There are many directions you can take when putting together a true high-performance street engine. If starting from scratch with a salvaged engine, you better brace yourself for at least a couple surprises, and be ready to set aside plenty of money and time. We’ve all been down that road before. It’s fun to rummage through boneyards and swap meets looking for a suitable core. Once we find one, we then tear down the greasy mess and haul it to the machine shop. Unfortunately, even at this point, we’re still not certain if we have a usable foundation.
We hope for the best as we wait for the machine shop to let us know if we have usable parts and get the green light. Only then, can we begin gathering performance and OE parts as we wait on the already overworked machinist. Machine shops are busy places, and sometimes it takes a while to get your stuff done. For this reason, many guys will look to avert the entire process and enjoy the convenience of a crate engine.
The Long And Short Of It
While a crate engine is certainly a time-saving way to get a high-performance engine, this approach typically comes with some compromises. For instance, the engine combinations at your disposal are usually a “one-size-fits-all” proposition. There are not a lot of “off-recipe” options available, because many crate-engine suppliers have proven combinations they offer, and deviating from the offered combinations can cost time and money. However, there is yet another approach to consider. Enter Competition Products.
Competition Products offers many engines in what it calls short-block kits. These give you a basic engine foundation you can customize and tailor to your specific needs. These short blocks are filled with a brand-new, balanced rotating assembly, and that’s it. The end-user has the opportunity to select the cam and lifters, heads, intake, and carburetor.
This “upgradability” really makes a pre-assembled short block seem like a great option. What’s more, it’s much faster than going to a machine shop. We asked Brian Adix, operations manager at Competition Products about the wait time from when the purchaser clicks the Add to Cart button. “If it’s in stock, it will normally ship within 24 hours of order. We try to keep them all in stock. However, they are very popular. If out of stock, it normally takes one to four weeks.”
Making A Quality Short-Block
When you really look at a short-block assembly as an alternative to a complete, custom build or a crate engine, there are some real advantages. For starters, with the bottom end already built, the most time-consuming aspect of the build is done. “The parts used when compared to other manufacturers are superior and offered at an affordable price,” said Brian.
In addition, you have options when it comes time to select and install the other go-fast ingredients to build the engine how you see fit. The combinations are virtually limitless, resulting in an engine equipped with the components that are right on target for your build.
The Dart-built short blocks offered by Competition Products are great for those wanting to build serious, streetable power with an engine that will deliver long-term reliability. There isn’t a used, production-core-engine that is a match for today’s breed of aftermarket blocks. Dart is well-known for casting engine blocks and cylinder heads and has a long history of manufacturing Chevy blocks in a wide range of configurations. The SHP block, for instance, is perfect for the high-performance street enthusiast. The SHP block uses some of the best features of Dart’s race castings and offers them in an affordable engine block, built to take some serious punishment.
These Siamese-bore castings have extra meat where it counts. The thick cylinder walls spec out at a minimum of .230 inch if bored to a size 4.165 inches. They also feature heavier main-bearing webs and deck surfaces. Unlike an OE small-block, all of the cylinder head-bolt holes are blind. This means they do not protrude into any water jackets. This eliminates the need for sealer on the cylinder head fasteners.
The bottom end is secured with splayed-cap four-bolt mains. Add in the priority-main oiling system and revised cooling jackets, and you have a foundation that puts the Dart block in another league when compared to a junkyard block.
Stepping Up Your Game
If you’re looking to step-up your game, the Little M is probably a block to consider. The Little M Sportsman block is designed with the capability to accept most standard small-block parts. It makes an ideal option for the serious enthusiast who doesn’t want to spend a fortune on an engine block. It also carries features you can’t get in any production casting. You’ll find improvements over OE, like extra-thick cylinder walls to resist cracking, scalloped water jackets to improve coolant flow, priority-main oiling, blind head-bolt holes, extra-thick decks, and four-bolt main caps with splayed outer bolts on the center three.
But we’re not here just to talk about the block options. Starting with the SHP short-block program, this provides a fully machined-and-balanced rotating assembly, precision-fitted with the basics a solid performance engine deserves. The short-blocks are available in 4.125 x 3.48-inch, 4.125 x 3.75-inch, 4.125-inch x 3.875-inch, or 4.125-inch x 4.00-inch bore/stroke specifications, producing 372, 400, 415, and 427 cubic inches.
When you order an SHP kit, the base package includes a cast-steel crankshaft, I-beam connecting rods, and hypereutectic pistons. If you’re looking for value, part number DRT03114002 starts at $4,628.33 as of this writing. That’s 400 cubes delivering a 10.8:1 compression ratio when used with 64cc heads.
The Dart Pro short-block starts with a Little M Sportsman block that is custom fit with parts including a Callies Compstar 4340 forged-steel crankshaft, Callies Compstar 4340 steel H-beam rods, Howards HRC ProMax forged 2618 aluminum pistons, Howards True Seal plasma-moly rings, and Clevite H-series rod and main bearings. All components are internally balanced and assembled to Dart’s high standards. A professionally assembled 415 short-block (PN DRT95121415) will set you back $4,899.00.
Sometimes you want it all. If you’re looking for the ultimate in a complete small-block crate engine with serious horsepower, check out part number DRT95123427-003. This 427 cubic-inch small-block begins with a Dart-assembled short-block which then receives a Dart Pro 1 Top End Kit for the ultimate money-saving assemble-it-yourself kit.
The short block is assembled using the Dart Little M Sportsman block, and is then fitted with a Callies Compstar 4340 forged-steel crankshaft, Callies Compstar 4340-steel H-beam rods, Howards ProMax forged 2618 aluminum pistons, Howards True Seal plasma-moly rings, and Clevite H-series rod and main bearings. In the Pro 1 Top End Kit, you get a pair of fully assembled Dart cylinder heads, Dart chrome valve covers, a Dart single-plane intake manifold, all gaskets needed for the top-end kit installation, spark plugs, and head bolts.
The next time you’re contemplating an engine build using salvaged parts that might or might not be usable, it’s nice to know that you have other options when it comes to powering your hot rod. Be it a short-block that affords you the opportunity to add-on the parts you want, or an assemble-it-yourself long-block that will help your classic be a tire-frying monster, Competition Products wants you to know they have what you need to get you going, and those products are just a mouse click or phone call away.