Instant power -- in a box!
As much fun as it is to tinker with an engine, sometimes the stock powerplant just won't cut it anymore. Maybe the usual modifications won't give you the torque boost you need to muscle up and over the really big rocks. Maybe it's horsepower you seek, to get some serious speed (and air) in the dunes. Or maybe you're just tired of messing with a motor with too many miles on it and want something fresher. Or one that won't leak. Imagine that.
If it looks like your engine's days are numbered, consider a crate-engine transplant. Swapping a weak motor for a strong new heart can wake up a Jeep like nothing else. And these days the swap is easier than ever, thanks to the number of companies offering engines in a box and all the adapters on the market to make the motor fit in your Jeep. All of the Big Three Detroit automakers offer crate engines through their performance parts divisions, and there are plenty of race shops (and even new-car dealers) that traffic in motor transplants. The following list will get you started on your crate engine quest.
The folks famous for Atlas transfer cases and V-8 engine adapters now sell engines too. Advance Adapters offers General Motors small-block V-8s ranging from the 300 hp, 300 lb-ft Vortec 4800 to the Vortec 6000 (shown), which puts out 340 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque. These are spanking-new turnkey engines, says the company, and they're available with or without the factory ECU. Prices range from about $5,000 to $7,000, depending on your choice of engine.
A crate engine from Edelbrock has all the good Edelbrock components -- cylinder heads, manifold, water pump, and induction -- mounted on a brand-new GM Goodwrench block. You can choose from a number of power levels, from the 310 hp, 375 lb-ft, 8.5:1, carbureted Performer engine on up to the 440 hp, 425 lb-ft, 9.5:1 Performer RPM fuel-injected E-Tec based on the GM ZZ-series short-block. You even have a choice of as-cast or polished finishes on the manifold, heads, and water pump. All of the Edelbrock crate engines are assembled by Edelbrock's Torrance, California, team, and the engines are shipped in a reusable plastic box. Components on the engines that aren't sourced from Edelbrock include MSD distributors, ARP fasteners, and Milodon oil pumps and pans. Prices range from around $5,000 to $9,000, and all engines include a two-year, 24,000-mile warranty.
It seems like Mopar's crate Hemi engines are snagging all the attention these days, and we can certainly see why. They've got all that musclecar history behind them, not to mention the tons of power that can be pushed from a monstrously big motor. Hey, you can have a Hemi for your Jeep, too; just start hacking away the engine compartment and be prepared to shell out anywhere from $13,000 to $16,000 for the privilege. OK, now ready for something a little more real world? How about a fuel-injected version of the 5.9L Magnum engine? Mopar Performance (as well as several retailers) offers this short-block assembly as a starting point for an MPI 5.9. It includes a 0.020-inch overbore, a 9.595-inch deck height, a hydraulic cam with 0.458/0.467-inch lift, and a crankshaft and connecting rods that have been properly clearanced. The short-block retails for just over $1,300.
Ford Racing Performance Parts
The 5.0L Cammer small-block V-8 shown here is no doubt the most exotic crate engine available from Ford Racing Performance Parts (FRPP). But at $15,000 for 400 hp and 365 lb-ft of torque, is it right for you? No, don't be silly. You'll do way better nabbing the standard 5.0L 302 Mustang long-block (PN M-6007-F50) and installing Ford's GT-40 intake and injection system. Larger engine bays may enjoy the '03 F-150 Lightning crate engine (PN M-6007-L54), complete from oil pan to throttle body, including the supercharger and intercooler. At factory boost it makes 380 hp and 450 lb-ft. Then there's always the old stroked-version standbys of the 302- and 351-inch engines. At streetable compression levels and with accessories that include Performer and Victor Jr. intake manifolds, GT-40 heads, hypereutectic or forged pistons, and cast cranks, these engines can produce in excess of 400 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque, all for a more realistic $5,000 to $7,000.
Ford Racing Performance Parts