At the beginning of this year we launched a series of technical articles that have covered Chevrolet Performance's Connect-And-Cruise LSA engine and transmission package, and what it takes to install it into a 1970 Chevelle. Since the LS6 Chevelle was the most powerful muscle car in the Bow Tie line up in 1970, the 556hp LSA was a perfect match.
The LSA is a 6.2L LS platform engine fitted with an intercooled Eaton supercharger. The engine is original equipment in the Cadillac CTS-V and Camaro ZL1 (upgraded to 580 hp). Years ago if you wanted to put an LS engine in your car, you needed to do a lot of custom fabrication and wiring. Thanks to Chevrolet Performance's Connect-And-Cruise line of engine and transmission packages those problems are history.
Dr. Jamie Meyer, Performance Marketing Manager for GM, said, "The Chevrolet Performance engineering team has worked to provide our customers with a turn-key solution for their project car. By providing a brand new, state-of-the art Chevrolet Performance LS crate engine, backing it with a SuperMatic 4L85E transmission, including the transmission hardware, and rounding it out with all of the electronics, it provides for a wonderful foundation for a well-rounded performance car like the D&P Classic Chevy project Chevelle.
"The consumer enjoys the same high performance engine that we install in production cars with a two-year/50,000-mile warranty, and the piece of mind that our engineers have chosen the right parts for them." He added, "The LSA, like the LS3 and 5.3 engines, is available as an E-ROD configured engine package, which provides all of the emissions equipment if that is required in your state. When considered as one crate powertrain package, this is how modern street machines are being built."
Like the doctor said, each Connect-And-Cruise LSA engine and transmission package comes with an installation kit, including flex plates, covers and other important components to keep typical mid-project parts chasing to a minimum.
They said minimum, but there were still supporting items needed to get the motor mounted in the car and hooked up to all the other things, like the cooling and fuel systems. We decided to use as many factory parts as possible to support the swap, so we enlisted the help from our local Chevrolet dealership, Guaranty Chevrolet. This dealership has been the Southern California's leader in Chevrolet Performance parts for more than 30 years. "We have the largest inventory in the Western United States with over 40 employees in the parts department alone. We have the full line of GM replacement and performance engines and transmissions in stock. As a matter of fact we have over 150 engines and transmissions in stock at all time," said Carl Lutes, Parts Manager at Guaranty Chevrolet.
When we couldn't use a factory part, we turned to the aftermarket to fill in the blanks. Darryl Nance of D&P Classic Chevy was instrumental in getting the correct parts and did it as if it were second nature. He said, "At D&P we have been restoring and modernizing classic GM vehicles for decades. We have installed virtually every engine offered by Chevrolet Performance. From the mighty 572 to the dependable 350, we have installed them all in nearly every platform GM offered. My personal favorite and the engine of choice for our customers is the LS. The benefits of improved performance, mileage, and dependability make this a no brainer for many of us. I can safely say that we have done hundreds of engine conversions over the years, and the best engine for the money is an LS. At D&P we have installed everything from the mighty LS9 [ZR1 Vette] to the basic 430 H.P. LS3 and nearly everything in between."
It's been a few months since our last story, as we needed to give the D&P crew some time to button up all the little things. We are going to quickly bring you up to speed on everything that was done from the beginning before we get into what it was like to drive the modern powered Chevelle.
Here is the Chevrolet Performance Connect-And-Cruise LSA/4L85E Crate Powertrain System. It features a 6.2L (376 cubic-inch), 556 horsepower engine fitted with an 1.9-liter intercooled Eaton supercharger. Behind that is a 4L85E automatic trans with a gear set of: 1st: 2.48, 2nd: 1.48, 3rd: 1.00, 4th: 0.75. You also get calibrated engine and transmission controllers, a drive-by-wire gas pedal, ignition, and all the wiring harnesses necessary to run the motor and trans. The controllers are specially designed for retrofit installation in older vehicles, for easier and quicker installation and operation, without the need for third-party tuning.
The oil pan that comes on the LSA is not designed to fit the Chevelle chassis, so a new unit was needed. A Chevrolet Performance Muscle Car Pan kit was ordered from Guaranty Chevrolet. The pan features a profile more suited to muscle car frames. The pan is a factory piece from a different application, so it won't hinder performance. The kit comes with an oil pan, dipstick and tube, bolts, gaskets, pick-up tube, and windage tray.
The LS uses a different motor mount position than other small- and big-blocks. To move the mount where it needs to be for older cars, we used these Holley adapter plates. We used the stock position plates with a set of Tall Narrow urethane motor mounts from Energy Suspension.
The transmission is a bit longer than what was in the car, so a new crossmember from G Force was installed. This is one hefty piece of steel designed to fit in the ‘70 Chevelle with the longer transmission. The integrated exhaust clearance humps will provide much more room for the exhaust pipes, and in turn, give us more ground clearance.
Once the motor was in the car, we found we had clearance issues between the tie rod ends and the oil pan on the driver's side. The cure was to get new tie rod ends that have the grease fitting on the back instead of the side.
The passenger's side also had a clearance issue, but it couldn't be cured with just a new tie rod. There was a boss cast on the side that features a tapped blind hole. The center link contacted the boss well before we got to full lock. With the boss removed we still had contact, so we welded a 1/4-inch spacer to the steering stop to limit the steering just a bit.
The LSA has a drive-by-wire throttle system and thanks to the Connect-And-Cruise packaging, we don't have to scour the junkyards to find a gas pedal to run the throttle. The pedal assembly is not a simple bolt to the firewall installation, though.The assembly needs to be spaced away from the firewall and put on a small angle to clear the floor and still provide full throttle. D&P built a spacer (inset) to mount the assembly to the firewall instead of modifying the car's sheetmetal.