Crate engines are a great way to power your rat rod or garage project. For those who don't know much about crate engines, all you have to know is that they are complete kits for brand new engines that you can buy and install yourself, ranging anywhere from a couple thousand dollars to 30k. It also is important to know that Chevy pretty much dominates this entire market, because they sell small and big block engines that are famous for being reliable, easy to work on, incredibly versatile and flexible, and affordable.
Ford 302 crate engine
But I'm not here to talk about the best crate engines, rather to recognize their role in society. You see, automotive culture is diverse; an understatement. There are so many cultures and sub-cultures it is pretty much impossible to not fit in somewhere. Crate engines really revolutionized racing culture.
Yes, you can even buy a HEMI crate engine from Chrysler.
Before, even professionals went to the junkyard to find a powerhouse for their ride. The unknown and unpredictability of junkyard parts was problematic and racing was limited in this sense, that sometimes it wasn't the fastest that won, but the most reliable that could finish the race.
Chevy 350 crate engine
Crate engines can be put together and run completely stock and push pretty decent numbers if you get everything to work right, but this is hardly the case. Most people who spend thousands on a brand new engine have plans, big plans for modifying their ride. These modifications can be really interesting to see, we just saw SEMA run through weeks ago, and along came plenty of mind-boggling projects with ludicrous mods. Commonly you see twin-turbo crate engines crammed with 1000+ hp built for the drag strip, or maybe carbon fiber engine components or superchargers the same displacement as some engines. The great thing about modifying your crate engine is that it is virtually limitless. They're designed to be changed, in a sense. Once automakers began to offer crate engines for sale, the game quickly changed in the race scene. The result we see now are very competitive races with extremely high power tuned engines by private companies that are even breaking records. So while it may seem steep to buy a Ford engine for 15k, and then have to put in all the labor to install it, to some it means everything. Racing would not be the same if everyone had to make their own engine, or buy an old beat up one.