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Crate Engines For 4x4 Truck Engine Swaps - Repower Your 4x4

American Speed Ent
Tom Morr | Writer
Posted October 1, 2009

Crate Engine Bonanza!

Our swap guide in the Sept. '09 issue showed some of the hardware and electronics available to execute popular engine conversions. Here we have assembled a cross-section of professionally built engines to make swaps even easier for the weekend-warrior wrenchmaster 'wheeler.

Although more expensive than a home-freshened or junkyard-pulled engine, the ones shown here are assembled with builder-proven parts combinations; many also come with warranties. Alternately, many pro builders will assemble an engine to suit your specific needs, ensuring features like good off-idle vacuum for maximum braking power. Most engines in this guide are assembled with all-new, brand-name components. Some include brand-new blocks; others start with cleaned and inspected used cores.

Chevy small-blocks remain the most popular powerplant for 4x4 engine swaps. The various 350-based packages provide some of the best power per dollar. For power-to-weight value, however, the current Gen III and IV LS engines are tough to beat. But this advance technology comes at a higher cost.

Less mainstream choices include Cadillac big-block and Northstar engines, Toyota long-blocks for 'crawling and desert racing, lightweight Subaru four-bangers for affordable dune success, and even Baja Bug-inspired VW blocks. We've attempted to showcase "torquer" engines for towing power and for turning big tires in adverse conditions. A few competition engines made the cut for their "wow" factor.

Overall, this guide shows some of the more popular write-a-check replacement engine options (does easy financing exist anymore?) as well as a few you might not have considered till now.

American Speed Enterprises
American Speed has specialized in high-torque Chevy engines for 36 years. Its 383 (425hp Enforcer Turnkey shown), 396, and 406 small-block Chevy engines are built to produce reliable torque, ranging from 375 hp to 480 hp and more than 535 lb-ft of torque in usable rpm ranges. All engines are available in long-block or turnkey, blueprinted, balanced, and dyno-tuned on pump gas. Information: American Speed Enterprises, 309.764.3601,

ATK is a well-known source for competition Jeep engines. The company also offers other American-brand engines, from stock replacements (Chevy V-6 shown) and short-blocks to custom-built high-performance crates, strokers, and turnkey engines-including Chevy LS's. All engines in the HP Crates series are backed by a 24-month unlimited-mileage warranty. Information: ATK High-Performance Engines, 866.721.2315,

Gale Banks offers an off-the-charts twin-turbo Chevy small-block that's allegedly capable of 1,100 hp out of the box. This balanced-and-blueprinted engine displaces 366 ci and features many CNC-machined aluminum components, low-profile air plenums, and Banks' shuttle-valve technology. Information: Banks Power, 800.277.1991,

Blueprint Engines
Blueprint Engines offers GM, Ford, and Chrysler small-block, big-blocks, and stroker engines. Engines are balanced, blueprinted, and dyno-tested. The Dressed 383 Budget Stomper (shown) is apparently popular. It features aluminum heads (an "undressed" cast-iron version is also available), an MSD HEI, and an Edelbrock 750-cfm carb. A Jeep 4.0L stroker is new too. Short-block assemblies are also available. Information: Blueprint Engines, 800.483.4263,

Beck Racing Engines has more than 100 dyno-tested, built-to-order Chevy engine packages. Off-road offerings include the 636hp 418 LS3 Sand Kill-also available in a 1,097hp twin-turbo version-and the 434ci Pro Kill Off-Road, which the company says it is dyno'd at 602 hp and 598 lb-ft on 91-octane gas. Name-brand, high-end components are used for assembly. Information: Beck Racing Engines, 623.780.1001,

Cad Company
The '68-'79 472/500ci Cadillac big-block engines are ideal swap candidates for off-road vehicles due to their durability, torque, and availability. Advantages include factory front, mid, and rear-sump oil pans, front-mount distributor, a variety of available motor mounts, and weight closer to a small-block than any other big-block. Cad Company offers complete Lux engines as well as all of the individual parts and adapters to swap Cadillac big-blocks into trucks. Information: Cad Co., 505.823.9340,

Cadillac Hot Rod Fabricators
CHR offers Northstar crate motors. Turbo packages from 600 to 2,500 hp are available, as are blower motors ranging from 525 to 800 hp. Information: Cadillac Hot Rod Fabricators, 760-451-8796,

D.O.A. Racing Engines
DOA makes four- and six-cylinder Toyota long-blocks for "rockcrawling to desert racing." They allow the use of all factory components. DOA's 50-state 22R/RE (shown) is rated at 150 hp and 155 lb-ft of torque and comes with a limited warranty. Outfitted with a larger exhaust, a performance intake, and a 500-cfm Holley, this engine can reportedly produce 175 hp. Information: DOA Racing Engines, 704.799.6261,

Dragonfire Racing
Well-known in powersports and UTV circles, Dragonfire offers Toyota Supra race motors as well as three performance stages of LS1, LS2, and LS7 crate motors. The Dragonfire LS7 (shown) is assembled with high-po internals and valvetrain to put out up to 680 hp and 625 lb-ft of torque. Pump-gas 10:1 compression and race-gas 13:1 are available. Information: Dragonfire Racing, 800.708.9803,

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