Our first reaction was "They want to do what?" After all, why would anyone go to all the trouble of transplanting an LS7 engine into an '05 Corvette convertible? Then it was explained to us that Chevrolet wouldn't sell this car's owners (or anyone, for that matter) a drop-top equipped with the all-conquering LS7 engine. Next, we were told that an LS7 costs only around $15,000 at your local dealership. (Prices may vary, depending on your location.) That's when the idea started to make sense.
As we discovered, the transplant-while surprisingly straightforward-does require a lot of programming skill. The big problem is getting all the car's computers running. When Fort Myers, Florida's Pro Auto Tech performed this swap, no one had yet hacked into the Z06 computer. Lacking a way to manipulate this new PCM, the folks at Pro Auto simply treated the LS7 engine package as a normal C6 and programmed everything accordingly.
If you've ever done an engine swap, you know the big stuff is usually no problem; it's the little details that will make you crazy. In the case of the LS7, the oiling system is perhaps the biggest potential headache. The LS7 is a dry-sump engine, which means the oil is kept in a separate reservoir instead of a conventional crankcase pan. The reservoir and related lines will set you back more than $1,000. The good news is, installing them is a simple bolt-in operation.
The LS7 also features D-shape exhaust ports, which means normal C6 long-tube headers won't work. Fortunately, a number of Z06-spec long-tubes are now available from the Corvette aftermarket.
Is it Worth it?Ron Bilyeu, the owner of Pro Auto Tech, has driven numerous outrageous Corvettes over the years. After his first 10-mile excursion in this car, he returned to the shop in awe. Never had he seen anything so totally tractable, yet capable of generating such impressive power. "It just kept pulling all the way to the redline," Ron said. "I have no idea how fast this sucker really is." Later in the day, he performed a little dyno testing and found that the car-equipped with Vette Doctors long-tube headers, Callaway intake and exhaust systems, and a mild Comp cam-was making an impressive 502 hp at the rear wheels. That's one very fast convertible.