LS-Engine Swap Part Deux: An Update To Help Your Project Along

Back in July of 2015, we provided a decent list of LS-Swap parts for you, in order to help you get the basics for your installation. Well, that was a few years ago, and we felt it is time to bring you up to date with a few more components that add to the list, and are necessary to complete the installation. While some prefer to keep their classic Chevrolet true to its original form, the LS swap has gained momentum as the go-to powerplant in classic vehicles. It not only gives you easy horsepower, but the market is still booming and this upgrade has become more than just a set of engine mounts and headers.

These days, you’ll find the trusty LS in everything from a Vega to a squarebody — and even crossing over to other makes. But planning your LS swap relies on many other aspects, and a few companies have provided the necessary components that facilitate the swap without a lot of running-around time. Components like engine mounts, front drives, and EFI systems are still very much alive and have been around for a while. But there’s so much more to do than just bolting in that LS, so we’ve listed a few things to think about.

Fuel Delivery

Whether you want to go basic and add a surge tank or go for the full fuel delivery system, BRP and Holley have solutions. With an EFI system, in-tank pumps are the best way to go, but that will mean a new tank - and added costs - but you still have choices.

Converting to an LS and ditching the carburetor means changing your classic fuel delivery system. The ultimate way to upgrade your fuel system to EFI would be a custom fuel tank with an in-tank pump like one from Tanks Inc. But if you’re not quite ready to shell out the coin for a new fuel tank, BRP HotRods offers surge tanks to make the conversion simpler.

LS swap

Tanks Inc. has EFI-ready tanks that use aftermarket 5-bolt senders. senders are available in multiple Ohm ranges to work with factory or aftermarket gauges. The tanks feature EFI-style internal baffling with an extra-large 4.8-liter baffled fuel tray to prevent fuel pump starvation. The fuel pump and sender are recessed in the tank for easy installation with no modification needed to your car. Looks like an OE tank when installed. The galvanized steel tanks are even powdercoated silver.

A surge tank is a cost-effective solution when you don’t want to convert your tank to EFI. It’s a small reservoir for fuel that can be mounted to a frame rail or underhood, and contains an EFI-ready fuel pump to get the pressure up to where it needs to be. This will work with your existing fuel tank and pickup.

Complete fuel line systems are also available to plumb your entire system from the tank to the port injection. The fuel hose kits will include plenty of hose, several -6AN fittings, and a fuel pressure regulator. While the surge tank will accommodate your swap with a simpler and less costly way to deliver the fuel, to complete the look and completely modernize your fuel delivery, the EFI tank and hose kits are the way to go.

Getting Hosed

Tell the part’s guy you’re woking an LS swap, and he’ll show you the way to the parts shelf in the back. BRP has a few of the more popular hoses already selected for you, unless you like choosing your own hoses from the magnitude of hoses hanging from plastic clips.

Try to visit the local auto parts store for radiator and fuel hoses, and he’ll hand you something that’s not even close to what you need. For starters, the original hose isn’t going to work for an LS swap without doing some LS swap magic, and BRP has several radiator hoses to fit varying applications. These hoses are the solution for both larger or tighter engine compartments, and include some of the longer hoses needed if you don’t swap to an LS-style radiator.

Whether you’re upgrading to a rack-and-pinion system or keeping that old steering box, adding a front-drive system to your LS to simplify pulley selection means you’ve changed your pump over to the LS-style pump. But not to worry, that pump will work with your old steering box, or even a replacement if you decide to go with a new GM unit from Borgeson Universal. Now that you’ve got that great looking front drive, you won’t want to do the archaic rubber hose-look, so head over to BRP and get a power steering hose kit to clean up the plumbing and give it a finished look.

Radiator Options

BRP HotRods offers LS-style radiators in aluminum or black epoxy finish to give your radiator that classic look. Another option at a lower price point would be Champion Cooling's LS series dual-pass radiators, which carry a lifetime warranty.

Initially, the Corvette was the only factory LS recipient to get a dual-pass radiator. Other vehicles had an upper radiator hose that seemed to defy gravity as it stretched from one side to the other. Fortunately, for those who want to avoid the hose clutter and clean up the cooling system, dual-pass radiators are the way to go. Not only do you get a radiator with both upper and lower hoses on the passenger side, but you get additional cooling since the coolant passes through your radiator twice. You can find that option in a few of Holley’s Frostbite radiators.

BPR’s offering includes your choice of bright aluminum or a black epoxy finish with stamped tanks that mimic the classic look of radiators with rounded tanks. Champion Cooling Systems also offers dual-pass radiators for LS swaps for several GM vehicles, with shroud and cooling fan components to finish off the system. With a front-drive system, electric fans are a must.

Holley’s Frostbite LS radiator packages come as a complete package with everything you need: radiator, ORB hose fittings, cooling fans and shroud, and a relay kit.

If you want the simplicity of a one-part-number choice for your cooling system, look no further than Holley’s Frostbite LS swap cooling package, which will give you all the parts you need to keep that LS cool. They’ve put together a package with radiators that include a steam port for the cylinder head venting. BPR radiators include an internal transmission cooler. Champion Cooling offers a limited lifetime warranty for as long as you own your car, and come in at a lower price point.

One-Stop Shopping For Your LS

Choose your vehicle, and Holley provides all of its LS swap components in one place.

Many like to pick and choose components for their LS swap, while others thoroughly enjoy seeing the delivery truck show up with a truck full of components from the same vendor. Our friends at Holley have put together a series of LS swap components in an all-in-one place to simplify your shopping experience. It has several listings by vehicle application that provide you with all you’ll need from fuel tanks to radiators and everything in between.

For instance, select the 1968-’72 Chevelle, and a plethora of LS swap components appear. You’ll find engine and transmission mounts, oil pans, headers and exhaust systems, fuel tanks, and the company’s line of Frostbite radiators specific to the LS swap. Gone are the days of calling up your buddy with the welder and fabrication skills to come over for beer and pizza to make that pile of scrap metal into a transmission crossmember.

Holley's transmission crossmember is a pretty trick-looking component. it would take a lot of beer and pizza to get your fabricator friend to come up with something like that. It also offers options for oil pans since the stock pan won't clear many crossmembers, or they might hang too low.

When it comes to your accessory drives, many offerings are more of a what you see is what you get. Holley takes it a step further and provides options for low-, mid-, and hi-mount accessory drives for your LS. This gives you the ability to tailor your pulleys and accessories the way you like them.

These systems are available in black, as-cast, and polished finishes, with a cast damper or an SFI certified damper. You can choose with or without A/C or power steering, and they’ll fit within the confines of your engine compartment based on which system you choose.

Whether you have a huge engine compartment or a narrow one, Holley's options for a front-drive kit takes that into consideration with three layout choices for your accessory drive.

We’ve come a long way since the first LS swaps were done many years ago, and today we have companies that have upped the ante for planning and completing your swap into your classic Chevy. We’ve only touched on the options and parts available from a couple of companies that cater to the LS swap crowd, and there are plenty more.

EFI systems have also come a long way and even though an LS with a carburetor is a very cool retro-choice for fuel delivery, you can’t beat the driveability and economy of an EFI conversion, and doing it the right way is going to eliminate a few headaches down the road. Be sure to check out BRP HotRods, Holley, or the other specific-part manufacturers we mentioned for your LS swap needs, and reach out to them for expert advice on how to complete your swap the right way.

Article Sources

About the author

Michael Harding

Michael is a Power Automedia contributor and automotive enthusiast who doesn’t discriminate. Although Mopar is in his blood, he loves any car that looks great and drives even faster.
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