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LS1 Head-And-Cam Upgrade - Getting Pumped Up

We Discuss The Next Level Of Engine Upgrades For Project C5X

Alan Colvin Jul 12, 2009
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Intake side of LS1X World Warhawk heads

As most of you know, over the last two years or so we have been on a journey to upgrade our Project C5X. That journey so far has included a Mid America Motorworks interior upgrade, basic engine add-ons including Dynatech headers, Mid America Motorworks exhaust and air intake, Pfadt sway bars and coil-overs, a Baer brake upgrade, an Elite Engineering tunnel plate, an American Car Craft stainless steel accessories package and an MTI shifter install. Almost all of our installs and 100 percent of our dyno work has been done by Next Level Performance in Altamonte Springs, Florida, and Geoff Skorupa and crew have done a superb job! So far we have covered a lot of editorial ground, but what we really want to do now is produce some real horsepower.

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Intake side of LS1X World Warhawk heads

Most C5 owners realize that the LS1 is the perfect candidate for making power. The LS engine has been one of the most easily modified engines ever built and with every new LS generation, Chevrolet just keeps improving the breathing ability, thus making it that much easier to make easy gains with very little effort. The original LS1 engine is still residing in Project C5X, so we decided instead of swapping in a brand new LS stroker, we would work to improve what hand we had been dealt with a stock bore/stroke engine. With that in mind, we decided to do a head and cam upgrade. A head and cam upgrade is one of the simplest and most productive upgrades for any car but especially so for the LS1.

There are lots of choices out there for this type of swap. We wanted to try to find the cheapest horsepower for the money so we looked very hard at all the aftermarket components available for the LS engine. After some consideration, we decided to try a set of the LS1X World Warhawk heads and a custom grind C4orce Comp Cams hydraulic roller camshaft and valvetrain. We know we will have to modify the heads, but at this time we don't know quite how much yet, so we will just let the cards fall where they may and report on what we find once we get into the rebuild.

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On the intake side, the port receives minor work on the short side radius and floor with enough material removed to eliminate the casting lines.

We decided to do a custom C4orce-grind camshaft to take full advantage of all of our parameters. This camshaft is one of several C4orce camshafts that we have designed over the last year that Comp Cams has built for us, but we will talk about the specifics of each of those cams in a future issue. What we can say at this point is that this particular camshaft uses a larger lobe separation number than most for better idle quality. One thing to always remember when choosing a cam profile is not to go overboard if the car is to be driven (especially daily like Project C5X is) on the street. The LS1 engine is so responsive to small changes in cam profiles that you really don't have to get radical with your upgrades. Let's discuss the components we are going to use.

The LS1X Warhawk heads we used had the 72cc combustion chambers and feature 235cc intake runners similar in design to the cathedral port of the LS1 and LS6. We would have liked to have used the 64cc version with a smaller intake runner, but it was not currently available at the time of this build. Pete Incaudo, owner of VMax Motorsports, has been working with World Products for quite some time and knows their product line well. Pete has worked on the development side for this head, and we asked him to help us on this install. Pete is one of the best cylinder head guys in the country, and when it comes to getting the most flow from any set of cylinder heads, Pete is the guy to have on your team. Pete angle milled these stock castings to arrive at an optimum 62cc combustion chamber that will yield a 10.5:1- 11:1 compression ratio, which is fine for the street.

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The World Warhawk LS1X heads are set up for 2.08/1.60 valves and in this install, Manley Performance valves are used.

The combustion chamber in these heads is fully CNC machined. On the exhaust side, Pete hand ported and polished the short side radius and intake runner entry to enhance flow through the intake without enlarging the port volume. On the intake side, the port receives minor work on the short side radius and floor with enough material removed to eliminate the casting lines.

The World Warhawk LS1X heads are set up for 2.08/1.60 valves and in this install, Manley Performance valves are used. A Comp Cams LS1Dual Valve Spring Kit with titanium retainers and their machined steel valve locks were also used. We also used Comp Cams Hi-Tech pushrods and we decided to give their killer Ultra-Gold CNC-aluminum 1.72 Ratio GEN III Rocker Arms a ride for this build.

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A Comp Cams LS1 Dual Valve Spring Kit with titanium retainers and machined steel valve locks were also used.

Along with our custom Comp Cams camshaft, we also decided to use Comp Cams GEN III High Energy OE -Style Hydraulic Roller lifters. We also tapped Comp for one of their GEN III Adjustable Timing Gear Sets that features a pre-stretched heat-treated double roller chain and has a 3-keyway crank sprocket for an additional 4-degree incremental adjustability. Comp also sent us their GEN III Crankshaft Socket, Degree Wheel, Cam Degree Tool and TDC Stop to use during the build. These tools are invaluable when building an engine of this caliber. Dimmit Chevrolet of Clearwater, Florida, also provided all of the bolts, gaskets and even a GM PF46 Oil Filter needed for the rebuild. We will get into the rebuild next month, but for now let's check out some of the parts we just mentioned.


Comp Cams
Memphis, TN 38118
World Products
Ronkonkoma, NY 11779
Next Level Performance
Altamonte Springs, FL 32714
Mid America Motorworks
Effingham, IL
VMax Motorsports
Dimmitt Chevrolet
Clearwater, Fl



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