Ahh, the engine swap. It's a ritual deeply tied to what hot rodding is all about. Whether it's ditching a six-banger for a 350 small-block, swapping a big-block for that small-block, or any number of "this-for-that" combinations, it's what makes cool cars just a bit cooler. Today, one of the more popular exercises is to drop a modern, computer-controlled, EFI-fed mill under the hood, with the most popular choice being GM's line of LS engines. After all, what's not to love? They have great street manners, lightweight aluminum goodness, and a rock-solid EFI system in an arguably affordable package.
If you're a regular reader of this mag, then no doubt you've heard the exploits of autocross maven Mary Pozzi. Typically, she's the fastest thing going at the track in her second-gen Camaro. In fact, chances are the only thing faster than Mary in her car is Mary in a faster car. Which brings us to her ride. It's a well-balanced Camaro but suffers from a chronic condition: too much weight. Not just too much, but in the wrong place-up front. Powered by a stroked 383 small-block, the car was fast, but Mary saw the potential to make it faster. After all, she surmised, "It's 2010 and maybe it was time to see what this LS fuss is about."
But swapping in an LS engine isn't exactly a straightforward endeavor. The LS has needs that differ from a carburetor-fed Gen I small-block. There are also mounting details to be addressed. But today these challenges are easily overcome by a host of companies churning out parts to make swapping in an LS engine nearly painless. And while this install deals specifically with a second-gen, the same principals apply to any Camaro. So, follow along as we bring this girl's F-body into the 21st century.
Fun With First-Gens
The great thing about first-gen Camaros is that LS transplants are even easier than on second-gens. This is mainly because there's a much larger number of products on the market to make going new-school a snap.
Stacy Tucker's '69 had a 383 Gen I small-block and when she decided to go LS, a call was placed over to the guys at Mast Motorsports. They were able to hook her up with a sweet stroker LS engine along with their M90 computer and harness system. A big benefit of their electronics package is the "plug-n-play" nature of it, meaning there are only a few wires to deal with and everything else is terminated with sturdy weatherproof plugs and connectors.