For those who have done the swaps..

Discussion in 'High Tech Retrofits' started by DoTheDew, Dec 3, 2010.

  1. DoTheDew

    DoTheDew Veteran Member

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    Mar 2, 2010
    Leduc, Alberta
    Has it been worth it? I know there can be considerable problems, so many different specs and wiring to work through, not to mention the greater expense.....but has it been worth it? I know a couple of 4th gen guys who absolutely love their LS and LT1's, claiming to knock out over 30mpg with the double overdriven t56's, and both have more power than they'll ever need in almost stock form. Do you feel it was worth the time and effort, pain and aggrivation? Was it (for the most part) pretty straight forward?

    There appears to be a ton of tech info for doing this now days, and all the benefactors point to a more driveable, more enjoyable car. Don't get me wrong I still love the cool factor of an old school BBC, but with the potential of the new LS series engines, it just seems like the only way to go now in terms of power potential, streetability and fuel economy. I've been contemplenting for a long time messing with an old school mini-blower and whatnot, or building a stroker, same as everyone has been doing for years. But the more I look into this LS thing, the better they appear. For the same costs (just for example's sake we'll say $5000), you could have an equal SBC that idles erratic, makes all kinds of noise and lays rubber til the cows come home knocking out 400 something HP, but for the same costs, could have a LS that is a little more tame, will do all the same tricks, still idle, be better on fuel and lay down the same numbers without really doing much except a pcm program and cam swap, with still plenty of more potential to go.

    So, it is worth it, or do you feel it's best to stick with what we know works, and works pretty darn good...most of the time anyways....? Pretty sure my mind is made up, but I'd like opinions;)
  2. PolarBear

    PolarBear Veteran Member Lifetime Gold Member

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    Apr 24, 2008
    IMO you do get more drivability and power out of an LS based engine over a Gen 1 but if you really dont want to spend all the coin on a new engine there are a lot of retrofit style fuel injection setups that can increase your drivability out of the same erratic idle SBC. Granted you are not going to get the benefit of the better flowing heads but it is a lot easier than an LS based engine and IMO less nickle and dime stuff.

    I have been looking at the new Holley EFI actually. I think Keith from Customworks is going to be running it on the new rebuild he did. He has a Holley HSR with his custom intake on it. Sounds like a really sweet setup and is self learning with spark control. The only real thing you would have to do is plumb the high pressure fuel system. I think the wiring with the aftermarket controllers is pretty easy since you just have 3 or 4 wires to connect, ground constant hot, switched hot and maybe the fuel pump wires and fans if you choose to add them to the controller.

    I am going LS1 in my 91 GTA though, it has been done so many times on TGO though it isnt really that big a deal. I am keeping the engine I got completely stock, minus things I will be "deleting" like the rear O2's, maybe the MAF, and I have to fab a custom exhaust. I will also be putting in a 3.45 gear set in the rear so I SHOULD be able to pull the same fuel mileage out of that setup in my thirdgen as the 4th gen guys do, and my car will be a little lighter then a 4th gen.
    So overall I say yes, I think it will be worth it in the end
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2010
  3. 1st and goal

    1st and goal Veteran Member

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    Nov 5, 2005
    Seacoast, NH
    I can go back and fouth on this one.......on one hand the car has run a best of 12.2 @ 112 (hoping to get into the 11's when I can get some Mickey Thompson drag radials in the spring:) ) and gotten 20 mpg on the highway (A4 w/4:10's) but then again I've had alot of issues that I had to fix with the E-bay motor I got (nothing major the motor runs fine but stuff like injectors, alternator, MAF, etc... and broken wires in my Speartech modified wiring harness which my mechanic had to chase down, can't blame them necessarily as he modified their harness but still time / labor to deal with).

    If you can swing it, go big and get a new motor w/ wiring harness so you don't end up spending the money fixing crap....I did my swap 4 years ago before all the nice swap stuff was out in full force like it is today.

    If I didn't put the LS1 in I'd have most likely put either a 454 or 502 into the thing and it would still run as good or better than the LS1 but I'm sure mpg would have been piss poor plus the whole cold start / driveability thing would not be as good.

    Looks bitchin !!:bowtie:
    12.2 @ 112
    20 mph highway

    time intensive swap
    loose the simplicity of an old school motor (no laptop needed)
    all the little poo you have to chase down to do the swap

    Knowing what I know now I'd have to say that I wish I put the big block in it but then again if I did I might be wishing I did the LS1 on the fence on this....I guess I have to answer the question by saying that I have no intention of going backwards and puttting an old school motor in the car

    Good luck
  4. Northern Goat

    Northern Goat New Member

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    Jan 5, 2008
    Hamilton, On
    I don't know what you gys are spending but I have done two swps so far, an LQ4 and LQ9 with LS6 intake and hot hot cams. The first egine only was $5K complete and the other with compeletly rebuilt T56 was $8,000 and I mean complete with 1 year warranty.

    The additional odds and ends were probably another $1,000. To me that was relatively cheap for 12.2 qtr mile times and 25mpg on highway.

    As stated before with all the resources now available the swap was a breeze. I am now helping a friend swap an LQ4 into a 37 Ford Pickup
  5. usmcz28

    usmcz28 Veteran Member Lifetime Gold Member

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    Jun 19, 2005
    Rochester, NY United States
    Before I decided to do mine I weighed the pro's and cons of this as well. I looked at the fact the Z has had several engines through out the years. I've gone through 350, 355,383, 388 bought and sold a 468 which was never put in.

    All in all it just depends what your likes and dislikes are regarding your car and drivability. EFI cruises great and is easy to tune once you learn how, you can swap tunes at the track/dyno in minutes. Carb set ups are tried and true and who doesn't love a dominator sitting on a bored out big block?

    If you're a purist you'll never have thought to swap an LSx engine into your numbers matching/all original/never seen salt/grandma owned/god built it himself Camaro. I personally dont give a poo a car is a car and can be built and rebuilt over and over again no matter the condition. poo 1st Gen Camaros now have shells that are being sold through catalogs.

    I like the drivability of EFI and i'm familiar with HPtuners and LSx engines so it's like second nature for me to tune my car. My car hasn't been original since the 80's and she's already been transformed time and again. The swap is straight forward, the wiring harness is intimidating at first but mostly just time consuming. You'll pick up on it quick and before you know it uyou'll know what goes where and you can decide how to run the wiring.

    There are NUMEROUS swaps out there for reference not only here but on other Forums. LSx engines are plentiful and cheap and the after market is just as great as a gen I engine. Remember the first steps are always the hardest.
  6. JJFarmer

    JJFarmer Veteran Member

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    Jun 28, 2002
    Lenoir City, TN
    It is absolutely the best thing I have ever done to my car. I bought my car new 35 years ago, I've had the motors in and out of it enough I should have used velcro rather than bolts. I didn't do my swap for mpg, I did it for drive-ability, both cruise and WOT. That, and I don't have a stinking, smelly rich carb to deal with. I probably won't build another gen 1 motor for myself other than the the rebuild of my 1970 Z28 matching number motor. I've sold several of my intakes, going to sell more. I'm done with that stuff....can you tell I'm sold on these?
  7. Aceshigh

    Aceshigh Veteran Member Lifetime Gold Member

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    Apr 9, 2001

    I spent close to $10,000 in 2006 to get my 2004 LS1/4L60e in my 78z.
    Limited knowledge, limited parts availability, and I didn't cheap out on anything = $$$$
    My car is done, and you'll never see me go back to a classic engine again.
    Sure it cost me $10K but it's the coolest thing I've done to the car ever.

    I have a 1970 442 clone that sits next to 2nd LS1 Fbody pan just arrived.:bowtie:
    My Edelbrock stainless headers will be here next week. :innocent:
    I already have a Borg Warner T-56 sitting and waiting since Jan.
    I'm doing it again. If I get a bonus this year......its going towards the 480hp LS3.
    Might sell my Hayabusa......not sure yet.

    Mash the pedal a few will suck you in.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2010
  8. badazz81z28

    badazz81z28 Veteran Member

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    May 4, 2001
    Yup, after all the ass pounding I got and researching I did, LS is a no brainer for what you get out of it. If I wasnt under the constraints I was then, I would have considered it. The only downfall is cost, but even then its not much more when starting from ground zero.
  9. jakeshoe

    jakeshoe Veteran Member Lifetime Gold Member

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    Dec 8, 2000
    Republic of Texas
    Starting to listen to some of those guys with considerable experience?
  10. sbca96

    sbca96 Veteran Member

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    Oct 25, 2004
    Santa Barbara, Ca
    I would say it depends on where you are starting from and where you live. In
    California, a smog controled late 70s Camaro is a dog, & will always be a dog
    since you can not put any power adders on it, not even a 4 barrel carb. So in
    my case, going with an LT1/4L60E solves two problems, a strong motor to get
    the car down the road raising the fun factor, and a four speed automatic over
    drive trans to replace the slipping TH350. We bought the setup in a donor
    car will all the trimmings about 6 years ago, finally getting to the swap now.

    If you live in an area you can build a nice NA street motor and add a 700 R4, it
    might not be worth the coin for a LS or even LT swap.


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