Go Mess With Your LS


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Story by David S. Wallens • Photos as Credited

Screwing together an LS engine for our upcoming BMW M3 project car has kept us busy lately. It has also kept us amazed at the truckloads of LS hop-up hardware available on the aftermarket. No matter what your dreams or available dinero, the perfect parts for your LS project are likely already in production. Here are a few of the products offered for Chevrolet’s revolutionary evolution of the V8 that have caught our eye. We can’t use all of them on our build, but we still want to share them with the rest of the class.

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Remember when MSD only offered ignition boxes? Yeah, those days are long past. MSD claims that its Atomic AirForce intake manifolds offer improved airflow. Other niceties include lightweight polymer construction and a two-piece design that facilitates porting. The manifold works with both stock and oversized throttle bodies.

MSD
msdperformance.com
(915) 855-7123

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Putting an LS where there wasn’t one originally? Holley offers swap components for many popular projects, including F-bodies, G-bodies and midsize GM cars. The parts include oil pans, exhausts, cross-members and engine mounting brackets. Also cool: They’re available for the Nissan 240SX, too.

HOLLEY
holley.com
(866) 464-6553

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AEM offers Plug & Play harnesses that easily mate its Infinity Programmable ECU lineup with LS crate engines. As AEM notes, this harness plugs into the factory subharnesses and uses the OE sensors.

AEM
aemelectronics.com
(310) 484-2322

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If you’d rather not start off with a salvage yard special, Chevrolet Performance crate engines are as close as your local Chevy dealer or favorite speed shop. This factory performance arm has raised the bar again, too, with the LSX454R: 776 horsepower at an impressive 7000 rpm. As the name suggests, Chevrolet Performance punched this naturally aspirated LS to 454 cubic inches. Have a smaller budget? Brand-new LS crate engines start at less than $6000.

CHEVROLET PERFORMANCE
chevrolet.com/performance
(800) 950-2438
MSRP: $24,037

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That LS engine needs a transmission, right? American Powertrain offers an aluminum bell housing that mates an LS engine with a Tremec TKO, GM Muncie, T-10 or Richmond transmission.

AMERICAN POWERTRAIN
americanpowertrain.com
(931) 646-4836
MSRP: $296.57

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Fidanza Performance has added another lightweight flywheel to its line, and this one covers the Chevrolet Performance LSX crate engines. The custom conversion piece weighs just 11.8 pounds.

FIDANZA PERFORMANCE
fidanza.com
(440) 259-5656
MSRP: 485.27

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Canton Racing Products initially designed this oil pan for LS-powered 240SXs, but its shallow front sump allows it to work with many other applications. How many? Enough to make it a company-wide bestseller. The pan also has a diamond-shaped baffle featuring four trap doors plus a removal windage tray.

CANTON RACING PRODUCTS
cantonracingproducts.com
(203) 481-9460
MSRP: $396

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Not only does Scoggin-Dickey offer a zillion parts for the LS engine builder, but along with Raceshop it offers a full line of custom LS engines based on the 5.3-, 6.0-, 6.3- and 7.0-liter blocks. If you’re looking for a 416-cubic-inch LS3 featuring 10cc dished pistons, for example, they offer it.

SCOGGIN-DICKY
sdparts.com
(800) 456-0211
MSRP: $5349.87 (for engine 341610CSCHMF)

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Which fasteners does ARP offer for the LS engine? Enough to fill a dedicated eight-page catalog.

AUTOMOTIVE RACING PRODUCTS
arp-bolts.com
(800) 826-3045

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Driven Racing Oil offers an oil specially blended for LS engines. Meet their LS30, a 5w-30 synthetic oil said to reduce valve train noise and high-temperature shear.

DRIVEN RACING OIL
drivenracingoil.com
(866) 611-1820
MSRP: $11.99/quart

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Meet something new: JE Pistons that feature an asymmetrical forged design. These FSR pistons put more meat on the major thrust side while delivering less friction on the minor thrust side. And yes, the lineup covers many different LS applications.

JE PISTONS
jepistons.com
(714) 898-9764

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Ron Davis Racing Products says it can build a custom aluminum radiator for any LS swap, like this one for the 1967–’69 Camaro.

RON DAVIS RACING PRODUCTS, INC.
rondavisradiators.com
(800) 842-5166

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Crane has added dual-valve-spring kits to its catalog for LS engines. Choose from steel or titanium retainers.

CRANE
cranecams.com
(386) 310-4875

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Moroso offers competition-bred oil pans for nearly any application, including a 7-quart, low-profile unit that works well with LS swaps. Baffles and trap doors keep the oil near the pickup, too.

MOROSO
moroso.com
(203) 453-6571
MSRP: $455.14

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DIYAutoTune recently released a plug-and-play harness that matches its MS3-Pro Engine Management System to GM LS engines. All of the wiring is wrapped in self-extinguishing TechFlex woven loom. The harness uses OEM-spec connectors, too.

DIYAUTOTUNE
diyautotune.com
(678) 261-8789
MSRP: $1599

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Let’s say that you want to put LS power in something old school, like a G-body, vintage pickup or early pony car. Schwartz Performance has a ground-up solution: a fully reengineered, performance-tuned, bolt-in chassis that can come complete with LS engine mounts. (And yes, even though the Camaro and Firebird feature unibody construction, Schwartz Performance offers a frame for these cars–something to properly tie everything together.)

SCHWARTZ PERFORMANCE
schwartzperformance.com
(815) 206-2230
MSRP: approx. $10,000 and up

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C&R Racing makes a slew of products designed to cool water and air, including these bolt-in, high-performance intercoolers for the LS9 engine.

C&R RACING
crracing.com
(317) 293-4100
MSRP: $1500/pair

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Something for traditionalists: Edelbrock now offers a positive-displacement supercharger for LS engines. These E-Force Enforcer blower kits can work with dual carburetors or throttle body fuel injection.

EDELBROCK
edelbrock.com
(310) 781-2222

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Slipping belt? Concept One’s Victory Series HD Pulley System aims to stop that issue with an eight-rib belt setup. These conversion kits come with everything needed, including the heavy-duty tensioner.

CONCEPT ONE
c1pulleys.com
(877) 337-0688
MSRP: $2845 and up

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Cooked spark plug boots and wires? Koolmat offers protective socks for different LS applications.

KOOLMAT
koolmat.com
(704) 662-9099

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Chevrolet Performance can mate old school with new school. How’s that? It offers a full line of aluminum, four-barrel carburetor intake manifolds for LS engines.

CHEVROLET PERFORMANCE
chevrolet.com/performance
(800) 950-2438

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Does Superchips offer a tuner for LS-powered cars? Of course. In fact, it stocks an entire line of them.

SUPERCHIPS
superchips.com
(888) 227-2447

New for Holley LS Fest: The Grassroots Motorsports Road Course Challenge

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Holley LS Fest celebrates LS-powered cars.

GRM loves a good day at the track. Holley loves LS-powered cars.

Put the two together, and what do you get? The Grassroots Motorsports Road Course Challenge, a new event added to the Holley LS Fest schedule that will debut at NCM Motorsports Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky. This will all go down near Beech Bend Raceway Park, Holley LS Fest’s base of operations.

Participants will be grouped by skill level, and the Ultimate Street Car Association will sanction the event. Basic Holley LS Fest entry rules apply: Any car powered by a General Motors LS or current-generation LT engine can compete.

The Grassroots Motorsports Road Course Challenge takes place Friday and Saturday, September 9-10, while the rest of the Holley LS Fest runs throughout the entire weekend. Details are at holley.com/lsfest. We’ll see you there.


This article is from a past issue of the magazine. Like stories like this? You’ll see every article as soon as it's published, and get access to our full digital archive, by subscribing to Grassroots Motorsports. Subscribe now.

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Comments
View comments on the GRM forums
voetsek
voetsek New Reader
3/6/19 12:19 p.m.

I understand these are paid ads, but it would be helpful if they included measurements against OEM for fitment. I already have headers and an intake that hit on the framerails and hood with my LS conversion. 

The purchase and see method is pretty painful and shipping parts back gets expensive. 

Papabear
Papabear New Reader
3/6/19 12:36 p.m.

And Holley LS Fest loves any LS powered car unless it's a Exocet. 

 

edizzle89
edizzle89 SuperDork
3/6/19 1:16 p.m.
voetsek said:

I understand these are paid ads, but it would be helpful if they included measurements against OEM for fitment. I already have headers and an intake that hit on the framerails and hood with my LS conversion. 

The purchase and see method is pretty painful and shipping parts back gets expensive. 

The problem there's a done of different dimensions that would need to be measure and they all change with different things like what brand of motor mounts you use and things like that. with odd-ball, uncommon swaps it usually ends up just being a guessing game.

NermalSnert
NermalSnert Reader
3/6/19 1:23 p.m.

I like that picture of 776hp in the raw.

A 401 CJ
A 401 CJ Dork
3/6/19 8:27 p.m.

That’s the 454 I’d want.  Good lord that thing is a stud.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
3/6/19 8:55 p.m.

Every failure I've had with an LS has come from aftermarket parts. "Upgraded" rockers that break when you're cruising down the road at 30 mph. CNC-ported heads that vented the cooling jacket into the intake ports. Custom OS flashes for the PCM (not tunes, but OS changes) that don't work unless you disconnect the MAF. 

GM's spent a lot of money making these engines reliable. I keep mine pretty close to stock. The only mods are a cam (the ASA one that's used in the 525 crate engine, and is very valvetrain-friendly), an oil pan with improved oil control (and which lets me actually put the engine in the car AND have a steering rack, which is nice) and custom headers (again with making it fit). Everything else is stock so I don't have to worry about it.

te72
te72 Reader
3/6/19 10:12 p.m.
Papabear said:

And Holley LS Fest loves any LS powered car unless it's a Exocet. 

 

Well to be fair, there's not much with a body that is going to be on that level of performance... Throw it in the unlimited class if that's the case!

 

On the subject of the LSX 454R, it really makes me wonder why people still want a 502 or 576 these days. The 454R makes more power, weighs less, and uh... do you really need more reason than that? Price, yeah I'm sure the old ZZ big blocks are cheaper, but when you're talking an engine that physically large, the weight savings improve even further than with the smaller engines, when going aluminum block.

Lof8
Lof8 Dork
3/7/19 1:46 p.m.

What chassis M3 are you guys putting an LS into?

A 401 CJ
A 401 CJ Dork
3/7/19 4:02 p.m.
te72 said:
Papabear said:

And Holley LS Fest loves any LS powered car unless it's a Exocet. 

 

Well to be fair, there's not much with a body that is going to be on that level of performance... Throw it in the unlimited class if that's the case!

 

On the subject of the LSX 454R, it really makes me wonder why people still want a 502 or 576 these days. The 454R makes more power, weighs less, and uh... do you really need more reason than that? Price, yeah I'm sure the old ZZ big blocks are cheaper, but when you're talking an engine that physically large, the weight savings improve even further than with the smaller engines, when going aluminum block.

Power under the curve maybe?  I don't know about a lowly 502 (feel funny saying that) but a 572 has a lot more area under the curve, even though the "peak" number might not be far off.  That makes a world of difference in anything except an all out drag-car that's always in its power band.  

te72
te72 Reader
3/7/19 9:58 p.m.

In reply to A 401 CJ :

Haha, "lowly" isn't the word that comes to my mind necessarily, but in this comparison, it's valid. Can't say I've looked at the curves in a long time, but as much as I appreciate good low end response, I really like engines that rev...

 

Totally understand where it would be a good engine for a heavy car though. My car is about 3600 lbs with me in it, and has all of about 13 ft-lbs of torque off of boost. It really sucks, until it blows!

Patrick
Patrick MegaDork
3/8/19 6:30 a.m.
Keith Tanner said:

Every failure I've had with an LS has come from aftermarket parts. "Upgraded" rockers that break when you're cruising down the road at 30 mph. CNC-ported heads that vented the cooling jacket into the intake ports. Custom OS flashes for the PCM (not tunes, but OS changes) that don't work unless you disconnect the MAF. 

GM's spent a lot of money making these engines reliable. I keep mine pretty close to stock. The only mods are a cam (the ASA one that's used in the 525 crate engine, and is very valvetrain-friendly), an oil pan with improved oil control (and which lets me actually put the engine in the car AND have a steering rack, which is nice) and custom headers (again with making it fit). Everything else is stock so I don't have to worry about it.

I don’t trust the factory’s offset rockers on the rectangle port heads.  Other than that, i’ll agree.  I’m building an iron block ls3 clone and will be using harland sharp rockers.  

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