Let’s face it, without an engine our beloved Corvettes are just useless metal sculptures decorating our driveways, and one of the best out there is the venerable LS-series from GM. They first hit the performance scene in the ’97 Corvette and soon found their way, in various incarnations, into a host of GM vehicles. To say the LS engine is a success would be an epic understatement. Aside from all the truck variants, the ones that power our Corvettes made the C5 and C6 the cars what they are. Sure, the suspension and other aspects are great, but the engines are what really upped the Vette’s game. After being launched in the ’97 Corvette they also quickly found their way into vintage Vettes. Why? Simple, they’re easy to work on, easy to mod, easy to tune, and since they’re similar in dimensions to a traditional small-block they’re easy to install. They’re also lightweight and can put out gobs of power with minimal mods. Jump in your favorite time machine and go back to say 1990, then waltz into a speed shop and tell them you want an all-aluminum, fuel-injected small-block that puts out over 500 horsepower. We bet $20 grand wouldn’t cover it. Today you can buy that “dream engine” for around $7,000, brand new from throttle body to oil pan.
GM frankly hit it out of the park with the design of the LS series of engines. And they did it with good old-fashioned pushrods. In fact, that’s one reason it’s so successful. GM built the LS from the ground up, but they kept it familiar to those used to working on the older generations. This meant the learning curve was shorter and, as mentioned, the packaging was kept similar as well, which facilitates retrofitting into our classics. Builders and engine swappers rejoiced at the way the same pulley system could be used on everything from a 6.2L LS3 to a 4.8L LS1 out of a truck. It’s the same with the bellhousing and a host of other parts. This made it a no-brainer for the aftermarket to support the platform and that support made working with the engine even easier.
Of course, the ’14 C7 received the new LT1 engine (a name we hate, but that’s another editorial) and we’re sure the rest of GM’s V-8–powered vehicles will eventually switch over to variants of this newest direct-injected wonder mill. But the LT1 has a tough act to follow and we’re still undecided if it will ever match the LS series’ popularity.