Chevy LS swaps have been taking place all over the nation for well on a decade, and for good reason. They're lightweight, fuel-efficient, easy to work on, and they make great power with relatively few modifications.
Over the years, we've had a lot of the LS vehicles come through our shop, like this 1955 Chevrolet, and now, thanks in large part to a huge aftermarket offering, swapping an LS between the fenders of your favorite muscle car is now easier than ever. Whether you picked up an LS from the junkyard or you're starting out with a brand new crate engine, there are many solutions out there to help you bolt that block to your favorite chassis. In order to help you through your own swap, we've teamed up with the guys over at JEGS to show you a few of the components that you'll need.
The first thing to consider when swapping an LS into a vehicle is how it's going to bolt to the chassis. Rest assured that there's a vendor out there that makes engine and transmission mounts and crossmembers for virtually any application. Another important item to consider when planning for your LS swap are the headers. Take these Hooker LS Swap Headers, for example.
They're available in a 1 3/4-inch primary, and they're available from everything from a '67 to '81 F-body to a Nissan 240SX and the S13 or S14 chassis. The final consideration when swapping an LS into any car is the oil pan. This pan from Chevrolet Performance allows you to swap in almost any LS application into your favorite muscle car. When it comes to mounting your pre-1997 transmission to your new LS motor, there's a couple of different options you have.
The first option is to get a custom torque converter. The second, and probably easier, option is to use one of these, which is an adapter ring which pushes your flywheel out closer to your transmission. This will work with all TH400, 350, and 700R4 transmissions and the bellhousings will as well, as they don't require an adapter to bolt to an LS engine. A modern engine requires modern cooling, and specifically the LS requires the inlet and outlet on the radiator to be on the same side.
There are several ways to accommodate this, but the easiest way is with a kit like this from Be Cool, which comes with all the fan shrouds, hoses, and everything you need to accommodate your new LS engine. When it comes to controlling the throttle on your LS, you have a couple of different choices.
You've got either a cable-driven throttle body or a drive-by-wire throttle body, and if your wiring harness is set up for a drive-by-wire throttle body, the simpler solution might be to just add a pedal position sensor, which will alleviate a lot of headaches in the long run.
Wiring a modern LS can arguably be the most daunting point of any project, but a lot of aftermarket companies provide a complete solution, like this kit from Chevrolet Performancewhich allows you to swap an LS into virtually any application.
For those of you that want the modern capabilities of the LS engine, but want the old-school look and feel of a carbureted application, Holley provides these kits, which have come with an intake manifold that will swap onto an LS engine, as well as a controller that still will allow you to run coil-near-plug as well as all of the refinements of an LS system. When it comes to feeding your new LS engine, there's only a handful of options.
You can either take the stock fuel pump and retrofit it into your current tank, you can order a new custom tank that has a GM fuel system assembly in it, or you can mount an external fuel pump. Once you have your high-pressure fuel source figured out, it's time to think about engine management. What we've got here is the MSD Atomic EFI for the LS engine.
This Atomic EFI LS Master Kit comes with what you need to either do a return or a returnless fuel system, and it also has a control unit and wiring harness built right into the fuel rails. It also comes with a tuning unit that allows you to select whether you want a cable-driven throttle body or a drive-by-wire throttle body, eliminating the necessity to re-tune the computer or eliminate pigtails on the wiring harness.
One of the things that makes this really cool is the controller will allow you to compensate for cams, nitrous, power-adder applications, all without extensive tuning knowledge, and directly from this box. Another thing to consider when planning your LS swap is the air intake system. There are many vendors out there that provide application-specific kits, or you can get universal pieces, like this one from Spectre, that comes with the mass air flow sensor port all ready to go.
One of the final things to consider before cranking up your LS is the front accessory drive system. Now, you're gonna wanna take careful measurements and make sure that they're not interfering with sheet metal or frame rails, but with kits like these from Chevrolet Performanceit's a pretty straightforward process. These kits from Chevrolet Performance come with everything you need, including an alternatorA/C pump if you choose, and the power steering pump.
As you can see here, the aftermarket has come up with a solution to virtually any problem you can run into while doing an LS swap. We've only scratched the surface here, and hopefully we've provided you with some inspiration to start your own swap.