Chevy LS: Best Engine Swap Ever? | WheelHouse

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 🙂

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. Dude, you guys are awesome, keep it up! There is a guy on youtube that put a Vortec in a Mazda B2200. He is a badass. I have one and was thinking about engine swapping it. I am just learning about engine swaps and this video is incredible! I got so much great info.

  2. I am a ford fan and earlier today I saw a Willy’s Jeep with a Chevy steering wheel I said it should be illegal also I am 13 years old

  3. Why am I even watching this? I live in Europe. I can't even swap a light bulb on my own without laws being "hurr durr you can't do that"

  4. I found my 2001 lm7 on ebay, 225k miles complete for under $400 delivered, and my 2010 l96 6.0 with 225k and lpg conversion intake for $800 delivered, got my lq4 shortblock on Craigslist for $500…..not bad for s.f. Bay area

  5. I want to Ls swap my bmw e30…but I can’t do it myself…I done a lot of work on my cars before I have two bmw..was willing to get rid of one to make a ls swap.. ;-; none of my real life friends are car guys…so I probably never will…sucks being alone

  6. The real reason why LS swaps are over rated:
    Chevy reliability (it's very fucking reliable)
    You can mod the living hell out of the motor with the stock block

  7. i have a 1997 2 door s10blazer and ive been looking for small chevy V8s like the 305 or 350, but now i see how cheap LS are its a no brainer…

  8. JDM BOIS: I hate LS swap
    EDM BOIS: what is LS Swap?
    ADM BOIS: It means he's afraid of easy power
    JDM BOIS: no I'm not!
    EDM BOIS: oooohhh reliable RX7
    ADM BOIS: Stop it Patrick you're scaring him!!

  9. While I like the video in general, one thing you said REALLY bothers me- "DOHC allows for more aggressive lift at higher RPM" actually, NO That's completely incorrect. DOHC allows for more aggressive LOBE PROFILES at higher RPM with LESS AGRESSIVE SPRINGS. This is because of the much-reduced reciprocating valvetrain mass, elimination of flexion and harmonics in pushrods, AAAAAND…. The fact that in a 4-valve head (which pretty much EVERY DOHC engine you care to name HAS) you're looking at a MINIMUM airflow increase of at least 50% compared to a two-valve head, and that's assuming that you're not taking advantage of the benefits of the combustion chamber shape that 4 valves allows, or the fact that in a 4 valve head your valves are actually quite a bit LARGER than simply half the size of a standard valve. In reality, a 4-valve setup results in a head that flows more at .350" lift than an equivalent two-valve head would at .750" lift, and does so with MORE intake charge velocity, more effective exhaust scavenging, and allows for more ignition timing due to a more efficient squish area and a CC that resists knock and hotspots. These are due to SEVERAL factors, the biggest of which is the fact that having two valves allows for MUCH more flow at lower lifts, which in turn means that a MUCH more aggressive lobe profile may be used while maintaining positive valvetrain control.

    BIIIIIG difference, there, guys 😅🤣😂

    Not being condescending by ANY means, just trying to help y'all out and learn ya something. Love the channel, keep up the good work!!!

  10. Kinda along the same lines, but my buddy has got a 68 Camaro rs that he's in the middle of swapping in a Ford Coyote 5.0….unlike most of us he's got money to burn cuz he was smart enough never to have any kids, and he's a Ford guy who gonna take that Camaro to any and all Chevy shows he can just to piss off GM fans…I think it's brilliant, just wish I could afford to buy my Uncle's 67 Junkvette and do the same thing…..

  11. The dude with the acura that ls4 swapped it, it twin ls4 (one front wheel drive, one rerar wheel drive) with a turbo on both.

  12. The LQ4 and LQ9 are probably the best 2 LS based engines to swap you are able to bore the cylinders more than aluminum blocks due to the cylinder sleeves the aluminum block contain. Plus the C.I block is great for boost. LQ4 any GM 6.0 in the heavy-duty truck line up 02 through 07 1/2. Lq9 any Vortec max I.e 03 through 06 escalade SS Silverado H2 or Denali.

  13. Nolan: "You have a car in your driveway that would make a perfect candidate"
    me: seriously considers ls swapping my moms f*ckin pontiac torrent

  14. My FIL put an LS3 in his 75' MGB. Basically the Shelby theory. Small and light car with big power engine. That thing was crazy fast.
    Unfortunately it was wrecked due to idiot drivers not paying attention on the California freeways. When such a small car gets a good hit they get totaled because there's not as much there saving the car. FIL was ok though.

  15. 91 toyota 22re….
    see yaaaaa..
    I'll upgrade the drive train components as they snap.
    anyone know of a cheap bell housing adaptor that's less than that $1100 aluminum one???

  16. LS Motors are everywhere that's why people do swaps look at all of the twenty-year-old somethings that ran out and bought an LS motor Camaro and then splattered it against the median with in six months of buying it on the highway that's just another stupid low mile LS motor sitting in the junkyard waiting to be dropped in somebody's hot rod project

  17. Whatever you do don't put these engine into a daily driver lol. I get 16 Miles Per Gallon City Driving on average in my LS1 GTO. Less if there is heavy traffic. In a city with 6.8 million people, believe me there is gonna be heavy traffic. I've owned it since 2004. Will I ever sell it? Probably not. If you put one of these gas guzzlers into your car just dont do what I did early on and drive it daily.( I kinda had no choice since it was my only car.) You spend over $1000 per year on gas, compared to any 4 cylinder.

  18. The 4.8l doesn’t have thicker cylinder walls, actually it is the same block as the 5.3l. They just have different strokes. Chevy stamped the blocks as 4.8/5.3l on the back. Same engine block just different stroke and 4.8l have flat top pistons instead of dish pistons like the 5.3l

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