We were over at Ace Machine in Riverside, California, and Jerry Stettler was telling us about the advantages of a new engine block. We started sharing stories about used blocks and how you need to watch out for them. Sometimes they crack or have been bored out to the max and are no longer useable. On the last engine we tried building, we went through six cores before finding something that was halfway decent.

Jerry told us about building your engine on a strong foundation, which can be compared to building a home on a strong foundation. The benefits are several and will make life easier on your lowrider. If your budget allows it, as it did with this build, don't waste your time on a questionable junkyard block or on machining a "semi-finished" factory casting. The Little M from Dart Heads is brand-new, and ready to be machined to your specs. This type of block can be virtually ready to assemble with off-the-shelf small-block components.

Dart's Little M block 350 engine is the affordable alternative for serious small-block builders. Their castings are set up for precision machining that eliminates the time and expense of "blueprinting" a stock block. The extra-thick cylinder walls or semi-cylinders improve sealing and resist cracking. The cylinders on this block are 4-inch equivalent to a standard 350, 4.185 equivalent to a 400 block bored .060-over.

As long as the block's not cracked or ruined, eight different cuts or rebuilds are possible. The priority main oiling system directs oil to the main bearings first and then to the cam bearings, making sure that the internals are lubed when first fired up. Scalloped water jacket walls improve coolant flow around the cylinders so more fluid flows easier through the engine.

These block are set up with four-bolt main bearing caps and a competition oiling system. The main bolts are set in at an angle to keep them from pulling out and the bearing caps are thicker to help keep the crank in place. This helps the Little M to be the perfect starting point for a powerful and reliable engine for the street, the race or just to cruise the strip.

Now follow along as Jerry of Ace Machine shows us the benefits of using a Dart engine, as well as how they come together using Lunati components and upgrades like the Milodon dual rolling timing chain.