Chevelles.com banner

1 - 17 of 17 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
17 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I've been reading member threads on LS swaps, but most are a little dated.

I have a 70 El Camino SS that I bought w/o eng or trans. I put a 454 in years ago and it's tiring out.

The thought of an LS is turning me on.

What are your suggestions on which to use. 5.7, 6.0? Bigger? I plan on buying a complete maybe 2012 & up vehicle and using it all, maybe including the rear diff.

I know this'll probably end up being more than I anticipate, maybe going as far as new dash gauges.

Please sound off. You are the only group I would depend on for the right advice.:smile2:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,104 Posts
Hello,

I'm about two and a half years into my 70 El Camino swap and have been street legal since last spring. The donor vehicle was a 1999 GMC Sierra with a 5.3 liter LS and a 4L60E transmission. For me, the original engine was a 2-barrel 350 and a TH350 transmission. Unfortunately, the vehicle got parked in the early 80's with plain water in the block that froze through many winters and cracked the block in five places along the oil gallery walls. It was obviously no longer going to be a numbers matching vehicle if that even really mattered to me all that much.

First, a few LS swap truisms:

1 - It will cost you more than rebuilding what you have.

2 - It'll likely take you longer. It's a more complicated build.

But I have no regrets. It is a dependable setup though as always, I work through glitches and bugs occasionally.

Truck, iron block 5.3 donor LS motors are the least expensive. I paid $800 for mine including its powertrain control module with 150,000 miles, good compression at 165-170 PSI and good oil pressure at 50 PSI cold running. I got the transmission for $500. The 6.0 and 6.2 and aluminum block LS motors are substantially higher than that and more complicated. Active Fuel Management, Displacement On Demand and an electronic accelerator pedal will need some additional work on your part.

Driveline angles, shortened drive shaft, possible/probable floor pan surgery for a 4L80E or larger transmission, different motor mounts, maybe different trans cross member, electric fans, maybe different radiator, headers, smaller PS pump pulley, Holley or other oil pan required because some LS oil pans are too low or cause steering interference . . . all of these will absolutely demand your attention. Using all Holley swap parts makes this easier because they are well engineered for each other.

Your PCM will need work to adapt its operating system to its new home and that will cost you maybe $150 or more. If you have a tall truck intake and a cowl induction hood, the hood will close but not if you mount a plastic engine cover on top of your motor.

I read two LS Swap books cover to cover before heading down this road and I don't wish to discourage you. I'm merely preparing you for what can't be avoided.

Rick
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
15,872 Posts
or, you could have your neighbor in Colorado Springs, VortecPro build you a 600 hp rat that'll run down the highway at 1800 rpms and plug and play. :) I know, I know, LS convos are all the rage now. Good luck! Great advice from Rick.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,334 Posts
I owned a couple LS engines in new vehicles and they are powerful and run smooth and are reliable. However since you already have the 454 and it is still running you could probably get away with a valve job and low cost block rebuild with a hone, bearings, rings and gaskets if it doesn't need to be bored. Since it is not # matching nor do you care I would go with injection, roller cam retro and electronic distributor and you will have a very nice running and powerful 454. Add an overdrive tranny and away you go. Most LS conversions are for higher dollar restomods where they can recoup some of the upgrade cost.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
17 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
I did a ls3 with an lsa on my 71.
Ricks words n wisdom are literally bang on. Mine wasn’t a budget build tho.
I went full protouring. And I’m broke now.
If u go ls get parts that work together.
No eBay junk etc.
Thank you. I'm not afraid to spend, but not as much as is needed for pro touring. By the way, that's a real sweet Chevelle.

Parts that work together is what I now have. You're right. Rick's advice is sound.

Thanks.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
17 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
I owned a couple LS engines in new vehicles and they are powerful and run smooth and are reliable. However since you already have the 454 and it is still running you could probably get away with a valve job and low cost block rebuild with a hone, bearings, rings and gaskets if it doesn't need to be bored. Since it is not # matching nor do you care I would go with injection, roller cam retro and electronic distributor and you will have a very nice running and powerful 454. Add an overdrive tranny and away you go. Most LS conversions are for higher dollar restomods where they can recoup some of the upgrade cost.
Good advice. Since the car had no engine or tranny, I took the 454 out of a late 70's early 80's Chevy wagon without going through it. I'm sure it's a low compression eng. If I do what you say, I'll build it to run.

Thank you.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
17 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Hello,

I'm about two and a half years into my 70 El Camino swap and have been street legal since last spring. The donor vehicle was a 1999 GMC Sierra with a 5.3 liter LS and a 4L60E transmission. For me, the original engine was a 2-barrel 350 and a TH350 transmission. Unfortunately, the vehicle got parked in the early 80's with plain water in the block that froze through many winters and cracked the block in five places along the oil gallery walls. It was obviously no longer going to be a numbers matching vehicle if that even really mattered to me all that much.

First, a few LS swap truisms:

1 - It will cost you more than rebuilding what you have.

2 - It'll likely take you longer. It's a more complicated build.

But I have no regrets. It is a dependable setup though as always, I work through glitches and bugs occasionally.

Truck, iron block 5.3 donor LS motors are the least expensive. I paid $800 for mine including its powertrain control module with 150,000 miles, good compression at 165-170 PSI and good oil pressure at 50 PSI cold running. I got the transmission for $500. The 6.0 and 6.2 and aluminum block LS motors are substantially higher than that and more complicated. Active Fuel Management, Displacement On Demand and an electronic accelerator pedal will need some additional work on your part.

Driveline angles, shortened drive shaft, possible/probable floor pan surgery for a 4L80E or larger transmission, different motor mounts, maybe different trans cross member, electric fans, maybe different radiator, headers, smaller PS pump pulley, Holley or other oil pan required because some LS oil pans are too low or cause steering interference . . . all of these will absolutely demand your attention. Using all Holley swap parts makes this easier because they are well engineered for each other.

Your PCM will need work to adapt its operating system to its new home and that will cost you maybe $150 or more. If you have a tall truck intake and a cowl induction hood, the hood will close but not if you mount a plastic engine cover on top of your motor.

I read two LS Swap books cover to cover before heading down this road and I don't wish to discourage you. I'm merely preparing you for what can't be avoided.

Rick
Rick I do appreciate you going out of your way to write that. Not hard to read between the lines. I have a small stable, so it won't be an everyday driver. Especially since I'd be afraid to park it anywhere in Albuquerque without being able to keep an eye on it.
Rebuilding the 454 to run may be my best decision. As for the reliability of fuel injection, I can also add that too.

Great 'food for thought'.

Thank you
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,839 Posts
I would get a 6.0L minimum. You will need at least a 4" bore to run the excellent LS3 heads that only cost $1400.

https://www.summitracing.com/parts/nal-12675871

I would look for a gen 3 LQ4, cast iron block.

Good luck ! It does cost quite a bit more than sticking with original parts.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,412 Posts
The bigger the better they say.

Using an aluminum LS is about equal to removing the weight of two car batteries off the nose of the car.

You'll need a swap kit, they usually include headers, oil pan and engine mounts. Some offer radiators.

You can retain a TH350/400 transmission.

You can use a carb intake and MSD offers a ignition box that works with the crank & cam sensors so no expensive EFI system is required-although they're better.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,059 Posts
Why have all that extra, sensitive, hardware under the hood when you don't need it..

I love the way my 1978 truck 454 runs. Its an original under 20k motor.. Nothing special 781 heads Quadrajet. I've really picked up a lot of hidden power in the ignition timing curve.. This is in a 69 el Camino with a Turbo 400 and a 2:73 rear end.. Love this set up. Its great in the city with its tremendous off idle torque and can cruise all day at 100 and pass other cars with ease..

At some point I will look into a new cam maybe a flat mechanical and some headers but that's it.. I'm present working on a new ignition system. I'm using a 1962 iron points distributor with tach take off, that will trigger a Vertex Z-6 CD box.. I don't like the way the HEI looks and how sensitive those modules are..
Vertex Z6 CD Ignition Box - Taylor Cable Products

If I were you I would keep it simple....
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,775 Posts
Hello,


First, a few LS swap truisms:

1 - It will cost you more than rebuilding what you have.

2 - It'll likely take you longer. It's a more complicated build.
Nice to see someone point this out. The usual story is: "All you need is a $800 truck engine from a junkyard, and you'll be cruising in no time". The costs tend to add up pretty quickly, IMO.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,237 Posts
Nice to see someone point this out. The usual story is: "All you need is a $800 truck engine from a junkyard, and you'll be cruising in no time". The costs tend to add up pretty quickly, IMO.
Yeah, the engine is the cheapest part of the build. My free 6.0 only cost me a few grand. :( oil pan, intake, LS6 cam, ported heads, headers, ECM, etc.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,412 Posts
Yeah, the engine is the cheapest part of the build. My free 6.0 only cost me a few grand. :( oil pan, intake, LS6 cam, ported heads, headers, ECM, etc.

Once all setup and done, how has this worked out for you?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
303 Posts
go for it...you won't regret. Plenty of them have been done. If you are on a tight budget, then look to buy a complete 6.0L set up with trans and accessories that has been converted to a 4 wire set up. This will be pre 2012, but will be a lower entry price. Plan on changing the pan to the holley 302 and just use the stock exhaust manifolds or switch to the camaro ls1 manifolds which flow well.

Plan on modifying the tunnel and probably the biggest hassle will be the power steering and the fuel system. Just send the money and buy a fuel tank and lines.

Good Luck!
 
1 - 17 of 17 Posts
Top