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Custom Crate Engine - The Shermanator

A Crate Motor That's Very Close To Perfection

By Mike Petralia

They say true perfection is unobtainable. Yet, we feel that perfection is solely in the eye of the beholder. And to our eyes this crate motor is close to perfect. It's a stout offering from Joe Sherman Racing Engines meant to provide rock-solid performance at a ground-pounding price.

What Sherman set out to do when he began his crate engine project was to build a very streetable small-block Chevy using the affordable GM short-block as its base and adding some choice aftermarket goodies that he's found to really make power. Then he assembles it into a package that gets dyno-tuned and tested before shipping to his customers for a better than reasonable price. Ironically, this was all going on at the same time that we had been testing our own mule motor, Danger Mouse, every single month in search of the perfect combination of parts, price, and power. Sherman's has shown us that he may have already found it.

After spending a solid week with Sherman at PHR's 2002 Engine Master's Challenge and watching him walk away with the $75,000 first prize, we knew this guy had a bit more than a just few tricks up his sleeve. Then, after talking to him at length about building real street engines for both durability and power, and factoring cost in as the final denominator, he told us about a crate motor he puts together and sells complete for under $5,000. One of the steps Sherman took towards building such a powerful and reliable package so affordably was to start with a solid base.

He uses a GM short-block that comes to his shop pre-assembled, which means he's got much less time in the overall assembly keeping labor costs down. To that he adds various parts, all of which he's spent many hours sorting out on his Superflow dyno to make sure you're buying a very reliable pump gas pounder that'll fit you needs exactly. Each one of the engines Sherman builds also gets bolted to his dyno for testing and tuning before going out the door. That's quite a bit more for your money than just buying a "dyno-proven" package.

The Shermanator Spec Sheet
Size: 350-cid
Price: $4,999
GM Goodwrench short-block9.0 to 9.75:1 compression depending on need (D.O.N.)Pro Topline "906 replacement" iron cylinder headsNew harmonic balancer and hardwareHigh perf cam and lifters, (specs may change D.O.N.)Roller-tip rocker armsNew HEI ignition with hi-perf curveNew spark plugsDemon carbGM "E.O.S." break-in oil and new oil filterMild cylinder head portingAll hardware and tin, fully assembled and tested

What arrives at your door is a ready-to-install engine that only needs an exhaust system, plug wires, a water pump, and an electric fuel pump to run. And some peace of mind comes with this package as well, since Sherman does not modify the GM short-block, it should still be covered under the factory warranty, as long as you don't race with it, because racing pretty much voids any warranty. And, although Sherman has worked out a fine-tuned package he's ready to deliver to you, he's also willing to customize any engine if it better suits your wants and desires.

Maybe you'll want a much more radical cam for that Saturday night bruiser sound. Or maybe you've got a 4x4 and torque is the only thing that matters in your life. Either way, Sherman will equip the engine you buy with the parts it needs to do what you ask of it. And he'll do all of this for about as much as it would cost for you to buy the parts yourself. How can you go wrong with that?

The Shermanator Options List
For a little more cash, you can get the following:Different Camshaft optionsIntake manifold-single or dual planeFull roller rocker aluminum armsHigh performance mechanical fuel pumpCarb spacerAluminum water pumpCylinder head milling for more compression

Using Sherman ported heads and a mild hydraulic flat tappet cam.
3500 427 285
3700 428 302
3900 430 319
4100 433 338
4300 436 357
4500 437 375
4700 439* 393
4900 438 408
5100 433 420
5300 427 431
5500 421 441
5700 413 448
5900 403 453*
Avg 428 382
Max* 439 453

Joe Sherman Racing Pro Topline Cylinder Head Flow SheetThese flow figures were obtained on Joe Sherman's Superflow flow bench at 25-inch depression and corrected to the 28-inch standard using a factor of 1.06.

Various water pump options are available to fit your vehicle's accessory configuration.

If you'd rather run a mechanical fuel pump, Sherman can equip your engine with one for just a few more bucks.

Joe Sherman Racing Engines
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By Mike Petralia
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