LIVONIA, Mich. – Building your dream car? Then it is likely that the biggest question facing you is about the engine. Specifically, should I buy a custom-built engine, or stick with the comfort of a mass-produced crate motor? ROUSH Performance, the leader in Ford powertrain development and all things high-performance, has a wide line of "crate motors" built by the winningest name in racing that are anything but bland, off-the-shelf items.
"A Crate it Ain’t" Street Rodder magazine proclaimed about the ROUSH Performance offerings, largely because these engines are a unique blend of the best of both worlds. They can be ordered out of a catalog just like any crate engine, but customers have the ability to choose many of the components and create their own custom, one-of-a-kind engine which is then hand-assembled by an experienced engine builder.
ROUSH Performance offers nine base models of Ford engines which translate to 22 different variations. Carbureted and fuel-injected, as well as short and long-block versions are available. The base model, the 327SR puts out 350 horsepower and 350 lb.-ft. torque. From there, it only goes up - way, way up to a whopping 1,050 horsepower and 400 lb.-ft. torque in the 588RX.
The core models include a 327, 342, 353, 402, 427, 451, 511, 588 and 5.3R. The fuel-injected packages, which are the ROUSH IR series, have been carefully fabricated to offer the same drivability characteristics as a normal production vehicle. ROUSH engineered the intake manifolds and redesigned the throttle bodies to incorporate isolators which prevent binding.
The expertise that ROUSH has in engine construction is well-known, and most visible through those built for competition in the upper echelons of NASCAR, including the Nextel Cup Series which is the pinnacle of stock car racing. But the same facility in Livonia, Mich., which used to build the race engines is now turning out customized engine builds and these are becoming extremely desirable among the Cobra and street rod market. In fact, many of the most recognized hot rod constructors, such as Chip Foose and Roy Brizio, have already incorporated ROUSH engines into their featured vehicles.
One of the largest replica car manufacturers in the country is Superformance which installs a ROUSH crate engine in nearly every vehicle they deliver.
"ROUSH engines have been the best thing that has happened to the Superformance MKIII, Shelby Daytona Coupe and GT40. We have been using ROUSH engines for the past four years in our cars on the track and the street. They have a large range of engines that are reliable, powerful, well built and the support from the ROUSH team has been incredible. I personally have a 427SR in my own GT40 and can say that it’s awesome," said Lance Stander, president of Superformance LLC, Shelby Distribution USA and CEO of Hillbank Motors Inc.
Something unique to the ROUSH Performance crate engines is that they all come with a 2-year/24,000 mile warranty. This is the best in the industry and can be offered because they are built to exacting tolerances and are engineered and durability tested to assure reliability and performance long before being made available for sale.
Each engine is sold as a complete package which includes air cleaner, oil pan, flywheel, flex plate and front end accessories. Other companies may require these items be obtained separately which adds additional expense and work to install. When received, a ROUSH engine can be dropped into the engine compartment, have the hoses attached and re-filled with fluids, and are then ready to start and go. Though at first glance the price on a ROUSH engine may appear slightly higher than others, when all the content that comes standard with the engine is taken into consideration (even items like a wire loom) it is easy to conclude that the overall price may, in fact, even be less than the competition’s products.
Prior to shipping, every single ROUSH engine is hot-tested on one of the 50 engine dynos at the facility to verify both power and integrity. Documentation comes with the engine showing the exact tested horsepower and torque figures, and certifies the engine to be leak-free. Additionally, each engine comes with a CNC-engraved "Powered by ROUSH" plaque showing the same figures, along with the model and individual serial number. This plaque is designed to be riveted into the engine compartment and, according to many owners, helps to increase the value of the vehicle.
All ROUSH engines are available with a natural finish or fully polished (this includes cylinder heads, intake manifold, front cover, water pump, valve covers, thermostat housing, pulleys, brackets and alternator if ordered with the package). If you choose, ROUSH can even custom paint or special finish (such as anodize, chrome or powder coat) any or all of the engine and components prior to assembly so that it can be dyno tested as a complete package. This is important because it allows the builder to simply install the engine without any further detailing after the fact. All oil pans are powder coated in a silver metallic tone and clear coated.
"I guess all the options available for our crate engines can appear to be a bit overwhelming," admitted Jack Roush. "As a guy who knows a thing or two about engines, I think it is awesome that someone can start with a base model and end up with an engine that nobody else has in their car. They can point to the engine and tell their friends ‘this is exactly what I wanted.’ And of course, being a ROUSH engine, you know that the horsepower and performance is a cut above the rest," he added with a smile.
More than just a mere engine assembler, ROUSH engineers and machines many of the engine components in-house on their wide range of CNC machines. Just a sampling of the items that ROUSH manufactures themselves are front end accessory drives, water necks, billet wire looms, billet fuel filters with inline fuel logs, laser cut stainless steel timing pointers, alternator brackets and air cleaners. With more than 5,000 square feet of space dedicated to engine builds alone, ROUSH has the capacity, technology and experience to handle just about any component.
Even with so many choices already, such as engine finish, the decisions don’t stop there. Most models have a variety of options to choose from when it comes to valve covers, air cleaners, and even spark plug wires. Taking it one step further, ROUSH offers complete powertrain assemblies such as automatic and manual transmissions, bell housings and clutches.
With all the models and options available, it is easy to see why a ROUSH Performance crate engine is not just an "off the shelf" model. It is really a custom engine, built to your exact specifications. So, let ROUSH build a Ford engine for your dream car and make it something you can take extra pride in when opening the hood for your friends.
Based in Livonia, Mich., "The Art of Performance Engineering" takes place at ROUSH Performance. In addition to the Stage 1, Stage 2 and Stage 3 Ford Mustang and F-150 styling, handling and performance upgrades, a complete line of performance parts and crate engines are offered. For more information see your local ROUSH dealer, visit or telephone toll-free (800) 59-ROUSH.