Reviews

Best Crate Engines: Out with the Old, In with the New

Put a little oomph in the pedal with the right crate engine.

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BY Hank O'Hop / LAST UPDATED ON September 30, 2021

When it comes to engines, you have the choice to either build or rebuild your own or buy a crate engine. There are benefits to either process, but many are consumed by the idea of buying an engine that’s ready to drop in place.

 

Industry veterans will tell you that there’s more to it than simply picking out any old engine—especially considering you can easily spend tens of thousands of dollars on one. So, we’re here to share a few pointers on the things you should consider when shopping for crate engines.

Best Overall
Blueprint Engines BP38313CT1 Crate Engine - SBC 383 430HP Base Model
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Summary
Summary

This SBC stroker is ready to turn out 430 horsepower with its 383 cubic inches. The combination of aluminum heads, a roller cam, and other goodies remind us why the small block Chevy is so loved.

Pros
Pros
  • Impressive power
  • Desirable parts already in place
  • Relatively affordable pricing
Cons
Cons
  • Long block only
Best Overall
Blueprint Engines BP38313CT1 Crate Engine - SBC 383 430HP Base Model
Best Value
Genuine GM 350i / 5.7L Gen 0 Engine
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Summary
Summary

A basic 350 that’s designed to keep your old GM rig running. This motor is the perfect option for simply replacing your old, worn out engine.

Pros
Pros
  • Excellent compatibility 
  • Relatively affordable pricing
Cons
Cons
  • Long block only
  • Can be considered underpowered 
Best Value
Genuine GM 350i / 5.7L Gen 0 Engine
Honorable Mention
Ford FRDM6007-A52XS XS Aluminator Coyote 5.2L Crate Engine
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Summary
Summary

This beast screams out to 7,800 RPM to make 580 horsepower, with peak torque coming in at 4,500 RPM. It’s a modern marvel based on Ford’s coveted Coyote, which is the perfect upgrade for any Ford vehicle aimed at prestigious performance levels.

Pros
Pros
  • Superior performance
  • High quality build
Cons
Cons
  • Premium pricing
Honorable Mention
Ford FRDM6007-A52XS XS Aluminator Coyote 5.2L Crate Engine

Why Trust Us


Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

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Benefits of Crate Engine

  • Minimal wrenching. Building and rebuilding engines isn’t for everyone because a lot of time goes into the assembly of one. Not only that, but many stages of the process rely on special tools and procedures that not everyone is comfortable with. With a crate engine, all you need to worry about is getting it in place and hooking everything up. Yes, that’s an oversimplified explanation, but the point is that there’s less work to dropping in a crate engine than there is with building one. 
  • Warranty. This is probably the most essential detail to many gearheads. Crate engines sometimes come with warranties, and with a warranty in place, you don’t have to worry about any more expenses coming out of your pocket. That’s something you won’t get with an engine you build or rebuild on your own. We should note that a good machine shop builds an engine for you to couple it with a warranty, but you’ll need to speak with the shop you use to find out for sure. 
  • Less homework/shopping. If you’re building or rebuilding an engine without the aid of a machine shop, you’re on your own when it comes to tracking down and sourcing all of the parts. Not only that, but it’s on you to find what parts will boost performance in the ways that you want them to if that’s on the agenda. Crate engines come built to different specifications, so all you need to do is determine what has the properties you desire. 

Types of Crate Engines

Rebuilt/Remanufactured

Rebuilt or remanufactured engines are among the most widely available and affordable choices. All these terms mean is that the third-party seller took an existing engine with a good core and went through to ensure it’s back to factory specifications. Speaking of factory specifications, if you’re just looking for a direct replacement, this is probably the type of offering that’s available to you. It’s just as good as an engine that’s brand new.

Manufacturer-Direct Engines 

The manufacturer of a vehicle may offer direct replacement crate engines for your car. For the most part, this is something that’s limited to performance or specialty engines, though. These engines are brand new, as though they were assembled to go with a car coming fresh off the assembly line. Because of this, you can generally expect the price point to be quite a bit higher than remanufactured engines. 

Performance-Built

Crate engines that are already worked over are also widely available. These engines can feature a list of custom parts such as pistons, rotating assemblies, camshafts, intake manifolds, and forced induction systems to meet a specific performance goal. As you can expect, these engines are often a lot more expensive than the previous types of crate engines that we visited. That said, they can be either brand new directly through the manufacturer or remanufactured by a third-party supplier. 

Race-Ready 

Sometimes sanctioning bodies get involved and enforce a long list of rules for what parts engines used in certain events can or cannot use. Race car owners can either build an engine to match a specific list of rules or buy a crate engine approved by the sanctioning bodies for events. This is typical for something like circle-track racing. And yes, the tech inspectors might even go as far as looking at the engine internals on race day to ensure that the pistons and rotating assembly meet their standards, especially if it’s custom-built. 

Top Brands

GM Performance Parts

Based out of Green Bay, Wis., GM Performance Parts builds and designs a number of products for vehicles. The company focuses on manufacturing transmissions, drivetrains, accessories, and both big-block and small-block crate engines. One of its most popular engines is the Genuine GM 350i / 5.7L Gen 0 Engine.

General Motors

Formed in 1908, General Motors is one of the most popular and well-known names in the world of motorsports. The company’s central location is in Detroit, Mich., and it makes a number of vehicle accessories and parts, including the Chevrolet Performance 6.2L LS3 Engine Crate GM.

Edelbrock 

A company that has roots that go as deep as 1938 needs little introduction, especially when the founder has had as much of an influence on automotive culture as Vic Edelbrock did. This titan of a company works out of Torrance, Calif., and pumps out anything you’ll need to hop an engine up, even if it means replacing the engine with something like the Edelbrock Performer RPM 410 Crate Engine.

Ford Racing 

Despite Ford’s legendary triumphs in the world of racing that extend as far as LeMans, the Ford Racing division wasn’t introduced until 2014. Naturally, the headquarters is found in Dearborn, Mich., just outside of the Motor City. They produce pretty much anything you’d need to hop up your Ford, including the monstrous Ford Performance Parts M6007-572DR 572 Big Block Crate Engine.

Crate Engine Pricing

  • $2,000 to $3,000: Remanufactured/refurbished engines typically fall in this range. It’s likely that the engines in this range require parts like the induction system and sensors for assembly.
  • $3,000 to $1,0000: Complete engines and performance options can appear in this price range. For the most part, these are either high-performance factory offerings or custom assemblies.
  • $10,000 to $20,000: High-performance factory engines and serious performance crate engines populate this price range. Performance and build-quality increase with the price.
  • $20,000 and up: Exceptionally powerful engines are almost exclusive to this price range. Fuel injection, superior rotating assemblies, and even superchargers are typical for these crate engines.

Key Features

Compatibility

Crate engine compatibility is something that has many meanings. For many, it might just mean ensuring the motor is a direct match for the application. For others, it can mean making sure that it’ll work with the parts they need for an engine swap. It can even suggest that the engine matches rules set forth by a particular event in some cases. In any situation, you need to do your homework to ensure that the engine reaches the criteria you need it to. 

Power Output

The amount of power that an engine puts out is something to pay close attention to. It’s easy to simply look at peak power, but you want to consider when it makes that power and how. Compression ratio, displacement, and power curves all tell you how that engine behaves. How and when it makes power ultimately tells you what kind of driving it’s good for. 

Use of Appropriate Parts

We can say that you want to make sure quality parts are used in the crate engine. However, that paints a broad stroke that doesn’t explain what you’re looking for. If it’s a factory-spec engine, “quality parts” is typically a descriptor telling you the engine uses factory equipment. That is fine for a direct-replacement engine, but those components may be risky for use on performance engines. If you’re looking for an engine that boosts performance, make sure to look at the types of pistons, connecting rods, and crankshaft used to ensure it’ll handle the power it produces. 

Inclusion of Parts You Need

You’ll see that some engines don’t come with the induction system, sensors, and other parts necessary to their function. In the case that you can scrap these parts from your old engine, that’s not a big deal. If you don’t have an old engine to pull pieces from, you might want to consider a different crate engine. Sure, the long-block does make up for a significant portion of the expenses associated with engine building, but the small “nickel and dime” parts can quickly add up to a big price tag. 

Other Considerations

Warranty Coverage. Just because a warranty is listed under "other considerations" doesn't mean it's not important. Crate engines often come with a warranty to protect the owners from any defects. Considering you can spend a massive amount of money on the engine, it is worth checking out the warranty to ensure your investment is protected.

Best Crate Engines Reviews & Recommendations 2021

Best Overall
Blueprint Engines BP38313CT1 Crate Engine - SBC 383 430HP Base Model

I don’t think it’s a surprise to many that the “mighty mouse” is on the top of our list. This is a prime example of why the SBC gets crammed into nearly anything. At the time of writing this, the cost is about in line with what you’d pay for a block alone for many other applications. It isn’t a “ready-to-run” ordeal, but you still hit the ground running. Aluminum heads, the roller cam, and a stroker assembly do help you hit the ground running with your build. That’s right, it’s a 383 stroker, and it’s built with 430 horsepower in mind. That’s right in line with an elephant at a much lower price tag.


The only drawback to this engine is that you still need to throw some parts at it. You need to set yourself up with an intake and carburetor, or EFI if that’s your thing. That said, what you choose will impact the kind of power it will make. This just takes care of most of the heavy lifting.

Best Value
Genuine GM 350i / 5.7L Gen 0 Engine

And again the SBC makes it to our list. That’s not a bad thing, though. Also, this is no hotrod engine, meaning it’s not just more of the same. That said, there comes a time when you need a basic 350 to keep your rig moving. While this engine is no monster performer, it’s every bit as reliable and compatible with any aftermarket parts that you could expect the classic 350 to be. 


What’s the drawback? Considering this is the most affordable option on the list, you’d think we’d leave the price alone. But for nearly $3,000, you should expect a little more than the predicted 195 horsepower. Not only that, but there’s no induction system, which means you’ll be spending another couple hundred bucks on getting it running.

Best Premium
Ford FRDM6007-A52XS XS Aluminator Coyote 5.2L Crate Engine

This offering from Ford is a good example of the level of performance that’s available to you when you opt for a crate engine. Rather than having to sit down and figure out how to not only rebuild an engine, but make it more powerful, you simply pick the part number that gives you nearly 600 horsepower. This mighty Coyote 5.2-liter comes to your doorstep ready to make 580 horsepower at 7,800 RPM and 445 pound-feet of torque at 4,500 RPM. And don’t worry, the forged rotating assembly is more than capable of taking whatever you throw at it.


Of course, the drawback to this engine is that it costs nearly as much as a new car. We can groan about it all day long, but the reality of buying a crate engine often means you’re in for a considerable expense. Which is exactly why many opt to build rather than buy. 

Best For Classic Ford
Ford Performance Parts M6007-D347SR7 347 CID Spec Crate Engine

The Ford 302 is one of the greatest engines of all time. It’s relatively small in terms of displacement.  It’s always held its own when stacked up against some of the bigger kids on the block, though. This variant put on a little bit of muscle, though. It’s based on Ford Performance’s BOSS 302 block, but it’s bored over and stroked out to achieve a total of 347 cubic inches. It’s ready to turn out 415 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque. The aluminum heads, forged rotating assembly, and double roller timing set only make the deal sweeter. It’s even coming in hot with a hydraulic roller cam to help you get the most out of this setup in street applications.


While this engine is great, it’s not cheap. In fact, it’s about what you might spend on an entire project car to fit it into. On top of that, you still need to pick out your carburetor and drop it in place. Although, that’s pretty much what to expect with anything outside of the world of GM.

Honorable Mention
Edelbrock Performer RPM 410 Crate Engine

Something like this really makes Ford and Mopar guys hate Chevy nuts. Why? Because it puts out a considerable 410 horsepower and 408 pound-feet of torque with a 9.5:1 compression ratio. So, not only is it producing 1.17 horsepower per cubic inch, but it’s doing it on pump gas. That may be possible for any engine with the right build, but the cost is about what you’ll invest in parts for those other platforms to get the job done — never mind machining and assembly. This thing even comes with the carburetor, water pump, and harmonic balancer. That makes it pretty much a true drop-in option.


There really aren’t too any drawbacks to this model. No, it’s not the most powerful option, but it really doesn’t need to be. About the only thing to complain about is the impossible standard this type of crate engine produces for folks outside of the GM world to look for.

Honorable Mention
Ford Performance Parts M6007-M50C 2018-2019 Coyote 5.0L Crate Engine

Ford’s Coyote engines are notoriously expensive. As you can see from some of the options on the market, you can spend a serious amount of money to obtain one of these platforms. This particular engine is pretty much on the low side in terms of dollar value, making it a far more favorable option for many. That said, it’s a factory-spec 2018-2019 5.0-liter Coyote. That might seem a little lackluster, but remember that these engines are rather impressive in their natural configuration. It’s a great option for someone who needs to replace the worn engine they're working with, or someone looking to Coyote swap whatever they're working on.


The price is high, but it is what it is. It is high for a direct-replacement engine, but these Coyotes aren’t exactly the most affordable option from the get-go. You might be able to save money if you’re lucky enough to cop one from the scrap yard. But Ford nuts are hot on it, so your chances of doing so are slim unless you’re Johnny on the Spot.

Honorable Mention
Spartan/ATK Engines AMC 4.7 Stroker 91-98 Engine

‘90s Jeeps are a little on the low end when it comes to power. Not only did they come from an era where emissions snuffed grunt, but they were limited to working with low-displacement engine platforms. A simple fix would be to shoehorn a V8 in there if you needed a little more oomph on the trail. Or, you could set yourself up with a stroker that’ll bolt right in place of your old one while still giving you the boost in power you’re craving. That’s exactly what we’ve got here. It might not be a monster, but the 4.7 liters of displacement brings you up to 205 horsepower and a super flat torque curve, making it a no-brainer upgrade when you’re dealing with rod knock.


We won’t lie. This isn’t the end-all be-all upgrade. After all, 200 horsepower is virtually nothing by today’s standards. It’s also not an extremely cheap setup, and you will still need to throw parts at it. As we said, though, it’s just a good upgrade to make if you’re old engine bit the dust.

Honorable Mention
Spartan/ATK Engines Ford 351W H.P. 68-97 Engine

The Ford 351 often lives in the shadow of the smaller 302. It’s a decent engine, though, and is deserving of the same level of praise. It’s seen the world through many of Ford’s premier platforms in both the car and truck world. Still, when people build something custom, they often go with the smaller engine. Well, what if you want to make more power but keep the engine displacement true-to-form? This Stage-1 long block is the perfect solution. It comes loaded with aluminum Edelbrock heads, a hydraulic roller camshaft, and a 9.5:1 compression ratio making for a combination capable of turning out 385 horsepower. It’s also a lot more affordable than some of the other Ford crate engines, which is good news for anyone favoring the 351.


This is not a complete engine, though. You will need to set it up with an induction system and other parts before you get rolling. While that’s typical of many crate engines in this price range, it is something to be aware of. 

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Tips

  • Don't rule out short blocks. You might not find a crate engine that suits your needs, but that doesn't mean you're out of luck. You can purchase a high-performance short block to fit heads and a valve train that'll meet your demands.
  • Don't go with more than you need. It's tempting to invest in a more powerful engine. Keep in mind that more power is more wear and tear. The factory transmission and drivetrain might not be able to keep up with the power you're introducing, leading to significant headaches and more expenses. 
  • There's still plenty of work ahead of you. Crate engines don't install themselves, and you'll need plenty of time to "drop one in." Not only does that mean that you'll need the tools for the job, but enough time to do it right. Always remember that things never go the way they're supposed to. Calculate that into the time you set aside to work on your car. 
  • Be conscientious of who you're giving your money to. There are a shocking amount of suppliers offering crate engines. Be aware that not all are as respectable as they make it seem. Take the time to research the suppliers and find one that you know you can trust. 
  • Consider your machine shop. Just because an old motor is worn down doesn't mean it's junk. Your local machine shop can likely breathe new life into an engine by honing the cylinders, rebuilding the heads, and so on. It's always a good idea to support local businesses, and the machine shop can even build an engine custom to your demands. 

FAQs

Q: How do I determine what crate engine is best?

It depends on the style of driving you do and the car you are fitting it into. If the vehicle is your daily driver, then consider matching the replacement engine as close to your original one as possible. If you plan on racing, choose one with more power and torque.

Q: How do I install a replacement crate engine?

That is a tricky question to answer. Ultimately, it depends on your particular case. In any situation, however, it’s not as simple as just removing the old engine and dropping the new one in place. You will need to carry over any accessories or parts from the old engine that are essential to getting it running. In short, you’ll need to do your homework to find out what’s necessary for your particular setup and the engine you’re using. 

Q: Do I need to replace everything connected to the engine?

That depends. If you’re just experiencing mechanical issues, there’s no reason that you couldn’t use the accessories and sensors attached to your old engine unless they’re junk. It’s best to evaluate each of the components you’re considering carrying over to ensure they’re suitable for use. 

Final Thoughts

Again, our top pick goes to the Chevrolet Performance 6.2L LS3 Engine CrateGM, and our choice for the best balue is the Genuine GM 350i / 5.7L Gen 0 Engine. We get that we’re talking about crate engines, though, so these engines might not even work for your application.