Chevy LS: Best Engine Swap Ever? | WheelHouse


It’s a cliche at this point: “Dude, cool
project, got any plans for it?” “Ah Dude, LS swap, throw a cam in there,
put the LS6 heads on it, it’s gonna be sick!” “Oh, cool”. Yeah, LS Swaps are a little played out. But I wanted to find out why more people are
doing them than ever before. From muscle cars, to drifters, to this Delorean. Welcome to WheelHouse. In the early 90s, GM knew that time was limited
for their small block V8. Foreign competitors were selling cars with
less power but much better fuel economy. But GM was like “Nah dude, we’re good”, And
got to work redesigning their workhorse small block. The LS1 debuted in 1997 with the release of
the new C5 Corvette. The block was made of aluminum
which was super light, and the 5.7 liter engine made 345 horsepower and 350 pounds of torque. Drivers and critics were
like, yo, this LS thing is sick. Then in 1999, Chevy released a cast Iron version
for use in trucks and SUVs, which they’ve since branded “Vortec”. In 2001, Chevy updated the LS1’s design with the
release of the LS6. It was stronger, better flowing, and had higher
compression. But why’d Chevy go from LS1 to LS6? Well, the LS6 was used in the 2001 Corvette
Z06. So you have LS6, and Z06, I guess that makes
sense. Anyway, the LS1, LS6 and every other LS all
share a common architecture. Ultimately, this means that parts between
engines are stupid interchangeable as long as you do some research. I can’t tell you who the first person was
to LS swap their car- BECAUSE THEY’RE DEAD. But I can tell that whoever they are, ignited
a trend that swept the US. People will LS Swap literally anything. Muscle cars make up a large majority of LS
usage. For decades the go-to small block for muscle
cars was the Chevy 350, I mean I had one in my Trans Am, but people when people started
seeing the benefits of fuel injection, they started putting the LS in their project cars
instead. But what if you don’t want muscle car? The Nissan 240SX is a prime example, with
tons of Formula Drift competitors using the LS in their race cars. The Miata is another good option. Who wouldn’t want a lightweight roadster
with a V8 up front? That’s what the Shelby Cobra was! But Nolan, the 240 and Miata are so predictable,
everyone and their mom does LS Swaps on those cars. I hear you. Here are some of the craziest swaps we were
able to find. This is a 1936 Cord Westchester, notable,
for being one of the world’s first front wheel drive cars That’s right, this quirky
looking pre-war sedan has a Corvette engine sending power through a Porsche
transmission to the front wheels. It’s nuts. But that’s nothing! This guy, Connor Hofford, stuffed an LS into
his 1984 VW GTI. His car debuted at last year’s SEMA show,
and blew people away with it’s custom tube chassis, that was pretty much all hand built. Thing is just insane. Connor, if you’re watching, let’s hang
out dude. Bring the car by the office, we would love
to see it. And it doesn’t end there. This Delorean has an LS in the back! It’s finally as fast as it looks! Okay so we know a little bit of the LS’s
History, and why it’s a good engine, and that a lot of people have put them in a wide
variety of cars that aren’t Chevy’s. But none of that really tells us why they
do. Luckily, there’s a pretty simple answer. The LS is small. And I’m not talking displacement. When someone says that an engine is big like
a 427 cubic inch, they’re not talking about the engine’s physical size. Engines are basically air pumps, and displacement
refers to the amount of air that passes through an engine when each piston goes from top to
bottom dead center.. So if we use the LS1 as an example, its a
5.7 liter engine. It’s got 8 cylinders, a stroke of 3.62 inches,
and a bore of 3.898. We take those measurements and put them into
this equation, and we get 347 cubic inches.Convert that to metric and our engine breathers
5.7 liters of air. So the LS keeps a typical V8 displacement,
while being physically smaller than its competitors. How? well most new engines use overhead camshafts which
allow for more aggressive valve lift at higher RPMs and the use of more than two valves per
cylinder. Chevy didn’t bother doing that that. The LS still has it’s cam in- block with
two valves per cylinder, just like your grandma’s old Buick Special. And since the cams aren’t hanging out in
the cylinder heads, the engine is shorter in height and skinner too. Conventional wisdom says that overhead cam
engines should easily outperform in-block cam engines because they can put more air
into the cylinders. But more air is no good if it has a hard time
getting into the cylinder. So Chevy decided to focus their energy on
airflow. And that’s why, despite having fewer valves,
the LS is one of the best breathing engines ever made. It just breathes really, really well. And that’s it’s main advantage. So, it has a physical size advantage, stellar
airflow, and keeps the conventional V8 displacement. This makes it the perfect candidate for swapping
into oddball cars like the Miata, Delorean and that GTI. It all comes down to size. Going back the 240SX, a built LS will be the
same size and sometimes lighter than the stock turbocharged four cylinder engine. And there’s no turbo lag. You might be like me, thinking about which
car you would swap an LS into. You might have something in your driveway
right now that would make a perfect project. But how do you choose which LS to get? It can be pretty challenging there’s like…a lot
of them. Well if you’re on a shoestring you should
look for a 5.3 liter Vortec. Remember these are LS engines but they’re made of
cast iron so they’re about 100 pounds heavier than the aluminum ones. BUT, they’re everywhere, and that means
they’re cheap. a lot of magazines say you can find these
things for like 500 bucks. Not a bad place to start. Maybe you want to turbo a V8. You should go look for a 4.8L Vortec. It’s another cast iron engine, and it’s
the smallest of the LS’s, but smaller displacement means more meat on the cylinder walls, and
that means you can run a ton of boost without worrying about cracking the block. The 4.8 is a great option for people looking
for budget boost. But what if you want to be completely insane
and build an LS swapped Honda? Well you can do that too. The LS4 was designed with front wheel drive
cars in mind like the Impala SS. I found this build online by Ryan Standke,
where he transplanted an LS4 into his Aruca RSX AND boosted it. This thing is insane. And I think of all the builds we’ve talked
about today it’s my favorite, because it’s so wrong but so right. So as you can see, there’s limitless potential
for the LS swap. And yeah, it’s a popular thing to do right
now but for good reason. I’ll admit I was a hipster about this LS
Swap thing before I looked into it. I’m not even a Chevy guy but who doesn’t
love the sound of a V8? (Righteous V8 noises) Who doesn’t want that power in their car? (More righteous V8 noise) It’s a no brainer. And the only limit is your own creativity. (dat good good V8 rumble) Do you have an LS swap in your car? I’d love to see it, post it down in the
comments! The LS is nowhere close to being the first
engine but if you want to know what the first car was go back to last week’s episode right
here. If you like the Corvette, check out the up
to Speed on the Corvette. If my Mustang ever dies, i would definitely
think about LS swapping it, I think that would be hilarious. Ford, Chevy guys go fight in the comments. Thanks for watching, bye 🙂

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