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Performance car enthusiasts have unique goals for their vehicles. While power, acceleration, and fuel economy are common objectives, your specific objectives impact the mods and upgrades you buy. When shopping for engine blocks, you’ll encounter short block and long block versions. Knowing the key differences between the two can help you select the best option for your upgrade or rebuild project. This guide explains how the two types compare and why a short block engine may be an optimal solution for your vehicle.
Short blocks are smaller than their long block counterparts and contain fewer components. Long block engines include most of, if not all, their complete assemblies. A quick rundown of the two types can help you understand what you’re typically getting with each one.
A short block engine is a bare-bones engine block. It usually includes the crankshaft, connecting rods, bearings, pistons, and ring. Depending on the type of short block you buy, it may also contain a camshaft and a timing set along with an oil pump and pan. With a short block, you won’t receive cylinder heads or anything normally present above the engine block deck.
A standard long block engine contains almost a complete assembly. Along with everything contained in a short block engine, a long block also comes with the cylinder heads, valve train, and camshaft. Each long block is unique, so not every model will include the same additional assemblies. Some deluxe long block models come with valve covers, an oil pan, and a timing cover, while others also include the intake manifold plus water pumps, distributors, balancers, and a carburetor.
Simply put, short block Chevy crate engines offer more customization options. Because you only get the bare minimum components, you can install any other parts you like. With a short block, you can more easily incorporate existing components — a camshaft, cylinder heads, or an intake manifold, for instance. A short block lets you fine-tune your engine rebuild to achieve your specific performance goals. If you have specialty components or lots of parts left over from a previous engine with a cracked or damaged block, a short block may be the way to go.
When choosing between a short block and a long block engine, start by considering your experience level, budget, and time available to work on your project. Long block engines come with more components than short block versions, so they may be better options if you’re new to building engines or pressed for time. If you’re working with a substantial budget, a long block can save you time and effort. You should also consider parts you already have or already know that you want.
Knowing your goals is essential when shopping for your next engine. With this understanding, you can choose an engine block that best meets your needs. While you’re customizing your street machine, consider other components such as an electronic fuel injection system or an electric exhaust cutout to achieve the performance and sound you want