I’m building a prerunner. It’s going to weigh around 5-5.5k. 23” of travel. Running 35’s. What horsepower should I build the engine so I can have the most fun without building a full on race engine? Thanks
Realistically an honest 375 hp is easy build. It’s “affordable”. And just about any combination of small block push rod motor can do it. At that hp level you don’t need high dollar trans parts either. Any near stock th400 or c6 will do a great job if you keep it cool.
Read about dynamic and/ or effective compression ratio before buying parts. Especially cam or piston. I have fixed quite a few engines that sounded mean but ran like crap due to being over crammed or under compressed . 375 to 425 horse is easy to come by if you have a solid plan and stick to it. A more conservative cam will be easier on the valve train and will keep the power band in the low to mid range where a truck needs it to be. Or wap in a 6.0 ls and be done.
Read about offshore boat engines. These things run at a higher rpm and go through a lot of loading and unloading like an off road engine. These guys have torque curves that are almost flat. They typically run pump gas and are built to live. Focus on longevity of the engine oil control and proper parts selection is what builds power.
The hemi is a good choice for your project. Not sure what year your engine is but the early ones 2003-2004 had some serious valve train issues. I worked at a dodge dealership around this time and I spent around 3 months taking brand new trucks off the lot to replace valve springs pushrods and rockers. Had a lot of trucks leave without the updated parts only to return shortly after being purchased to have top ends replaced due to bent pushrods and broken springs. Oil pumps are a problem as well. Spend the money and time to correct the valve train geometry and get a good oil pump and you will have a great engine. Chrysler computers are a bitch to get tuned. Run a motec or some other aftermarket controller to save yourself time and frustration.