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How To Build Your First Engine

At the heart of any potent street machine is a potent engine...

At the heart of any potent street machine is a potent engine. Without a powerful mill, your car is all show and no go--which isn't the best reputation to have at the local cruise spot. But, because many cars came equipped from the factory with a lackluster engine, it's up to you to transform your street cruiser into a street bruiser.

Over the years, Car Craft has done countless stories on how to build a gazillion-horsepower engine and how to make your V8 deliver stump-pulling torque. Sometimes, however, these stories are too tech-heavy and/or require mods that are too expensive for the average car crafter. Thus, this tech feature gets back to the basics. Contained within is a wide variety of engine assembly procedures, building tips and recommendations. The advice given is general info and applies to most American-made V8 engines produced by the big auto manufacturers such as Chevrolet, Chrysler/Dodge, Ford, Buick, Olds and Pontiac.

It's important to remember that successfully building your first engine isn't rocket science--it's simply a matter of working carefully and paying close attention to detail. Just remember that if you have an assembly question or are unsure about a torque spec, don't guess, find the correct answer. A variety of sources can provide answers to your engine-building questions. These can be found in places such as the pages of Car Craft magazine, a motor manual (such as Chilton's) for the year/type vehicle you own or by contacting the manufacturer of the part in question. For example, if you're confused about how to adjust the valve lash on your new street/strip camshaft, call the cam company's tech line, and ask the company firsthand. Asking questions first helps to eliminate mistakes, wasted time and wasted money.

The bottom line of building your first engine is to do it right. Remember that if you don't build engines every day for a living, it will probably take you longer to assemble the engine than a race shop. However, there is no trophy given out for the fastest engine builder, so take your time. Allocate one afternoon to building the bottom-end. Then, return another day (with a clear mind and renewed enthusiasm) to install the cam, heads and rocker arms. Breaking up the engine-building process keeps the project (and your entire street machine build-up project) easy and enjoyable. After all, the whole purpose of a musclecar project is to have fun.

For now, though, check out the accompanying photos and captions as well as the A-B-C’s of engine building in the sidebars below.

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27 comments
Kevin Tyree
Kevin Tyree

It was a joke you freakin retard... & what size "Ford" engine would that be? The one that blows up or the one that cracks blocks?

Ed Dee
Ed Dee

^^^ Poor mopar Moron, he doesn't know the difference between a ford and a chevy. What a true car guy - NOT! LMAO @ Kevin Tyree , you win the "Special Stupid" award of the day dood!

Jeff Cox
Jeff Cox

I rem that way before 97 thow

Backyard Technology
Backyard Technology

No more Jeff or many many other staffers who got cut last week...just another big corporation, not a bunch of "car guys" anymore...

Theodore Moore
Theodore Moore

Step one, have car craft sponsor your next build!

Ernst Stokkel
Ernst Stokkel

Basicblok op motorsteun monteren. Nokkenaslagers plaatsen. Dan lagers van kurkas met olie plaatsen de kurkas met olie en de lagerblokken met daarin de lager schalen over de kurkas zetten. Daarna gaat de nokkenas er in met olie gesmeerd met borgplaat. Nu zijn de zuigers met drijfstangen aan de beurt op de zuigers de zuigerveren plaatsen en met een bandklem de zuigerveren op de plek in de zuiger houden. Lifters in positie zetten. Op de kurk, en nokkenas de tandwielen met ketting plaatsen letop de merktekens. Olie plaat boven tussen de cilinders en het inlaatspruitstuk plaatsen. Koppen met koppakkingen bouten aan trekken dan de stoterstangen. Op de koppen de tuimelassen. En alles met het juiste koppel aantrekken. Anders via facebook met mij contact opnemen.

Joe Pospisil
Joe Pospisil

Is it sick that I still have that issue?

Brandon Lewis
Brandon Lewis

Luis matias you don't know a whole do ya....nothing is more reliable than a small block Chevy....

Juan Covarrubias
Juan Covarrubias

nothing beats the price of a smc 500hp easy for 4grand and u find great cores at any junkyard and cheaper aftermarket parts than a ford

Luis Matías
Luis Matías

Chevy couldn't compete with the reliability of the small block mopar.

SirJames Curtis
SirJames Curtis

That article inspired my first build back in 2000. Bought the engine kit from PAW.

Joshua Kemp
Joshua Kemp

How show me need to really no or learn quickly like yesterday

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