Captions And Introduction By Steven Rupp
•Since it first hit the automotive scene back in 1997, the venerable LS1 and its various incarnations has quickly become the go-to engine for EFI swap projects. While the LS platform hasn't surpassed the good old Gen-I small-block in terms of how many old Chevys it's powering, it's becoming more prevalent each year. Part of this growth is because the aftermarket industry is making it easier than ever to stuff this aluminum powerplant into any Chevy, or anything else for that matter.
The most basic items that...
The most basic items that need to be addressed when dropping an LS engine into any Chevy, where it wasn't originally designed to go, are the engine mounts. It used to be that the choices were few, but today there's a host of options out there. From the Energy Suspension pieces shown to versions offered by Holley, Edelbrock, Autokraft, and Speed Tech, there's sure to be a mount for your particular build.
Even as recently as five years ago it was a challenge to get an LS engine into old Detroit iron. Engine mounts had to be fabricated and, in some cases, headers had to be custom-bent to accommodate the engine's unique architecture. Guys had been retrofitting LT1s into cars for some time, so grafting in an EFI-capable fuel system wasn't so bad, but it still required fabrication and creativity. Then there was getting the electronics in order. Programming software for the computers needed to run the LS1 were scarce and hard to use by today's standards, and finding people that knew their way around the code was tougher than finding out where all the stimulus money went.
But, as they say, "That was then, and this is now." It's 2010, and getting LS power under the hood of your classic Camaro is nearly painless. Where once parts needed to be whittled out of alloys using a dull knife, those parts are now just a phone call or mouse click away. Is it as easy as dropping in a carbed small-block? Not yet, but the benefits of all that EFI-fired goodness are worth the small amount of extra work and cash required to make it happen.
With the aftermarket making the swap easier there remains the other common complaint about LS swaps: cost. Can you empty your wallet and max your credit by dropping in an LS engine? Hell, yeah! But like most things in life, how expensive it ultimately turns out to be is completely up to the guy holding the wrench. More people making more parts equates to more competition. And that ultimately drives down the cost. It also helps that creative folks out there have had years to figure out how to do it cheaper. If you want that sweet drive system from March Performance, Vintage Air, Billet Specialties, or Concept One, but are short on funds, then, thanks to GM, you still have a plethora of LS drive systems lurking in scrap yards. Not as fancy as the billet baubles, but dirt cheap and quite capable of getting the job done. Can't afford coated long tube headers yet? Easy: make do with some free-flowing factory exhaust manifolds. A fuel system can be constructed of top-shelf Aeromotive parts or pieced together using ingenuity and OEM pieces. Whether you have enough cash to buy the best of the best or you're on a restrictive budget, dropping an LS engine into your ride is an easily obtainable goal.
GM's line of Vortech truck...
GM's line of Vortech truck engines like this 6L version can be found at bargain basement prices for the smaller 5.3L and 4.8L models. Just keep in mind that the truck intake may not clear your hood and swapping to the lower car version causes clearance issues between the idler pulley and the throttle body. Still, it's a lot of LS bang for very little buck.
Even more important than parts or cash is knowledge. Since 1997 GM has released quite a few versions of the original LS1 and instituted a host of changes-some subtle, others not so much. Since LS-based mills now reside under the hoods of so many different GM vehicles, it's imperative to know "what's what" in terms of items like oil pans, computer systems, and other differences. Being well versed in all things LS will keep you from making costly mistakes like trying to run an engine with a 58x reluctor wheel with a computer looking for the 24x version.
To get the 411 on LS swaps we went straight to Michael Copeland of General Motors. Michael was the Project Manager for the Performance Vehicles division at GM, so he knows a few things about the LS platform. So read up on what's become the most successful engine ever put out by GM. After all, knowledge is power.