yea you can really make a nice engine for cheap if you know how to look, start by buying a cheap engine off Craigslist, the three things you are looking for are better then stock heads, newer pistons for more comp. and as little miles as possible. then from there yuor at like $500-$1500, then you disassemble it to short bock and regasket it, and check some main bearings to see if you want to have new bearings and rings, you mine as well wile your there and buy new parts like all the pumps, and new valve tran and put it back together and you got a somewhat new block!
I built my 350 for about $1500
$750 - full 350 I pulled from car not running well, but had like 30,xxx miles and 9.7to1comp it had Bowtie Phase II heads and roller rockers! thats really why I wanted it
then E-bay new oil pump, aluminum water pump, wire loom and wires, shift kit vacuum canister, valve covers. and $100 for new TCI tourq converter off craiglsit
then I changed the cam bears and bought a custom ground Crower cam and lifters which was the most expensive but yu can never have to good of a cam lol
I actually already bought and engine off Craigslist with like 10,xxx miles running great and I pulled it out of a truck and painted it and it was done but I had to sell it when I found this engine
so now I'm ready to drop it in and on my DD2000 it says its
so if you know how to shop around you can always get what your looking for