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All Your Engine Swaps Are Belong to LS

Evolutionary Innovation Onto Proven Architecture

General Motors Chevrolet LS-series V8 engine Roundup

The Chevrolet LS-series V-8 engine is making its way into countless engine bays where it never was before for anywhere from about 345 to well over a 1000 good reasons. Dependable horsepower, compact size, and relative light weight combined with an exponential growth of manufacturer and aftermarket support makes the LS-series V-8 an increasingly popular choice in engine swaps with potential to wick up the horsepower. Over 100 million small block Chevrolet engines can't be wrong.

History History History History

History

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The LS1 packed 5.7-liters of displacement and the 4.400 bore centers of its small block predecessor. The lighter aluminum block featured a deep skirt and four-bolt mains to keep the crankshaft where it belongs. Aluminum cylinder heads were redesigned with identical ports for maximum and consistent flow. The ingeniously compact pushrod valvetrain was improved with a hollow camshaft, hydraulic roller lifters and rockers lined up on a common shaft. Four head bolts per cylinder pattern minimized bore distortion.

 

With its coil-per-plug ignition and multipoint sequential fuel injection, and improved pushrod valvetrain the 1997 Gen III LS1 marked the beginning of an American V-8 horsepower renaissance in the Chevrolet Corvette. Over the course of two decades the LS-series V-8 made its way into millions of cars and trucks. This abundance of LS-engines along with factory built turnkey crate engines in a vast array of horsepowers from Chevrolet served as the battle cry for the LS-engine swapping masses.

 

LS-engine popularity is largely a matter of overwhelming numbers in quantity and horsepower. Millions of engines churned out by the General Motors juggernaut in rear and front wheel drive configurations combined with parts interchangeability spawned the giant aftermarket performance industry to stoke the furnaces of performance innovation and create solutions for everything from running an LS-engine with a carburetor to swapping a 400-plus horsepower LS-engine and 5-speed manual transmission into nearly anything.

Salvage Bonanza Salvage Bonanza Salvage Bonanza

Salvage Bonanza

Salvage Bonanza

 

With so many millions of LS engines produced the salvage market is the place to find everything from a supercharged half cut to an aspirated cast iron block special from an LS-equipped Chevrolet or GMC pickup truck. The usual used engine caveats apply when sourcing a salvage LS-engine but the horsepower deals are out there. Research into the different cylinder head configurations and displacements is a good plan but in general the aluminum block engines were installed in cars and cast iron block engines reserved for pickup trucks and SUVs.

 

 

Crate Engines

 

Along with the great revolution in regular production LS-engine horsepower came turnkey factory crate engines direct from Chevrolet Performance in a variety of power levels and packages from the race prepared bare blocks to CARB legal eRod setup. Performance engineering powerhouses like Lingenfelter Performance Engineering take LS things more than one step beyond and engine builders like BluePrint offer performance LS-engine combinations built new from the engine block out. Aspirated. Turbocharged. Supercharged. Speed is a matter of money. How fast do you want to go?

Upgrades Upgrades Upgrades

Upgrades

The LS V-8 doesn't really care about that belt driven quad-camshaft 5-valve per cylinder fancy valvetrain and complex engine architecture. Why not? Because it makes an aspirated 400-plus horsepower in base trim and more recently 638 horsepower with the factory supercharged LS9. The twenty years between the LS1 and now was plenty of time for General Motors to manufacture millions of engines and the aftermarket performance hive mind to extract more horsepower out of the formula.

 


One school of thought sees the LS-engine as the answer to underhood horsepower wants and operates under the mantra of LS all the things. The abundance of LS V-8 power in unlikely places has caused another group to collectively groan every time someone swaps in an LS-engine in place of the original mill. Either way we win. Just because you can does not always mean that you should, but a world that includes plenty of horsepower choices is a better one.

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