Forget "low and slow," our annual Performance Guide will help you bring your engine into the new era. It's been 10 years since our first engine/SEMA shot on the cover of Lowrider magazine. The fact of the matter is that there were only a few of us who were doing the crossover engines, but since that shoot in 1998 we haven't turned back. In fact, we have embraced the bull by its horns and showed you, the readers, all along about the essentials of engine building.

Why just dress up your engine when you can get the performance out of it as well? That's what we've been saying for years and lowriders today have embraced that philosophy. Besides the chrome intakes and EnduraShine carburetor combinations that have become a standard upgrade to most builds, lowriders today are looking to build engines that are going to last and be able to take the upgrades. As our economy gets worse, we've learned to budget our money, which is something that has become common since most lowriders will build their cars in steps.

Performance for your engine starts as early as picking the right oil for your engine block. If the lube is not the correct one for your engine, it can thin out from the heat that's created, especially with all of the chrome-plated and billet parts that most builders are adding to their custom lowriders today. Different vehicles have different uses and therefore have different needs. The motor oil industry knows this, so their engineers and scientists are committed to creating products that help your vehicle perform its best no matter what you drive, from a vintage lowrider to your toy hauler or SUV. Using the right oil will help protect the engine and keep it breathing for a while longer. An example is Castrol's Syntec oil, which is fine-tuned to provide high-heat protection and help prevent oil from boiling away.

Do you want to play head games when building the top end? Picking the right heads for your engine will give you a few extra horses. As a matter of fact, a new set of heads on your classic motor will modernize it and give it a little more power, without sacrificing any performance. Most of today's production heads deliver exceptional, out-of-the-box performance gains for engines. Today's heads are available in aluminum or cast iron and are the optimum choice for a variety of performance applications, including lowriders, street rods, muscle cars, drag racing, and oval track racing.

Other tricks being done to engines include a valvetrain upgrade, featuring a rolling lifter, cam, and rockers setup. Most modern stock engines are equipped with this style to allow a smoother operating setup. There is nothing wrong with the old hydraulic flat tap combinations but by using a hydraulic rolling valvetrain you will get your engine running like a modern day engine. Upgrading the bottom end is just as important.

One of the most popular new performance tricks for custom engines is to add a serpentine drive system, similar to those found on most of today's stock cars and trucks. There are several aftermarket serpentine systems available, which all work well because the industry finally has the R&D down to where it should be. Most serpentine systems have their own unique style and appearance. When choosing a serpentine kit, it will come down to individual style and preference.