If the Limping Economy is Forcing consumers to make purchases based solely on need, the proof cannot be seen in the specialty-equipment side of General Motors Corp.'s aftermarket parts business.

GM Performance Parts is selling special-edition ZL-1 7.0L V-8 crate engines as fast as they are hand-assembled in suburban Detroit — and they aren't cheap, Jamie Meyer, product integration manager, tells Ward's.

At the 2007 SEMA show in Las Vegas, Meyer unveiled the big-block Anniversary 427 engine, built with the same tooling as the highly prized 427 cu.-in. V-8 that debuted in 1969. GM made only 200 of the all-aluminum engines over several years.

GM will sell only 427 units of the new engine and is about halfway through the production run. “We'll be out of them in less than a year,” Meyer says, despite GM's starting price of $25,000. “We've had several dealers charging $30,000 for them.”

Amazingly, some engine aficionados have bought more than one Anniversary 427. “One to put in their game room and one to put in their favorite project car, just to showcase a limited-edition, all-aluminum Chevy big block,” Meyer says.

At the recent SEMA show, several attendees asked GM for help in procuring one of the coveted engines before production runs out. “We're putting those people on the list again,” says Meyer, who gave the keynote address at this year's 10 Best Engines banquet in January.

“We're grateful that we have a great customer base that wants high-performance crate engines, and they'll do whatever it takes to get them.”