It's time to step it up and build an engine for your ride, but the options for your next engine are a bit overwhelming eh? There's three distinct options for your power plant we're going to talk about today.
Crate Engine - Off the shelf, configured with limited options but typically warrantied and guaranteed power out of the box.
Custom Built - Sitting down with a pro and talking about your goals and current plans as well as future plans with a builder and having them build you a complete engine that's ready for you to drop in when it arrives.
Home Built - You did all your legwork, dropped off your block at the machine shop and they follow your instructions to prep your block for the parts you've selected and you assemble it yourself based on all your research. If it goes badly, it's all on you.
Let's break it down a bit further....
Most domestic manufacturers have a performance division such as Ford Motorsports/Ford Performance Products, GMPP/General Motors Performance Products and Mopar Performance Parts, so on and so forth.
Through these companies, you'll find crate engine options ranging from mild to wild and some sort of performance guarantee as well as a warranty against parts and workmanship defects.
What you typically won't find is the ability to alter these engine packages with different head choices, camshafts or other various changes to the specs. They are "as specified" and any warranty that is provided is null and void if you don't follow installation procedures to the letter or modify the engine in any way from the way that it arrived.
For your spiced up daily or weekend cruiser that you're looking for reliable performance from, this is great and comes with a bit of peace of mind.
Next comes your custom built engine. I'll use FordStrokers.com as my example here.
You'd email or give these guys a call, lay out your goals and power expectations. Then Jim will build your dream engine with whatever heads, cam, intake and displacement needed to achieve those goals. Not only that, he'll help with tech support and he stands behind his work.
This is the bridge between mechanical aptitude and an in depth understanding of the engineering and science behind creating power. Not all of us can degree camshafts, calculate compression ratios and measure proper ring gap with absolute confidence and that's where Jim at FordStrokers.com excels in helping people achieve results.
Last, but not least is building at home. The internet has become the ultimate shop manual and for those enough savvy to sift through the nonsense to find the gold in it, it's an unlimited resource.
There's nothing standing between you and I ordering our own Dart block, finding a reputable machine shop and starting our dream engine build.
Not only that, you'll find others doing similar things to share the experience with and advise along the way. Just realize, your success AND your failure is purely on you. Don't forget that "sift" part mentioned at the beginning of the home built discussion.
In the end, it's up to you to look at your strengths and weaknesses to decide what will work best for you. Are you driving your car nearly daily and need reliability and peace of mind? Maybe a crate engine is best.
Looking for over 1000 rwhp with a power adder and you have limited time in the off season to get it figured out and in the car? Give Jim at FordStrokers.com a call or find a similar builder that specializes in your powertrain choice and let them handle the nerdy bits so you can focus on winning.
Are you like me and are a glutton for punishment but just can't leave well enough alone? Grab a catalog, hop on a forum and get to it. The resources are out there.
Most important of all....
Do work, son!