Addressing Internet Myths About LS Swaps


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story by matt cramer
photos by kevin adolf unless otherwise credited

“It practically bolts in.”

“You can swap one in for under a grand.”

“They’ll fit in pretty much anything.”

“It’s an easy 400 horsepower.”

The Internet is full of chatter about transplanting General Motors’s third- and fourth-generation V8s, engines commonly known by their LS designations. The biggest problem with these Internet claims isn’t that they’re outright lies, it’s that they’re just not true for everyone. A hotrodder at the top of the game is going to have a different result from a newbie wrenching in a parking lot.

Embarking on your first LS swap? Here’s how the hype stacks up against reality.

Claim 1: An LS Swap Costs Less Than $1000

Reality: If your costs are this low, it means you scored an excellent deal on a parts car, recouped the price by selling off what was left of it (and possibly the engine you removed), fabricated any necessary adapters or brackets, welded your own exhaust, and adapted the donor car’s wiring harness. It also assumes that you didn’t need any rare or expensive parts, and that either your existing rear axle was stout enough to keep or your parts car had a worthy replacement.

Not able or willing to go so far to cut costs? A more realistic starting budget is around $1500 to $2000 for a basic swap using a common truck engine, factory exhaust manifolds, and your existing front crossmember and rear axle. Swaps that require fabricated oil pans, aftermarket crossmembers, or rear suspension overhauls can set you back considerably more.

Using a premium LS engine can also up the cost. Performing a basic Corvette engine swap in a Miata, for example, can increase that $1000 budget tenfold.

Claim 2: Swapping an LS for an Earlier GM V8 Is a Bolt-In Project

Reality: The only mounting points the LS shares with the older small-block Chevys are five of the six transmission bolts. Both engine types feature a rear-mounted oil sump as well. Those few similarities are all that separate one of these swaps from a Chrysler Hemi transplant. The accessory mounting brackets, radiator hoses, exhaust manifolds, engine mounts–they’re all completely different. That’s the bad news.

The good news? The aftermarket and the enthusiast community have discovered and thoroughly documented ways around these problems. For many common LS swaps, there’s a known combination of factory and aftermarket parts that can make the job pretty close to a bolt-in affair.

If you improvise–say, by using a slightly different combination of parts or a chassis that doesn’t have a well-known “recipe”–you may have to get out the Sawzall and welding torch. Even if you figure out your own bolt-together mounts, you’ll most likely need to weld up a custom exhaust system.

Claim 3: They Can Make a Ton of Power

Reality: Not all LS engines are created equal. The weakest ones–the 4.8-liter variants found in many 1999 and 2000 trucks–produced just 255 horsepower in stock form. Garden-variety 5.3-liter engines–the ones you’re most likely to run across–tend to make just shy of 300 horsepower. A cam swap–along with stiffer valve springs and a suitable ECU tune–can put them in the mid-300s depending on how aggressive you get with the cam and how much torque you’re willing to lose at the bottom end.

There are LS variants that make 400 or more horses in factory tune, but they tend to command a premium. If your budget is big enough, even more powerful, factory-supercharged versions are available.

Something to keep in mind: LS speed parts are often significantly more expensive than those for older Detroit engines, although the prices can be quite reasonable compared to late-model import engines. However, a few well-chosen performance parts can put an LS powerplant in the 450-pony range, and turbo builds can send the power figure into the stratosphere.

Time to Shop: Parts Donors

The LS engine family is large and widely varied. Whether you buy yours new or used, it pays to know the basic differences between engine donors.

The accessory drive layouts are all quite similar. On the passenger side is a low-mounted a/c compressor, which often won’t clear frame rails and requires some sort of aftermarket mount. On the driver side is a power steering pump and an alternator. Parts like oil pans, exhaust manifolds and accessory drive parts swap between different variants, although sometimes one or two holes don’t line up if you play mix and match.

Trucks

These are the most common donors you’ll find, and the popular 4.8- and 5.3-liter iron-block engines go for very little money. Some of the earliest versions feature iron cylinder heads, but the factory quickly switched to aluminum ones.

You can find a 4.8 with all its accessories in place for less than $500, while 5.3 engines are only a bit more expensive. Larger or more upscale trucks sometimes have 6.0-liter iron engines; these sell for a premium, as do the small number of aluminum-block truck engines.

While nicely priced, truck engines have two disadvantages. First, the 4.8 and 5.3 versions are the least powerful in the family: generally less than 300 horsepower stock.

The other drawback is packaging. These engines come with a tall intake manifold–which can cause hood clearance issues–a deep oil pan, and an alternator that sits above the cylinder heads.

The Trailblazer SS exhaust manifolds are a popular choice for tight engine compartments, and they’re available new for quite reasonable prices. They stick closely to the block and exit from the back, angled downward at about 45 degrees.

Van engines have a couple of cosmetic drawbacks: They’re missing the top cover found in truck versions, and the dipsticks slither around before undulating out of the front of the block. They also use a different power steering pump with a remote reservoir.

One of these may actually be preferable if you’re swapping it into an older van. For other applications, though, it can force you to buy a few more nickel-and-dime items.

Corvettes

In 1997, the Corvette became the first car to receive the LS engine. If you have the budget, this is the one you want.

Generally speaking, the most powerful versions of the LS were fitted into Corvettes. These engines use a much lower intake manifold that puts the throttle body just barely above the valve covers and below the coil pack covers. The oil pans are shallow, which can be helpful with clearance, but the sump extends farther forward than the ones used in the trucks. Corvette accessory mounts provide the most clearance in many applications as well.

The downside to the Corvette engines? You’ll likely pay a premium. eBay prices for complete Corvette engines range from a little less than $2000 for an early 5.7-liter LS1 to nearly 10 times that figure for the later variants. All Corvettes received drive-by-wire throttle bodies, too, which could add a little complexity to your swap.

Camaros and Firebirds

The fourth-generation F-bodies were rated at 305 horsepower, but in reality these cars were equipped with 345-horsepower, 5.7-liter Corvette engines. They received few changes aside from the exhaust and a swap to a cable-operated throttle body.

Their accessories mount differently, though: The alternator sits low and the power steering pump high. The Corvette engines offer more clearance, although the Camaro and Firebird oil pans are about as shallow as the ones in the Vette.

As with the Corvette, all F-bodies feature aluminum blocks, and they command a premium over the iron truck engines. Figure about $3000 for one on eBay.

When Chevy brought back the Camaro in 2010, they bumped the V8’s horsepower to 400 minimum. These LS3, 6.2-liter engines also have one of the best exhaust manifold setups for tight engine compartments, featuring close, block-hugging manifolds and simple, two-bolt flanges that exit straight down. Their accessory mounting setup is similar to that in older Camaros, with a low alternator and high power steering pump.

LS3 prices hover around $6000 on eBay. The 6.2-liter LS7 found in the supercharged Camaros is a rare bird on the used market, but we’ve seen it trade hands in the high teens.

GM Full-Size

Other rear-wheel-drive passenger cars use an accessory setup similar to the Camaro’s and make similar amounts of power. These cars include the Pontiac GTO and G8 GXP as well as the Cadillac CTS-V.

The 2009-and-later Cadillac CTS-V is a standout, as it uses a supercharged LSA that puts out 556 horsepower–budget mid-teens for that one. Many of the other passenger cars use slightly deeper oil pans than those found in the late Camaro.

Chevy Impala SS, Pontiac Grand Prix GXP and Relatives

The front-wheel-drive, 5.3-liter General Motors V8, called the LS4, is a rare engine that deserves special mention. Its bolt pattern doesn’t match the rear-drive LS engines’, although it is shared with the 60-degree GM V8 and the front-drive Buick V6. The LS4 also uses a shortened water pump and unique accessory mounts.

Thanks to its uniqueness, the LS4 is a poor choice for a typical front-engine, rear-drive swap. On the other hand, it could be perfect for a V8-powered, front-drive swap or a mid-engined Fiero. Like all other passenger car applications, it uses an aluminum block.

What Else do You Need for Your LS Swap?

MOUNTING THE ENGINE

The LS engine isn’t just going to jump into the engine bay and come to life. You’re going to need to tackle some of the details, too.

The LS engine mounts bolt onto the side of the block. There are a number of adapter plates that easily mate earlier Chevy V8 mounts to the side of the LS block, but take note: Plates that put the mounts in the factory locations won’t let you keep the LS engine’s a/c compressor.

The aftermarket has bolt-in mounts for some of the most common swaps, but for more oddball projects, get ready to do some welding.

Some swaps, particularly into four-wheel-drive vehicles or cars designed for an engine with a front-sump oil pan, will have clearance issues with the engine crossmember or steering. If you’re lucky, you can solve these problems by changing to a different oil pan. Swapping from a truck oil pan to a passenger car pan typically buys you around 3 inches of clearance at the sump. If you’re not lucky, this swap can require an aftermarket replacement part or modifications to the crossmember.

Accessories can also cause clearance issues, and the a/c compressor location tends to be the most problematic. There are several kits out there that relocate the a/c compressor higher and to the outside of the passenger-side cylinder head. If you need to relocate the alternator or power steering pump, there are options for that as well.

The most straightforward transmission option is one that came paired with an LS engine. When looking for a manual box, note that the New Venture truck transmissions have widely spaced gearing that is more suited to towing than performance driving. The Tremec transmissions used in most passenger cars are a better choice for a sports car.

For automatics, GM used a 4L60E or the slightly stronger 4L65E for most trucks and passenger cars; a heavy-duty version, the 4L80E, was fitted in larger trucks. A few applications also received a six-speed automatic. LS-powered Corvettes have a rear-mounted transaxle that only makes sense to swap over if you’re into fabrication challenges.

MAKING IT RUN

All factory LS engines come with fuel injection and a crank-fired, coil-per-plug ignition. Many swappers with relatively stock engines opt to use a stock ECU–usually with a chip that defeats the factory anti-theft system. The wiring harnesses typically require a fair amount of reworking, though, since a number of unrelated chassis wires are usually mixed in. The aftermarket offers swap-friendly harnesses to make this easier.

Those looking for more in-depth tuning capabilities can opt for an aftermarket standalone ECU, many of which support these engines. Note that the 4L60E and 4L80E transmission require electronic control as well–either a stock ECU or an aftermarket option.

If you have a fear of electronics, you can still replace the intake with an aftermarket carbureted piece. However, putting a distributor on one of these engines is not easy–or, in most cases, at all worthwhile. MSD makes a purpose-built ignition control box for these sorts of applications. Some swappers looking for other options use a MicroSquirt ECU as an ignition controller, although this route isn’t much simpler than using one to run fuel and ignition together.

ACCESSORIES AND OTHER SYSTEMS

Exhaust systems often need to be custom-made.

You may be able to find an off-the-shelf molded hose for some other application that is close enough to fit your swap. Throttle cables for carbureted engines are often too short for factory LS intakes; a mountain bike brake cable can work here for a much lower price than cables sold for engine swaps.

Many truck engines have provisions for oil coolers. Unless you have a cooler built into the radiator or an oil thermostat, you’ll want to use a block-off plate.

If you’re swapping an LS into something that previously had a V8 or a fairly stout six, you may not have much left to do besides find a suitable driveshaft. Putting a V8 into a car designed for less torque, however, is likely to grenade the rear axle. Source a tougher axle–or differential and half-shafts–in this case.

With any engine swap, it’s hard to predict all the little parts you’ll need until the engine is sitting in the engine bay. Make sure to leave a bit of room in the budget for these details.

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Comments

View comments on the GRM forums
docwyte
docwyte SuperDork
6/4/18 11:57 a.m.

The corvette accessory drive doesn't fit in alot of the imports.  The alternator is mounted too high.  In a 944 you need the F body accessories, or from a GTO. 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
6/4/18 11:59 a.m.

Actually, the CSTV is probably the preferred option if you want a low alternator. Closer to the block than the F/GTO fitment. Available from GMPP as a kit.

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
6/4/18 12:05 p.m.

Accessesories are the swap issue no one addresses. It can nickel and dime you to death. 

stylngle2003
stylngle2003 New Reader
6/4/18 1:54 p.m.
Appleseed said:

Accessesories are the swap issue no one addresses. It can nickel and dime you to death. 

especially if you spend $2500 or whatever to get one of the billet kits. absurd dollars.

Motor_Mouth
Motor_Mouth New Reader
6/4/18 3:30 p.m.

In reply to docwyte :

The 911 conversion uses block off plates and an electric water pump.   Removing the water pump altogether makes the motor super short above the damper.   You'll still need to carve out room for the damper, though.

 

Trackmouse
Trackmouse UltraDork
6/4/18 5:27 p.m.

After reading, I am SO glad I went 1uzfe! All the Bolt in benefits, and zero of the hassle I see here.  Not to mention really good power output for its displacement, all aluminum lightweight, and decent gas mileage to boot. 

buzzboy
buzzboy Reader
6/4/18 8:34 p.m.

Can we get the K24 version of this article? I've got questions

AwesomeAuto
AwesomeAuto New Reader
6/4/18 11:16 p.m.

Claim 1: An LS Swap Costs Less Than $1000
-If that doesn't include the cost of the engine, and you are actually capable of doing your own labor, $1000 is definitely do-able. The issue here is that most people want to buy extremely overpriced bolt in kits that solve their mounting/fitment issues, or they buy pre-made wiring harnesses for $650, or are squeezing it into a small enough car that it cannot use truck accessories. 

 

Claim 2: Swapping an LS for an Earlier GM V8 Is a Bolt-In Project

-Most certainly can be. $35 adapter plates allow you to reuse 3-bolt SBC engine mounts, bolting them to your block, dropping the engine in. It will bolt to your old Chevy V8 transmission. A $22 pilot hub adapter for your old torque converter will be needed, and you'll need to oval out the holes in the flexplate for the torque converter, but a stock flexplate will work. If using a truck engine, the fan will fit an old V8 shroud. A truck pan will fit the older trucks just fine, no need to switch. For most others, you'll need an F-body pan that you can get from Advance Auto using their online discount codes for $140. Worst case, you're $187 into having it dropped right in place of your old small block. From there it is hooking up accessories, wiring, and fuel.

 

Claim 3: They Can Make a Ton of Power

-There shouldn't even be an argument here. Even the weakest of them all, the 255 HP 4.8, will gain 100 HP from a proper cam/headers/tune combo. That same 4.8 will take a 250 shot of nitrous in stock form. 

 

 

 

 

 

te72
te72 Reader
6/4/18 11:48 p.m.
Trackmouse said:

After reading, I am SO glad I went 1uzfe! All the Bolt in benefits, and zero of the hassle I see here.  Not to mention really good power output for its displacement, all aluminum lightweight, and decent gas mileage to boot. 

Owner of a lovely 2000 LS here, and while I really appreciate how it drives, they are on the large side, externally, for the displacement inside. I've seen them stuffed into Miatas, but I shudder to think about servicing on a combo like that.

 

That said, pretty sure that there isn't an LS engine one that is FAA certified, like the 1UZ is. So, the Yota certainly has reliability going for it. That, and while it costs an absolute fortune to do, ITB's and titanium rods, cams and related hardware make a 1uz a VERY good sounding engine. As in, I want to do it, but I really question the sanity of doing so. That sound though...

frenchyd
frenchyd SuperDork
6/5/18 6:13 a.m.

In reply to docwyte : This is great advice for anyone considering any engine swap.  Those with experience and skills will have a much easier task than complete newbies.  

Tasks someone with experience will tackle easily and quickly can delay others for weeks or even completely.   

 

maschinenbau
maschinenbau Dork
6/5/18 7:52 a.m.

I'm telling you guys, VQ35 is the next hot swap for smaller project cars (ahem Miata) now that G35's are entering beater-car territory. Just under 300 hp, high revving, lightweight, compact accessory drive, RWD, manual options, strong aftermarket due to 350Z, and still pretty narrow size with the 60deg V angle. It's a tall motor, but that goofy flat intake keeps things low.

5-10 years ago, sure LS swaps were cheap, but now it seems everyone on craigslist with a high mileage 4.8 turd donor "knows what they have". 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
6/5/18 7:54 a.m.

I don't know–my 350Z has more room under the hood with the LS than it did with the VQ35. They're WIDE thanks to those cams.

SVreX
SVreX MegaDork
6/5/18 9:07 a.m.

In reply to maschinenbau :

You may be right, but the jury is still out. 

I recently did some homework trying to see the feasibility of a VQ35 in a Miata. I didn't dig too deep, but it appears that the front sump creates a conflict, and defeating the security system can be challenging. The cost of a manual can make the swap pricey (because you will be cutting up a 350Z, not a G35)

Its an unusual swap, with no support.  So, doing it would be a trailblazing effort.

I found several VQ Miata projects. I didn't find any completed ones. 

The engine specs are certainly worthwhile, but the fit in a Miata engine bay may not be as straight forward as an LS.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
6/5/18 9:49 a.m.

Generally speaking, V6s are going to be narrower and taller than V8s of equivalent technology thanks to the ideal 60* angle vs 90. Fitment all depends on where you have extra room.

 

And yes, a couple of folks have tried to make the VQ35 work but I don't know of any successes.

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
6/5/18 9:54 a.m.

Isn't the "wiring" (engine management, sensors, etc) a nightmare with a 350Z vintage engine?

maschinenbau
maschinenbau Dork
6/5/18 10:16 a.m.

In reply to Appleseed :

I'm about to find out! The security issue is supposed to be solved if you have the ignition switch that came with the ECU, otherwise you have to send in the ECU to get unlocked. Luckily I saved everything off my G.

wvumtnbkr
wvumtnbkr UltraDork
6/5/18 11:31 a.m.
maschinenbau said:

I'm telling you guys, VQ35 is the next hot swap for smaller project cars (ahem Miata) now that G35's are entering beater-car territory. Just under 300 hp, high revving, lightweight, compact accessory drive, RWD, manual options, strong aftermarket due to 350Z, and still pretty narrow size with the 60deg V angle. It's a tall motor, but that goofy flat intake keeps things low.

5-10 years ago, sure LS swaps were cheap, but now it seems everyone on craigslist with a high mileage 4.8 turd donor "knows what they have". 

I know an LS engine fits in a 2nd gen rx7 fairly easily and a VQ sits only a few inches off the ground if you dont want to hack a huge hole in your hood.  They are TALL!

Trackmouse
Trackmouse UltraDork
6/5/18 12:26 p.m.
te72 said:
Trackmouse said:

After reading, I am SO glad I went 1uzfe! All the Bolt in benefits, and zero of the hassle I see here.  Not to mention really good power output for its displacement, all aluminum lightweight, and decent gas mileage to boot. 

Owner of a lovely 2000 LS here, and while I really appreciate how it drives, they are on the large side, externally, for the displacement inside. I've seen them stuffed into Miatas, but I shudder to think about servicing on a combo like that.

 

That said, pretty sure that there isn't an LS engine one that is FAA certified, like the 1UZ is. So, the Yota certainly has reliability going for it. That, and while it costs an absolute fortune to do, ITB's and titanium rods, cams and related hardware make a 1uz a VERY good sounding engine. As in, I want to do it, but I really question the sanity of doing so. That sound though...

I put one in a third gen celica. Plenty of room to service. A miata could be tight. The ITBs sound good but don’t make much power, at least for the cost. Turbo is where the 1uz shines. 1,000hp is totally doable.

My whole gripe with LS motors is that you either buy a steel boat anchor for a relatively cheap price (the person has to *not* know what they are selling), or you buy an aluminum LS that’ll cost more than most cars it’s being put in. 

You can find the 4.8 and 5.3 vans and trucks, but then you have to swap heads, and dick with the other things mentioned in the article. The 1uz needs a stand-alone and that’s it. Add a turbo, amazing power. 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
6/5/18 1:02 p.m.

1,000 hp and 1,000,000 mile lifespan? Wow!

Stefan
Stefan MegaDork
6/5/18 2:46 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

1,000 hp and 1,000,000 mile lifespan? Wow!

Sigh, excuse the Toyota fanboi, you get one or the other.  Not both.

Trackmouse
Trackmouse UltraDork
6/5/18 2:51 p.m.

In reply to Stefan :

No E36 M3 Sherlock? Wow! Thanks for the heads up capt obvious! 

It will forever be a mystery to me as to how some of the more educated people on this forum cannot decipher simple dialect, and read everything out of context, and then somehow justify throwing it back in the poster’s face as if that person didn’t know what they were talking about. Incredible...

Stefan
Stefan MegaDork
6/5/18 2:58 p.m.

In reply to Trackmouse :

I love you man.  C'mon, lets hug it out....

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
6/5/18 2:58 p.m.

Sorry, the hyperbole was getting a little thick.

TurboFocus
TurboFocus Reader
6/5/18 3:29 p.m.

whats a 1uz thing in that i can pull out of?

 

k motors can still be had for relatively cheap and are known to make gobs of power. cool for the smaller cars?

Matthew Kennedy
Matthew Kennedy Reader
6/5/18 4:04 p.m.

In reply to TurboFocus :

Lexus LS400/SC400/GS400.

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
6/5/18 4:25 p.m.

Look up Skid Factory on YouTubes. An MCM off shoot, they stick a 1UZ in an Aussie Falcon, and turbo it, on the cheap. 

Knurled.
Knurled. MegaDork
6/5/18 6:36 p.m.
AwesomeAuto said:

Claim 2: Swapping an LS for an Earlier GM V8 Is a Bolt-In Project

-Most certainly can be. $35 adapter plates allow you to reuse 3-bolt SBC engine mounts, bolting them to your block, dropping the engine in.

 

As long as you don't mind not having A/C.  If you want A/C, you need to move the chassis side engine mount back a few inches.  Or spend a bunch of money for one of those compressor relocator setups.

 

Most people who want to repower an old ride want to keep the A/C.

 

 

te72
te72 Reader
6/5/18 11:39 p.m.
Trackmouse said:
I put one in a third gen celica. Plenty of room to service. A miata could be tight. The ITBs sound good but don’t make much power, at least for the cost. Turbo is where the 1uz shines. 1,000hp is totally doable.

My whole gripe with LS motors is that you either buy a steel boat anchor for a relatively cheap price (the person has to *not* know what they are selling), or you buy an aluminum LS that’ll cost more than most cars it’s being put in. 

You can find the 4.8 and 5.3 vans and trucks, but then you have to swap heads, and dick with the other things mentioned in the article. The 1uz needs a stand-alone and that’s it. Add a turbo, amazing power. 

You aren't helping my resolve to leave the LS400 alone haha... it's already reasonably quick for a 4000 lb car! Well aware of their love of boost, particularly the earlier engines before the rod change.I agree that the ITB's are a bit of a waste on a relatively stock engine. As part of a more comprehensive build though... worth it, just for the sound they make.

 

Had a second gen Celica myself, as well as a second gen Supra, at the same time. Nice cars overall. Not sure why there would be any doubt about a 1uz hitting 1000hp. It's been my experience with JZ's that they can take quite the abuse on the stock internals, as far as boost pressures go. Friend of mine, Albert Meade, made over 755whp on a 1jz on the stock bottom end, and that engine lives to this day. He also joked that the 1uz is what the 2j wants to be when it grows up. Lots of boost, cams, valve springs, retainers, ethanol, and a solid tune, I genuinely believe 1000whp out of a 1uz would be well within reach, and likely fairly reliable at that.

 

Can't say I've seen it, but I never count out the fringe ideas. It's only "crazy" until someone proves that it works. =)

 

All that said, I'll likely put an LS3 in one of our Miatas. Have done enough "figuring things out" on the Supra to last me quite a long time, would be nice to have a project of this caliber that's a little more of a known path for a change.

dropstep
dropstep SuperDork
6/6/18 2:51 a.m.

The price point is a big one that usually makes me quit reading about people's cars. So many people have a 6.0 swap that claim they have 500 bucks in everything including the cam, heads, intake and nitrous package. Having done a few swaps myself, never LS but the little detail stuff seems to always catch people off guard. 

frenchyd
frenchyd SuperDork
6/6/18 7:35 a.m.

In reply to dropstep :I think affordable swaps are easier in a race car than a street car.  

No HVAC to worry about, no pollution laws, often no lighting.  

 

MadScientistMatt
MadScientistMatt PowerDork
6/6/18 7:59 a.m.
dropstep said:

The price point is a big one that usually makes me quit reading about people's cars. So many people have a 6.0 swap that claim they have 500 bucks in everything including the cam, heads, intake and nitrous package. Having done a few swaps myself, never LS but the little detail stuff seems to always catch people off guard. 

Yep, that was the sort of myth that I was looking to address here. The reality is that instead of a direct bolt in, you get a bunch of parts that need to be modified or various little nickle and dime parts. AwesomeAuto didn't mention the exhaust manifolds, which might clear everything if you're lucky and came with the engine, but there's no way you will be able to use Gen 1 SBC headers or manifolds with an LS1. There's a good chance you'll have to hunt down a different set of manifolds or headers.

wheels777
wheels777 SuperDork
6/6/18 8:30 a.m.

LS conversion's can be done on the cheap. We have done it and proved it.  Anyone can take a look at the parts we've used and verify the sources.

docwyte
docwyte SuperDork
6/6/18 8:32 a.m.

Having done an LS swap, I can tell you from direct experience that it costs ALOT of money.  Unless you're doing all the labor yourself and custom fabbing up everything you need for the swap yourself, there's NO way you're getting it done for under $10k, with an LS1, 2, 3, 6 etc.

9 years ago an LS1 with all accessories, PCM and wiring harness cost me $2500.  The swap kit with headers, bell housing, motor mounts, hydroboost brakes, cam, radiator, Turn1 PS pump, exhaust etc were at least $6000-7500.  Then labor to put it all in.

I've played with the idea of LS swapping my E36 M3.  Just the needed swap kit stuff from Vorshlag is close to $5000.  Then I'd need the LS motor and T56 transmission, than labor.  So $10-15k.

Yes, you can do it for less using an iron block 4.8 or 5.3, but again, unless you're fabbing up all the necessary swap kit stuff, you're going to spend $4-5000 on that stuff alone...

Patrick
Patrick MegaDork
6/6/18 8:56 a.m.
wheels777 said:

LS conversion's can be done on the cheap. We have done it and proved it.  Anyone can take a look at the parts we've used and verify the sources.

 

 

Yes, we can do it cheap for the challenge.  we are also making most everything for the swap.  You can have cubic talents or cubic dollars, one is going to cost time and one costs money.

my impala is a combination.  I bought some off the shelf bits(mount adapters and wiring harness) and made some stuff.  It was my first completed running swap.  I’ve since changed out the iron 5.3 in favor of an aluminum ls1 with comp cams valvetrain that i got off CL for $1100 complete with camaro accessories.  I have around $2500 into that swap because i used new from gm 10 years ago camaro oil pan and the necessary just released 07 truck water pump.  That’s including a matching 25k mile  2wd ls truck 4l60e and a 3200 stall torque converter.   The harness/pcm were $800 and off the shelf camaro headers were made to work.   I’m a better fabricator now and not afraid of wiring anymore so it costs me less at the expense of time

We all have different means to the end, whatever makes you happiest is what you should do.  I LOVE the build and the thrill of making something myself.  But there are days i wish i could just write a check and have a finished product

Trackmouse
Trackmouse UltraDork
6/6/18 9:08 a.m.

But again, those are the boat anchor Ls motors. Does anyone have a challenge build using an aluminum ls?

Patrick
Patrick MegaDork
6/6/18 9:12 a.m.
Trackmouse said:

But again, those are the boat anchor Ls motors. Does anyone have a challenge build using an aluminum ls?

I really do appreciate your help with the subaru stuff, but why should i take you seriously when you say stuff like this?

wheels777
wheels777 SuperDork
6/6/18 9:21 a.m.
Trackmouse said:

But again, those are the boat anchor Ls motors. Does anyone have a challenge build using an aluminum ls?

Two of the top 4 cars at the 2017 Challenge had aluminum LS engines. 3 of the top 4 had LS engines. 

Lof8
Lof8 Dork
6/6/18 9:27 a.m.

In reply to Trackmouse :

I snagged a 2000 Trans Am with a manual for $1500. It will be getting Challenged this year - obviously not a swap build. I plan to drop it into an e36 bmw afterward. Sadly I don’t have the fab capabilities to get it in place under budget. But I’m watching these LS1 topics closely for tips. I’m pretty set on shelling out for the Vorshlag swap kit. I’m hoping to have it all done on about $7k including the purchase of the cars. 

Furious_E
Furious_E SuperDork
6/6/18 9:33 a.m.

While I haven't kept very good track of what I have into my FC, I'm sure I'm well under $10k for the LS1/T56 swap, and I could have saved a bunch more off of that if I were really trying. Paid IIRC $1300 for the RX-7, bought my totaled Camaro engine donor back from the insurance company for $1100 and sold about $14-1500 worth of parts off of it pretty easily, about $600 for the Ronin mount kit, $900 or so in the headers, $250 to have the wiring harness stripped to the basics, $650 or so for HPTuners, probably $300 total in my radiator setup, maybe another $200 in plumbing the fuel system, $400 or so in the exhaust...So call it $6k or so including purchase price of the car and neglecting what I was able to part out off of the donor.

Getting a donor that cheap is definitely going to be the hardest part to replicate, but sub $3k LS1 F bodies aren't all that uncommon, and if you can live with a truck motor and auto trans that's going to be a lot less yet. I could have also cut a bunch of expense out fabbing mounts, using f body manifolds, doing the wiring harness myself, reusing radiator from the donor, ect - that's probably $2k+ right there. I don't think any of that fab work is far out of reach of most GRMers, it just becomes a matter of how much convenience do you want to pay for? 

Also depends a lot on what chassis you're swapping into. I chose the FC over an E36 or 944 specifically because I knew it would require a lot less of the ancillary crap those two would - no messing with brake boosters, or steering column clearance, could run manual steering, get away with stock diff (for now, at least)... - heck, I can even use an off the shelf $50 C4 Corvette driveshaft. 

edizzle89
edizzle89 Dork
6/6/18 9:50 a.m.
docwyte said:

Having done an LS swap, I can tell you from direct experience that it costs ALOT of money.  Unless you're doing all the labor yourself and custom fabbing up everything you need for the swap yourself, there's NO way you're getting it done for under $10k, with an LS1, 2, 3, 6 etc.

9 years ago an LS1 with all accessories, PCM and wiring harness cost me $2500.  The swap kit with headers, bell housing, motor mounts, hydroboost brakes, cam, radiator, Turn1 PS pump, exhaust etc were at least $6000-7500.  Then labor to put it all in.

I've played with the idea of LS swapping my E36 M3.  Just the needed swap kit stuff from Vorshlag is close to $5000.  Then I'd need the LS motor and T56 transmission, than labor.  So $10-15k.

Yes, you can do it for less using an iron block 4.8 or 5.3, but again, unless you're fabbing up all the necessary swap kit stuff, you're going to spend $4-5000 on that stuff alone...

It depends on what application you are putting it into. I know a lot of z32/z33 guys usually go with the kits to get there install done and they have a hard time keeping it under $10k doing it that way. I have $3k into my 4.8 swapped z31 (which outside of motor mounts there is no kit available) which is more then i thought it'd be but considerably less then $10k. Everything i used was off the shelf/used parts and pieces except the brackets i had to make to get the trans mount to work which really was just some angle iron with some holes drilled in it and a coulple spacers and square tube to mount my alternator lower so it's not like i saved alot by fabricating my own parts. If i would have went with a LS1/2/3 etc. then it would be a grand or 2 more but still would be no way close to $10k.

edizzle89
edizzle89 Dork
6/6/18 10:05 a.m.
Patrick said:
Trackmouse said:

But again, those are the boat anchor Ls motors. Does anyone have a challenge build using an aluminum ls?

I really do appreciate your help with the subaru stuff, but why should i take you seriously when you say stuff like this?

I see he seems to have a lot of love for 1uz's and a lot of hate for LS's. I too love the 1uz but the proof is in the pudding, if it was as simple as a LS swap then there would be more people and more parts/kits for 1uz swaps. I have no doubt that a uz can make 1000 hp with boost but for every one uz making 1k hp there are 10 LS's making the same power. Also he said the 4.8/5.3's need a head swap to be decent were a uz doesnt but if i remember right the worst of the truck/van heads still flows better then a 1uz head stock-for-stock. he said the uz only needs a stand alone harness made and it's ready to swap in, no different for the LS and it can be tuned through the stock ecm and there are free tunes online so you can find one close to your build (stock, cam, boost, and everything in between) and dial it in from there. he said to get a cheap 'boat anchor' you have to find a seller who doesn't know what they have, i got my motor for $400 with harness and ecm from a guy who was planning on using it for a swap so he know there was a market for them.

 

Just because you love the 1uz and for whatever reason hate the LS there really is no reason to talk down what is easily the most common swapped engine for probably the last decade.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
6/6/18 10:09 a.m.

My LS3 MG is under $10k, but I don't have solid numbers. If I lived in a more populous area I'm sure I could have recouped more on parting out the donor Camaro, but I still paid what I was happy to pay for it. I had to build just about everything for it but I was able to use some off-the-shelf Miata LS conversion parts. It's not the sort of swap most people want to do, though - because it hadn't been done before, it was a very large amount of fabrication and the expected dead ends and rework that you always get if you're not buying engineered parts.

This is where internet lore gets sketchy. You can either work hard, make mistakes, take a long time and do it for cheap; or you can pay the money for someone else's time/effort/knowledge. About the only time you get well engineered, easy and cheap are when you're taking advantage of OE interchange.

wheels777
wheels777 SuperDork
6/6/18 10:17 a.m.
Furious_E said:

..., $900 or so in the headers, ....

Our headers were home built from cut up used headers and flea market flanges for a total cost of $42.

Some put hours in at work to earn $ to pay someone else for their time (and products).  Some put in the hours at home.  We do it as a family and the hours are spent at home.  

 

 

Trackmouse
Trackmouse UltraDork
6/6/18 10:28 a.m.
Patrick said:
Trackmouse said:

But again, those are the boat anchor Ls motors. Does anyone have a challenge build using an aluminum ls?

I really do appreciate your help with the subaru stuff, but why should i take you seriously when you say stuff like this?

Sigh... didn’t mean anything derogatory. Simply stating the iron engines are heavy. Sweet Jesus, mankind has failed. 

Trackmouse
Trackmouse UltraDork
6/6/18 10:31 a.m.

In reply to edizzle89 :

And I never did. R-E-A-D people. READ. Effing, READ. God, how illiterate can people be?

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
6/6/18 10:32 a.m.

"Boat anchor" is the standard internet term for any iron block engine, it seems.

Ranger50
Ranger50 UltimaDork
6/6/18 10:42 a.m.

In reply to Trackmouse :

And to answer your question about the aluminum block LS, yes it has been challenged. Vorshlag did it in the bmw.

Trackmouse
Trackmouse UltraDork
6/6/18 10:50 a.m.
wheels777 said:
Trackmouse said:

But again, those are the boat anchor Ls motors. Does anyone have a challenge build using an aluminum ls?

Two of the top 4 cars at the 2017 Challenge had aluminum LS engines. 3 of the top 4 had LS engines. 

Thank you for actually reading and answering the question without contempt. I’m super happy you have literary comprehension skills above...”others”

Furious_E
Furious_E SuperDork
6/6/18 12:20 p.m.

In reply to wheels777 :

Exactly. My point is simply that I did most things the expensive way in my build and still came out well under $10k. I have zero doubt an aluminum block LS swap could be done for challenge budget by enterprising individuals such as yourselves. 

Patrick
Patrick MegaDork
6/6/18 12:41 p.m.
Trackmouse said:
Patrick said:
Trackmouse said:

But again, those are the boat anchor Ls motors. Does anyone have a challenge build using an aluminum ls?

I really do appreciate your help with the subaru stuff, but why should i take you seriously when you say stuff like this?

Sigh... didn’t mean anything derogatory. Simply stating the iron engines are heavy. Sweet Jesus, mankind has failed. 

Generally speaking boat anchor means junk anywhere I’ve heard it, like a 305.  I was unaware of the internet protocol change in which people use the term to refer to any iron block apparently.  I’ve only ever heard it used as a derogatory term 

EastCoastMojo
EastCoastMojo Mod Squad
6/6/18 12:42 p.m.
Trackmouse said:

In reply to edizzle89 :

And I never did. R-E-A-D people. READ. Effing, READ. God, how illiterate can people be?

Chill dude, we're all friends here.

Greg Voth
Greg Voth Dork
6/6/18 1:20 p.m.

There are deals out there but not everywhere. You have to jump on deals when they pop up. 

A couple months ago I passed a deal over to a friend due to lack of space.  It was a running one ower 2002 150k LS1/T56 Camaro vert with a slipping clutch for $1500.

A brief list of my LS hoarding.

Full 80k mile LS1 / T56 pull out for $2500.  Sold about $500 of other stuff off the car before sending the shell back. 

 250k mile running 2000 Trans Am with an LS1/auto for $600. 

Complete 4.8 with harness from a roll over. $150.

LS6 Intake with one broken mount for $75.

GTO T56 and LS6 intake with injectors and rail for $1000.

Also recently purchased a previously swapped LS RX8 which has the mounts, 1 7/8 longtube headers and exhaust, driveshaft, etc (just needs the drivetrain) for under challenge budget including delivery from NC to FL.

Now just finding the time, motivation and skill to finish a project.

oldopelguy
oldopelguy UberDork
6/6/18 1:34 p.m.

Even the iron block LS motors have aluminum heads and plastic intakes. So maybe heavy compared to the all aluminum versions (by under 100#) but still less than any all iron block +iron head combo.

It's all about what you are comparing it to.

Floating Doc
Floating Doc HalfDork
6/6/18 2:05 p.m.

One of the best LS swap articles I've read. 

I've abandoned the idea for a performance car due to limited skills, time, space, money, and most importantly, motivation. No gear head friends either.

Still considering one for my GMT400.

modernbeat
modernbeat Dork
6/6/18 4:35 p.m.
Ranger50 said:

In reply to Trackmouse :

And to answer your question about the aluminum block LS, yes it has been challenged. Vorshlag did it in the bmw.

Nope. Though the E30 eventually got a built up aluminum engine, the two times it went to the Challenge it had a budget iron-block engine.

wheels777
wheels777 SuperDork
6/6/18 4:39 p.m.
oldopelguy said:

Even the iron block LS motors have aluminum heads and plastic intakes. So maybe heavy compared to the all aluminum versions (by under 100#) but still less than any all iron block +iron head combo.

It's all about what you are comparing it to.

65#

yupididit
yupididit SuperDork
6/6/18 6:54 p.m.

So, in short:

LS swaps are obviously cheaper for fabricators. Not so much for us none fabbing guys. Also, deals can be had if you're fast and vigilant enough. Also, depends on the chassis you're swapping it in. And if you're going auto, t56, or other trans. As well as which LS engine you'll be using. 

My conclusion: LS Swaps are cheap to some and expensive for others. 

 

Daylan C
Daylan C SuperDork
6/6/18 7:17 p.m.

I was planning around $3k if I ever did an LS swap in the GTA. Probably looking for a donor 5.3 2wd truck use, stock everything except for an f-body oil pan, a car intake of some description, and front acceories that don't stick the alternator through the hood. Using the 4L60E as well. Car is ending up with a stock tpi 305 for now because every time I look into building the 350 with efi it gets dangerously close to LS swap budget territory. So I'm dealing with no power and putting money into the chassis.

te72
te72 Reader
6/6/18 10:50 p.m.
edizzle89 said: Also he said the 4.8/5.3's need a head swap to be decent were a uz doesnt but if i remember right the worst of the truck/van heads still flows better then a 1uz head stock-for-stock.

Not sure I follow your logic on the heads. Look at stock power output of these engines, year for year. The 1uz makes more than any 4.8 I'm aware of, and is quite comparable to the 5.3, despite having more than a liter of displacement less. This likely results in less torque for the 1uz, unsurprisingly, but the hp is there, and having driven a vvti 1uz, I can't say that I feel any particular want for more torque.

 

Now, perhaps a more pointed question, why bother with the lower end of the LS family? Cheap to acquire the engine, and reasonable torque, is about all I can see the appeal of. However, in a sporting car (this IS GRM, right?), is the weight penalty (of either iron or aluminum 4.8/5.3 variants) worth it for often mild power increases? I would think, in the example of a Miata, that a low end V8 swap is a LOT of work versus a turbo setup that would return similar performance for likely less money, and likely less weight.

 

Seems like a lot of work for very little gain? That said, I did build a silly Supra when in all reality, I probably should have just bought a C6Z instead... so, take my words with a grain of salt. =P

Tom1200
Tom1200 HalfDork
6/6/18 11:21 p.m.

I could have missed it but I didn't see the complete weight. I think one of the other myths is that it's automatically lighter than all other V8s.

varg
varg New Reader
6/7/18 5:49 a.m.

In reply to Tom1200 :

True. The weight of a complete (minus exhaust manifolds) LS1 and T56 combo is well known since Vorschlag weighed it a few years back and posted pics, but the weight of the engine in your car may be significantly harder to find since hardly anyone who does a swap also has a scale which can weigh an engine. Most info you'll find in a search about the weight of any given engine is pretty much useless; it might come from a website with a list of engine weights with little to no info about the completeness of the engine weighed, or it might come from some guy on a forum who didn't actually weigh it himself. IMO anyone who doesn't drive a truck or a muscle car with a heavy V8 already in it should completely disregard the iron block LS architecture engines, and I really wish people would stop calling them LS engines and start calling them by their proper engine codes. True LS engines are aluminum.

buzzboy
buzzboy Reader
6/7/18 6:20 a.m.

609 for the fully dressed drivetrain while the T56 weight can vary depending on version but I'm seeing 115 to 128lbs.

Daylan C
Daylan C SuperDork
6/7/18 8:01 a.m.

In reply to te72 :

In my case it's a 50-70hp increase(if I left it stock, which I wouldn't). Less weight, better fuel economy, and more room to go up in power with cheap and readily available parts. 

SVreX
SVreX MegaDork
6/7/18 8:09 a.m.
te72 said:
edizzle89 said: Also he said the 4.8/5.3's need a head swap to be decent were a uz doesnt but if i remember right the worst of the truck/van heads still flows better then a 1uz head stock-for-stock.

Not sure I follow your logic on the heads. Look at stock power output of these engines, year for year. The 1uz makes more than any 4.8 I'm aware of, and is quite comparable to the 5.3, despite having more than a liter of displacement less. This likely results in less torque for the 1uz, unsurprisingly, but the hp is there, and having driven a vvti 1uz, I can't say that I feel any particular want for more torque.

 

Now, perhaps a more pointed question, why bother with the lower end of the LS family? Cheap to acquire the engine, and reasonable torque, is about all I can see the appeal of. However, in a sporting car (this IS GRM, right?), is the weight penalty (of either iron or aluminum 4.8/5.3 variants) worth it for often mild power increases? I would think, in the example of a Miata, that a low end V8 swap is a LOT of work versus a turbo setup that would return similar performance for likely less money, and likely less weight.

 

Seems like a lot of work for very little gain? That said, I did build a silly Supra when in all reality, I probably should have just bought a C6Z instead... so, take my words with a grain of salt. =P

I can try to answer that, because I am building a 4.8L Miata. I can share my reasons...

- The 4.8 is an oversquare design. The rotating assembly is smaller. That means it revs better than it's bigger counterparts- very nice for a sports car. 

- The 4.8 has less torque than its big brothers, but still way out performs smaller displacement engines. I don't need huge torque in a 2600 lb car that is street driven.

- The 4.8 is really cheap. 

- The 4.8 is only a cam and heads away from 400hp. Ok, that's not 600 or 1000, but I am building a street driver, not a drag racer. 

- The exterior of the 4.8 is dimensionally identical to it's bigger brothers. That means all the work I do fitting a 4.8 into the car is not lost if I later choose to switch to a bigger engine. Transmission, mounts, exhaust, heads, intake, pan, hood clearance, front cradle will all still work. 

I consider the 4.8 a cheap mockup motor that may offer me all the performance I want, but is easy to switch later.

Flynlow
Flynlow HalfDork
6/7/18 9:23 a.m.
Trackmouse said:

In reply to edizzle89 :

And I never did. R-E-A-D people. READ. Effing, READ. God, how illiterate can people be?

There’s an old saying, “if one person calls you a jackass, laugh in their face and don’t let it trouble you; if two people call you a jackass, start to wonder; if three people call you a jackass, start looking for work as a pack mule”.  

 

Food for thought. 

MadScientistMatt
MadScientistMatt PowerDork
6/7/18 9:39 a.m.
te72 said:

Now, perhaps a more pointed question, why bother with the lower end of the LS family? Cheap to acquire the engine, and reasonable torque, is about all I can see the appeal of. However, in a sporting car (this IS GRM, right?), is the weight penalty (of either iron or aluminum 4.8/5.3 variants) worth it for often mild power increases? I would think, in the example of a Miata, that a low end V8 swap is a LOT of work versus a turbo setup that would return similar performance for likely less money, and likely less weight.

 

Seems like a lot of work for very little gain? That said, I did build a silly Supra when in all reality, I probably should have just bought a C6Z instead... so, take my words with a grain of salt. =P

It's a judgment call. If you're working on a build for a lightweight car that already needs a lot of supporting mods, and don't plan on a wild turbo build, I'd probably shell out a little extra to get an aluminum block. But even an 4.8 can be built to the high 300s if you add the right mods to let it rev, and give a bit smoother power delivery than a high boost turbo four cylinder.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
6/7/18 11:54 a.m.

The thing about the LS is not that it makes more power than everything else, but that it has excellent power density. It makes more power for its physical size than just about anything. And that physical size is a big reason people use it. My MG was originally going to get a SBF until I saw a complete LS engine out of the car. The packaging is really well done - and with OE options for interchange, the difficult parts of that packaging can be changed up. With engines that have seen use in a limited number of OE applications, you don't have as many options there.

As for when the work becomes worthwhile - if you're paying someone else for the work, my thought is that the crossover point of V8 vs turbo four on a Miata is about 400 hp. That's the over-simplified peak power number, of course, and ignoring the fact that at 400 hp the rest of the Miata driveline is a grenade with the pin pulled while the T56 and GM rear are snoozing. But if you're comparing peaks, that's where the hp/$ lines cross. If you're doing your own work and buying junkyard parts, I think it would be lower down. They're very different to drive though, just like a 200 hp naturally aspirated four feels different than a 200 hp turbo four does.

SVreX
SVreX MegaDork
6/7/18 12:04 p.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner :

Please describe some of the driving differences. 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
6/7/18 12:35 p.m.

Well, here's a starting point.

I've always felt that naturally aspirated cars feel more mechanical and turbos feel supernatural. You feel that turbo whoosh and a big invisible hand pushes the car forward. Meanwhile, with the naturally aspirated engine, you get yanked forward by the force of explosions underhood. This is a generalized personal opinion, but it's got some experience behind it. Superchargers feel mechanical as well, especially positive displacement ones.

But outside that, you can see the tork. Nearly three times as much torque at 3000 rpm as the turbo, and it will deploy as fast as you can move your ankle bone. You just can't get away from that when driving. The V8 is always ready to party.

Depending on how the V8 is implemented, you get other differences. The turbo can hide in the background. I used to love giving customer rides where we'd start off chatting away and I'd drive like a normal car, staying out of boost and even keeping the BOV quiet. Then I'd drop the hammer and the contrast would either shock them into silence or make them laugh like a loon. It's harder to forget about the V8 due to the noise at least. You're also aware that there's more mass in the driveline, the shifts have a bit more inertia behind them when you're shifting slow. But you can drop the hammer at a lower rpm and you will literally bounce your passenger's head off the headrest.  Heck, you'll bounce your own if you're not paying attention.

The ability for the turbo to disappear makes it a really nice highway cruiser or street car. It'll get better mileage around town too. The LS engines work more on a gallons per hour basis, so if you're just noodling around you'll find the fuel economy is pretty tragic. But like I said, always ready to party immediately.

On track, there's less of a difference as long as you can keep the revs up so the turbo is in the fun zone. They'll both kick you in the butt on a 3-4 shift. The V8 lets you be a little more flexible - I've actually done a complete session or two at Laguna Seca with the car left in 4th gear. Once you're used to the power delivery of the turbo, they're easy enough to modulate and they're a bit easier to keep traction out of a corner due to the slightly softer power delivery - the V8 will rip the tires free more easily if you drive stupid.

SVreX
SVreX MegaDork
6/7/18 1:08 p.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner :

Excellent. Thank you. 

DeadSkunk
DeadSkunk PowerDork
6/7/18 2:49 p.m.

In reply to Trackmouse :

What does it take, control wise, to get a 1UZFE up and running in a car without any computer? There's one available locally at a Challenge friendly price, complete with the harness , ECU and transmission. It's from a 1992 SC400, if that's pertinent.

AwesomeAuto
AwesomeAuto New Reader
6/7/18 5:20 p.m.
docwyte said:

Having done an LS swap, I can tell you from direct experience that it costs ALOT of money.  Unless you're doing all the labor yourself and custom fabbing up everything you need for the swap yourself, there's NO way you're getting it done for under $10k, with an LS1, 2, 3, 6 etc.

9 years ago an LS1 with all accessories, PCM and wiring harness cost me $2500.  The swap kit with headers, bell housing, motor mounts, hydroboost brakes, cam, radiator, Turn1 PS pump, exhaust etc were at least $6000-7500.  Then labor to put it all in.

I've played with the idea of LS swapping my E36 M3.  Just the needed swap kit stuff from Vorshlag is close to $5000.  Then I'd need the LS motor and T56 transmission, than labor.  So $10-15k.

Yes, you can do it for less using an iron block 4.8 or 5.3, but again, unless you're fabbing up all the necessary swap kit stuff, you're going to spend $4-5000 on that stuff alone...

I barely have $10k in my entire Nova.

That includes:

-Cost of the car after selling off what wasn't needed.
-New floors/firewall.
-New Carpet
-New front seats/seat belts.
-New gauge cluster (6-gauge setup)
-Checkered Racing Front fabricated subframe
-Built 8.8 rear
-New Vision 5-hole wheels, cheap front tires, MT E/T Pros rear.
-4-wheel disc converison.
-4L80e, triple disk billet converter.
-Aluminum LS, with new cam/valve springs.
-Billet borg warner turbo, custom turbo setup, single 4" fender dump.
-Stock PCM/wiring harness.
-Caltrac split mono rears with Caltrac bars
-QA1 adjustable shocks all 4 corners. 

Car cruises on the highway at 70 at 2200 RPM and gets 26 mpg doing it. 
And makes 4-digit power pushing that Aluminum 5.3 with over 20 PSI.

I'm sure its expensive when you're buying pre-made kits and paying someone labor. 
When you piece together the needed components and do your own labor, you get MUCH more car for far less cost. 

AwesomeAuto
AwesomeAuto New Reader
6/7/18 5:25 p.m.
Knurled. said:
AwesomeAuto said:

Claim 2: Swapping an LS for an Earlier GM V8 Is a Bolt-In Project

-Most certainly can be. $35 adapter plates allow you to reuse 3-bolt SBC engine mounts, bolting them to your block, dropping the engine in.

 

As long as you don't mind not having A/C.  If you want A/C, you need to move the chassis side engine mount back a few inches.  Or spend a bunch of money for one of those compressor relocator setups.

 

Most people who want to repower an old ride want to keep the A/C.

 

 

A/C brackets can be had from places like ICT billet that allows you to use an old style A/C compression high on the passenger side. In most cases, this will let you retain your factory A/C system without changing anything on GM vehicles. These brackets are less than $200.

 

Swapping into a different make and wanting to keep A/C will be a little more expensive, but not impossible. There are a couple of brackets that allow you to use the stock LS truck A/C compressor, moving it up higher or even to the driver's side. Your only effort will be in the lines themselves. Drop in the bucket compared to the labor/trouble you'll be doing for certain other aspects of the swap.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
6/7/18 5:29 p.m.

AC was the hardest thing for us to work out on a "production" swap. Mating the GM and Mazda systems involved parts that just weren't available anywhere. We did some by taking Mazda parts and having them modified, but between the PITA factor and too much variance in quality we had to have the parts machined. We did the same for the PS, there are some custom fittings in there that you're just not going to find in nature because nobody else wants to put an AN fitting on a Miata rack.

AwesomeAuto
AwesomeAuto New Reader
6/7/18 5:38 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

AC was the hardest thing for us to work out on a "production" swap. Mating the GM and Mazda systems involved parts that just weren't available anywhere. We did some by taking Mazda parts and having them modified, but between the PITA factor and too much variance in quality we had to have the parts machined. We did the same for the PS, there are some custom fittings in there that you're just not going to find in nature because nobody else wants to put an AN fitting on a Miata rack.

Local hydraulic shops are great at making power steering lines, such as Parker. Places that do forklift repair can do them for you too. Take them a line/hose you need with the attachment and you need, like the one going to the rack. Parker has always been good at getting us taken care of.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
6/7/18 5:55 p.m.

That's what we did. The problem was that the fittings we needed were not available new, so we were depending on used ones being cut out of old lines. They were not dependable enough. It's the sort of thing you can deal with if you're only doing one, but a lot more complex if you want to be able to ship stuff out to people or you put a value on your time. We eventually had to have those fittings custom made so they could be crimped in.

AwesomeAuto
AwesomeAuto New Reader
6/7/18 6:12 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

That's what we did. The problem was that the fittings we needed were not available new, so we were depending on used ones being cut out of old lines. They were not dependable enough. It's the sort of thing you can deal with if you're only doing one, but a lot more complex if you want to be able to ship stuff out to people or you put a value on your time. We eventually had to have those fittings custom made so they could be crimped in.

Yeah, not every car is as easy to swap as the others. Some can be done in a weekend with enough planning and prep. Others, not so much. 

Knurled.
Knurled. MegaDork
6/7/18 6:32 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

AC was the hardest thing for us to work out on a "production" swap. Mating the GM and Mazda systems involved parts that just weren't available anywhere. We did some by taking Mazda parts and having them modified, but between the PITA factor and too much variance in quality we had to have the parts machined. We did the same for the PS, there are some custom fittings in there that you're just not going to find in nature because nobody else wants to put an AN fitting on a Miata rack.

We just make our own lines.  There's a company that makes threaded fitting hose barbs for the common compressor(s) used on these engines (is there even more than one?) which makes creating generic hoses simple.  Alternatively, you could TIG up something.

 

Da Boss's dad bought a Solstice GXP specifically to install an LS3.  He had to take the rack and pinion and move one of the ram lines to the 3 o'clock position instead of the stock 12 o'clock position that interfered with the damper.  He disassembled the rack, TIG'd the old hole shut, drilled and tapped a new position, and made a new ram line.

 

This was, to my understanding, the only significant alteration to the chassis needed to make a LS3/TR6060 combo fit.

Knurled.
Knurled. MegaDork
6/7/18 6:38 p.m.
dropstep said:

The price point is a big one that usually makes me quit reading about people's cars. So many people have a 6.0 swap that claim they have 500 bucks in everything including the cam, heads, intake and nitrous package. Having done a few swaps myself, never LS but the little detail stuff seems to always catch people off guard. 

I think that what is happening with a lot of this is people ignore the costs of the radiator/headers/exhaust because "it would have needed it anyway".

 

I have near $500 in rebuilding my car after the last rallycross, for cryin' out loud.  $142 gearset on super mega discount on eBay, $220 for bearings and seals, $40-ish in gear oil, $20 in carb cleaner.  Add up ALL the costs involved, not just the major items.  (I am generously not counting the $40-ish bucks in fuel to get to Summit and back the first time, and the hour of detour the second time)

 

When I converted this same car to a different front suspension (FB RX-7, to FC RX-7 frontend) it cost me about $300 for new struts and strut mounts and misc stuff, and a $50 parts car.  However, I did the swap because I needed two new ball joints and a new idler arm and a steering gearbox, which would have cost something like $1800.  Could I go online and say I converted my car and it paid me $1500?

 

This still ignores the driveshaft problem.  Around here, a custom driveshaft is $500 right there, full stop.  This is exactly why I spent way too much time figuring out how to make a Ford 9" work in my Mazda while maintaining the OE driveshaft.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
6/7/18 6:46 p.m.
Knurled. said:
Keith Tanner said:

AC was the hardest thing for us to work out on a "production" swap. Mating the GM and Mazda systems involved parts that just weren't available anywhere. We did some by taking Mazda parts and having them modified, but between the PITA factor and too much variance in quality we had to have the parts machined. We did the same for the PS, there are some custom fittings in there that you're just not going to find in nature because nobody else wants to put an AN fitting on a Miata rack.

We just make our own lines.  There's a company that makes threaded fitting hose barbs for the common compressor(s) used on these engines (is there even more than one?) which makes creating generic hoses simple.  Alternatively, you could TIG up something.

Oh, the GM side is cake. But the fittings for the Mazda end do not exist. There is no company that makes them, and we had a hard time coming up with someone who could deliver on their promises. It was the last part to make production on our NA/NB swaps.

It's one of those things that's really easy to solve in a forum post but turns out to be much more difficult when you're trying to put parts on the shelf in real life. There's a big difference between working for free and having to account for your time. Pulling a rack apart, TIGing things together, drilling, tapping, new lines - before you know it, you have 5 hours in the job and that's over $500 for the customer. If you can do it with a $100 custom adapter, you've just saved money.

Knurled.
Knurled. MegaDork
6/7/18 6:49 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:
Knurled. said:
Keith Tanner said:

AC was the hardest thing for us to work out on a "production" swap. Mating the GM and Mazda systems involved parts that just weren't available anywhere. We did some by taking Mazda parts and having them modified, but between the PITA factor and too much variance in quality we had to have the parts machined. We did the same for the PS, there are some custom fittings in there that you're just not going to find in nature because nobody else wants to put an AN fitting on a Miata rack.

We just make our own lines.  There's a company that makes threaded fitting hose barbs for the common compressor(s) used on these engines (is there even more than one?) which makes creating generic hoses simple.  Alternatively, you could TIG up something.

Oh, the GM side is cake. But the fittings for the Mazda end do not exist.

We splice in to the existing lines.  Granted, this is one of those places where it is easy for a shop delivering a car, complicated for a place shipping a supply of parts.

 

As for the rest of your post that I deleted for brevity... we weigh parts cost vs labor cost all the time, and it is surprising how often it is cheaper to just throw money at Atech (Summit) or other suppliers, when you are charging $90-120/hour.  Even for simple things...  let's say you spend five minutes looking for a weird bolt.  If that bolt costs less than ten dollars to buy, you just wasted money.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
6/7/18 8:53 p.m.

We tried splicing on to existing lines but it was not as reliably successful as we would have liked. Again, not an issue for a one-off build but it only takes one or two do-overs to eat up a lot of profit. Getting the custom fittings made it a slam dunk every time.

When time really has a value, the cost of parts gets much lower!

te72
te72 Reader
6/7/18 9:55 p.m.
SVreX said:

I can try to answer that, because I am building a 4.8L Miata. I can share my reasons...

- The 4.8 is an oversquare design. The rotating assembly is smaller. That means it revs better than it's bigger counterparts- very nice for a sports car. 

- The 4.8 has less torque than its big brothers, but still way out performs smaller displacement engines. I don't need huge torque in a 2600 lb car that is street driven.

- The 4.8 is really cheap. 

- The 4.8 is only a cam and heads away from 400hp. Ok, that's not 600 or 1000, but I am building a street driver, not a drag racer. 

- The exterior of the 4.8 is dimensionally identical to it's bigger brothers. That means all the work I do fitting a 4.8 into the car is not lost if I later choose to switch to a bigger engine. Transmission, mounts, exhaust, heads, intake, pan, hood clearance, front cradle will all still work. 

I consider the 4.8 a cheap mockup motor that may offer me all the performance I want, but is easy to switch later.

Well stated, I appreciate the reply. I had actually considered the sizing and fitment work being a likely one-time thing later that evening, glad to see I was on target there.

 

With the 4.8 being oversquare, how far can you really rev it? I appreciate oversquare engines (the 1jz in my Supra is a 71.5mm stroke with 86mm bore, these things REV if you set the head up right), but being a pushrod engine, what is a realistic redline? I like high rpm engines, but I get nervous about the idea of spinning a pushrod setup more than 7500...

 

All in all, it sounds like a sound plan for a Miata, should be a good fit, I just figured if I was going to swap mine to a v8, I would just go off the deep end. That said, it's obvious to me that I'm barely informed about the possibilities with the 4.8, I had no idea that they were capable of 400hp with the right cam / heads. I just assumed they were turds, that's on me and me alone.

te72
te72 Reader
6/7/18 10:04 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

As for when the work becomes worthwhile - if you're paying someone else for the work, my thought is that the crossover point of V8 vs turbo four on a Miata is about 400 hp. That's the over-simplified peak power number, of course, and ignoring the fact that at 400 hp the rest of the Miata driveline is a grenade with the pin pulled while the T56 and GM rear are snoozing. But if you're comparing peaks, that's where the hp/$ lines cross. If you're doing your own work and buying junkyard parts, I think it would be lower down. They're very different to drive though, just like a 200 hp naturally aspirated four feels different than a 200 hp turbo four does.

This is exactly what I was looking for. I was assuming folks who were putting in the 4.8 and 5.3 were just dropping stock engines in them, at which point, to me, a well sorted turbo approach seems to make WAY more sense. Now if we're talking swapped heads and cams, or desire to expand upon the v8 power further, then yeah, a swap totally makes sense to me.

 

Kinda surprised FM doesn't make an adapter to mate the T56 and Getrag diff for those guys with the mean turbo BP's... must not have made much of a business case, I would think.

te72
te72 Reader
6/7/18 10:22 p.m.
DeadSkunk said:

In reply to Trackmouse :

What does it take, control wise, to get a 1UZFE up and running in a car without any computer? There's one available locally at a Challenge friendly price, complete with the harness , ECU and transmission. It's from a 1992 SC400, if that's pertinent.

If you could use the ECU from the donor SC, I think you're gonna be alright. The only thing I can think of off the top of my head, you might want to try to incorporate the ignition cylinder into whatever car you're putting the 1uz into. Those fancy keys are like many of the 90's, an integral part of the security system.

Patrick
Patrick MegaDork
6/7/18 10:42 p.m.

In reply to te72 :

The first 2 years of 4.8 were low rated.  From there they kept climbing in power ratings.  I picked up a 36k mile 2010 engine rated at 300hp that came with heads that are essentially ls6 spec(minus the sodium filled valves) for $600 last year.   My current challenge build has a 2003 4.8 that was $200 with harness and accessories.  Previous challenge build datsun z car weighs in at 2450 with an iron block 5.3 making an estimated 330hp with no changes other than camaro intake and exhaust manifolds. It could indeed be sub 2400 pounds with an aluminum block but the iron one fit my budget and it was sitting here doing nothing. With me in the seat the car is 50/50 front rear weight distribution.  So as long as people keep scoffing at the iron blocks i’ll keep snatching up the deals.  i can still throw a dart at Craigslist any day and get a $450 300hp 5.3 with harness and computer.  The $200 ones are harder to find.  The early 4.8/5.3 heads will support 400hp n/a but the easiest way is pretty much to slap an ls6 cam in and a set of 243/799 heads.  I’ve produced 489hp on stock camaro exhaust manifolds and single exhaust, so tubular headers aren’t a necessity either.  

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
6/7/18 10:48 p.m.
te72 said:
Keith Tanner said:

As for when the work becomes worthwhile - if you're paying someone else for the work, my thought is that the crossover point of V8 vs turbo four on a Miata is about 400 hp. That's the over-simplified peak power number, of course, and ignoring the fact that at 400 hp the rest of the Miata driveline is a grenade with the pin pulled while the T56 and GM rear are snoozing. But if you're comparing peaks, that's where the hp/$ lines cross. If you're doing your own work and buying junkyard parts, I think it would be lower down. They're very different to drive though, just like a 200 hp naturally aspirated four feels different than a 200 hp turbo four does.

This is exactly what I was looking for. I was assuming folks who were putting in the 4.8 and 5.3 were just dropping stock engines in them, at which point, to me, a well sorted turbo approach seems to make WAY more sense. Now if we're talking swapped heads and cams, or desire to expand upon the v8 power further, then yeah, a swap totally makes sense to me.

 

Kinda surprised FM doesn't make an adapter to mate the T56 and Getrag diff for those guys with the mean turbo BP's... must not have made much of a business case, I would think.

The T56 gearing doesn’t work well for that application. We do, however, have a staff member who just finished installing a Getrag rear in his turbo four. I think it drove for the first time about four hours ago. 

Also, note my disclaimer about peak power numbers, then go look at that dyno chart I posted. 400 hp is not always the same. 

wheels777
wheels777 SuperDork
6/8/18 5:21 a.m.
Patrick said:

In reply to te72 :

The first 2 years of 4.8 were low rated.  From there they kept climbing in power ratings.  I picked up a 36k mile 2010 engine rated at 300hp that came with heads that are essentially ls6 spec(minus the sodium filled valves) for $600 last year.   My current challenge build has a 2003 4.8 that was $200 with harness and accessories.  Previous challenge build datsun z car weighs in at 2450 with an iron block 5.3 making an estimated 330hp with no changes other than camaro intake and exhaust manifolds. It could indeed be sub 2400 pounds with an aluminum block but the iron one fit my budget and it was sitting here doing nothing. With me in the seat the car is 50/50 front rear weight distribution.  So as long as people keep scoffing at the iron blocks i’ll keep snatching up the deals.  i can still throw a dart at Craigslist any day and get a $450 300hp 5.3 with harness and computer.  The $200 ones are harder to find.  The early 4.8/5.3 heads will support 400hp n/a but the easiest way is pretty much to slap an ls6 cam in and a set of 243/799 heads.  I’ve produced 489hp on stock camaro exhaust manifolds and single exhaust, so tubular headers aren’t a necessity either.  

I bought a 4.8 on Monday for $200 in great condition.  We have 5 aluminum LSs and the most expensive one was $400.  It came with 799 heads.

 

Knurled.
Knurled. MegaDork
6/8/18 6:30 a.m.

With LS engines as well as SBCs, "short stroke = RPM" is kind of a myth because even with 3.75" strokes, the RPM limitation is the top end, not the bottom end.  It might have been true in the 60s but nowadays, bottom end strength is good enough and valve lift and acceleration are high enough that keeping the valvetrain together is the biggest issue.

 

Having a lighter crank IS nice in a lightweight car, though.

yupididit
yupididit SuperDork
6/8/18 6:48 a.m.

In reply to wheels777 :

Those kind of deals just aren't common in my area. 

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
6/8/18 7:12 a.m.

In reply to wheels777 :

Please don't assume what you do is easy for others to duplicate.  Your parts stash is a result of years of experience building Challenge cars and searching for these sorts of deals and apparently the capital to purchase parts whether they are needed or not as well as the room to store it all until needed. Most of us are building projects with an "as needed" philosophy towards parts purchasing and barely have room for what we're working on. 

SVreX
SVreX MegaDork
6/8/18 7:33 a.m.
Knurled. said:

With LS engines as well as SBCs, "short stroke = RPM" is kind of a myth because even with 3.75" strokes, the RPM limitation is the top end, not the bottom end.  It might have been true in the 60s but nowadays, bottom end strength is good enough and valve lift and acceleration are high enough that keeping the valvetrain together is the biggest issue.

 

Having a lighter crank IS nice in a lightweight car, though.

I think that's only half the equation, as has always been the case. 

Small bores do reduce airflow through the heads by shrouding the valves. But a short stroke still means reduced piston speed which means increased engine speed.

Combining both means big power. 

Hot Rod Magazine builds a 4.8 crank LS3- 8000 RPM, 607 hp

Tom_Spangler
Tom_Spangler UberDork
6/8/18 8:10 a.m.
yupididit said:

In reply to wheels777 :

Those kind of deals just aren't common in my area. 

No kidding. I just spent a few minutes scanning Craigslist and car-part, and the cheapest 4.8 I found was $700.

Strike_Zero
Strike_Zero UltraDork
6/8/18 8:29 a.m.

In reply to te72 :

Knurled and SVRex are correct.

There are few strip cars out there running 7500+rpm on the stock bottom end with nothing more than uprated pushrods and springs; in both 4.8 and 5.3 variants. As long as the cam and heads can support higher rpms, it would happily spin. Therw's a fierce debate about what oil pumps are capable of as well.

I can't remember which year, but GM started install LS7 lifters in all V8s. Those are the same lifters used in V1 CTS-V 346ci engine (LS7 bottom end with 4.8 crank). Before PWC hobbled that engine, it was turning 8000ish rpm.

maschinenbau
maschinenbau Dork
6/8/18 9:19 a.m.
te72 said:
DeadSkunk said:

In reply to Trackmouse :

What does it take, control wise, to get a 1UZFE up and running in a car without any computer? There's one available locally at a Challenge friendly price, complete with the harness , ECU and transmission. It's from a 1992 SC400, if that's pertinent.

If you could use the ECU from the donor SC, I think you're gonna be alright. The only thing I can think of off the top of my head, you might want to try to incorporate the ignition cylinder into whatever car you're putting the 1uz into. Those fancy keys are like many of the 90's, an integral part of the security system.

With the SC's, you don't need a paired ignition cylinder. The ECU on 2JZ and 1UZ is simpler than people think, once you track down the right pins. There are maybe like 4 pins that need power, a few that need ground but are already grounded to the engine, and one for the ign switch. No security or anything to worry about. I am using an Automatic ECU with my 5-speed trans and generic relays and switches. You can see the Rice Rod thread for more info on it.

dculberson
dculberson UltimaDork
6/8/18 9:31 a.m.
Tom_Spangler said:
yupididit said:

In reply to wheels777 :

Those kind of deals just aren't common in my area. 

No kidding. I just spent a few minutes scanning Craigslist and car-part, and the cheapest 4.8 I found was $700.

That’s just not how you find good deals on anything. It takes time and patience. And that $700 4.8 is likely to be $200 after a few months of sitting and a little negotiation. 

Patrick
Patrick MegaDork
6/8/18 10:19 a.m.
Ian F said:

In reply to wheels777 :

Please don't assume what you do is easy for others to duplicate.  Your parts stash is a result of years of experience building Challenge cars and searching for these sorts of deals and apparently the capital to purchase parts whether they are needed or not as well as the room to store it all until needed. Most of us are building projects with an "as needed" philosophy towards parts purchasing and barely have room for what we're working on. 

For normal builds buying as needed is fine.  For most challenge builds it works too.  For top contending challengers you really do need to be able to buy right now “because i’ll need it one day” when you’re in the right place at the right time.  This is why i have a $20 LS1 intake in my stash(with documentation of purchase), because I bought it in 2005 when everyone was throwing them in the trash to toss on ls6 intakes.  I’ve unfortunately filled my garage, a harbor freight portable garage, and part of my dad’s garage attic and barn loft with these things.  It’s a blessing to have the parts and a burden at the same time.  I’ve been tripping over a rusty $35 disc brake 9” ford rear end for 5 years because it was too good a deal not to buy.  I’ve cursed myself multiple times for buying it.  But one day it’s going to be in a challenge car and it’s hard to argue with spending so little on such a strong axle.  

 

Back to the topic at hand, when I absolutely needed the 2010 4.8 because it was one of only a handful of engines that would work with what i was doing, i found the best deal on car-part.  Otherwise LKQ via ebay is my go-to for engines with a warranty at a good price.  They had a few 345hp LQ9 6.0 engines last time I checked for under $1000.  

stylngle2003
stylngle2003 Reader
6/8/18 10:21 a.m.
Strike_Zero said:

In reply to te72 :

Knurled and SVRex are correct.

There are few strip cars out there running 7500+rpm on the stock bottom end with nothing more than uprated pushrods and springs; in both 4.8 and 5.3 variants. As long as the cam and heads can support higher rpms, it would happily spin. Therw's a fierce debate about what oil pumps are capable of as well.

I can't remember which year, but GM started install LS7 lifters in all V8s. Those are the same lifters used in V1 CTS-V 346ci engine (LS7 bottom end with 4.8 crank). Before PWC hobbled that engine, it was turning 8000ish rpm.

LS7 bottom end with a 4.8 crank?  Since when?

frenchyd
frenchyd SuperDork
6/8/18 10:40 a.m.
Patrick said:
Ian F said:

In reply to wheels777 :

Please don't assume what you do is easy for others to duplicate.  Your parts stash is a result of years of experience building Challenge cars and searching for these sorts of deals and apparently the capital to purchase parts whether they are needed or not as well as the room to store it all until needed. Most of us are building projects with an "as needed" philosophy towards parts purchasing and barely have room for what we're working on. 

For normal builds buying as needed is fine.  For most challenge builds it works too.  For top contending challengers you really do need to be able to buy right now “because i’ll need it one day” when you’re in the right place at the right time.  This is why i have a $20 LS1 intake in my stash(with documentation of purchase), because I bought it in 2005 when everyone was throwing them in the trash to toss on ls6 intakes.  I’ve unfortunately filled my garage, a harbor freight portable garage, and part of my dad’s garage attic and barn loft with these things.  It’s a blessing to have the parts and a burden at the same time.  I’ve been tripping over a rusty $35 disc brake 9” ford rear end for 5 years because it was too good a deal not to buy.  I’ve cursed myself multiple times for buying it.  But one day it’s going to be in a challenge car and it’s hard to argue with spending so little on such a strong axle.  

 

Back to the topic at hand, when I absolutely needed the 2010 4.8 because it was one of only a handful of engines that would work with what i was doing, i found the best deal on car-part.  Otherwise LKQ via ebay is my go-to for engines with a warranty at a good price.  They had a few 345hp LQ9 6.0 engines last time I checked for under $1000.  

It’s neat that you can retain documents of deals like that.       If I could I would have a wonderful car that by the actual costs  be under $1000 but becomes too expensive if I need to use fair market value.  

DeadSkunk
DeadSkunk PowerDork
6/8/18 10:44 a.m.

In reply to Tom_Spangler :

https://flint.craigslist.org/pts/d/53-ls-motor-from-2002-chevy/6580234915.html

wheels777
wheels777 SuperDork
6/8/18 12:05 p.m.
dculberson said:
Tom_Spangler said:
yupididit said:

In reply to wheels777 :

Those kind of deals just aren't common in my area. 

No kidding. I just spent a few minutes scanning Craigslist and car-part, and the cheapest 4.8 I found was $700.

That’s just not how you find good deals on anything. It takes time and patience. And that $700 4.8 is likely to be $200 after a few months of sitting and a little negotiation. 

Bingo

wheels777
wheels777 SuperDork
6/8/18 12:12 p.m.
yupididit said:

In reply to wheels777 :

Those kind of deals just aren't common in my area. 

Not true.  I am actually on the San Antonio FB Market Place because that area has great deals.  Key is you have to strike fast on good deals.  They disappear as soon as someone buys the parts.  The engine I bought Monday was removed from CL before I got home.  That why I print the ad as soon as I make contact, and often have the seller sign the ad.  BTW, the second place challenge car owner regularly scores in your area.  He linked me to your area because the deals are so good.

frenchyd
frenchyd SuperDork
6/8/18 12:13 p.m.

Deals, great deals,  are achieved through knowledge and patience. A willingness to walk away and wait.  

Maybe combing through old ads or making note of items and call after 30-90 120 days.  

I used to get a lot of great deals because I was the go to guy on Jaguars.  When someone would give up on selling it at the price he wanted, he’d call me and ask if I was still willing to buy it at my price.  

Then storage is involved.  Deals come not when you are ready for them but when they are ready for you.  

wheels777
wheels777 SuperDork
6/8/18 12:21 p.m.
frenchyd said:

Deals, great deals,  are achieved through knowledge and patience. A willingness to walk away and wait.  

Maybe combing through old ads or making note of items and call after 30-90 120 days.  

I used to get a lot of great deals because I was the go to guy on Jaguars.  When someone would give up on selling it at the price he wanted, he’d call me and ask if I was still willing to buy it at my price.  

Then storage is involved.  Deals come not when you are ready for them but when they are ready for you.  

Bingo.

I have kept in contact with many guys who didn't sell what they advertised.  You have to be willing to walk away....they made millions of them.  I shop everyday.....I don't buy everyday.

wheels777
wheels777 SuperDork
6/8/18 12:24 p.m.
Ian F said:

In reply to wheels777 :

Please don't assume what you do is easy for others to duplicate.  Your parts stash is a result of years of experience building Challenge cars and searching for these sorts of deals and apparently the capital to purchase parts whether they are needed or not as well as the room to store it all until needed. Most of us are building projects with an "as needed" philosophy towards parts purchasing and barely have room for what we're working on. 

And every Challenge participant who has come here and wanted to buy a part has been able to reap the benefit of buying at the price I paid.  You're more than welcome to stop by.

Strike_Zero
Strike_Zero UltraDork
6/8/18 12:59 p.m.
stylngle2003 said:
Strike_Zero said:

In reply to te72 :

Knurled and SVRex are correct.

There are few strip cars out there running 7500+rpm on the stock bottom end with nothing more than uprated pushrods and springs; in both 4.8 and 5.3 variants. As long as the cam and heads can support higher rpms, it would happily spin. Therw's a fierce debate about what oil pumps are capable of as well.

I can't remember which year, but GM started install LS7 lifters in all V8s. Those are the same lifters used in V1 CTS-V 346ci engine (LS7 bottom end with 4.8 crank). Before PWC hobbled that engine, it was turning 8000ish rpm.

LS7 bottom end with a 4.8 crank?  Since when?

My bad! It's a LS2 based engine with a LS7 sized bore.

KAT-A4725 Crate Engine - Sneak Attack LS7 5.7L

With an 8000rpm redline, this crate engine is ideal for that “sleeper” ride. Package includes a Katech sleeved LS2 case, Katech forged piston-rod assembly, forged crankshaft, LS7 cylinder heads, and an LS7 derived valvetrain coupled with Katech specified camshaft. 

PN Name Displacement Bore Stroke

KAT-A4725 Sneak Attack LS7 5.7L / 346ci 4.125 3.268

yupididit
yupididit SuperDork
6/8/18 1:22 p.m.

In reply to wheels777 :

I never had a FB; didnt even know they had a market???

I have a decent amount of searches saved, and I never see anything that is as good as you state. But, I see yall are soaking them all up. So, that mystery is solved.

Lof8
Lof8 Dork
6/8/18 1:49 p.m.
yupididit said:

In reply to wheels777 :

I never had a FB; didnt even know they had a market???

I have a decent amount of searches saved, and I never see anything that is as good as you state. But, I see yall are soaking them all up. So, that mystery is solved.

facebook marketplace is the new craigslist.  Its simpler to post and, as a result, gets more traffic.

Stefan
Stefan MegaDork
6/8/18 1:58 p.m.
Lof8 said:
yupididit said:

In reply to wheels777 :

I never had a FB; didnt even know they had a market???

I have a decent amount of searches saved, and I never see anything that is as good as you state. But, I see yall are soaking them all up. So, that mystery is solved.

facebook marketplace is the new craigslist.  Its simpler to post and, as a result, gets more traffic.

With even less intelligence and more flakyness from the buyers and sellers.

Its a joke.

maschinenbau
maschinenbau Dork
6/8/18 2:47 p.m.

In reply to Stefan :

A great joke, that scored me my current Challenge build for $180

Tom_Spangler
Tom_Spangler UberDork
6/8/18 2:52 p.m.
frenchyd said:

Deals, great deals,  are achieved through knowledge and patience. A willingness to walk away and wait.  

Maybe combing through old ads or making note of items and call after 30-90 120 days.  

I used to get a lot of great deals because I was the go to guy on Jaguars.  When someone would give up on selling it at the price he wanted, he’d call me and ask if I was still willing to buy it at my price.  

Then storage is involved.  Deals come not when you are ready for them but when they are ready for you.  

Fair enough, and I get that. I bought my 944 more than a month after I looked at it, for a bit over 2/3 of the asking price, so I know that game.

Tom_Spangler
Tom_Spangler UberDork
6/8/18 2:53 p.m.
Stefan said:

With even less intelligence and more flakyness from the buyers and sellers.

Its a joke.

Disagree. Craigslist is far worse, in my experience. Biggest reason is that it's anonymous. At least on FB you are talking to someone with an actual name.

frenchyd
frenchyd SuperDork
6/8/18 3:48 p.m.

In reply to Tom_Spangler : Well done !

 

 

Stefan
Stefan MegaDork
6/8/18 3:55 p.m.
Tom_Spangler said:
Stefan said:

With even less intelligence and more flakyness from the buyers and sellers.

Its a joke.

Disagree. Craigslist is far worse, in my experience. Biggest reason is that it's anonymous. At least on FB you are talking to someone with an actual name.

Not for me.  I've tried to sell a set of wheels for weeks now.  I've had 3 people ask me about them and after I reply, I never get another response.  Just like CL.

Knurled.
Knurled. MegaDork
6/8/18 4:46 p.m.
SVreX said:
Knurled. said:

With LS engines as well as SBCs, "short stroke = RPM" is kind of a myth because even with 3.75" strokes, the RPM limitation is the top end, not the bottom end.  It might have been true in the 60s but nowadays, bottom end strength is good enough and valve lift and acceleration are high enough that keeping the valvetrain together is the biggest issue.

 

Having a lighter crank IS nice in a lightweight car, though.

I think that's only half the equation, as has always been the case. 

Small bores do reduce airflow through the heads by shrouding the valves. But a short stroke still means reduced piston speed which means increased engine speed.

Combining both means big power. 

Hot Rod Magazine builds a 4.8 crank LS3- 8000 RPM, 607 hp

But the piston speed isn't a limitation with these bottom ends... you could make an 8000rpm 6-liter too.

te72
te72 Reader
6/8/18 10:16 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

Also, note my disclaimer about peak power numbers, then go look at that dyno chart I posted. 400 hp is not always the same. 

Oh I totally understand the importance of area under the curve. I went to some significant lengths on the Supra to increase it as much as possible, and it shows with a fairly wide (for a small engine) torque curve. All that said, I'd do it significantly better a second time around, and likely only spend half as much... live and learn I suppose.

 

Trouble for me, is elevation. I live at 6500', and it's not uncommon for me to be climbing on the fun roads around the area. V8's are alright, and I'm sure a well sorted V8 would do well even up here, but boost is almost a must up here. Trouble is, fitting both into some engine bays... All that said, I kinda appreciate the challenge in learning to drive an engine that's a bit weak down low. Really forces you to keep the revs up, learn to carry momentum. Weird as this sounds, my Supra was modeled a lot after the driving experience of my Miata. Weirder still? It works. Really well once you get the hang of it.

 

 

To the rest of you folks, I appreciate the knowledge you're dropping on me. I've went from knowing next to nothing about the lower end Gen 3 GM v8's to knowing that even they, the lower ones on the totem pole, have their place, and potential. It's good to know!

 

Specifically, Knurled, I've always known that pushrod design is what limits a lot of otherwise well thought out engines. Sure, there are plenty out there that "can" rev 7500, 8k, or even beyond, but... for how long? It's a rhetorical question. Point is, I'm not a fan of grenades. Sure, badass engine is badass, but it's never fun to have to push a car back to the pits because longevity wasn't given much thought. There's nothing in my bottom end stopping me from pushing my 1j past 10k, but my current head wouldn't likely last long, and the way it's setup, it wouldn't make power up there anyway, but that's another point.

 

As for the 1uz swap into an older car, maschinebau, I'm not as well versed in those as I am with the JZ. I am kinda surprised the ecu doesn't require the key in order to work on a swap. Good to know though! I still think they're likely the cheapest boost-ready engine in that displacement range, that may be their biggest appeal for folks like me.

Strike_Zero
Strike_Zero UltraDork
6/9/18 8:38 a.m.

I befriended the owner of this 8500-8700rpm turbo Stang via FB. He'S done both 4.8 and 5.3 engines.

Knurled.
Knurled. MegaDork
6/9/18 10:10 a.m.

In reply to Strike_Zero :

I like how the article (not the headline) says "100% stock internals" then goes on to describe the porting, the cam, and the lifter and rocker upgrades...

 

Granted the lifters are stock from a different application, and the rockers are stock with better bearings, but this still ain't a washed-off junkyard engine.

 

Still very impressive all the same.

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
6/9/18 11:09 a.m.

I think their definition is that it still has the stock crank, rods, and pistons, and the heads have never come off. Semantics, I know. And impressive,  nonetheless 

ClemSparks
ClemSparks UltimaDork
6/9/18 5:54 p.m.
varg said:

...and I really wish people would stop calling them LS engines and start calling them by their proper engine codes. True LS engines are aluminum.

Well I, for one, don't have a clue what their proper engine codes are.  I'm sure many (most?) other folks don't either.  "Gen three" seems to be an accurate way to describe them...but that's not how folks actually talk.  You can get your point across pretty quick by saying "an ell ess swap."  There are a few nerds out there that will try to correct you...but they know exactly what you're saying.

I don't like it when people call any and all refrigerant "freon" either.  But in my industry, I can have a blood pressure spike 10 times aday or I can sell some "Freon" (r134a) and go about my day.

If I cry over it...maybe someone can hand me a Kleenex brand facial tissue to dry my tears ;)

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
6/9/18 6:13 p.m.

Ellis Jaun?

Knurled.
Knurled. MegaDork
6/9/18 6:30 p.m.
ClemSparks said:
varg said:

...and I really wish people would stop calling them LS engines and start calling them by their proper engine codes. True LS engines are aluminum.

Well I, for one, don't have a clue what their proper engine codes are.  I'm sure many (most?) other folks don't either.  "Gen three" seems to be an accurate way to describe them...but that's now how folks actually talk.  You can get your point across pretty quick by saying "an ell ess swap."  There are a few nerds out there that will try to correct you...but they know exactly what you're saying.

I don't like it when people call andy and all refrigerant "freon" either.  But in my industry, I can have a blood pressure spike 10 times aday or I can sell some "Freon" (r134a) and go about my day.

If I cry over it...maybe someone can hand me a Kleenex brand facial tissue to dry my tears ;)

Are you me?  Because this looks like something I would post.

 

(R134a IS NOT FREON!!!!!!)

Knurled.
Knurled. MegaDork
6/9/18 6:31 p.m.
Ian F said:

Ellis Jaun?

Aka how to go from zero to ignored by me always...

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
6/9/18 9:01 p.m.

In reply to Knurled. :

Image result for why so serious

Strike_Zero
Strike_Zero UltraDork
6/9/18 9:41 p.m.

In reply to Knurled. :

VERY IMPRESSIVE!!

At this point, I think most people that are die hard LSx types know that a cam, homebrew porting (read as non CNC), trunion upgrade, melling oil pump, and LS7 lifters (stock replacement) are not considered when talking about stock JY engines, because magazine and forum hype.

Parish was the go to guy in the truck world for turbo powered GenIII/IV V8 about 10yrs ago. Everyone attempted to copy his builds. Same with Gator and Nelson for N/A builds. Now it's Sloppy Mechanics.

Peeps are beginning to understand combos and how they should be used to generate the result they want. Something our fellow GRMers have been doing for years at the challenge.

wheels777
wheels777 SuperDork
6/10/18 10:03 a.m.
Strike_Zero said:

In reply to Knurled. :

VERY IMPRESSIVE!!

At this point, I think most people that are die hard LSx types know that a cam, homebrew porting (read as non CNC), trunion upgrade, melling oil pump, and LS7 lifters (stock replacement) are not considered when talking about stock JY engines, because magazine and forum hype.

Parish was the go to guy in the truck world for turbo powered GenIII/IV V8 about 10yrs ago. Everyone attempted to copy his builds. Same with Gator and Nelson for N/A builds. Now it's Sloppy Mechanics.

Peeps are beginning to understand combos and how they should be used to generate the result they want. Something our fellow GRMers have been doing for years at the challenge.

Worth repeating..  Something our GRMers have been doing for years.   It was true 4 years ago when the article was written....it's more true and easier to go fast with small $ today.  It does NOT take a lot of money to go fast with an LS based engine.  It does take time. patient buying and a bucket of sweat....Grassroots by my definition.  A little explanation or reference into the basis of the "myths" would have been good.  The sharing of info is probably the worst part of breaking into the LS world.  Fortunately there is a community within this community that is more generous with that info. 

Somebeach
Somebeach New Reader
6/10/18 10:40 a.m.

I may have missed some posts along the way, and maybe this has been brought up.  

But is it really as easy as a 6 wires to wire in the LS to run. If you go with a vendors “stand alone option”

 

http://lsx4u.com/images/LSx4uHarnessInstructions.pdf

 

seems like for a beginner that would be worth the $500-$600   

te72
te72 Reader
6/12/18 9:27 p.m.

You know, it makes me wonder if there's any room in the world for OHC heads for the LS bottom ends. I mean, I just read recently about a badass billet hemi head that you can run on an LS now, obviously aftermarket.

 

With the availability of aftermarket goodies for these engines, eliminating that top end limitation (the valvetrain) would be interesting to see just how far you can push these things. Can anyone say 10k plus? Granted, it would increase both width and height a fair amount, so it would almost certainly limit the cars it can go into, but...

Knurled.
Knurled. MegaDork
6/12/18 9:36 p.m.
Somebeach said:

I may have missed some posts along the way, and maybe this has been brought up.  

But is it really as easy as a 6 wires to wire in the LS to run. If you go with a vendors “stand alone option”

 

http://lsx4u.com/images/LSx4uHarnessInstructions.pdf

 

seems like for a beginner that would be worth the $500-$600   

 

The annoying thing about the stand-alone option is that they typically eliminate the rear O2 wiring and the wiring for the purge and vent solenoids.  There is no valid reason to not run catalysts or a functional evap system.  Being too lazy to plug in a couple connectors is not a valid reason.  GM has literally the mechanically simplest evap system in the world, it's just a charcoal canister and two solenoids.  I suspect Everyone Else's weird systems are designed the way they are because GM has a patent on the simple solution.

 

I've seen/worked on/driven/tuned 1000hp LS motors that were completely Federally smog legal.  Your 300hp engine swap is not having its life choked out by the very well engineered OE cats, and a car without a functioning evap system will pollute more just sitting in your garage than any car made in the last 20-30 years pollutes driving down the highway.

frenchyd
frenchyd SuperDork
6/13/18 2:50 a.m.

In reply to Knurled. :

Depends on the goal of the swap.  Street driven you’re probably right. Depends on the state.  California has pretty strict regulations however other states may not. 

Race only?  Smog requirements may interfere with safety regulations.   Or totally not required. Again it depends on class entered. Ruling body requirements. 

TheV8Kid
TheV8Kid HalfDork
6/13/18 7:02 a.m.
te72 said:

You know, it makes me wonder if there's any room in the world for OHC heads for the LS bottom ends. I mean, I just read recently about a badass billet hemi head that you can run on an LS now, obviously aftermarket.

 

With the availability of aftermarket goodies for these engines, eliminating that top end limitation (the valvetrain) would be interesting to see just how far you can push these things. Can anyone say 10k plus? Granted, it would increase both width and height a fair amount, so it would almost certainly limit the cars it can go into, but...

They've done that. 

http://www.enginelabs.com/news/mercury-racing-set-to-release-32-valve-head-for-ls-engine/

buzzboy
buzzboy Reader
6/13/18 7:03 a.m.

In reply to te72 :

Mercury Marine makes these 4V heads. They claim 400cfm on the intake. Also the heads don't look that big. Total package looks still smaller than a modular.

AwesomeAuto
AwesomeAuto New Reader
6/13/18 8:29 a.m.
Somebeach said:

I may have missed some posts along the way, and maybe this has been brought up.  

But is it really as easy as a 6 wires to wire in the LS to run. If you go with a vendors “stand alone option”

 

http://lsx4u.com/images/LSx4uHarnessInstructions.pdf

 

seems like for a beginner that would be worth the $500-$600   

A stock truck engine/harness can be fired up using only 3 wires if you grabbed the underhood fuse panel as well. You'll just need battery power/ground/12v keyed to the fuse panel. As long as your PCM has been flashed, it'll fire up.

Will
Will UltraDork
6/13/18 4:56 p.m.

In reply to buzzboy :

Could just be an optical illusion, but that looks like a very long motor thanks to the accessory drive setup.

Knurled.
Knurled. MegaDork
6/13/18 7:20 p.m.

In reply to Will :

 

One interesting thing about the LS engines is how short they are compared to the SBC.  The bore centers may be the same but the accessory drive is a whole lot shorter.  Especially if you get the Corvette accessory drive, as it's the shortest.

 

I narrowly lost a Corvette LS1 auction on eBay because I only wanted the accessory drive from it, I didn't care about the exploded engine that it was attached to.

te72
te72 Reader
6/13/18 10:34 p.m.

TheV8Kid, buzzboy, thanks for the replies. That is indeed pretty awesome, 400cfm on the intake is nothing to sneeze at...

 

Now, who on here can we talk into putting them on their LS project? Mwahahaha!

TheV8Kid
TheV8Kid HalfDork
6/14/18 7:21 a.m.
te72 said:

TheV8Kid, buzzboy, thanks for the replies. That is indeed pretty awesome, 400cfm on the intake is nothing to sneeze at...

 

Now, who on here can we talk into putting them on their LS project? Mwahahaha!

Depends who's funding it. I have plenty of room in my Studebaker.

ClemSparks
ClemSparks UltimaDork
6/20/18 4:52 p.m.

In reply to Knurled. :

Well, actually...

It is now.

I don't know why but I'm sure it involved large amounts of money changing hands. 

Knurled.
Knurled. MegaDork
6/20/18 4:54 p.m.

In reply to ClemSparks :

my brain is twitching in rage.

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