The Dodge Grand Caravan has been one of the top selling minivans since it was introduced for the 1984 model year. The Grand Caravan is so popular that more than 11 million units have been sold globally, with several million units having been sold in North America alone. With so many new units sold, you would assume that the Dodge Grand Caravan would be on a list of great used minivans. You would be wrong.
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.
Remember those COPO Camaros of the 1960s we talked about earlier? The baddest of the bad, the stuff of bedroom posters and “I swear I saw one” stories, the kind of car the uber-rich still build replicas of today? Well in 2011 Chevrolet modified a modern Camaro in a COPO sort of way and took it to SEMA, and the response was overwhelming. So they built it for real. And at its heart, you could have this: a 5.7-liter supercharged 350 crate engine dubbed the COPO 350.
On paper, the Toyota Sienna seems to offer everything. It is roomy and has plenty of cargo space. Unfortunately, what looks good on paper isn’t always good in real life.
This has been but a taste of the vast GM Performance Catalog. GM crate engines run the gamut from affordable and economical four-cylinder mills to gallon-per-mile big blocks that sound like the devil gargling Listerine. And the future is bright: Chevrolet is bringing back the COPO Camaro and the newly-launched 2019 ZR1 packs 755 horsepower and a 210-mph top speed.
Forged steel rods. Forged steel crank. Forged aluminum pistons. Aluminum heads. Mechanical roller cam. Huge valves. A 7100 rpm redline. A massive 13.1:1 compression ratio that’s well into diesel territory. It all combines to make 776 horsepower, 649 lb-ft, and a whole lot of noise from its 7.4 liters of absolute fury. I’ll let GM explain what that all means.
That’s right, in the GM Performance Catalog of crate engines an 8-liter V8 is considered “small”. With max revs set at just 4500rpm, the Vortec 488 is a mill designed not to power the car you’re racing, but the truck you’re hauling it with. With 375 horsepower and 475 lb-feet of torque on tap at only 3200rpm, the 488 can tow that high-dollar enclosed trailer without breaking a sweat. Or it could pull your boat, your cattle, your neighbor’s house, or the grandstands at your local dragstrip. You get the idea.
Right in line with body armor are more Jeep mods to make sure that the underside is protected. All it takes is one hard drop at the wrong time to snap off an essential part of your vehicle. Skid plates run from simple front and rear protection up to complete chassis coverings. The gas tank and oil pan, as well as the differential and transfer case, are all rather vulnerable spots on the underside. They may be able to take a little abuse but how much are you willing to risk?