Though it may seem that an engine swap in any car would be cumbersome, these older Corvettes make the job less difficult than you might surmise. There's a surprising amount of room in the engine bay, and the car's systems are fewer and simpler than on newer models, making this a basic, nuts-and-bolts operation.
Because the five-speed transmission is a tight fit—and since changing an engine in any car with a quality paintjob demands extra care—we enlisted the professionals at Inline Performance Specialists in central Florida to lend us an extra set of hands. With the assistance of Tod and Garret Struck at Inline, we made short work of the operation, easily completing the swap over the course of a Saturday.
Making the job easier, of course, was the fact that we'd already tuned our LS7-killer on Auto Performance Engines' engine dyno. Nothing beats simply bolting an engine in place and turning the key to have it start and run properly from the get-go. (There's still something to be said for the basic approach of a quality carburetor and electronic ignition.) With our Stingray running, we only had to verify that ignition timing hadn't changed, then hook up our exhaust system. Unfortunately, due to the design of our car's exhaust and the new Hooker headers, we did need some new parts to make it work.
This month we'll show you the installation of our LS7-killer SBC, along with the parts necessary to ensure that Project C3 Triple-Ex stays operational for a long time. This is shaping up to be a seriously fun car, and an initial, open-header blast around the parking lot (OK, and maybe down a back road) revealed that our Vette now has power to spare. We've ordered an exhaust system, so it won't be long before we can drive the car on the street and take it to the track for testing. Be sure to follow our project in future issues of VETTE, and look for videos of our first drive on vetteweb.com.