2022 Cost to Rebuild Engine Vs Crate Motor Vs LS Swap

Lowend

Administrator. .a car, a man, a maraca.
Staff member
Lifetime Gold Member
Mar 25, 1999
16,895
San Jose, CA, USA
Let me start off with a piece of advice no one is going to like to hear.
Don't build an engine right now, save your money and get the house. You will be surprised how fast $5000 can vaporize during the home buying process. Engines are great, and buying a home will have a much larger and longer last positive effect on you and your family. With interest rates on the rise, it's important to minimize financing costs.

More later
 

Mitch_Z

Member
Mar 31, 2007
299
Detroit, MI
As with everything quality machine shop prices have gone up. Prices from Holbrook Racing Engines outside Detroit.

Bore & Hone up to .030″ oversize $500.00
Bore & Hone up to .080″ oversize $700.00
Bore & Hone over .080″ oversize $800.00
Bore & Hone over .100″ oversize $875.00
With Torque plates – add $250.00
Touch hone ONLY $250.00
Touch hone ONLY w/Plates $350.00
Hone to specified size $400.00
Install Sleeve (includes sleeve) $275.00
Deck Block, Clean up only $225.00
Deck Block, Parallel Cut $250.00
Measure & Check main bearing bore alignment $80.00
Align hone main bearing bores – 2 bolts $300.00
Align hone main bearing bores – 4 bolt / cr. bolt $350.00
Align hone main bearing bores – studs or girdle $400.00
Cut block deck for receiver grooves, V8 $300.00
Magnaflux Block $150.00
Sonic Check Block $275.00
Weld caps to restore register $150.00
Install Cam bearings & plugs (plus parts) $80.00
Three angle valve job is $450.00 a pair
 

Lowend

Administrator. .a car, a man, a maraca.
Staff member
Lifetime Gold Member
Mar 25, 1999
16,895
San Jose, CA, USA
...
Blueprint engine's is a bad metric for costs of engine building. Their builds cut corners, and aren't done very well. You can buy a BPE for cheaper than you can build one for. Partially because of their volume., partially because as an individual building an engine you probably won't find their corner cutting to be acceptable.

Building a comparable small block vs converting to a LS3, the traditional small block is still cheaper - but not by much.
With the LS3 conversation you are buying motor-mounts, harnesses, accessories etc.
With the comparable Gen 1 build you are buying a fuel injection setup, hyd roller cam conversion, aluminum heads... You may choose to stay with a traditional carb/distributor setup, which will save you a couple thousand dollars.
If you want to build and engine - well than the Gen1 is probably a better way to go. Much simpler and better documented.

Comparison (Both of these engines as crates are probably cheaper than you could build yourself)

The Sharioff 402 is a good benchmark for a properly done Gen 1 making right about 500 HP. ~ $11K all said and done. Figure you'll have around 30 hours of labor into the engine swap

The GMPP LS3/525 is also ~ $11K all said and done. You'll spend a couple thousand dollars on engine mounts, wiring harness etc. I'm hearing ~100 hours to do the conversion.

Without a doubt in my mind, the LS3 will be lighter, faster and better behaved.
 

sandiego74

Veteran Member
Lifetime Gold Member
Feb 23, 2009
1,189
San Diego, CA
Let me start off with a piece of advice no one is going to like to hear.
Don't build an engine right now, save your money and get the house. You will be surprised how fast $5000 can vaporize during the home buying process. Engines are great, and buying a home will have a much larger and longer last positive effect on you and your family. With interest rates on the rise, it's important to minimize financing costs.

More later
This is probably what I needed to hear most, and really what’s been holding me back from pulling the trigger for so long. Thank you for the honesty!
 

sandiego74

Veteran Member
Lifetime Gold Member
Feb 23, 2009
1,189
San Diego, CA
...
Blueprint engine's is a bad metric for costs of engine building. Their builds cut corners, and aren't done very well. You can buy a BPE for cheaper than you can build one for. Partially because of their volume., partially because as an individual building an engine you probably won't find their corner cutting to be acceptable.

Building a comparable small block vs converting to a LS3, the traditional small block is still cheaper - but not by much.
With the LS3 conversation you are buying motor-mounts, harnesses, accessories etc.
With the comparable Gen 1 build you are buying a fuel injection setup, hyd roller cam conversion, aluminum heads... You may choose to stay with a traditional carb/distributor setup, which will save you a couple thousand dollars.
If you want to build and engine - well than the Gen1 is probably a better way to go. Much simpler and better documented.

Comparison (Both of these engines as crates are probably cheaper than you could build yourself)

The Sharioff 402 is a good benchmark for a properly done Gen 1 making right about 500 HP. ~ $11K all said and done. Figure you'll have around 30 hours of labor into the engine swap

The GMPP LS3/525 is also ~ $11K all said and done. You'll spend a couple thousand dollars on engine mounts, wiring harness etc. I'm hearing ~100 hours to do the conversion.

Without a doubt in my mind, the LS3 will be lighter, faster and better behaved.
I’ll probably end up doing the LS in the long run and just rebuilding my current 350 for another project, unless it blows up on me sooner rather than later.
 

biker

Veteran Member
Gold Member
Dec 7, 2014
5,543
Canada
I’ll probably end up doing the LS in the long run and just rebuilding my current 350 for another project, unless it blows up on me sooner rather than later.
Good call. I love small blocks, but I also love the LS, and for your goals and budget, a good used 6.0 with a cam gives you what you want. The cam will let you get your hands dirty without getting into the minutia, hand-wringing and endless rabbit holes of a full rebuilt on your own. Paying for the hard parts and machining on a rebuild is the easy part. Doing all the proper cleaning, measuring and trial/error fitment is a huge time sucker that stalls people for years unless you have that kind of experience.
Also, a well built short block is cheaper, and lets you do the top end which is less risky for a first timer. Allows you to take your time buying the top end parts you want.

Even better is the financial advice. House is priority #1.
 

sandiego74

Veteran Member
Lifetime Gold Member
Feb 23, 2009
1,189
San Diego, CA
Good call. I love small blocks, but I also love the LS, and for your goals and budget, a good used 6.0 with a cam gives you what you want. The cam will let you get your hands dirty without getting into the minutia, hand-wringing and endless rabbit holes of a full rebuilt on your own. Paying for the hard parts and machining on a rebuild is the easy part. Doing all the proper cleaning, measuring and trial/error fitment is a huge time sucker that stalls people for years unless you have that kind of experience.
Also, a well built short block is cheaper, and lets you do the top end which is less risky for a first timer. Allows you to take your time buying the top end parts you want.

Even better is the financial advice. House is priority #1.
I’ve got a coworker building a 6.0 with LS3 heads for his Bronco. I’ll talk to him about expenses.

Thank you for the advice!
 

G72Zed

Veteran Member
Sep 8, 2015
4,418
Canada
It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on here. In fact, the last thread I had going was very similar, but life took over (baby) and so I had to put it off. Now I’m getting the itch again after having saved up some money. My coworker has a 400 from a truck sitting in his backyard he’d be willing to sell. He also has a 327, and I’m tempted to build a 8000+ rpm motor out of it.

Last time, I had my mind set on just going with a Blueprint 400 sec and calling it good. Now, in late 2022, they seem to cost a couple thousand more than they did a few years ago. This also makes me believe machining costs have gone way up, so finding my own 400 and building it myself, like I want to do, will be just as, if not more expensive. Both of these factors make the higher cost of doing a complete LS3 swap seem not so high any more.

Anyone have any sage advice? Take these points into consideration (I want, at least, 2 out of the 3):

1.) I’ve never built and engine, and I REALLY want to take this opportunity to make that happen.
2.) I’m saving up to buy a home… in 2022… in California, so budget-friendly is a huge factor.
3.) I want to reliably make 450-550 hp, capable of 7000 rpm, and plan to use it mostly for autocross, but still want streetability.

I build engines, carbs and autocross with leaf springs, I'll be straight up with my advise....your 3) and 1) will not "play out well" for the most part. Not being a debbie-downer, but I've seen this may times, it turns out to a money burning nightmare for the beginner DIY guy with limited experience, heck even ones with engine building experience get into trouble.

Your 2) is smart.....

Look at the "crate" offerings out there, many of them, you can't beat them for the "bang for the buck" do to large scale mass volume and buying parts in pallets/truckloads.

And the most important part I look at, if the average Autocross layout keeps mph around the 35-72 range, you will need to take into account your rear tire size, rear gear and trans gear and maximize the engines ave tq and hp within that mph range in 1 or 2 gears for best performance.

Example: 40-75 mph target is 3,500 to 6,500 rpm with a 1.86 2nd gear (manual - 6.94 O/A gear) with 3.73 rear gear and 27" tall rear tire... build an engine and maximize the "positive harmonic" range, AKA power band peak spread and it will pay back in quick lap times. Sometimes to much TQ in the wrong place is a detriment and another driver variable.

My son has won many autocross competitions with an "under powered" car in the class, but maximized what he had and could put down. He has won against cars with almost twice the power in classes above his, even on slicks...some "Vette" guy's are not happy.....

I have actually disconnected the rear secondary link on my carb and have gone quicker on track. I had a 540hp 333 sbc, and loosing 100hp actually helped out , running low on fuel was a "fuked up rev limit" and it helped me, but 50% was driver error...me LOL.

Totally agree with Lowend and biker on this as well.
 

sandiego74

Veteran Member
Lifetime Gold Member
Feb 23, 2009
1,189
San Diego, CA
I build engines, carbs and autocross with leaf springs, I'll be straight up with my advise....your 3) and 1) will not "play out well" for the most part. Not being a debbie-downer, but I've seen this may times, it turns out to a money burning nightmare for the beginner DIY guy with limited experience, heck even ones with engine building experience get into trouble.

Your 2) is smart.....

Look at the "crate" offerings out there, many of them, you can't beat them for the "bang for the buck" do to large scale mass volume and buying parts in pallets/truckloads.

And the most important part I look at, if the average Autocross layout keeps mph around the 35-72 range, you will need to take into account your rear tire size, rear gear and trans gear and maximize the engines ave tq and hp within that mph range in 1 or 2 gears for best performance.

Example: 40-75 mph target is 3,500 to 6,500 rpm with a 1.86 2nd gear (manual - 6.94 O/A gear) with 3.73 rear gear and 27" tall rear tire... build an engine and maximize the "positive harmonic" range, AKA power band peak spread and it will pay back in quick lap times. Sometimes to much TQ in the wrong place is a detriment and another driver variable.

My son has won many autocross competitions with an "under powered" car in the class, but maximized what he had and could put down. He has won against cars with almost twice the power in classes above his, even on slicks...some "Vette" guy's are not happy.....

I have actually disconnected the rear secondary link on my carb and have gone quicker on track. I had a 540hp 333 sbc, and loosing 100hp actually helped out , running low on fuel was a "fuked up rev limit" and it helped me, but 50% was driver error...me LOL.

Totally agree with Lowend and biker on this as well.
Most definitely. I honestly think I’d be happy with 400 hp. I already place well with my original, anemic 350. I appreciate the advice.
 

G72Zed

Veteran Member
Sep 8, 2015
4,418
Canada
Most definitely. I honestly think I’d be happy with 400 hp. I already place well with my original, anemic 350. I appreciate the advice.

It's surprising what a good thought out engine combo can do, and how drivable it can be, regardless of the "number"

I've been in some very well set up cars with some very very good drivers (SOLO winner) that had the right tire/shock/bar/spring package, it felt like they had 200-300 more HP under the hood, they drove it to the point I did not think the car could take it.

I was actually shocked how quick it was....spent most of my energy on building the most power, then find out that it's one of the last things to do in Autocross.....but it was new to me at 49yo, in this autocross world....the stuff you learn or find out afterwards LOL.
 




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