Since it came out in 1997, the LS engine family has altered the landscape of Chevrolet performance almost as much as Gen I series small-block. It’s a great performer in modern vehicles, but its compact dimensions and huge power make it a prime choice for being swapped into earlier Chevrolets. While the Gen I family still reigns supreme for overall cost effectiveness, its offspring (Gen III and IV) are quickly closing that gap.
One thing that still gives some trepidations about performing an LS swap into an older vehicle is fuel injection. All the wiring, fuel line plumbing, mounting a computer, etc., is still a daunting task for many when compared to bolting on a simple carburetor that you only need a screwdriver and vacuum gauge to tune. Many enthusiasts tend to stick with what they know, and a lot of guys know carbs better than they know their own cell number.
But what about putting a carb on an LS engine? Many on both sides would decry it as sheer lunacy. The fuel injection side would scream “Why are you putting archaic technology on a modern engine?”, while the carb side would yell “That’s too complicated!”
So, why convert an LS engine to a carb for an engine swap? Greg Lovell, owner of Antivenom High Performance in Seffner, Florida, is one of the country’s leading tech’s for swapping LS engines into cars. We asked him why would you do this.
“A swap like this can be done to save on the expense of wiring, elaborate fuel systems, computer tuning availability, and simply as a starting point. The swap can be driven this way for a long time,” says Greg. “Later, a fuel system and computer controls can be added for the full swap. A carb equipped LS engine is a very easy way for an old-school Chevy guy to get familiar with the Gen III and IV engine family, and not have to learn the computer tuning. He can now simply get his feet wet as opposed to diving right in.”
As it happened, Greg had an ’87 Caprice at his shop that was undergoing a salvage yard 5.3L truck engine swap and the owner wanted carburetion. Thanks to a new array of parts from Holley and its subsidiary companies, swapping in a carb-equipped LS is easier than ever. We decided to follow along, and see exactly what goes into doing this swap. It was pretty eye opening, and once you read through, it might make you reconsider your next build.