Perfect Muscle Machine: 350 Chevy Crate Engine

This article may contain affiliate links where we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.

The 5.7L 350 small block is a favorite among classic car lovers, and a crate engine can be the perfect way to add some high-powered muscle to your rebuild.

Purchasing a crate engine for your 350 SBC can be challenging. Any customer considering the purchase should have a plan, a budget, and a purpose before beginning. Only purchase from a reputable company that offers a warranty and dyno tests for adequate power outputs.

There is no question that the 5.7L 350 small block is a favorite among hot-rodders and muscle car enthusiasts alike (since they can be found anywhere). Many of these capable engines can be found in the junkyard, nestled away in barns, or even in parts warehouses. Even with their versatility, restorers constantly seek ways to get more power from the 350 SBC. While you might get a kick out of rebuilding your small block in a garage somewhere, many restorers prefer purchasing a crate engine. If you have decided to put a 350 Chevy crate engine into your vehicle, how do you know what to look for so you don’t waste your money? Is a Stroked engine better than a regular engine? What will a crate engine cost? This article will address some of those questions and offer some choices for 350 ci crate engines that might just turn your small block into the perfect muscle machine.

Table of Contents


What Do I Need To Consider Before Purchasing A Crate Engine?

A few things need to be weighed in your mind before you start searching the internet for your new engine. It is important to have a plan in place before you go tinkering around the garage trying to bring life out of your 350 small block.

Old Or New

Crate engines can be either brand new or basic remanufactured units. While a rebuilt motor can save money, it is also warrantied for much less time than a new crate engine. In addition, the remanufactured engine may contain parts that already have some miles on them and can fail after you put the motor into your vehicle. There is nothing wrong with going with a rebuilt engine (most run with no problem, and many restorers prefer them). Just decide whether you want to take the risk of having to purchase another motor sooner rather than later.

Budget Is The Key

Every restorer should know how much money they want to spend on their restoration project (unless you want the wife to stop speaking to you). While many classic cars can be money pits (and have been the reason for many divorces), the engine is only a part of the rebuild budget. Even when purchasing a crate engine where the assembly is mostly done, other expenses are always involved. (Most classic car restorers spend way more on their project than they first thought they would, just because a rebuild always has issues - crate engine or not). While there are no hard and fast rules about how much you should pay for an engine, most new crate small block engines will cost you 5k-6k grand (and that does not include the labor for putting it in or getting it running).

Whatever you decide, track your expenses carefully to help keep your project from making you homeless.

Define Your Purpose

There is a difference between restoring a classic car to close to the original specs and turning it into a weekend warrior on the strip. You need a clear idea of what you intend to use the car for. Do you plan to supercharge the engine? (If you plan to spend more money) Do you want a stroker engine? (A stroker is a motor intentionally bored out or stroke increased for more power.

Many 350 V8s have limits to how much power and torque the other components can take. Remember that the more power you add, the more you must adjust other parts like suspension, transmission, or radiator/cooling systems. Don’t build a street demon muscle car if you don’t plan on racing with it.

Be Clear About What Variant Of Engine You Need

Many muscle car lovers are enthralled with the Gen I small blocks like the 5.7L 350 ci that first appeared in the 1967 Camaro. This early L48 engine found its way into almost every model Chevy made a couple of years later (Caprice, Impala, Nova, Chevelles, Camaros, and El Camino).

Over the next decade, the 350 would appear in many more variants, from the L46 to the L98, and even a Vortec engine (L31) used for late nineties truck and industrial applications. Ensure you know which 350 variant you want to upgrade before choosing an engine.

Many manufacturers of small block crate engines will use the L31 core with flat tappet cams and lifters to keep prices down. While this is an effective way to help the engine’s affordability, care should be taken to ensure the proper fit. (We are fans of stroker engines that can provide more power for a bit more money).

Stroker Or Normal

Many restorers prefer to use stroked-out engines to provide greater horsepower and torque. A stroker engine is an engine that has modified or increased a piston’s stroke, which is the distance that a piston travels inside the cylinder. If you increase the distance a piston has to travel, you increase air and fuel entering each chamber, resulting in an increase in horsepower and torque.

Stroker engines provide great benefits because they are often bored out (the wider combustion chamber also adds to the amount of air/fuel mix that enters in). While the benefits of a stroker engine are improved power and torque (which means better low-end acceleration), they can be too much for the other engine components to handle. Stroker engines use more fuel, create more internal friction, and create excess heat, which can contribute to excess engine wear or, in some cases, engine failure.

One of the most popular small-block Chevy Stroker engines is the 383 Stroker. This engine is a tough little beast that has the potential to produce between 350 and 400 hp (which can be a significant boost to some pre-1976 muscle cars. With an increased bore and stroke, the engine can build much low-end torque, but it will lose some of that in higher rpms.

What Are The Best Crate Engines for Muscle Car Power?

Many Gen I engines are offered as crate engines. Here are two of our favorites.

BluePrint Engines GM 383 C.I.D. 436 HP Base Stroker Long Block

BluePrint Engines GM 383 C.I.D. 436 HP Base Stroker Long Block
BluePrint Engines GM 383 C.I.D. 436 HP Base Stroker Long Block

This Blueprint 383 Stroker Engine will produce 436 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. It has a cast iron block and aluminum cylinder heads for weight and is built for pre-1976 Chevy small blocks like the Camaro, Chevelle, Nova, etc. It has a new one-piece rear main BluePrint block with four-bolt mains, a passenger side dipstick, a cast crankshaft, and a connecting rotating rod assembly. The compression is bumped to 10.11 and comes with a new oil pan and timing cover. The engine’s increased stroke pushed the displacement up to 6.3L from the original 5.7L that a 350 engine would have.

We like a few things about this particular motor, primarily because all the work has been done (the engine comes assembled) and because BluePrint has an excellent warranty (30 months/50k miles). Blueprint makes many Chevrolet performance short block engines, so they are a reputable company you can trust. The price for this engine is right where it needs to be for a new crate engine.


  • 436 hp
  • 443 lb-ft torque
  • 10.11 compression ratio
  • Cast iron block
  • Cast aluminum heads


  • Reputable Company
  • Excellent warranty


  • None

ATK HP89C Chevy 350 Complete Engine

ATK HP89C Chevy 350 Complete Engine
ATK HP89C Chevy 350 Complete Engine

We wanted to offer a 350 base engine to help you achieve street cred without breaking the bank. ATK is a leading industry manufacturer of crate engines worldwide with over 70 years of experience. While the horsepower might not be as high as other engines, it is still solid for a Gen I engine and will be adequate for most automotive enthusiasts. This ATK HP89C delivers 390 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. It has 4.04 x 3.48 bore and stroke dimensions, Hypereutectic flat top pistons, moly rings, and a hydraulic roller camshaft. The compression ratio is 10.11, and best of all, it only weighs 430 lbs.


  • 390 hp
  • 420 lb-ft torque
  • P/S dipstick
  • Dual plane intake
  • Externally balance 168 tooth flywheel/flex plate.


  • ATK is a leading company for engines
  • Fully complete engine
  • Dyno tested


  • Very Limited Warranty