11 Best Hot Rod Engines – Motor City Style

Traditional Hot Rods, Drag Racers & Muscle Engines

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hot rod engine, hot rods, Blown olds rocket
#1 Start off with a cold Coors? The Atomic Rocket front engine dragster has a supremely detailed, blown & injected Rocket motor for motivation.

Just like when I shot the “17 best wheel and tire” story from the 2012 Detroit Autorama, I made my way around the show shooting the best hot rod engines too. just like wheels and tires, and especially in a hot rod (cause you can see it most times) the engine says, “My Ride is Me” and sets the tone for mild or wild, traditional or… more towards the street rod style. Whatever the case, the shine and for an outside show, the rumble let’s people know what’s on your mind. What are these folks saying??

(Click any image for the full size picture)

So here’s my favorites… divided into:

  • Drag Racers
  • Muscle Engines (what else ya gonna call them?)
  • Traditional Hot Rods (reserved for the flatheads!)

Tell me what’s your favorite or if I shot your engine… I’ll put your name with the picture. (Please leave a comment below – you don’t have to join anything!)

2012 Detroit Autorama – Drag Racing Engines

hot rod engine, hot rods, fuel injected chevy
#2 Coupe bodied front engine dragsters have always been a favorite. Add an injected Chevy with just the right amount of shiny parts and this can’t miss. This is just nasty. It says, “Lens Automotive & Speed Equipment” on the side and is owned by Paul Arft of Lapeer, MI.

hot rod engine, hot rods, Front engine dragster
#3 If I just said this is another injected Chevy, that wouldn’t tell the story at all! Look at the stacks! Listed on the show card simply as “Hilborn Mechanical Fuel Injection” this 17 to 1 – 352 cube thumper is ready to run! And run it did setting the B/Gas record at Detroit Dragway in 1960.  It’s called “Touche”  Want to hear how it sounds?

hot rod engine, hot rods, hemi gasser
#4 Fuel injected Hemi with stacks longer than your arm… win! Drop that into an altered wheelbase Dodge and you’re ready to terrorize Woodward Ave or the strip!

2012 Detroit Autorama – Muscle Engines

traditional Hot rods, hot rods, muscle engines
#5 So much coolness, I had to get up close and personal.

hot rod engine, traditional hot rods, hot rod coupe
#6 Chevy 350 wearing a 6×2 cross ram intake manifold and some slick custom headers. Look for a feature on this ride soon… it’s the second go-around on Voodoo Larry’s own hot rod. He calls it, “Voodoo Psychosis”

muscle engine, traditional hot rods, blown chevy
#7 This one also falls into the glorious (and believe it or not complimentary) category of “Dirty”. Maybe literally too… those headers must kick up some road debris when the fuel injected and blown Chevy starts makin’ noise!

hot rod engine, hemi hot rods, muscle engines
#8 What is it with me and six packs in this set of pics? This time on the “Fire Flite” Hemi, you can’t go wrong when your hot rod rumbles down the street like this.

2012 Detroit Autorama – Traditional Hot Rods

hot rod engine, traditional hot rods, turbo flathead
#9 Look really, REALLY closely. See anything out of the ordinary? What’s that tube running into the bottom of the air cleaner hat? That’s one of the go-tubes stuffing air from twin turbos on this Ford Flathead. Set in a trick 1934 three window coupe owned by Jack Stirnemann. See a picture of the car here: Shoulda Been Great 8 Cars

hot rod engine, traditional hot rods, hot rod flathead
#10 If you’re going traditional for your next hot rod build, here’s a great role model built by the guys at Brothers Custom Automotive. With the Edelbrock heads, Hildebrandt finned oil filter to match and the cloth covered spark plug wires, these are the sweet little details that make this one of my favorites!

muscle engine, traditional hot rods, Blown flathead
#11 Wrapping things up, this blown flathead from the guys at Shadow Rods. They make a stretched 1927 ford body that fits on deuce rails. You get the style of a 27 with a little more room for those long drives.

That’s it! Which hot rod engine is your favorite?

For all my coverage of the 2012 Detroit Autorama, click here.

If you can’t get enough, “Best of” check out these other best engine stories:

15 Best Hot Rod Engines at 2011 LA Roadster Show

13 of the Best Hot Rod Engines at LA Roadster Show

Best of Viva Las Vegas 14 – Hot Rod Engines

Best Car Engines of SEMA – Car Show Roundup



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