Whether you call it bro-on-bro action, fraternicide or inter-generational warfare, the end result is an LS1 fourth-gen putting the hurt on its LT1-powered sibling. It's a barbaric practice, no doubt, one that yields lopsided results in favor of the more sophisticated all-aluminum small-block. Not all is lost for LT1 cars, however, as these Gen II vs. Gen III skirmishes set the stage for building the ultimate sleeper. Despite wearing the sheetmetal of an early fourth-gen, Joseph Constance's '93 Camaro packs an LS6, runs 11s, and surprises the bejeezus out of its peanut-eyed LS1 brethren.
It all started five years ago with an ad Joseph posted on www.camaroz28.com, soliciting board members for a nice and cheap fourth-gen project car. An F-body man to the core, Joseph had gone a little overboard with his '72 Camaro-transforming it into a 14.0:1, 406-powered beast-and it became too nervous and fidgety to use as a daily driver. Fortunately, a response popped up in his inbox from a would-be seller with an offer he couldn't ignore. "The owner said he had a nice '93 Z28 with bolt-ons he would let go for $3,500, which was a very good price at the time. I got on the next plane to California to check the car out," Joseph recalls. "When I got there, I found out the motor had a knock in it, and the owner just didn't have enough time or money to fix it. I told him that I only brought $1,000 with me, and we struck up a deal. I really liked the idea of building a car from the ground up so I could make it stand out from the crowd."
After bringing the car home to Houston, Joseph drew up plans to get it back on the road by dropping in a 355 and topping it off with a blower. That soon changed, as his buddies kept badgering him about an LS1 swap. Driving a friend's blown-LT1 car, and walking away not-too-impressed sealed his Camaro's fate. "The LT1 pulls hard to 3,000 rpm, but runs out of steam after that," Joseph opines. "I wanted a reliable 11-second daily driver, and I felt an LS1 would make it easier to meet that goal. One of my friends runs the parts department at a local Chevy dealership, and he said he had a spare LS6 laying around. He agreed to let me have it if I was willing to work the counter for the summer."
With his apprenticeship complete and an LS6 in hand, Joseph got busy tackling the engine install. Swapping out an LT1 for a Gen III small-block was even less common back then than it is today, so there were very few people to turn to for advice. Obviously, since '98-and-up F-bodies were available with LS1s from the factory, tracking down motor mounts, headers, and the right oil pan wasn't a problem. However, sorting out the electronics proved to be the most challenging aspect of the swap. "I wanted the car to appear as if GM put LS1s in Camaros back in 1993, so I grafted the factory LS6 computer and harness into the original LT1 harness," Joseph explains. "I spent weeks looking up wiring schematics and pin references guides online, and cutting and splicing wires to make it all work. The hard work paid off, because now the stock LS6 PCM properly operates the A/C system, LT1-style gauges, and cruise control. Unlike an LT1 car, the fuel systems in LS1 Camaros don't have a return line, so I installed a filter off of a '99 Corvette since it has an integrated pressure regulator. The hydraulics on LT1-spec T56 transmissions are also different, so I installed a built six-speed out of an LS1 car."