Whether you call it bro-on-bro action, fraternicide or inter-generational warfare, the end result is an LS1 fourth-gen putting the hurt on its LT1-powered sibling. It's a barbaric practice, no doubt, one that yields lopsided results in favor of the more sophisticated all-aluminum small-block. Not all is lost for LT1 cars, however, as these Gen II vs. Gen III skirmishes set the stage for building the ultimate sleeper. Despite wearing the sheetmetal of an early fourth-gen, Joseph Constance's '93 Camaro packs an LS6, runs 11s, and surprises the bejeezus out of its peanut-eyed LS1 brethren.
It all started five years ago with an ad Joseph posted on www.camaroz28.com, soliciting board members for a nice and cheap fourth-gen project car. An F-body man to the core, Joseph had gone a little overboard with his '72 Camaro-transforming it into a 14.0:1, 406-powered beast-and it became too nervous and fidgety to use as a daily driver. Fortunately, a response popped up in his inbox from a would-be seller with an offer he couldn't ignore. "The owner said he had a nice '93 Z28 with bolt-ons he would let go for $3,500, which was a very good price at the time. I got on the next plane to California to check the car out," Joseph recalls. "When I got there, I found out the motor had a knock in it, and the owner just didn't have enough time or money to fix it. I told him that I only brought $1,000 with me, and we struck up a deal. I really liked the idea of building a car from the ground up so I could make it stand out from the crowd."
After bringing the car home to Houston, Joseph drew up plans to get it back on the road by dropping in a 355 and topping it off with a blower. That soon changed, as his buddies kept badgering him about an LS1 swap. Driving a friend's blown-LT1 car, and walking away not-too-impressed sealed his Camaro's fate. "The LT1 pulls hard to 3,000 rpm, but runs out of steam after that," Joseph opines. "I wanted a reliable 11-second daily driver, and I felt an LS1 would make it easier to meet that goal. One of my friends runs the parts department at a local Chevy dealership, and he said he had a spare LS6 laying around. He agreed to let me have it if I was willing to work the counter for the summer."
With his apprenticeship complete and an LS6 in hand, Joseph got busy tackling the engine install. Swapping out an LT1 for a Gen III small-block was even less common back then than it is today, so there were very few people to turn to for advice. Obviously, since '98-and-up F-bodies were available with LS1s from the factory, tracking down motor mounts, headers, and the right oil pan wasn't a problem. However, sorting out the electronics proved to be the most challenging aspect of the swap. "I wanted the car to appear as if GM put LS1s in Camaros back in 1993, so I grafted the factory LS6 computer and harness into the original LT1 harness," Joseph explains. "I spent weeks looking up wiring schematics and pin references guides online, and cutting and splicing wires to make it all work. The hard work paid off, because now the stock LS6 PCM properly operates the A/C system, LT1-style gauges, and cruise control. Unlike an LT1 car, the fuel systems in LS1 Camaros don't have a return line, so I installed a filter off of a '99 Corvette since it has an integrated pressure regulator. The hydraulics on LT1-spec T56 transmissions are also different, so I installed a built six-speed out of an LS1 car."
Although sorting out the little stuff in any engine swap can consume mass quantities of time, Joseph says that hooking up the induction and cooling system was rather painless. He reused the LT1 radiator, and hooked it up to the water pump using LS1-spec hoses. Likewise, despite the fact that LT1s feature oval throttle-body openings opposed to the LS1's round-shaped mouth, the stock LT1 intake elbow popped right on after some light massaging. This enabled retaining an LT1-style K&N cold-air induction system. Likewise, a Granatelli LS1 MAF sensor slid into the LT1 induction tract without much fuss. To perk up the already-potent LS6 a bit, Joseph installed a Comp 236/236-at-0.050 hydraulic roller cam, a 75-shot of nitrous, Pace Setter 1 3/4-inch long-tube headers, and a MagnaFlow 3-inch after-cat exhaust system. A set of custom brackets de-uglify the motor by relocating the coil packs from the valve covers to beneath the cowl. At the track, the Camaro runs an impressive 11.86 at 122 mph on motor and has yet to be tested on spray.
Wanting more than just a car that runs hard in a straight line, the Camaro has been fitted with QA1 coilovers at each corner, and Hotchkis control arms and sway bars front and rear. Furthermore, the puny single-piston discs that plague LT1 F-bodies have been upgraded with the larger 12-inch discs and twin-piston calipers found on '98-and-up fourth-gens. Visual enhancements include a set of Torq-Thrust II wheels, a Harwood cowl-induction hood, shaved antenna, blacked-out taillights, and a fresh coat of PPG Victory Red paint.
Three years into using his LT1/LS1 hybrid as a daily driver, Joseph was bitten by the Camaro bug once again. He's now the proud owner of a '10 Camaro SS, and as much as he loves his fourth-gen, it's been retired from commuting duty. Nonetheless, he still gets a kick out of taking it out and sneaking up on the competition. "The LS1 fourth-gen owners around here have big heads, and they think LT1 cars can't run," says Joseph. "They always want to pick a fight, and they're shocked when I beat them. What surprises them even more is when I pop the hood and they see an LS1."
Owner: Joseph Constance Houston, Texas Vehicle: '93 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 •Engine Type: GM LS6 Displacement: 346ci Compression Ratio: 10.5:1 Bore: 3.900 Inches Stroke: 3.622 Inches Cylinder Heads: Factory GM LS6 aluminum castings Rotating Assembly: Stock Pushrods: Stock Camshaft: Comp Cams 236/236-at-0.050 hydraulic roller; 0.591/0.591-inch lift; 112 LSA Intake: Factory GM LS6 intake manifold and 78mm throttle-body, Granatelli 80mm MAF sensor, K&N cold-air induction kit, stock LT1-style elbow Fuel System: Stock tank and pump Ignition: MSD plug wires, stock coils on custom bracket Exhaust: PaceSetter 1 3/4-inch long-tube headers, custom 3-inch Y-pipe, MagnaFlow muffler Power Adder: Nitrous Pro-Flow wet system jetted to 75 hp Final Tune: Factory PCM tuned by owner
•Drivetrain Transmission: Tremec T56 manual, stock LS6 clutch Rear Axle: GM 10-bolt with billet caps, Thunder Racing differential girdle, and Richmond 3.42:1 ring-and-pinion set
•Chassis Steering: Stock Front Suspension: QA1 springs and adjustable shocks; Hotchkis control arms and sway bar Rear Suspension: QA1 springs and adjustable shocks; Hotchkis control arms and sway bar Brakes: Stock '02 Camaro 12-inch discs, front; stock 11.5-inch discs, rear
•Wheels & Tires Wheels: American Racing Torq-Thrust II 17x9, front; 17x11, rear Tires: Goodyear GS-D3 245/50-17, front; 315/35-17, rear
•Interior Seats: Stock fourth-gen Trans Am Carpet: Black Shifter: B&M Ripper
•Exterior Paint: PPG Victory Red Hood: Harwood 2.5-inch cowl-induction