Perhaps the biggest difference between the LT1 and its forebears is its reverse-flow cooling system. The setup routes coolant through the heads before the block, which allows running 10.4:1 compression from the factory. With revised cooling passages in the block and heads to accommodate this, the downside is that there is no such thing as an aftermarket LT1 block. However, hot rodders routinely push it past 800 hp without failure. Reverse-flow cooling also means that regular SBC heads won't work on an LT1. Fortunately, AFR, Dart, Edelbrock, and Trick Flow all offer LT1-specific castings.
Other LT1 quirks include a cam-geardriven water pump, an optical distributor attached to the timing cover, and an extremely short-runner intake manifold. In the past, this meant there were no aftermarket upgrades for timing sets, distributors, or intake manifolds. However, the aftermarket has stepped up with high-quality upgrades in the last year or two. The LT1 also features a hydraulic roller cam, so it's compatible with all '87-and-later small-block valvetrain hardware.
Cop Cars & Strippers
There really isn't much that's appealing to civilians about a used LT1 Camaro equipped with the B4C police package, but we'll give you the rundown nonetheless. These vehicles didn't have any major performance enhancements, just beefed-up alternators, batteries, and oil coolers to endure the rigors of patrol work. GM offered the B4C package to law enforcement agencies throughout the LT1 Camaro's production run, but whether or not a car's glamorous history makes it more appealing than a standard Camaro is questionable.
The 1LE package, on the other hand, was a stripped-down corner burner built for serious road racers and autocrossers. There were subtle variations in the package from year to year, but 1LE cars generally featured stiffer springs, shocks, and bushings along with larger sway bars. In fact, '96 and '97 1LEs were equipped with Koni double-adjustable shocks. Stripped of all power options and foglights, the 1LE was also the lightest fourth-gen ever built. While its production numbers are extremely low, the 1LE's legacy is the cheap over-the-counter suspension components it left behind. The 1LE's suspension pieces are readily available through GM wholesalers, and a common upgrade for enthusiasts on a budget. Of course, vendors such as Bilstein, BMR, Edelbrock, Eibach, Hotchkis, and SLP offer a full line of suspension parts too.
Thanks to hackers cracking PCM codes, the power and flexibility of a standalone engine-management system can be had for $200 in software. All you need is a laptop and an interface cable that connects to your car's ALDL port. Two big players are LT1 Edit (carputing.com), and TunerCat (tunercat.com). Both allow tweaking fuel and spark maps, gear ratios, tire sizes, shift points, rev limits, cooling fan settings, idle speed, and much more. Software for OBD-II cars runs $100-$150 more, and since '93s have removable chips, they must be sent out to a specialist for reprogramming. The '93 PCM can be replaced with one out of a newer LT1 car, enabling the use of these powerful tuning tools.
Sufficient for most applications, LT1 Edit and TunerCat have their limits. The factory LT1 PCM will not allow the motor to rev much past 7,000 rpm, so cars with big, nasty, solid roller cams must upgrade to a standalone EFI system from ACCEL, BigStuff3, or FAST. Likewise, since the stock PCM isn't compatible with low-impedance fuel injectors, forced-induction motors must upgrade to an aftermarket EFI system as well.