Like many of the great engine builders in our nation, Muscle Motors was born from the pure love for motorsports and the desire to go fast. After more than twenty years in business, the drive is still as strong as ever for the company to produce top-notch components for Chrysler hot rods as well as other makes and models.
Formed in 1989 and based in Lansing, MI, Muscle Motors is a company that strives each day to provide the Chrysler nation with the fastest components for its muscle cars and hot rods.
"When I was going to college, my friend Chuck Senatore and I started building parts and race cars as a hobby,” remembers Muscle Motors owner, Mike Ware. “That was around 1987 and 1988. We focused on Chrysler parts because that's what really intrigued us. It was something we just did for fun, and never did we dream back then that it would turn into a full career.
“After we got out of college we built our own hot rod, which was a nine second Duster. Even though we were both just in our early twenties, competitors started to quickly take notice that these kids had a nine second car burning up the drag strip. That gained a lot of attention, and a lot of people started asking if we could build stuff for them."
While Ware and Senatore initially enjoyed the attention and respect that their drag racing efforts garnered, it took some time for them to fully realize the potential that was present to form a successful business.
"We started looking around in the Chrysler market, and realized that there was an opportunity there to create something that no one else really offered,” Ware explains. “From this Muscle Motors was born, and the rest is history I guess you could say."
By 1989 Muscle Motors was producing its own engines, but the company had to use outside machine shops and facilities. While they were able to suffice, neither Ware nor Senatore were satisfied with how they had to go about getting the work done. As a result, two years into their venture, the partners bit the bullet and bought their own equipment and facility.
"It was both a huge and scary step for us because it was obviously a sizable investment,” Ware remembers. “But we were confident in our business model, and we were definitely confident in our products. Ranging from dynos to flow benches to balancers we really grew fast, and now we can fully produce ten to fifteen different engine combinations at any point."
>A Muscle Motors-prepared 1970 Challenger driven by Brian Miller
A decade ago Muscle Motors underwent another transformation, as Senatore elected to take his career in a different direction and Ware purchased his share of the company, making him the sole owner. The company has continued to evolve over the years, and while Muscle Motors specializes in Chrysler products, Ware is quick to note that it has the capabilities to work on just about any make and model of engine.
"We are best known for our work with Chrysler products because that's our forte,” he says. “We specialize in 440s, Hemi engines, stroker engines and even the new Gen 3 Hemis. With that said, we also do occasional work on other makes. Even though it may not be our specialty, we take great pride in all of our projects, and we hang our hat on the fact that we can push the performance limits of any engine that we run through our facility."
Muscle Motors has also been on the cutting edge of new technology for pump gas street rods. Products include the big-block King Krate engine and a soon to be debuted small-block version.
"Our King Krate engine has really been something special for us,” Ware says with pride. “It's a pump gas motor that screams with over 900 horsepower. We are also soon to release a small block, 480 cubic inch version of the motor that boasts over 800 horsepower. These engines are a big deal for us because they fill a niche for pump gas motors. This is really where the market has gone for us over the past few years."
Even though the new pump gas products carry the name "Krate," Ware is quick to note that these engines have nothing to do with the stereotype that has come to be associated with "crate" engines.
"This is just a marketing strategy for us with the name. We have several different baselines for these engines, but rest assured that they are all fully customizable to your wants and needs," laughs Ware.
A King Krate engine
After more than 23 years in business, Muscle Motors’ accomplishments include the 1997 IHRA Top Dragster Championship, hundreds of track championships and countless other accolades. This great track record has an immeasurable value to Ware, but he is equally proud of how the company has evolved and survived throughout the years.
"Through the good and the bad times we've always found a way to succeed here at Muscle Motors,” he says. “Our business has really flourished worldwide, and we now have customers in Asia, Europe, South America and Australia. Sometimes it still humbles me to realize how many different areas of the globe we send our products to.”
For Ware, another big part of the puzzle of success in the motorsports world has been keeping touch with all corners of the sport to see what the latest technology and innovations are.
"Back in the day I worked with several different professional teams, including Pro Stocks, Top Fuel, Pro Mods and more. I traveled all across the country, and learned a great deal,” Ware says. “While I don't travel now as much as I used to, I still keep in touch with friends and associates in all forms of racing. Whether it’s in circle track, boat racing, truck and tractor pulls or about anything else, I do my very best to stay on top of any new innovations or developments. I think that's one reason our company has been able to grow throughout the years.”
Muscle Motors’ relationship with COMP Cams®
began in 1997, and has flourished ever since.
"I was working with another camshaft company, and I couldn't get the parts that I needed in a timely manner,” Ware remembers. “COMP Cams®
had been recommended to me by several of my colleagues. I now use COMP® valve train products
exclusively, as well as parts from Powerhouse® Products
™. It was a change that I'm thankful I've made, because I've built some great relationships with the salesmen, and the products are second to none."