Hughes Engines Tech Center: So, You Want To Build An Engine?

Building an engine is not something you want to do twice. Throwing the catalog at a build can sometimes be successful, but there are better ways to go about it, especially when you can tap in to decades of Mopar-specific experience like that of Hughes Engines. They can supply curated parts packages, blueprinted blocks, or short blocks like the pictured 493 stroker for maximum reliability and performance. A quick checklist is a good place to start before giving them a call to see what might work for you:

This form will help you make decisions on what type of engine you need. Remember, we have the best tech help in the industry so if you have a question during assembly or tuning, we are only a phone call away.

We offer engines in many forms:

  1. Major parts such as crank assembly, cam, lifters, etc., prepped heads, etc. You have the block machined locally and assemble it yourself with our tech help.
  2. Same as #1 but includes a fully blue-printed block – ready for assembly, you assemble it with our help.
  3. Short block and you finish the assembly with our help.

Short blocks come in 3 levels.

  1. Blueprinted block with crank kit installed
  2. Same as (a.) with cam degreed in, lifter rotation check, timing chain and gears
  3. Same as (b.) with oil system, pan, pump, timing cover and damper installed.
  4. Long Block – a complete engine assembly that has been run-in (cam break-in) and inspected internally before it is released to the customer.

All of our long blocks are started up, broken in and inspected internally before delivery.

What are you going to do with this engine?

  • Towing?
  • Resto/Cruiser, Car shows?
  • Street Performance?
  • Hot Street?
  • Street/Strip? (What percentage street? What percentage strip?)
  • Racing Only?

Do you have any parts, block, heads, manifold etc. that you may want reused? What are they?

  1. Engine Displacement
  2. Horsepower Desired
  3. Weight of Vehicle w/Driver (if a driver is used)
  4. Altitude where Vehicle will be used
  5. If a drag car – what ET did you want to run?
  6. Cam Type: roller? Flat tappet? Mechanical or hydraulic?
  7. Final gear ratio
  8. Converter stall speed
  9. Height of tire – not the size!
  10. Fuel to be used – Pump Premium, Premium Mixed with Race Gas, Race Gas, E-85, Ethanol
  11. Intake manifold desired
  12. Headers ___________ Size ________ Exhaust System ___________
  13. Carbureted or Fuel Injection?
  14. Power adder to be used (blower, turbo, nos?)

We can provide detailed parts and labor estimates for $250.00 which will be deducted from the final cost when you order the engine.

Remember all decisions on engine building are trade-offs. For example, you want good mileage and lots of power – you trade-off one to get the other. We don’t cut corners – we make corners!


As the saying goes, “you cannot have your cake and eat it too!” Trade-offs abound in engine building. One of the major ones is cam size.

Cam Rules: As the cam gets bigger (more duration, not lift) vacuum goes away, the power band moves up in The RPM range and you need more mechanical compression ratio. You cannot have it all.

Statements like “I want it (the engine) to have an aggressive idle and high vacuum for power brakes. You can only have one – which one do you want? Or you can use the cam with the aggressive idle and install a vacuum pump for the brakes. You get to select which way to go – don’t ask for the sky without giving something else up – trade-off!

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Kent Will

Kent grew up in the shop with his old man and his '70 Charger R/T. His first car was a 1969 Super Bee project when Kent was fourteen. That restoration experience lead to pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering and a career in manufacturing. Since then, the garage has expanded to include a '67 Satellite, a '72 Scamp, and a 2010 Mopar '10 Challenger.

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