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

Posted in How To: Engine on October 1, 2009
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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,

Edelbrock's Performer 363 Hi-Torq is an all-new, 9.0:1-compression-ratio Chevy 350 rated at 363 hp and 405 lb-ft of torque. Its Performer-Plus Rollin' Thunder hydraulic roller camshaft is designed to deliver high horsepower and broad torque from off-idle through 5,500 rpm. Also included are E-TEC 170 heads, a Performer EPS intake manifold, a Performer Series 750-cfm carburetor, and an optional water pump. Information: Edelbrock Corp., 800.386.8326,

FAT Performance
FAT specializes in water-cooled VW and Toyota four- and six-cylinder competition engines (Toyota 4G shown). FAT has built engines for SCORE, BITD, and CORR trucks. FAT's first moon-buggy project was the Type IV 3.0L VW engine for Jon Bundrant's/Nelson & Nelson Tiny. Information: FAT Performance, 714.637.2889,

Ford Racing
Ford Racing offers OHV and DOHC crate motors ranging from the four-cylinder 2.0-5.0L/302/351 small-blocks to the 514 big-block V-8 (shown). Big-block packages begin with a 460, which Ford Racing can stroke to create as much as 520 ci, producing 625 hp and 600 lb-ft. Features include Super Cobra Jet heads, an A514 mechanical roller cam, and forged pistons. Information: Ford Racing, 586.468-1356,

Gearhead Engines offers Jeep 4.7L Strokers, the same engine that won its class in the '08 Baja 1000. It's a "streetable" upgrade for a tired 4.0L. Gearhead has 5.7L Hemis as well. The company is also the sole online provider of Jeepspeed Series ATK Jeep engines, which have all been prequalified to race. Information: Gearhead Engines, 800.508.5999,,

GM Performance Parts
GM had a huge hand in the crate craze. Although the 350-based engines are still the most popular (the 350/290 remains GMPP's bestseller), the LS family gets all the hype. New are the 638hp LS9 and 620hp LSX. The pinnacle is probably the naturally aspirated LS7 (shown), rated at 505 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. The HT383 is built for towing and rated at 435 lb-ft of torque. Information: GM Performance Parts,

For Jeeps, Golen offers 4.0L long-blocks stroked to 4.6L. They're manufacturer-rated at 230 hp and 242 lb-ft of peak torque and assembled with ARP rod bolts, hypereutectic pistons, a Cloyes timing set, and other name-brand parts. Golen also offers all generations of Chevy small-blocks, including LSX, carbureted and fuel-injected. Information: Golen Engine Service, 800.591.9171,

Jasper offers a selection of makes, models, and horsepower ranges to fit almost any project, including small- and big-block Ford, Chevy, and Mopar performance crate engines. Jasper also remanufactures domestic and import engines to meet or exceed OEM specifications. Nonperformance applications are backed with a 36-month/75,000-mile nationwide, transferable warranty. Diesels are also offered. Information: Jasper Engines & Transmissions, 800.827.7455,

Katech Performance
Katech offers Desert Attack engine packages for off-road racers. The Desert Attack 427 LS7 has forged pistons, titanium connecting rods, and a race camshaft. The purpose-built LS7 is available in 11:1, 12:1, or 14:1 compressions and reportedly generates up to 680 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque. In Dakar Rally form, the engine makes 370 hp and 500 lb-ft. A 500ci Desert Attack model is also available. Information: Katech Performance, 586.791.4120,

LC Engineering
LC Engineering specializes in Toyota four- and six-cylinder performance: built-to-order 20R, 22R, 22RE, 2RZ 3RZ, 4AG, 3VZ, 5VZ, and 1GR long-blocks. Four-cylinder packages range from the 140hp EFI Pro to the 200-plus-hp 2.6L Stage 5. V-6 long-blocks start at 190 hp. LC sells individual components for DIY builds and also offers full machine shop services in addition to tech support. Information: LC Engineering, 928.855.6341,

Mancini Racing
Mancini bills itself as the original Mopar Performance Direct Connection warehouse. The company has several Hemi crate engines, including the 5.7L, 426 (shown), 472, and 528. Dodge Magnum crates are also available, as are engine-swap motor mounts for popular conversions. Information: Mancini Racing, 586.790.4100,

Mast Motorsports
GM Gen IV crate packages are Mast's specialty. The company combines proprietary-spec components with brand-name aftermarket parts to create "affordable hand-built engines" for the off-road market. Mast uses its own M-90 ECM (not a Delphi MEFI box) to accommodate wideband sensing or drive-by-wire, variable valve timing, and even 6L60/6L90 trans swaps. A popular package is the 600hp LS3 416 SS; shown is the 700hp/600 lb-ft LSX 454 SS. information: Mast Motorsports, 936.560.2218,

MechTech Motorsports
MechTech specializes in forced-induction GM crate motors: four-banger to V-8, 200 to 950 hp. Most popular are the Eaton-blown LS1/LS6 and Caddys: twin-turbo 4.5L V-8 Northstar or turbo'd 3.5L V-6 Newstar. Full Delphi computer-programming capabilities are available. Information: MechTech Motorsports, 760.432.0555,

Pace Performance
Pace Performance offers crate engines from GMPP, Mast, and World Products in addition to its own GM PAC models. Most popular is the "affordable performance" 290hp 350ci Base Engine (shown). It features a four-bolt-main block, cast-iron heads, a performance HEI distributor, and a GM-engineered Holley 670 carb. Information: Pace Performance, 888.748.4655,

Mopar Performance
In addition to the popular Jeep-swappable Gen III 6.1L Hemi crate engine, Mopar is set to release a Jeep 4.7L stroker. Target output is 260 hp and 290 lb-ft of torque. This stroked 4.0L straight-six will be assembled primarily from all-new parts-including the block. Mopar sees it as a cost- and labor-saving alternative to a Jeep V-8 swap. Information: Mopar Performance/Direct Connection, 888.528.4364,

Outfront Motorsports
Outfront offers turnkey Subaru 2.0L and 2.5L four-bangers for rock buggies and sandrails needing lightweight, torquey power on a budget. Offerings range from used Japanese domestic market (JDM) units to performance-prepped ones up to 600 hp. Two of its most popular "stock" packages are the naturally aspirated 200hp 2.5L and the turbo'd 220hp 2.0L. Outfront also offers closed-deck 2.5L blocks and performance parts. Information: Outfront Motorsports, 714.994.5222,

Pacific Fabrication
Pacific Fab offers new and used GM Gen III/IV LS-based engines (4.8L, 5.3L, 5.7L 6.0L, 8.1L, ECT). The company specializes in conversions of '67-'91 Chevy trucks and offers standalone engine wiring harnesses, custom fuel systems, and more. Pacific also provides installation services. Information: Pacific Fabrication, 408.250.1772,

Redline Performance
Redline started years ago with high-revving Mazda rotary crate motors. Now larger-displacement LS packages are its specialty: 5.7L LS1, 6.0L LS2, 6.2L LS3 (shown), and 7.0L LS7. Iron-block LQ9s are also offered, as are a 500hp turbo Caddy Shortstar V-6 and a 650hp twin-turbo Northstar. Information: Redline Performance, 714.777.5758,

Scoggin-Dickey offers factory crate engines from GMPP, Goodwrench replacement engines, Ford Racing, and Mopar as well as from Edelbrock and Roush. In addition to its own SDPC line of customized GM crates (shown), Mast Motorsports LS92, LS3, LS7, and LSX Turnkey Crate Engines are available. Information: Scoggin-Dickey Parts Center, 800.456.0211,

Stroker crate engine experts Speed-O-Motive has built Chevy engines for the CORR series. The company offers popular big-block and small-block crates from Ford, GM, Mopar, World, and Edelbrock. Standalone AMC and Jeep stroker kits are also available. Popular off-road swaps include the 500hp/575 lb-ft Chevy 427-cid High Torque Street Special Stroker Engine (shown). Information: Speed-O-Motive, 626.869.0270,

TA Performance
TA specializes in Buick performance. Its biggest crate engine is the Stage 2TE V-8, which is based on a 455 block that's punched out to 464 ci. For optimal power-to-weight, TA offers an all-aluminum turbo V-6. It's only 23 inches long and comes with a multi-pattern bellhousing. TA can build this V-6 to 1,200 hp, and a programmable feature allows power to be backed down as necessary. Information: TA Performance Products, 480.922.6807,

Turn Key Engine Supply
Turn Key specializes in GM Gen III/IV engines as well as 2.2L Ecotecs. V-8 choices include the Vortec 5.3L, 410hp LS1/LS6, stock LS2, LS3 (used by Shannon Campbell), LQ9, and LS7. Stroker and twin-turbo versions are available for some models (LS2 shown). These ready-to-run engines come complete with computer, trans adapter, and even oil. Electronics require five- to seven-wire hookup. Information: Turn Key Engine Supply, 760.941.2741,

World Products
World Products adds Warhawk all-aluminum Chevy LS racing engines to its lineup. The 427 version uses an aluminum LS7X block topped by either LS1 heads (600 hp) or LS7 heads (650 hp on pump gas). An MSD ignition is optional. The engine carries a two-year/24,000-miles warranty for noncompetition use. Information: World Products, 631.981.1918,

Chevy Small-block generations
The Chevy small-block V-8 is America's universal internal-combustion engine. Introduced in 1955 as the Turbo-Fire V-8, the "Mighty Mouse" engine that early stock-car racers nicknamed for the cartoon hero has been original equipment in millions of cars and trucks as well as boats and even airplanes. It's been unoriginal in countless other applications.

Fifty-plus years after its launch, the Chevy small-block is on its fourth generation. The first generation, typified by the beloved 350, took a bow in '03 models, although the 350 block is still manufactured for crate engines. Gen I cubic-inch displacements are 265, 283, 302, 305, 307, 327, 350, and 400. Compact 4.40-inch bore centers were its engineering signature.

Gen II "LT" small-blocks debuted in 1992. Reverse-flow cooling is the main difference from its predecessor, and many parts aren't interchangeable with Gen I engines. However, motor mounts and bellhousing patterns stayed the same, making for easy retrofits.

The LS engine family appeared in 1997. Only the bore-center spacing was retained from the previous small-blocks. The third generation features coil-on-plug ignition, a different firing order, six-bolt main bearing caps, and aluminum blocks for car applications. (The iron-block truck branch of the family is often called Vortec.) The LS1 was ultimately trumped by the LS6 in the '01 Corvette Z06. The Gen III family also includes the LQ4/LQ9 6.0L V-8.

The LS2 ushered in the Gen IV era in 2004. High displacement/high output-and often OE in the Corvette-set this generation apart. Notable family members include the LS3, LS4, LS7, LSX, and supercharged LS9. Parts interchangeability among LS engines is generally good, especially heads. Several of the engine builders listed here can answer specifics about mixing and matching LS parts.

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