We recently spent some time with Chevrolet at the 2019 SEMA Show, and unsurprisingly, the Bow Tie brand had loads of crate engines on display. It makes sense – after all, these lumps-of-go are used extensively in a countless number of builds and project cars, which is exactly the sort of thing you’d expect to see at SEMA. We also learned what the most popular GM crate engines are.
As it stands, the most popular GM Crate motor is the Chevy 350 Small Block. That ever-popular mill is followed by the 6.2L V8 LS3, according to several GM Performance managers in attendance at the 2019 SEMA Show.
It should come as no surprise that the 350 takes the title of most popular when it comes to GM crate engines. First appearing in 1967 as the high-performance L48 option for the Chevrolet Camaro, the 350 is basically a 327 with a longer stroke, producing around 295 horsepower. The 350 was subsequently offered in the Chevrolet Nova in 1968, and by 1969, it made its way across the Chevrolet lineup, with the exception of the Chevrolet Van and Corvair. The van would get it in 1970.
A huge number of variants of the Chevy 350 would follow, with production in factory cars lasting until 2002. And while the 350 is an absolute legend among tuners and speed freaks, the LS3 has also made a name for itself in the pantheon of great GM crate engines.
Offered as a direct descendent of the original Small Block, the LS3 hit the scene as the base engine for the Chevrolet Corvette in 2008, throwing down 430 horsepower and 424 pound-feet of torque. Now, much like the popular “put a 350 in it” of yesteryear, the LS swap has become the go-to performance upgrade for everyone from drifters, to drag racers and road racers.
The GM Performance reps at SEMA also clued us in on a few other details on the popular GM crate engines, saying that making the jump from LS3 to the newer and more technologically-advanced LT1 was a hard pill to swallow for some builders. The reasoning is that the LT1 makes roughly the same power as the LS3, but is more expensive.
What’s more, some tuners initially had difficulty tuning the LT1 due to the direct injection setup. However, that’s no longer the case.
So then, dear reader – are these your favorite GM crate engines, or do you prefer something else? Let us know your thoughts in the comments, and don’t forget to subscribe to GM Authority for around-the-clock GM news coverage.