There are a number of benefits associated with building an engine from scratch. Not only do you get the enjoyment of bolting the thing together yourself, but a certain amount of pride goes along with it as well. You can say with the upmost confidence, "I did it." However, time seems to be scarcer than before and things can quickly turn south if you aren't careful. Wrong measurements can quickly send your once simple small-block build spiraling out of control with one-off custom components that can't be returned. Yes, this can happen to any engine builder-even the seasoned pros. What's worse is that it could push your build onto the back burner for a while.

We like to keep those incidents to a minimum. Besides, if all you're waiting on is an engine to throw into your weekend brawler or street car, why not choose something that's already been developed for you? Thrown-together engine kits sporting various odds and ends just won't cut it with the off-hand knowledge that today's enthusiasts hold and share on Internet forums.

What are your options? In this case, we'll give it to you in one word: Dart. Dart now offers a new line of Special High Performance (SHP) short-blocks that can be had without having to empty your pockets. If you're not familiar with the line, every block is precision-machined with features like Siamese bores, has ductile iron four-bolt mains and a priority oil main system, and is rated to safely handle up to 600 hp.

That's right, Dart has done all the hard work for you. Just top it off with a set of cylinder heads and a manifold, and you're good to go. It's for the guy that can't or doesn't necessarily want to measure for correct rods or check for adequate crankshaft thrust. Instead, this is for the guy who is willing to torque a set of heads and top it off with a manifold. Better yet, with Dart backing your new bullet, you get the security of knowing that it's going to bolt together without fail and you don't have to deal with the headaches normally associated with fitment.

These ready-to go-short-block assemblies are offered in your choice 372ci or 400ci and come with a number of internally balanced configurations to fit your needs, including your choice of a cast steel or forged crankshaft, 4340 I-beam rods with 3/8-inch cap screws, and hypereutectic flat-top pistons with optional forged units for higher horsepower applications.

For our testing, we opted for the entry-level 372ci short-block with the cast steel crank and hypereutectic pistons, and we complimented it with Dart's cast-iron 180cc heads and dual-plane manifold top-end package. If you're wondering what it took to prep this jewel for the dyno, let's just say that aside from removing it from the crate, the laborious half day (if you can call it that) consisted of fogging the SHP block with black high-temperature paint, installing the camshaft and lifters, and bolting on the induction. The results? Nope, you have to read on to find out!

Quick Notes
What We Did

Topped off our Dart SHP short-block with its very own top-end kit and ran the mill on the dyno for the numbers to back it up.

Bottom line
Can't exactly put a complete short-block together? No worry-Dart has you covered.

Cost
Shortblock starting at $3,100.
Total build $6,926.