GM has been producing small-block and big-block engines for decades. Throw a few extra parts on one of these bad boys and you’ll be burning tires in no time. Before we talk about the best GM crate engines, let’s start by answering a few basic questions. Ooh, shiny. (source)
Another party trick of the 488 is its ability to run on compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied petroleum (LPG) in addition to regular pump gasoline. That’s thanks to the stainless valves and hardened valve seats. A forged crank, rods, pistons, full-length cooling jackets, and cast-iron head and block ensure maximum durability and longevity even in high-stress situations. Just add your choice of intake manifold, carb, and all the regular bolt-ons we talked about earlier, and you’re good to go.
Check out this article where the Hot Rod staff weathers a ZZ427 to look like a 40-years-used L88. And if you have 12 minutes, let Tim Allen and Jay Leno walk you through the best of both worlds: a 1968 Camaro COPO clone with a modern 427 at its heart.
The modern equivalent of that engine is GM’s ZZ427 crate motor. It stays true to the cast-iron block of its forefather, but runs pump-gas-friendly 10.0:1 compression, sports aluminum heads and an all-forged rotating assembly.
The Chevy El Camino is probably the best-known example in this category but the Ranchero was the first and is a pretty cool car/truck. The Ranchero was introduced in 1957 and was in production until 1979. A total of 508,355 units were produced and while we like the early models, they are all pretty sweet.
A removable top made the Bronco a perfect choice for sunny days and a retractable rear window that disappeared into the tailgate was added for this generation. A folding rear bench seat ups the cargo space so you could easily haul plenty of gear into the wild.
In 1969, when muscle cars were king, Chevrolet built a handful of Camaros and Chevelles specifically for drag racing in the NHRA Stock Eliminator class. Designated COPO, or Central Office Production Order, these specialty machines weren’t marketed to the general public.
This crate engine is hand-assembled in its own special facility, presumably so as to not risk contamination by one of those plebian engines we saw earlier. Gone are the days of solid lifters and cast-iron heads this beast combines an LSX cast-iron block, LS7/Z06 aluminum heads, forged steel crank and rods, forged aluminum pistons, hydraulic roller cams, and 10.2:1 compression.