16 Hot Budget Performance Packages

Low on cash, but want more speed? GMHTP's selection of LS2, LS1, and LT1 power packages will help satisfy your need!

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It's been said that the best things in life are free-but that assertion clearly was not made by a car fanatic. With go-fast goodies for late-model EFI GMs numbering in the many, an enthusiast can easily blow an entire paycheck a month on engine-related speed parts with only a few clicks of a computer mouse (Come on, don't say this has never happened to you!). To further complicate matters, once all those shiny new parts arrive at your humble abode, who's to say that the stuff will really work together the way you'd expect? Yes, parts incompatibility-related double spending can push you even further into debt, especially when you're on a relatively tight budget.

It takes some know-how to select a parts combination that will yield a reliable horsepower increase on relatively little bread-and we're here to help. We've compiled this list of budget-minded performance packages for vehicles equipped with the ever-popular LS2, LS1, and LT1 engines. The goal: show how choosing parts wisely can provide big power and torque increases for a reasonable-if not minimal-investment.

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Though many of them simply represent proven combinations of compatible go-fast bolt-ons, some of these packages include discounts you couldn't get by buying each of the components alone. We've taken the route of organizing the packages on the basis of engine type-so while many of them are only quoted as fitting specific vehicles, in most cases, very similar packages are available for other vehicles with the same engine. Also, depending on the exact model and year of your car, package pricing and the components included in each may vary slightly. (And though all attempts have been made toward accuracy, don't shoot the messenger if any of the photos show incorrect parts-or if component specs or pricing change.)

To help you out even further on your quest for affordable go-power, we've broken each engine type down into a price hierarchy of lower-dollar and somewhat more expensive component pairings. The exact split is somewhat arbitrary, but we wanted to at least provide some sort of cutoff between what we thought enthusiasts on a tight budget would want to spend and what power mongers with a slightly more open expense account would be able to afford. Upon completion of some rather intricate educated guesswork, this cutoff came to $1,650.00. You'll also note that for the LT1, we only included packages that came in under this value; since these cars are getting a bit older, we figured that LT1 owners are probably on a somewhat more stringent budget than others (Wealthy LT1 aficionados, the editor anxiously awaits your complaint letters). And remember, this listing is just a general smattering; lots of other options and combinations are available from each of these-as well as other-manufacturers.

Prepare your piggy banks for impact: though we're by no means talking about the speed parts equivalent of a free lunch, intelligent choices mean that going fast can be cheaper than you might expect!

LS2 Low Budget

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SLP 421 HP Bobcat PerformancePac
COMPANY: SLP Performance Parts
VEHICLE: GTO
PART NUMBER: 29051
PRICE: $1,220.35
POWER GAIN: See dyno chart (rear wheels)

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New Jersey-based SLP Performance Parts offers improved performance, looks, and sound for 2005-2006 GTOs in its 421 HP Bobcat PerformancePac. Complete with "421 BOBCAT" fender badges, this affordable system includes several items to help your Goat perform its best. A 160 thermostat allows cooler running temperatures, and a high-flow filter increases the air available to the LS2 engine. Providing an aggressive rumble is SLP's stainless steel "Loud Mouth" cat-back exhaust, which incorporates SLP's PowerFlo-X Crossover system, twin resonators, and 3.5-inch angle-cut exhaust tips. Topping off the package is custom tuning from SLP supplied in the form of a DiabloSport II handheld programmer. This handy item includes spark and fuel maps that enhance the power otherwise provided by the components that make up the 421 Bobcat package. All of these items combine to yield impressive power and torque gains out of your GTO's LS2. An identical package with the quieter "Loud Mouth II" muffled cat-back is available for a few bucks more under PN 29050.

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Speed Inc. Installed Camshaft Package
COMPANY: Speed Inc.
VEHICLE: Most LS2
PART NUMBER: N/A
PRICE: $1,645.98
POWER GAIN: 58 hp (rear wheels)

Though our primary focus in doing the research for this story was to find parts packages that you can install yourself (and hence save some labor-related cash), when we ran across a good enough deal on an installed package, we figured it would be worthwhile to include. Such is the case here.

As much as 58 rwhp can be unleashed with Speed Inc.'s fall/winter installed camshaft package special, depending on the aggressiveness of the cam selected. The price includes your choice of COMP bumpstick (either custom ground or off-the-shelf, up to 0.600 lift), COMP valvesprings and pushrods, a new GM crank bolt and front seal, fluids, and custom dyno tuning. Note that higher-lift cams will require stronger valvesprings (a $125 option). The package photo and price also include an optional ASP pulley and NGK spark plugs; if you don't want them, you can save yourself almost $246, but note that without the pulley you'll lose about 8 rwhp.

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TSP Heads & Cam Package-PRC Heads
COMPANY: Texas Speed & Performance
VEHICLE: Most LS2
PART NUMBER: N/A
PRICE: $1,599.00
POWER GAIN: See dyno chart (rear wheels)

For the penny-counting enthusiast who wants to step into a heads/cam package, Texas Speed offers a mail-order one that's tough to beat. The above price will get you Precision Race Components Stage 1.0 LS2/LS6 cylinder heads, your choice of a TSP camshaft, and a set of TSP hardened chrome-moly pushrods. The cylinder heads are assembled using the factory valves and LS2/LS6 valvetrain, though upgrades to 2.04/1.57 stainless valves and COMP beehive springs or PRC dual valvesprings are available. A 64cc combustion chamber maintains the factory 10.9:1 compression ratio. The heads are fully CNC'd on a five-axis CNC machine, and they come standard with a competition valve job that is also performed on a Newen CNC seat and guide machine. TSP says "the full CNC work ensures 100 percent accuracy and incredible consistency for each set of heads."

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Want to spend just a little more money? The package can be upgraded to PRC Stage 2.5 LS2/LS6 heads for $1,919. These heads will come standard with the larger stainless steel valves and dual springs, but they will use the same 230cc port that the Stage 1.0 heads use. Note that tuning is not included in this package, though it is available for an additional $250 plus shipping and includes one year of free tuning updates. The dyno graph you see here is of a 2005 GTO six-speed donned with a set of PRC Stage 1.0 LS2/LS6 heads and a dual spring kit, as well as a TSP Magic Stick 4 camshaft. Please note that the only other mods on the car were long tube headers and high-flow cats, which are not included in the package.

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