Funny thing about economic downturns; they may lessen the amount hot rodders are willing or able to lay out for an engine build, but they never decrease the innate desire for big, beastly power beneath the hood that commands respect. We fully sympathize with that and decided to seek out a recipe to bring trusty big-block performance within a realistic car guy budget.

To get started, we called up Coast High Performance in Torrance, California, to track down a stock 454 block (you might be surprised at how hard they're getting to find out here) since aftermarket blocks would blow our budget for this build. In keeping with our real-world philosophy for this build, we didn't even bother looking for a four-bolt main block since two-bolters are more plentiful and generally cheaper-which leaves more cash-in-pocket for parts.

For the rotating assembly, we opted for Probe's 496ci Street Fighter package, which netted us a cast-steel crank, forged connecting rods, lightweight Probe SRS forged pistons, moly rings, and Clevite bearings. For only $1,246 we had solid, reliable internals that can deliver 500+ hp in naturally aspirated trim and have the capability to handle up to 800 hp with a little push from a power adder. And be sure to check their website for online specials at www.coasthigh.com. This time around, we were lucky enough to get free balancing on the rotating assembly, which instantly saved us at least $300 on machine work alone. Now that's a deal that can't be beat.

For the rest of the requisite parts to top off the short-block assembled at Coast, we turned to Summit Racing and put together an impressive package based on their budget friendly Summit brand parts-with a little help from Comp Cams, Holley, and Weiand. All in all it's a list that reads like your standard fun and rowdy big-block that would be at home in any real-world, driven, and enjoyed street/strip car; and that was the idea. Plus, the ground shaking rump from Comp's Big Mutha Thumpr gave it a sound that should be enough to reignite the passion for any hot rodder who's been feeling the thin wallet blues.

Quick Notes

What We Did
Built a budget oriented big-block from scratch with packages from Summit Racing, Coast High Performance, and Probe Industries

Bottom Line
Big, burly power and an awesome attention getting idle for much less than you'd expect

Cost (APPROX)
$5,255 from carb to pan!