Corvette ZR1 vs Hellcat vs Civic Type R: which crate engine to buy?

Hang tight: this article contains consumer advice. Of the Top Gear maths variety.

Last year, we brought news of exciting developments in the crate engine business. An expressly American phenomenon, the idea of a crate engine is to order, quite literally, a fully-built engine (in a crate) to be delivered to your garage for fitting into whatever project car you happen to be working on.

In 2017, the most exciting ones to hit the market were the Dodge Hellcat supercharged V8 good for 707bhp and 650lb ft, and a four-cylinder turbo making less than half that. However, being the Honda Civic Type R’s VTEC turbo four-cyl, it was no poor relation. We all pontificated over what would be the optimum choice for a project car: revvy, mega-boosted little engine, or mighty rumbling V8 with fuel consumption like a speedboat?

Well, add a third engine to your shortlist. One very much towards the latter end of the spectrum. At SEMA, Chevrolet Performance will reveal the latest powerplant to join its arsenal of crate motors. And it’s a monster.

Plumbed, for SEMA, into the nose of this fabulously menacing 1973 Chevelle Laguna, is the 6.2-litre ‘LT5’ supercharged V8 found in the ultimate fast Chevy: the latest Corvette ZR1. Yep, Chevy will sell you a crate V8 that develops 755bhp and 715lb ft. Is this part of the second ammendment? Right to bear arms? Because that’s a weapon of a motor…

How can we put this: you’re buying a box that contains more power than a Lambo Aventador S makes. It’s the postman delivering more grunt than you get from a McLaren 720S. Pagani Huayra levels of poke, arriving with the morning newspaper. Okay, you get the idea. It’s a silly amount of potency, and popular video streaming websites are gleefully rubbing their binary-coded hands over the results of mating it to a home-brew chassis…


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