In the February issue of GMHTP, I embarked on an exciting project to replace my 2001 Z28's LS1 with a 480-horsepower crate engine from GM Performance Parts. Down at TT Performance in North Jersey, we got the LS1 pulled and started swapping parts onto the big crate in preparation for installation.
However, this is not a direct swap electronically-in order to benefit from the huge airflow and big power/torque numbers of GM's Generation IV engines, we'd have to do some modifications. For those of you unfamiliar with the old-style 24x/new-style 58x reluctor wheel saga, it wasn't long ago that you had limited options for your late-model F-body: you could use the universal GMPP controller and harness for an easy LS3 (or other Gen IV) connection, but your factory gauges wouldn't work. Or you could completely disassemble the bottom end of your new crate engine to swap on a 24x reluctor wheel (compatible with your LS1 PCM) and swap the cam, cam sprocket, and timing cover. That's a lot of work-around eight hours for a very experienced engine guy, and much longer for novices.
Thankfully, the aftermarket has been working feverishly to create adapters to easily mate the LS3 with the older LS1 harness and PCM-allowing for working factory gauges without tearing apart a crate engine! Early planning for this project had me contacting Lingenfelter Performance Engineering-a legendary name in the EFI GM world-for advice on how to proceed with the swap. LPE had done more than its fair share of Gen IV conversions, and informed me that its 58x to 24x Trigger Conversion Module was now in the catalogue and at my disposal. I've been in this business for a long time now, and when undertaking a complex project, the words "conversion" and "module" invariably mean less hassle! LPE also provided more goodies to simplify this swap; I'll show 'em to you in the captions.
I've chosen a dual-disc clutch for this project; this is no slight to the SPEC single-disc in 1SC-YA now, as it has held up admirably to some very aggressive driving and revved ultra-quick with its lightweight options. But there has been some great and some not-so-great reports from dual disc clutch users who street-drive them, and I want to experience a "dual" with this swap to get some first-hand experience. I contacted Ram and after a few conversations, had a Street Dual system with its hydraulics sent my way.
And finally, I mentioned last month that this Z's engine harness is toast-thankfully, Scoggin-Dickey can still get original GM harnesses at a decent price, so I jumped on that and they sent it out. I recommend a new wiring harness any time a major swap is performed on an older or high-mile car, it usually saves electrical headaches down the road. My hardtop is aching to hit the dyno, strip and street, so let's get to it.
Though I wasn't able to break 11s with the Z's handling suspension, the 119-mph trap speed told me all I needed to know about this crate engine. And with all of the extra torque, it is so easy to drive on the street-helped in part by the smooth and quiet RAM clutch. Though I did have a clutch problem with a compression fitting leaking, the updated versions should remedy that shortcoming, and I have no qualms about recommending this clutch for street guys who are willing to spend a few bucks more for huge power potential and a stock-like pedal feel. Regarding the wiring upgrades, the Z has been flawless and it appears the LPE box is as reliable as it is revolutionary.
With this crate engine install and test, the 1SC-YA project series has drawn to a close. It picked up a full second and 10 mph on the drag strip, cut 25 feet from its 100-0 braking, and improved its road course times by nearly 7 seconds. And best of all: with the stock-type BMR torque arm setup back in for less NVH, a $25 eBay iPod running through the loud Sony system, and a bullet muffler welded in to the catless Hooker exhaust, this is a fun, rattle-free street Camaro that has massive power on demand and is easy and quiet enough to drive every day, which is exactly what I plan on doing. I'll see you on the street.