Jim Smart
June 1, 2004

Crate engines are a simple solution for the enthusiast on a budget and little time to spare for an involved engine build. These are ready-made engines planned and built to suit your individual application. The term "crate engine" has become rather loose through the years. It used to mean cheap prices and poor quality (and still does with some companies). But crate engine has also come to mean ready-to-install, high-performance engines and kits conceived for the performance enthusiast.

Crate engines aren't just about budget anymore. Oh sure, you can snap one up from Performance Automotive Warehouse (PAW) or some of the regional engine builders for under two grand if that's what you are seeking. You can also bankroll a crate engine costing upwards of $10,000 for a more radical application. The choice is yours-and has never been greater.

Ordering a crate engine boils down to what you want the engine to be now and later on. Don't order a low-buck, 302ci, small-block V-8 with cast pistons if you plan on supercharging or running NOS. We can promise you will be disappointed when it is scattered all over the firmament. Buying a crate engine or building an engine from scratch always involves planning. You need to know what's going to be expected of this engine. If you're planning a hotter camshaft in the future that will take your engine to higher revs, you might want to think about hypereutectic or forged pistons, high-performance I-beam rods, a windage tray, a high-volume oil pump, and a host of other needs in your engine's support system. Bigger plans for the future call for a bottom end able to handle the punch. Cast pistons, shotpeened rods, and cheap bearings won't get the job done.

On the other hand, sometimes we plan and build too much into our engines, spending more money than we have to on a build-up. We go with high-end H-beam rods, a steel crank, and forged pistons when nodular iron, hypereutectics, and I-beam rods would have worked fine for our mission. Street engines, for the most part, don't need steel crankshafts and H-beam rods. Daily commuters and weekend racers-depending on the type of racing-can get by with nodular iron crankshafts and I-beam rods. If you're going to spin it to 7,000 rpm or pump up the power with nitrous or a supercharger, you're going to need that steel crank, forged pistons, and H-beam rods. Plan, accurately, for the mission-and don't lie.

Great Crates From JMC MotorsportsWe're all familiar with some of the more common crate-engine sources out there. But did you know you can order and take delivery of a custom-built, high-performance Ford V-8 engine from JMC Motorsports? All you have to do is tell JMC Motorsports what you want, and engine-building professional, John Da Luz, will handle the rest. JMC Motorsports stocks certain types of crate engines. They also will build an engine to your personal specifications. All you have to do is drop off your engine or order one from scratch. JMC Motorsports will handle the rest.

JMC Motorsports has many years of reliable high-performance engines to its credit, including Top Fuel, drag race and road race. Crate engines from JMC Motorsports range from low-budget mills with cast pistons to high-end powerplants with aftermarket heads and custom-forged pistons. Whether you live in Southern California or thousands of miles away, JMC Motorsports can build a custom crate engine to suit your mission. Prices vary depending on the type of engine you want to build.

For more information: JMC Motorsports, Dept. MF, 2277 National Ave., San Diego, CA 92113; (619) 230-8866; www.johnsmustangs.com.

World-Beater Street FighterCoast High Performance has been building world-beating, small- and big-block Ford crate engines for more than a decade. We're not just talking about traffic-light-to-traffic-light street performance, but race-proven procedures and components from the people who have been competing in road-racing and drag-racing for the better part of a lifetime. What's more, these folks are passionate about Ford performance.