In the aftermarket “Hot-Rod” performance world the term LS swap is tossed around a lot. #LSEverything
Automotive enthusiasts are putting Chevy LS engines in everything under the sun. You name it Cessna planes, boats, mini vans, and imported as well as domestic vehicles have all had an LS swap done to it. Why would they consider an LS swap as opposed to building the engine that originally came in their car? You might ask. Let us explain.
There are thousands of reasons people consider a swap to an LS V8 engine from the engine that originally came in the vehicle, one reason being high performance along with reliability. Stand alone computers and wiring harness that will let the engine operate in anything you choose to put it in. Complete bolt in kits require the use of only basic hand tools. LS Engine performance parts make over 500hp with stock blocks and rotating assembly. With such a large amount of LS engines, and in such a variety of vehicles, companies are making every performance part imaginable. From just the basic bolt-on parts like an intake/exhaust, all the way up to superchargers and turbo kits. The most common modification being a high performance camshaft, which is really the best bang-for-buck upgrade, you can do on these engines.
The Chevy LS Engine first debuted in the 1997 Corvette. GM called it the “Gen III small-block” now known as the LS1. The LS1 is a 5.7L engine and it featured an all-aluminum design, engine block and heads. Shortly after Chevrolet began producing an iron-block LS small block that came in pick-up trucks and SUVs. Now the LS engine family includes the LS2, LS3, super-charged LS9, super-charged LSA, and the all-mighty LS7. Chevrolet needed to develop different size engines for different uses. Chevy trucks came with iron-block 4.8L and 5.3L they also came with all-aluminum 6.0L and 6.2L mainly in Cadillac Escalade, CTSV or sport cars. Engines came in 4.8L, 5.3L, 5.7L, 6.0L, 6.2L and 7.0L size engines, some configured for front-wheel-drive. Not only are there options when deciding on displacement, there are also choices when deciding if you want an iron or aluminum block.
General Motors put the LS motor in everything from Trucks, Vans, SUVs to Camaros and Corvettes, Pontiacs, Buicks and Cadillac’s. Since they were put in so many cars, there’s a slight over abundance of them, and with the rising popularity of LS swaps, the prices have dropped due to high demand for used engines. You can walk into any junkyard in America and find an iron or aluminum LS engine within a few minutes, they’re that common.
Replacement parts are also very cheap; this is not only because of its extreme mass production, but also the fact that it’s an American car, so replacement parts are produced by hundreds of manufacturers, which drives the prices down. Although some parts can be expensive, the parts are dirt cheap compared to high performance Japanese engines.
Thanks to the all-aluminum design, a LS1 is nearly as light as a cast iron 4 cylinder.
LS swaps are not for everyone. However if you are building a fun toy or weekend ride it may be a good choice to look into.