As our economic situation has worsened, we have learned to be smarter and more frugal with our money out of necessity. To adapt to these increasingly hard times, we have begun building our lowriders on a step-by-step, and more budget friendly basis. We all want the most for our money, so why just dress up your engine when you can spend the same amount of money and get the performance and efficiency you want out of it as well? This theory has been commonplace for years in the custom car game, and Lowriders today have embraced that philosophy as well, looking to get the most bang for their buck.
In addition to the chrome intakes and carburetor combinations that have become a standard upgrade to most lowrider builds, Lowriders today are looking at building engines that are going to last and be able to withstand the power upgrades as well. With that said, newer technology has become more available at affordable pricing, as fuel injection motors are becoming easier to obtain. In GM’s arsenal, the LS fuel injected motors that were introduced in 1997, are the next generation of small blocks that could be tuned and modified to give you over 400 hp and over 20 miles to the gallon.
Performance for your engine starts as early as picking the right oil for your engine block. If the lube is not the correct one for your engine, it can thin out from the heat that gets created, especially with all of the chrome-plated and billet parts that most builders are adding to their custom lowriders today. Using the right oil will help protect the engine and help to keep it breathing properly, which in turn, can ensure a more durable and long-lasting engine. A great example in this arena would be Castrol’s Syntec oils, as these oils have been fine-tuned to provide high heat protection to help keep oil from boiling away.
Playing head games when building the top end is a very important step in car building, as this is the first major upgrade that will give you extra horsepower. As a matter of fact, a new set of heads on your classic motor will modernize it, and give it a little more power without sacrificing any performance. Most of today’s production heads, deliver exceptional out-of-the-box performance gains for engines. Today’s heads are available in aluminum or cast iron, these heads are the optimum choice for a variety of performance applications including lowriders, street rods, and muscle cars.
Engines with valve trains featuring a rolling lifter, cam, and rockers setups seem to be popping up everywhere, as these modern stock engines are becoming easier and more economical to obtain. There is nothing wrong with using the old hydraulic flat tap-it combinations, but by using a hydraulic rolling valve train, you can get your engine running like a modern day engine.
One of the most popular new performance tricks for custom engines is adding a “serpentine” drive system, similar to those found on most of today’s stock cars and trucks. Some of today’s serpentine systems range in price from $1,200-$2,500, depending on the manufacturer and style that you choose. There are several aftermarket serpentine systems available, and they all work very well, since the industry has finally gotten the R&D down to where it should be. Most serpentine systems have their own unique style and appearance. When it comes to choosing the right serpentine kit for your car, the decision will come down to individual style, preference, and budget.
Letting your engine breathe properly is crucial to engine longevity, and is usually one of the first upgrades performed on prospective builds. From glass packs, to a set of modern day Flowmaster exhaust mufflers, there are a variety of products out there that can help to achieve better air intake/outtake for your ride. When you purchase custom exhaust systems for your vehicle, you can rest assured that you are getting the most advanced, and professionally engineered mandrel bent exhaust systems available. Each exhaust system is custom tailored to fit your vehicle, to allow for ease of installation and to give your vehicle that custom look. Benefits of exhaust systems include reduced backpressure for improved acceleration and towing power, cooler under hood temperatures, cleaner and more efficient burn in the combustion chambers, and last and most importantly, better overall fuel economy. Another popular upgrade used to modify a car’s exhaust system is the installation of a new set of headers. Many companies like Hooker Headers are offering 50 different state legal headers for certain applications, but remember to consult with your state’s laws before you buy, so you can be aware of what restrictions may apply to your ride.
Picking the right combination of accessories can really dress up your engine compartment, but they should also provide bolt-on power, and help to give your car a little extra go for your money. For those readers out there who want to look good under the hood, and build a reliable engine, this guide should help to give you a step in the right direction.
Hooker Street Rod/Universal SUPER COMPETITION Headers are great for those tight-fit installations, where frame rails are close to the engine block. Available in chrome, high heat resistant black paint or Hookers Metallic Ceramic Thermal Barrier Coating. www.holley.com
Holley’s Aluminum Street Avenger carbs can be hand polished to a show quality shine. www.holley.com
New Everbright Manifold coating now available on the most popular Weiand & Holley intakes. They use proprietary vacuum metalizing technology combined with a protective clear powder coat, to provide long lasting, virtually maintenance free polished looks. www.holley.com
VFD3-70O-CUT vacuum fluorescent instrument package from Dakota Digital features a 255-MPH speedometer, 0-9990 RPM tachometer, oil pressure, water temperature, fuel level, voltage gauge, odometer/trip odometer, turn signals, high beam, check engine, brake, and cruise control indicators; attaches into your stock dash bezel; available in blue, green, or high-contrast teal colored display. www.dakotadigital.com
K&N High-Flow Air Filters are designed to increase horsepower and acceleration while providing excellent filtration, are made of 4 to 6 layers of cotton gauze sandwiched between two epoxy-coated aluminum wire screens, install in minutes and comply with factory warranties, can be easily cleaned with the Recharger maintenance kit and will last the life of your vehicle. www.knfilters.com
Lokar’s Billet Aluminum LS1 Throttle Cable bracket mounts to the stock location on the vehicle. Designed to keep the throttle cable down low and close to the manifold. Available with a single or a double hole for the cruise control cable. Comes complete with all mounting hardware. www.lokar.com.
Lunati Pro Series crankshafts/ These new GM LS Long Stroke cranks incorporate micro-polished and lightened rod journals, gun drilled mains, a special nitride heat treatment, a Lunati exclusive counterweight design which greatly reduces windage, and a fully detailed and profiled finish ensure that you receive the most capable and strongest crankshaft available. (662) 892-1500.
March Performance Ultra Drive front style mount kit is designed to fit Ram Jet, Tune ports, Single and multi carb engines. www.marchperf.com
These all-new HEI distributors feature sintered steel weights, withstanding 270-newtons minimum for maximum durability, and a validated harness and capacitor for reliable energy flow. Fine-tuning is accomplished with an adjustable vacuum advance with weight springs made from stress-relieved music wire to assure a blueprinted curve. Other features include a high-performance module for maximum spark intensity, low-friction cam with tight tolerance Total Indicated Runout, precisely installed Bronze sintered bushings, and a durable coated shaft for reliable energy transfer and trouble free performance. www.proformparts.com.
Tuff Stuff Silver Bullet series alternators are carefully hand polished and triple chrome plated to absolute perfection, Silver Bullets have a “billet” aluminum fan and your choice of serpentine or V-groove pulley. www.tuffstuffperformance.com
The Tru-Ram design produces as much horsepower as a conventional tube header but do not generate excessive heat or noise, making them ideal for street rods and custom cars. All Tru-Rams have 21/2-inch collectors and will fit in most places block-hugger headers fit. Each set comes complete with gaskets and stainless steel mounting hardware. www.SpeedwayMotors.com
Specialty Auto Parts stylish but aggressive looking valve covers fit any Chevy small-block from 1958 to 1986 and are available in black crinkle, polished, chrome, metallic gray or Chevy(r) Orange, and feature raised or recessed logo styles. The design allows for the use of larger rockers and the covers include an OE style oil baffle. www.proformparts.com
Phoenix Transmission Products transmissions and torque converters are built to order by skilled craftsmen, and receive a 7 step cleaning and burnishing process for a beautiful and durable semi polished finish. www.phoenixtrans.com
Get the most out of a small block Chevy with Trick Flow’s Super 23 Top-End Engine Kits. They not only take the time and guesswork out of designing a winning combination, but also save some hard-earned cash in the process. Based around a set of dyno-proven, Super 23 Street/Strip cylinder heads, each kit is carefully tweaked and tuned to deliver the right amount of horsepower and torque needed for most applications. www.trickflow.com
Professional Products Powerjection III electronic fuel injection kit features “Adaptive Learning” which eliminates the need for computer programming or tuning. Install, drive the vehicle and the built-in engine management system (EMS) does it all for you. However, the Powerjection III also has provisions for personal laptop programming and mapping. www.professional-products.com
Summit Racing Serpentine Kits for first generation small block Chevys (pre-1987) feature a CNC-machined 6061-T6 aluminum crank, water pump, alternator, power steering, clutch cover pulleys, a chrome 105 amp alternator, chrome Sanden S7 A/C compressor with manifold lines, as-cast aluminum GM Type 2 power steering pump, as-cast GM high-flow water pump, serpentine belt, and mounting hardware. www.summitracing.com
Edelbrock’s Endurashine carburetors will help bling out you engine while adding reliability and horsepower with minor tuning. www.edelbrock.com
Lokar’s 350 dipstick will always dress up your transmission while giving you the accuracy measurement of tranny fluid. www.lokar.com
Trans-Dapt Performance engine components, because the chrome or aluminum look is not for every car enthusiast. www.tdperformance.com
ARP Fasteners stainless steel cylinder head bolt will help give your engine the final details with out sacrificing strength. www.arp-bolts.com
Energy Suspension’s chrome motor mounts are more economical then you think, and save you the time and headache of dealing with your local chrome platting shop. www.energysuspension.com
Street And Performance chrome freeze plug covers will give your engine the detail to it stand out from the rest. www.hotrodlane.com
The most recent addition to AFCO’s extensive lineup is this new aluminum radiator for the popular 1949-’54 Chevrolet car. www.AFCOracing.com
These Fenton Six Cylinder Headers deliver improved power and a classic sound to most Chevy 216-261 six-cylinder engine, whether it’s completely stock or totally tricked out. The classic Fenton cast iron header design is made even better with all-new tooling and modern casting processes and materials. The result is cleaner castings and better-fitting headers that provide much improved flow. Collector rings and collector gaskets are included with each set of Fenton Six Cylinder Headers. www.SpeedwayMotors.com