SBC or LS1 and Average Cost of LS Swap?

Discussion in 'Engine Topic' started by sandiego74, Nov 19, 2020.

  1. sandiego74

    sandiego74 Veteran Member Lifetime Gold Member

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    I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place. Just when I think I’ve made up my mind, I change it.

    My goal this year was to not purchase anything I didn’t need so I could save up for a nice engine for the ‘74. I mostly built this car to be an autocross car that I can happily drive to work, the mountains, etc. I’ve done nearly every bolt-on to the car, going for the fast-slow car ideology. TKO600, C5 brakes, 3.73 gears with a Detroit locker, full PTFB and CustomWorksPerformance suspension, among other things. The car already does very well in my area’s autocross sanction, usually getting top 3 of each group with relative ease. The main thing holding back the car now is the tired, old, and original 350. In fact, I’m surprised it hasn’t blown up on me yet, as I really ring the thing out. It’s been enough to make the car somewhat competitive, and it’s surprisingly fun, but it’s time for moar powah.

    As for power, I THINK I want something around 400-450 HP. I dyno’d my car when I first got it, before some upgrades, and the 350 only made 190 HP to the wheels. 400-450 would be, I think, a good compromise for something cheap, fast, and reliable.

    I’d stick with an SBC mainly because of how much cheaper and easier it would be. If I did, which engine would be best for my application? It would most likely be a Blueprint 383 or 400, but I feel like they cater more towards people who want torquey cruisers to lay rubber at their local car show and not for spinning and shifting at high-RPM’s for autocross. Am I wrong about this? A 377 or a 302 would be fun, but if I stick with the SBC route, it’ll be because I want something turn-key and budget friendly.

    An LS, though, would easily get me everything I’m looking for, and I know that once it was completed and running, it would be worth it. I just don’t have the time and money for it right meow. A cheap bolt-on LS1 would be perfect, but it seems daunting.

    Again, I need to stress that I’m on a budget. My plan to save money all year changed when my son was born last week, so I want to see what I should realistically be doing with my money and how much I should expect to spend? Thank you!
     
  2. 1980RS

    1980RS Veteran Member

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    My pump gas 358 went low 11's this year. My higher compression 406 with mild ported Vortec heads went high 10's, I don't need no LS engines.
     
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  3. muscl car

    muscl car Veteran Member Lifetime Gold Member

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    I would stay with the Gen 1 sbc as you won't have the added expenses of all the components , brackets and wiring for the LS swap . I noticed that you mentioned a 377 or 383 stroker and that would work well for you and easily achieve your HP goals
     
  4. 351maverick

    351maverick full time Ebay seller/hustler/car killer

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    LS motors are awesome in 98 & up F bodies & Chevy Silverados...they should stay there

    a Blueprint GEN1 SBC will serve your purpose, is SIMPLE and is just better than a LS swap
     
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  5. xten

    xten Veteran Member

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    I've had a 377 and a 383. Between the two for what you're going to do with it, I'd say 383. The 377 is more high RPM, 383 low grunt. That's more of what you want coming out of a corner. Even the 400 for your case.
     
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  6. biker

    biker Veteran Member

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    First off...CONGRATS ON YOUR NEW BABY!

    I love the LS motors, and I have agonized over this choice myself. However, I also love the small block, and when I sit down and really debate the plus/minus, I can't justify it. My 383 is a 1 piece rms factory roller block with factory style roller cam. The factory style roller lifters are lighter than the link-bar retro fit style lifters, and have zero issues shifting at 62-6300 rpm. Block is leak free, forged crank is internally balanced, it is a mechanically quiet, strong, good revving engine.

    A crate 383 based on a factory roller block has great potential for what you want. Find a builder that pays attention to the small details like crank journal finishing, bearing clearance fitment, rotating assembly balance, cylinder bore finishing, metric ring packs and a custom cam that does exactly what you want, and you will have an engine that can rev, wont leak, wont break and easily make your power goals. Lots of proven head/intake combos at that power level too.

    The time and money spent on the small details of a small block are affordable. And it will drop right in with zero thought to how it will fit or any extra expense. For the time and money spent making your ideal small block, you might be able to get a used pull-out LS and spent your time and money adapting it to fit your car. Then the question marks of "does it smoke, does it leak, does it have piston slap or lifter issues". And that doesnt get you to the performance level you want either. A cam and valve springs work magic on an LS motor, but that's more money and you still have the used motor question marks.

    The ideal thing would be to put the time and money into a properly built LS AND spend the money to make it fit, proper exhaust, injection and ignition systems. But as is often the case in life, we need to pick the best compromise. Because of that, I lean towards a new well built small block that will drop in and go.

    Sorry for the long post, but I think about this a lot and that's just where I'm at.
     
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  7. John Wright

    John Wright Veteran Member Lifetime Gold Member

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    Gen 1 SBC ... you get to keep your running gear and don't have to retrofit all of that. LS stuff is really nice, but I feel like you have to rework everything that you have already spent time and money on upgrading to this point.
     
  8. badazz81z28

    badazz81z28 Veteran Member

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    How much do you have invested in the 358? I can tell you my vortec 355 which cost MORE than the LS1 was much slower. The 350 was 13s at best in my car.
    An iron block engine with iron heads can be suited well for drag racing and stop light to stop lights. When it comes to autocross, the last thing you want is extra weight on the nose. An all aluminum engine will only benefit the cars handling. Anyone who has something negative to say about an LS engine has never ran one. Since the OP is already talking about an LS, his mind is already made up and will never be content with another 350. An LS swap can be done relatively cost effective....AND if you plan to save up for it, I would use credit. Buying from Summit Racing, you can get up to 18-24 months deferred...
    If I were you? I would spend the money on the engine and be frugal with the extras and swap those out over the years. Having road raced and autocrossed my car with a LS1......Im telling you, you won't be happy. You need a LS3 or better. In my car I would kill the new camaros in the corners, but I could not overcome them on the straight aways. The LS1 isn't powerful enough.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2020
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  9. CorkyE

    CorkyE Veteran Member Lifetime Gold Member

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    I went through the same issue two years ago and after a lot of research and numbers counting, I went with a 450+ hp crate 383. I thought a LS from a late model pickup would be the way to go, but man, those little things started adding up pretty quick. And with the 5.3, I would be down more than 100hp. Like Biker said, the late Gen 1 with one piece RMS and factory roller lifters is hard to beat. What put the icing on the cake with mine was the Edelbrock ProFlo 4 EFI.
     
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  10. badazz81z28

    badazz81z28 Veteran Member

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    5.3s are really only suited to give your car decent power (~350hp) and fuel injection. People like to turbo them and use them as a disposable drag engine, but I wouldn't put one in a Camaro. I always had ambitions to put a 5.3 in a fox body though.
     

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