LS1 Engine Swap - Third-Gen LS1 Swap Guide - Tech

Installing A Gen III Lsx Into Any '82-92 F-Body, Covering Everything You Need To Know, From The Hard-To-Find Parts To The Finishing Touches

Justin Cesler Jul 7, 2010 0 Comment(s)
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At this point, it has been over 18 years since the last '92 Camaro rolled off of the assembly line. While the body styling, cutting edge suspension, and overall attraction of the car has aged well over time, the stock engine packages certainly leave much to be desired, especially when compared to the late model counterparts. In '92, the Z28 came with a 5.7-liter L98, which was rated at 245 hp and 345 lb-ft of torque, a clearly superior engine to the earlier '82 LU5 V-8 (305 cid), which was rated at 165 hp and 240 lb-ft of torque. Compare either of those to the LS1 that came in the '98+ F-body and Corvette, an engine rated at 350 hp and 365 lb-ft of torque, which featured a far superior injection system, greater tuneability and a ton of aftermarket support and you can see why repowering older third-gens has become such a hot topic. Wondering what is involved?

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First thing's first, if you plan on tackling this install you will obviously need to acquire an LSx engine and transmission, complete with the front accessories. Depending on your budget, you can purchase any LS engine, including one from a truck (4.8, 5.3, 6.0 iron block), F-body (5.7, aluminum block), GTO (5.7, aluminum block), or Corvette (5.7, aluminum block). While all of these "Gen III" blocks share the same architecture and will all bolt in the same location, the fourth-generation F-body ('98-02) can't be beat, as its oil pan and front accessory drive will drop right into your engine bay without any troubles. If you do choose to go with a truck, GTO, or Corvette engine, it is still useable but you will find yourself swapping the pan, water pump, balancer, and accessory pullies, which can complicate the install. Once you have decided on an engine, you will also need to pick a transmission, opting for either the 4L60E four-speed automatic or the T56 six-speed manual transmission, found in the fourth-gen F-body. Both units will bolt into the third-gen chassis with minimal fuss and both have provisions for the torque arm found in both the third- and fourth-gen cars.

With your engine and transmission on hand, the next decision you have to make concerns the engine and transmission crossmembers. Up front, you have two choices; modify the stock K-member or install an aftermarket tubular unit, which has been built specifically for this conversion. Concerning the stock K-member, you will need to make one or two modifications, the first in the rear to allow the main support bar to clear the stock F-body LS1 oil pan. While this doesn't require any cutting or welding, it does require a firm hand with a large hammer and some serious persuading to make enough room; you don't want the aluminum oil pan to touch the K-member under any circumstances. The second modification, a much more serious one, involves notching the front of the K-member to allow room for a stock fourth-gen low-mount A/C compressor. If you aren't comfortable chopping and welding on your K-member, any good fabrication shop should be able to help you out or you can order one already modified from Hawks Third Generation in Easley, South Carolina. If you do stick with the stock unit, you will need a pair of custom motor mounts for the K-member, which can also be found at Hawks. The other option here is to purchase a new tubular K-member from a company like BMR Fabrication, which would save you the trouble of modifying your stock unit, while also offering a significant savings in both weight and room in the engine bay.

Once you have the engine in place, you will then have to secure the transmission, using either a custom-built crossmember or a bolt-in unit, like the one from Hawks Third Generation. Using the Hawks unit, we were able to gain significant ground clearance by being able to tuck a 2.5-inch Y-pipe right up in the tunnel, which is very important on stock or lowered vehicles. Depending on your transmission choice (automatic or manual), there are two different crossmember part numbers, just give Hawks a call and tell them what you need.




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