Build A Lowrider Engine

The engine in a low rider isn’t necessarily a “hot rod” motor, so most of the building that is done on them is aesthetic. Utilizing billet aluminum and chrome is a great way to achieve a cool look without actually breaking into the engine. Painting certain parts of the engine to match components on the vehicle is also a viable way to improve the look of the engine.


1. Chrome plate or paint the valve covers, intake manifold and air cleaner housing. This is a cheap, fast and effective way to drastically improve the looks of the engine in your low rider. Some choose a chrome dress-up kit, while others like to match the body paint to these accessories, creating a dynamic look.

2. Install billet aluminum or other custom pulley sets. These sets can be pretty expensive, but they are a wonderful addition to the engine bay of a low rider. Also, some pulleys can be purchased that are “underdriven” or smaller than other pulleys by about 10 percent, allowing things to move faster at a lower RPM. Pulleys can also be paint-matched to the rest of the car, but keep in mind that the moving belts will take their toll on the surface where they ride.

3. Fix up the exhaust system to include a quality set of headers, a good two- or three-chamber muffler (or mufflers if you are planning to run a dual exhaust), and dress-up exhaust tips that are often chrome-plated or stainless steel. Many low rider owners will make the tips extremely small so that the engine pops when slowing down, which is a big attention grabber.

4. Add custom accessories such as alternators, power-steering pumps, brake boosters or air conditioning units. These can be paint-matched to the vehicle, or purchased as chrome or aluminum pieces as well. For the nostalgic look, simply leaving them raw may be the best bet, while saving the customizing for other parts of the engine.