How To Build A Fast And Dependable LS1
The LS engine is said to be the modern small block V8. It was produced in every range of Chevy/GM vehicle: Vans, Trucks, Camaros, and Corvettes. It was first introduced in the 1992 Corvette, and then adapted to use in almost their whole line. Now it has been adapted again into a gear heads dream: very reliable, good gas mileage, easily swappable, and most importantly available in abundance.Credit: wikimedia commons GNU free documentation license http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1998-1999_fbody_LS1.JPG
Choosing The Block
The LS engine came in sizes ranging from 4.8 liters to 7 liters. One of the most common, and the one to shoot for on a budget, is the generation III 5.3l liter. The engine can be pulled out of most 2000-2007 Chevy Silverado and Suburban. The primary differences between this block and a true LS1 are the intake, oil pan, fuel rails and injectors, accessories, and they are made of iron not aluminum; so they weigh a bit more. Aside from that the 5.3 and the LS can make the same power and all the performance modification for the LS work just as easily on the 5.3l. Depending on your area these engines can be bought on craigslist or in junkyards for 400-600 dollars. We will split the middle and assume 500$
Current total: $500
Make It Fit
Once you have your engine those truck/SUV accessories will not fit well in most car so pull them all off. You will need to replace them with the LS accessories. The water pump, harmonic balancer, and alternator are the only belt driven accessories you have to have on the engine to make it run properly. These can be bought used for around $150, but anything else (AC, power steering, etc..) will add to that cost.
The other modifications needed to make the engine fit into your car are the intake, fuel rails, and injectors. The intake from the truck sits higher than the intake for the LS. To fix this problem you have two options: put a scoop in your hood, or the must simpler option put a stock LS intake on your engine. The Fuel rails and injectors also sit too tall for most cars, and once the intake is swapped they look kind of funny. These can be found on the new and used market for relatively cheap. Another part you will want to get off a real LS id the oil pan. The oil pan on the stock 5.3l is to big and hangs to far for most cars. These can be found used for about $150.. The grand total for these 3 parts should be $250. The stock 5.3l starter will fit and work fine.
Current total: $1050
Add Some Horsepower
Though you engine could be bolted into your car and run fine you probably want the most bang out of your V8. Adding horsepower to LS engines is easy and they can handle a ton of it on a stock build. The parts you will want to add are: GM hot cam, LS3 headers, drive by wire throttle body, and LS2 valve springs and retainers. Most of these parts can be found on the used market, but even on the new market aren't that expensive. The grand total for these parts will be between $500 and $600 dollars. The price is well worth it though. These simple modifications will bring your Frankenstein LS from about 290HP to 400HP.
Total cost: $1600 (About half the cost of an LS1 crate engine)