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You might have an old and classic car, but that does not mean that it should suffer from sub-par performance. To make it attuned to the modern times, an LS swap can prove to be promising. This is one of the easiest ways to provide your car with 21st-century power at a fraction of a cost. It can bring tons of benefits, but only when you do it right!
Before you swap your engine for an LS, read the rest of this post. We will tackle some of the products that you might want to take into consideration. Take note of the fact that such a swap will not include only an engine block. Rather, there are other important parts that should be included in a swap kit, such as mounting kits and transmission, among other things.
Types of LS Engines
The first section of this post will tackle the LS engines that you might want to look at before you get started with the swap. You should be familiar with their key characteristics and features, which will help in deciding which one is best to be chosen.
When you think of a swap using engines from GM, the LS1 could be one of the first things that will come to mind. It was introduced in the 1997 C5 Corvette, which also happens to be the oldest of the engines in the LS series. It is very similar with the LS2, although the two also have striking differences, with the most significant of which being the displacement.
The production of the LS1 engine continued until 2004 in the United States and 2005 in other global markets. Aside from the Corvette, it was also with GTO, Firebird, and Camaro.
One of the most notable features of the LS1 is its aluminum construction, which is why it is excellent in terms of being lightweight. It is a 5.7-liter engine and has a coil positioned near the plug ignition.
Its power ranges from 220 to 285 kilowatts and its torque is from 446 to 520 newton meters.
This engine debuted in 2005, which GM used in SSR Roadster, GTO, and Corvette. One of the things that give it an edge is the larger displacement, which is the one that is responsible for increasing its power and performance. It is also considered as one of the most adaptable from the engines that you can consider for a swap.
In terms of technical specifications, the LS2 has a power that generally ranges from 300 to 307 kilowatts. The torque, on the other hand, is from 542 to 559 newton meters.
An LS2 engine can be interchanged with the cylinder heads of LS1, LS3, LS6, and L92.
This GM engine was introduced in 2008. It is the standard engine that went with the fifth-generation Camaro SS and C6 Corvette. It has a 103mm bore, which allows it to handle engine of up to 6.2 liters.
The LS3 is an improvement of the LS2 in several ways. One of the things that changed significantly is the presence of a stronger casting, which speaks a lot of its durability. Another change in the engine is the presence of rectangular ports cylinder heads, which is beneficial in terms of improving air flow.
The power of the LS3 ranges from 317 to 325 kilowatts while the torque is from 570 to 589 newton meters.
This is considered as the most intriguing from the engines in the LS family. It is found in Chevrolet Impala SS, Monte Carlo, and Pontiac Grand Prix GXP. It is mounted in front-wheel drives. To make it suitable for the latter, one thing that company did is to minimize the length between the flexplate and the crankshaft by up to 13mm. The accessory drive has also been streamlined.
While there are many good things about this engine, it has a traverse mounting position, which is one thing that takes away all of its benefits.
Its displacement may not be as big as the others, but it can produce power that ranges from 290 to 303 horsepower.
This engine was first seen in the 2011 Corvette Z06. There is nothing much to tackle about this engine as this is basically an improvement of the LS1, and hence, they share similar characteristics. Nonetheless, there are also key differences. For instance, the LS6 has a larger camshaft, better cylinder head, longer-lasting valvetrain, and improved intake manifold, among other things.
Bigger is better – this is the principle behind building this engine, which was the highlight of the Chevrolet Corvette Z06. Equipped with a 7-liter displacement, this has the reputation of being the largest LS engine that is incorporated in a production vehicle. It is equipped with top-notch components, which include titanium intake valves and titanium rods.
Manufactured for the Corvette ZR1, it has 638 horsepower, which makes it the most supercharged from the LS engines that have been produced. In fact, GM claims that this is their most powerful production engine. The engine has a capacity of 6.2 liters. It comes with a roto-cast cylinder head and dry-sump lubrication, providing it with an edge over other LS engines.
The LS Series engines that have been mentioned above are made of alloy. Yes, they are lightweight, but this does not mean that it is nothing but good news. Its weight is the reason why reliability and strength are not as impressive. This is a problem that has been solved with the introduction of the LSX engine.
The LSX engine is the same with the LS Series in terms of their bolt pattern and bore spacing. The main difference is that instead of an aluminum, the main material that is used in this block is cast iron. This is the one that allows is to deliver improved strength.
Aside from being made of cast iron, the extra-thick cylinder wall is also a plus, which provides it with better performance. More so, it has a power rating of 2,500 horsepower. You can buy it from GM Performance Parts, either as a complete crate engine or as a block.
The performance car engines produced by GM carry the LS designation, but for those that are made specifically for trucks, they are called Vortec. They lack cubes, which is the reason why it is not suitable for an engine swap. It is also considered to be the smallest and the least desirable from the Gen 3 and 4 platforms.
This is dubbed as the bread and butter of the small block engines from the GM trucks that have been introduced from 1999 onwards. It has a 5.3-liter capacity and can be found in most of the SUVs and trucks of GM. It comes with a cheap price, which is one of the main reasons why it can be a promising choice for an engine swap in vehicles where it is compatible.
Examples of LS Swaps
Now that we have briefly tackled the engines that are worth considering, let me give you a quick look at some of the swaps that are possible.
Among others, one of the most common would be an S10 LS swap. An S10 truck can prove to be powerful, but, if you want to make it even better, swapping an LS engine can prove to be promising. Muscle Rods offers an S10 LS Swap Kit that includes frames and brackets that are made of American steel, which will be indicative of durability.
An S10 V8 swap is also common and can be a good possibility to consider. V8 might be a small block engine, but swapping it with a larger LS engine actually makes a good sense. If you want to do it easier, experts recommend that you use the engines from 1988 to 1992 models of Camaro and Firebird as they are the easiest to deal with.
Aside from the two that have been mentioned above, a C10 LS swap and S10 5.3 swap can also hold a lot of promise. The most important thing in these swaps is to make sure that the engine will be suitable for your vehicle and that you will use the right parts to make sure that it can deliver peak performance.
How to Choose an Engine for LS Swap
A lot of you might think that an LS engine is pretty much straightforward. However, this is not as simple as picking an engine and thinking that it will complement your car. If you are unsure which is the best choice for the LS swap, below are some of the most important things that you have to take into consideration:
- Budget: If money is not an issue, why don’t you just buy a new and more powerful car? Therefore, as you decide on what to pick for the swap, evaluate them on the basis of their price, but see to it that quality is never compromised in any way.
- Supplier: For a more affordable option, you can check out the junkyards within the local community and see if they have stock engines. Aftermarket suppliers can provide you with better peace of mind, but their prices are usually more expensive. Regardless of which you choose, see to it that the supplier has a good reputation.
- Parts: The engine is composed of multiple parts, including transmission and computers, among others. See to it that there are high-quality parts. You can modify each part as you deem fit for the engine that you will swap. You can either buy the engine as a crate or as a block.
Indeed, an LS swap can be one of the best ways to feel like you have a new car without spending a fortune to actually purchase a new one. Nonetheless, not all swaps tend to end up being successful. You need to figure out which engine is most appropriate for the old one and see to it that it is done by a pro who is knowledgeable enough to figure out how to complete the process.