The most powerful muscle car Chevrolet produced in the old days was the ’70 Chevelle fitted with the 450hp LS6. After ’70, the power dropped off with each year and we found ourselves in what is considered the dark ages of performance. Now the muscle is back in muscle cars thanks in large part to the LS engine family. While we know the ZR1 Vette is the king of the Bow Tie market, there are a couple siblings that are knocking on its heels. The ZL1 Camaro and the CTS-V from Caddy are respectable machines and are both powered by a somewhat de-tuned version of the Vette’s engine. That engine is called the LSA and it’s a 6.2L fitted with an intercooled Eaton supercharger. The Chevrolet Performance LSA has 556hp ready to be unleashed when you romp on the go pedal and yet purrs like a kitten at idle.
We have covered LS swaps in the past, but we thought it was high time to install an LSA and what better car to do it in then the big boy that is the ’70 Chevelle? The LS engine is becoming the new standard when it comes to engine swaps and we totally understand why. Good power, dependability, much better fuel economy are just a few of the reasons.
The issue with swapping in an LS engine is finding all the right parts to do it. Since the first LS found its way into a muscle car, the task has gotten easier as the aftermarket industry is feverously producing parts to support the task. Well, thanks to Chevrolet Performance Division the job has become even easier with its new Connect-and-Cruise packages. Chevrolet Performance describes them as new crate powertrain systems that are factory-engineered engine-and-transmission combinations that include all the electronic control modules, wiring harnesses and other key components you need ordered with one part number. The engineers matched the engines and transmissions for optimal performance and durability, so you can wring out all the horsepower from them with total confidence.
The specially calibrated controllers are designed for retrofit installation in older vehicles for easier and quicker installation and operation, without the need for third party tuning. Each one comes with an installation kit, including flex plates, covers and other important components to keep typical mid-project parts chasing to a minimum.
We asked Dr. Jamie Meyer of Chevrolet Performance about the LSA and he said, “The LSA Crate Powertrain System is a great solution for someone looking for an up-level powertrain straight from one of our modern high performance vehicles at GM. The LSA brings you 556hp thanks to a 376 ci LS engine topped by a 1.9 liter Eaton supercharger putting out around 6-8 lbs of boost. I’ve driven some of our engineering mules with this same powertrain, and they are simply amazing. Big time torque is available at any rpm. And, it’s topped off by a healthy powerband well past 6,000 rpm. Coupled with a SuperMatic 4L85-E transmission and all of the electronics, the Chevrolet Performance engineers have certainly delivered another ground breaking product to the hot rod market.”
All the work will be done at D&P Classics in Huntington Beach, California. We spoke to D&P owner Darryl Nance and asked him if his shop could take on this task. He responded, “The crew at D&P Classic Chevy has been modernizing classic Chevrolet vehicles for decades. Over the years D&P has installed everything from six-cylinders up to the mighty 572 big-block and everything in between. The LS based engines became our favorite at D&P and we have installed a lot of them over the years. Most of the engines we have installed were purchased new as crate engines from Chevrolet Performance. We have installed every configuration of LS engine, including several of the LS9 ZR1 Corvette engines.
“The new LSA supercharged engine package is another product that has broad based appeal to the hot rod and aftermarket audience. We are excited to swap in the LSA engine and the ’70 Chevelle SS non-number matching car is the perfect candidate for some 21st century modernization.”
Lastly, we asked our illustrious editor, Jim Campisano, to weigh in on the LSA since he has seat time in both the cars powered by it. “Having driven both the Camaro ZL1 and Cadillac CTS-V with automatic transmissions and LSA engines, I can tell you this car is going to be an absolute thrill when finished. There’s mad power everywhere, but the LSA is as docile a Malibu rental at idle. If you like banzai top-speed runs, you’d be hard-pressed to do better. And if you can keep the throttle off the floor, you’ll be rewarded with better-than-average fuel economy. My best advice for the owner would be to make friends with the guy at the local tire store—he’ll be buying a lot of tires for the back of the Chevelle!”
Now let us take a closer look at what the Connect-and-Cruise is all about and make sure to come back next month to see D&P actually stuffing the components in the car.
D&P Classic Chevy