" facility, we visited Scott Shafiroff Race Engines and Components in Bohemia, New York. Owner Scott Shafiroff and General Manager Vinny Budano have won a number of championships with their '67 Camaro called "Bad Apples."
Due to the incredible success of this six-second door-slammer, many folks think SSRE specializes in building only high-dollar race engines. While this indeed is a part of the business, the UltraStreet Crate Engines program has become a natural extension of Shafiroff's work.
Shafiroff said there's no way a "one size fits all" crate engine can cover all of the different applications on the street today. He said his customers should be able to reap the benefits of buying a crate engine, as well as "having it their way." Most crates available today come one way, and one way only, he said, and further modifications may void the warranty. He urges buyers to consult the manufacturer before plunking money down. Shafiroff said that having options with the purchase better suits his customers' needs, while keeping their warranty intact.
Another big issue in Shafiroff's mind is that not all crate engines available on the market today are dyno-tested before leaving the facility. Many "assembly line" type manufacturers build crates, and out the door they go, leaving room for potential problems for the customer later on.
In addition, Shafiroff said, touting a new component only means it's new. It doesn't necessarily mean it's good. While most new components do work as expected, he said he has encountered problems where engines have been down on power due to part failure from a component manufacturer.
If you have a number of combinations containing quality components, the dyno numbers should repeat themselves. If not, there's a problem that should be corrected before the engine goes into the crate, and not after it's installed in the intended vehicle.
Stay tuned as we show you the build and some of the options for this UltraStreet 582 HHR "Big Dawg," which is available four ways-and, of course, your way.