LS Engine Swap In A Muscle Car - How It Works

LS swaps are smoking hot and here’s how to fit one inside your muscle car

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Oil Pans

Mark Campbell: As with any engine swap, oil pan clearance can be an issue when retrofitting LS motors into muscle cars. For cars that require a rear sump, the factory fourth-gen F-body pan is a popular choice. For cars that require a front sump, the ’04-06 GTO pans are the way to go. The nice thing about the F-body pan is that it will fit inside a ’58-64 fullsize Chevy without any modifications. The pan will also fit Tri-Fives, Chevelles, and Camaros, but this requires removing about 2 inches from the front edge of the sump in order to clear the draglink. F-body pans can also be used on G-bodies, as long as the crossmember is notched. The factory LH8 pan works in cars that have lots of ground clearance, but it probably won’t work in a lowered muscle car. When modifying a stock pan, the cuts must be made as cleanly as possible to avoid leaks when it’s TIG welded back up. We offer this service for $243, but with these pans becoming harder to find, it might be worth it to buy an aftermarket pan that already has the necessary clearance. Street and Performance is currently developing oil pans for LS swap applications for A-, F-, and G-bodies, and X-frame cars.

Liz Miles: With LS swaps becoming more and more popular, these engines are finding their way between the fenders of more early cars than ever. Unfortunately, the factory LS passenger car pan has a tapered shape that doesn’t always clear the crossmember. Likewise, the sump of the stock truck pan hangs too low. To offer hot rodders a superior alternative, the Holley LS Retrofit Oil Pan emulates the traditional rear-sump arrangement, but we designed it for maximum ground and chassis clearance. Since it’s cast aluminum, it retains the strength and superior sealing surface of the factory pan. The six-quart capacity comes with the correct pickup and baffle to fully take advantage of the new pan’s shape. It also retains the oil filter and cooler port locations and uses the factory seals.

Front Accessories

Mark Campbell: The three most commonly used front accessory drive systems in LS swap applications are off of factory fourth-gen Camaros, C5 Corvettes, and Vortec trucks. The factory A/C compressor is quite bulky, and mounts on the lower passenger side. This usually creates interference with the K-member or control arms. On the driver side of the motor, the power steering pump and alternator can cause clearance issues. Fortunately, none of these obstacles are difficult to overcome. The F-body and Corvette accessory drives will fit into most older Chevys without a problem. The Corvette drive system works well on Tri-Fives as well as C2, C3, and C4 Corvettes. When it’s used in Tri-Fives, the motor needs to be moved up about 3/4 inch to clear the draglink, or the car can be converted to a rack-and-pinion setup. The F-body accessory drive fits inside Novas, first-gen Camaros, and G-bodies very well. The LS1 GTO accessory drive is another option, but since it has a big alternator, swapping in a smaller unit is often required. Since the alternator on the Vortec truck accessory drive sits so high, it will only fit in cars with lots of hood clearance like ’58-64 X-frame cars.

That said, small modifications can go a long way. For example, if the A/C compressor hits the K-member, an easy fix is notching the crossmember or running a smaller compressor.

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