The engine does not come with a front engine accessory drive (FEAD). D&P found that the FEAD that comes on the LSA wouldn't entirely work with the Chevelle. The alternator hit the steering box. D&P got together with Gary Mulder of GM and Carl Lutes of Guaranty Chevrolet and figured out the solution. That was to use a combination of items from two factory systems—the LSA and the LS7. Everything on the passenger's side is from the LSA kit, while the driver's side items are from the LS7. The LS7 kit flips the alternator and power steering placement compared to the LSA. This moves those items up just a bit and gave us the clearance needed, while still being factory off-the-shelf parts.
Since we are putting 21st century technology into a 20th century vehicle, the factory gas tank just wouldn't support the new motor without modification. We went with an upgrade in the way of a stainless steel gas tank from Rick's Tanks. The tank is hand-formed from 304-grade stainless steel and TIG welded. It features a baffle system that controls fuel slosh and surrounds the fuel pickups to eliminate starvation. It came with a matching electric fuel pump, stainless mounting straps, gas gauge sending unit and hardware.
New fuel lines were made out of Earl's components, including Speed-Flex hose with Speed-Seal hose ends. We got the filter/regulator from Guaranty Chevrolet, and it's a key piece to the system. Its design allows you to run a single fuel line down the length of the car and just a short section of hose for a return.
The power steering reservoir took some custom fabricated brackets to hold it to the alternator bracket. It needs to be up high since the LS7 brackets put the power steering pump so close to the alternator that there just isn't any room for it down low.
The lines are also hand-fabbed at D&P out of high quality hose and fittings. The hoses were routed out of the pump away from the belts in a nice sweeping curve over to the top of the box.
To shift the transmission a TCI Fast Gate Shifter was mounted to the floor. The shifter is universal in design, allowing it to be used in virtually any 3- or 4-speed application, either street or race. It comes with a durable injection molded cover, cable and all required hardware for a simple installation. A custom console is being built for the car so the supplied cover is not going to be used.
The motor does not come with a complete intercooler system. D&P picked up a Magnuson Products Intercooler Support Kit, which comes with a reservoir, pump, heat exchanger, hoses and hardware. The pump and reservoir got mounted on the passenger's side area. The heat exchanger was hung on custom brackets in front of the US Radiator. The radiator was a custom piece ordered by D&P that features smaller hose ends to match the LS ports. Then Gates hoses PN22147 for the upper and 9796090 for the lower) were used.
Since the LSA has a front-facing throttle body, it's pretty obvious a traditional air cleaner won't work. An Airaid U-Build-It (UBI) kit was used to create what you see here. The master kit includes an intake tube, coupler, hump hose, reducer, brackets, hose clamps, hardware, and serviceable AIRAID filter. The 4-inch UBI kit features roto-molded intake tubes with multiple angles and straights that allowed D&P to route the intake under the radiator hose and over to the fender.
The wiring of the LSA is pretty straight forward, as everything simply plugs in. Besides finding a good place to mount the control modules, all you need to do is hook up a few power wires and some grounds to the car. D&P placed the modules on top of the glove box under the dash. This keeps them in a safe place and all you need to do is pull six screws from the dash pad and pop it off to service them, if needed. There is a data cable that comes out to let you tune the system if you want and that wire is routed to the bottom of the dash.
We didn't cover the exhaust system in this story but it wasn't a difficult endeavor. D&P took the car to their exhaust guy, and he strung a new set of pipes. He did have to build collectors for the LSA manifolds since they are not offered. He also added the provisions for the O2 sensors.
Time for the driving review of the freshly-built LSA Chevelle. When the car is fired up, its sounds nice and tame, no big lumpy cam or drama that might tell you what's lurking under the hood. If you drive mellow, the car is smooth and refined—almost mundane—until you hit the wick. That's when Dr. Jekyll turns into Mr. Hyde. The supercharger whines as the R's climb and rear tires erupt into smoke, even at a 30mph roll. With over 550 hp coming out of the engine (along with a mountain of torque), this Chevelle is more powerful than any previous factory offering, even the legendary LS6.
The owner of the car, Eric Walker, showed up just as we pulled in. He hopped behind the wheel while we sat shotgun. Watching him hit the key and hearing his car for the first time was pretty cool as his smile just got wider and wider. He took us on another test drive and when we got back we asked him, "Well, how was it?" Here is his response, verbatim: "When I first sat in the car and turned the key, I didn't know what to expect. When you find a car in a barn that sat for 20 years and then all of a sudden your driving it down a surface street, you start to get a little emotional. Once I pulled out of the garage, I was a little nervous because the motor was so new. I think I was driving it like an old lady at first. I could feel the engine pull me with each throttle, almost like it was telling me to give it more. So I did. OMG—I almost wanted to cry. At half throttle, to feel that supercharged motor purr down the street was unreal. I could feel people looking at me with smiles on their faces, as if they were impressed with my quarter-mile time or something. I haven't had that feeling since my son was born and I love it. This is a feeling I long for, and classic cars brings that out. Let me put it like this. You know when your about to go to prom and you have a pretty girl as your date, but the only thing you can think about is your parents '67 Camaro, or '70 Chevelle they are going to lend you? That feeling of excitement, anticipation, amazement and almost a sense of disbelief? That is how I felt driving for those five minutes down those surface streets. The only difference was I didn't have that pretty prom date, I had a bald editor from Super Chevy by my side. Oh Well!"