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How Do I Choose the Best Hot Rod Engine?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

Building your own hot rod can be a fun and rewarding process, but it is one that will require a fair amount of research before you go out buying parts. It helps to decide beforehand what type of body, chassis, components, and hot rod engine you will use to build the vehicle so you can find out whether the configuration will work well for you. Try to do some research on the Internet or talk with more experienced hot rod builders to find out what hot rod engine will work well for you.

It may also help to consult a hot rod engine company that will build an engine for you from scratch or help you modify an existing engine. Some engines are considered classic choices for hot rods, while others are less revered but equally high performance. You will need to decide for what purposes you are building the hot rod, as this may dictate which engine is best. A show engine, for example, may not necessarily need to produce as much torque as a hot rod engine that will be used for racing or exhibitions.

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The engine size may also depend on the overall size and design of the vehicle. In most cases, a large engine is mounted to a smaller, lighter chassis to increase power. The added weight of the engine, however, will affect the structural integrity of the frame or other components, so it is important to either reinforce the frame or choose a hot rod engine that is not quite so heavy. A smaller, lighter car can be enhanced with a slightly larger engine, while choosing an exceptionally large engine may end up rendering the car useless because of the added weight and the lack of adequate support from the frame and components.

Of course, you may choose to build your hot rod along more traditional lines, choosing a Ford Flathead engine to supply the power in the vehicle. This was a popular choice among early hot rod builders, though this model was eventually replaced by larger, more powerful V8 engines. Several types of Flathead engines exist, so you will need to do a bit of research to find the right one for you. The Chrysler Hemi engine was also a popular choice, and it essentially replaced the Flathead among hot rod builders. If you choose a stock engine from another company, you might want to consider boring out the cylinder heads for even more added power.

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Discussion Comments


What about Chevy OHV V8s? I didn't see any mention of what started the power for the people movement still lasting today. Forget ford and chrysler. All racing by the pros and amateurs in America has been dominated, won, and written in history books due the Chevrolet Small Block. This post is garbage.

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