Engine Swaps & Replacement Options for your Classic Car or Truck

Published on 6/7/2021
When it comes to classic cars or trucks, there are many options available for engine swaps and installations.  There are also many reasons for engine replacements which we'll cover in this article. Whether your engine is tired and worn out, you want more power or long for the smooth power and reliability or a modern engine, you have many choices.  If you're considering a new or rebuilt engine for your project, read on.

Buick Engine Swap

Engine Rebuilds - A basic engine rebuild is a good option if you an original or mostly original classic car or truck.  If you are not concerned with adding more power and mainly looking to freshen up the engine, a rebuild is for you. Even with a stock rebuild, it's possible to add a mild camshaft or four barrel intake and carburetor upgrade for an economical way to boost power but maintain originality and reliability. Rebuilds are usually the lowest cost option however they can take a few weeks depending on how busy the machine shop is.  If your vehicle has numbers matching drivetrain components, do a little research (or check with us) on the collectibility of your car. In some cases, it's very important to keep a car original to maintain it's value. In the end, it's your car to do what you prefer - but it doesn't hurt to research the car so you don't inadvertently lower the car's value.

Crate Engines - Crate motors are a very common and popular option. They typically cost a little more than a rebuild, but can be completed more quickly and usually offer many horsepower upgrade options. Care should be taken when evaluating crate engine options as some engines comes with more parts than others. We've seen some that come with everything right down to carb, intake, distributor, water pump, oil pan, plugs and wires. There are others that are closer to a long block (block and heads and not much more).  There are also many engine builder choices when it comes to crate engine packages. There are large companies line Blueprint Engines and GM Performance, and smaller shops like VortecPro and Creb Engineering. There are excellent options and warranties from each but the smaller guys will usually customize something for your needs.  Most crate engine suppliers will clearly lay out the warranty options and horsepower ratings - many of them come already broken in and with a dyno sheet.

Modern Engine Swaps - For those looking to truly modernize the powertrain of their classic car or truck, a modern engine swap is the answer.  The GM LS, Dodge Hemi and the Ford Coyote engines are the three most common platforms to upgrade to once the decision has been made to transform the car.  This is the most expense option and is a big commitment because like most engine swaps, there are many other changes that must occur to support the modern engine. You must consider the transmission, physical mounting of the engine, wiring, engine/powertrain control module programming, headers and exhaust system fitment, radiator and coolant hose routing and fuel injection configuration.  Most swaps like this wind up using the modern EFI that comes with the engine but carburetors and 3rd party EFI kits can be used as well. Plan for a much larger budget with a swap like this.  The end result?  A smooth running, lighter, more reliable engine that always starts (hot or cold) that doesn't leak any oil.  It's the ultimate modernization option you can choose for your classic vehicle - especially when coupled with an overdrive transmission (look for a future article on that).

** Update!! Click here to access our blog article on transmission swaps

No matter which engine replacement or swap options you choose, keep in mind that most of the time you are not simply yanking out one engine and dropping in another.  Labor effort is high with any engine swap, even with the most basic, you will likely want to clean and paint or replace all engine hardware, brackets, pulleys, hoses, wires, water pump, fuel lines, etc.  With the engine out of the car it's a great time to clean and/or paint the engine bay firewall, inner fenders and subframe areas.  The other thing to consider is the rest of the car - is the power of a new engine going to overload the transmission, differential or suspension? Always make sure to work those items into the plan if your engine swap will add a lot more torque and horsepower than it previously had.

Consider consulting with a specialist for advice when researching engine swap options for your classic car or classic truck.  Pro-Speed Autoworks specializes in engine swaps, conversions, rebuilds, upgrades and power adders.  Call or email us for more information.

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