Think Gen III and newer engine swaps are a bit spendy and limited to those with deep pockets? Try again, because we're about to extinguish those beliefs and show you how to get up to date with today's modern powerplant without breaking the bank.
We've showcased many LS conversions, but this has to be the most affordable transplant we've ever seen. It all started with getting the inside scoop on Stoker's Hot Rod Factory's latest LS conversion brackets; add in the '55 Tri-Five they picked up recently for their shop's ride, a $900 Vortec 5300 5.3L sitting in the corner, and you have the recipe for a cool street machine that'll provide a lot of fun for years to come.
For this conversion, we're strictly focusing on the engine hardware, namely the LS conversion brackets. However, for those of you wondering about the computer harness and fuel system, there are a number of options to choose from.
In this case, a MSD high pressure fuel pump was used to provide the petrol; priced at just over $100, these gems can support up to 500 hp while only requiring 5.4 amps. For the return line, a 5/16-inch hardline was plumbed to the original drain in the tank; nothing overly complicated. If this isn't an option, then drill and tap the fuel sender.
When it came to the harness, again, you have several options that range from the factory setup to a complete stand-alone system. Our setup retained the factory harness both from an economical standpoint and because it came with the engine.
There you have, an easy way to bring your street machine up to date with a modern-day powerplant on a blue-collar budget.
What's a Vortec 5300
Engine block: Cast-iron or aluminum
Cylinder heads: Aluminum or iron 15-degree cathedral port
Bore & stroke: 3.780 x 3.622
Power: 285-320 hp and 325-340 lb-ft
Used in: 1999+ mid/full-size trucks and SUVs
1. Here’s where the magic happens; Stoker’s Hot Rod Factory has come up with a new design to help make LS transplants a breeze. These completely adjustable brackets will allow all LS powerplants to fit into any number of muscle cars, including Chevelles, Camaros, Novas, Corvettes, Tri-Fives, and Impalas. More appropriately, they’re priced right at just $85 for the pair with hardware.
2. For added strength, each bracket is CNC machined out of 3/8-inch steel plate. The supplied hardware features cad plated 3/8-inch Grade 5 hex bolts with nyloc nuts that mount onto the motor mounts. The three additional metric flat head cap screws are used to mount the bracket onto the engine block itself. Once the motor mount is attached to the brackets, this is what allows the motor to be moved back and forth for final fitment.
3. If you’re using a factory motor mount like this one, you will have to grind down the factory boss before you can mount it onto the brackets; this is common with all brackets on the market. If you’re using a urethane motor mount, then you can skip this step.
4. When mounting the Stoker’s Hot Rod Factory LS conversion brackets to the engine block, it’s important to mention that these brackets are reversible and can be flipped over to give you additional adjustability.
5. Once the brackets are mounted; the 3/8-inch hex bolts are what allow the engine to move forward or backwards. Note: We recommend using Loctite on the metric flat head cap screws after final fitment.
6. Typically, 1955 Chevys come with a front engine mount system and will require a side mount conversion. In our case, the previous owner had taken care of that for us when they dropped in the non-original 283ci small-block.
7. With the old 283ci out of the way, Terry Stoker lowered the 5.3L into the engine bay for the first time.
8. From the beginning, the engine was sitting too far back against the firewall; with the engine mated to the transmission, we disconnected the transmission crossmember and positioned the 5.3L 1 1/2-inches forward for added clearance. This also allowed us to retain the factory exhaust manifolds with room to spare against the aftermarket steering box.
9. The original 5.3L pan was in good shape, just too deep to use on a lowered car, so we went ahead and added a Holley retro-fit oil pan (PN 302-1), including Holley’s internal baffle kit (PN 302-10). These trick pans feature a factory fitment with NVH suppression, while the baffle kit helps to maintain oil levels at the oil pump pick-up during hard accelerations and turns. Total cost for the pan and baffle is around $600 and well worth it in the long run.
10. To finish up the transplant and help keep additional costs to a minimum, we were able to space the engine enough to also retain the factory clutch-fan setup. The stock air intake and engine cover gives it a nice factory finish and the total cost came in at $1,700; that’s tough to beat! CHP