3.8L to ls7... what would it take???

75

Asked by Mar 26, 2009 at 08:54 PM about the 1996 Chevrolet Camaro

Question type: Car Customization

Hey everyone... I own a 1996 Camaro 3.8L and i was planning on making the swap for an ls7 or really and other motors capable of pumping out 500 HP + on pump gas ... I was just wondering if anyone had gone this route and what a mod like this would entail ... I know it would be an expensive operation and require practically all new engine, tranny and electrical components ...In the end im looking for the car to push 400+ whp... Oh and would there have to be andy frame mods for a t-top 3.8L to handle the horsepower besides along the driveline ? Whatever advice i can get would be greatly appreciated Thanks...

28 Answers

1,175

your cheapest bet would be to sell your current camaro, and buy a camaro with an ls1.. and work from there... but if you go forward with the swap, why not swap in a ls1, would be much cheaper and easier to find then a ls7, and when the engine is out anyways its an easy time to make mods...

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
6,675

if all youre looking for is 400+ hp if i was you i would just swap in an LT4 engine. that years z28 came with an LT1. with an LT4 conversion kit the engine still runs pump fuel and puts out over 400+ hp. the engine would be an easy swap for you compared to going with the LS series motors. just something to think about.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
35

really, all you'd need to do the swap is factory LSx motor mounts, and a trans from a LS1 Camaro. you'll need subframe connectors too, anything over 400bhp and you need them. and to whoever said that an LT4 would push 400WHP, maybe with quite a few mods (ie, H/C/I). the LSx series of engines will push that quite easily, no offence to the LTx guys, but it takes a little more work to get there.

5

There much more cost effective ways to build 400HP, you would build up a LT1 but the best way to do it would be to get a drivetrain out of a newer F-body LS1 you will need the rear, tranny, engine, ECU and wiring, and the LS1 f-body K member. you can do an LS6 build on a LS1 and will make about 400 HP

6,675

the LT4 conversion from the LT1 comes with new heads cams and intake parts. its around $2000. it puts out over 400 hp. do your homework.

75

Thanks for all the advice guys ... as far as getting rid of the car i doubt it due to it being my first camaro and i've had plans of the swap for quite a while ... although agreeable probably more cost effective i think ill avoid that route ... I like the LT4 and Lsx series ideas and from what i can tell the LT4 idea would probably fit slightly easier but ive always been a fan of the LSx series motors so that sounds quite interesting.... The biggest issue with the LS motors is the tranny/oil pan clearance if im not mistaken but as one of you had said with an LS tranny that would be eliminated ??? and what kind of a bill do you think swapping an LSx could run up with lets say more than half of the work done in my garage ??? Because im not sure if I'd be able to handle the entire task while i do belive i have enough mechanical experiance to organise most of it... Thanks again for your advice

35

Well, for my '84 Z, I swapped an LS1/4L60E outta wrecked '99 Trans Am and the only fab work I had to do was to cut a notch in the k-member to clear the A/C compressor, but now they make a bracket to avoid that. I don't know if the swap to a 4th gen is much different from a swap to a 3rd gen. Try www.hawksthirdgenparts.com or www.fbodymotorsports.com. They should have most of what you would need. I had to use some motor mounts and trans crossmember that both stores have. I'd imagine the easiest way to do this swap would be to find a wrecked LS1 car and either by the whole car, if not the whole car, be sure to get as much as you can. Engine, wiring harnesses, transmission, fuel pump, etc. I'd look for either an LS1 and do bolt ons like LS6 intake and heads, or an LS2 if you want to hit the 400hp+ mark.

75

thanks buddy that sounds about right ill have to look around for a scrapped ls1 and id be able to get all the neccesary parts for the swap... thanks agn for the advice and any more would be greatly appreciated since theres no such thing as to much information...

305

for a 96 ur most cost effective route would be an LTx style motor due to the car already having the engine mounts and cross member for it. but if i were you i would go with the LT4 swap get a LT1 out of an F-body dont get a B-body it wont work, get the LT4 conv. kit from jegs, then look around for whats called an LTCC kit (LT Coil per Cylinder) it get's rid of the cap and rotor on the opti and puts an coil per cylinder setup on there which u can set up just like the LS motors. The bonus to that is since the ring that tells the coils to fire is in the gut of the opti u dont have to worry about a rock flying up and destroying it. BTW an LT4 freshly built will land u roughly around 425+ to the rear wheels very good engines. since its out i would go look around for high compression forged internal's for the car do some math talk to some guys figure out what will land you around 11.5:1 compression you'll easily put out 500whp on pump gas. you're also going to need a new suspension especially in the front since your's is tuned for the V6. you'll need the trans from a LT style motor and rear end. Also and im going to say this in caps so u read it first "FOR OVER 400WHP YOU MUST BUY SUB-FRAM CONNECTORS" if you don't you'll lose ur t-tops getting on it, and those are $800 a piece.

1,175

once you build ant lt1 to put out that much power an ls1 would likely cost very little more, if not around the same... plus the lt1 is a much much heavier engine

35

i said over 400 at the wheels, i haven't seen any LT4's making that without a large cam and a little head work.

35

ok, if you really want power, go big or go home :D 454ci + BBC :D:D it'll fit, tight sqeeze but it will fit.

1,175

you would get more power from an ls1...and a ls7 is already a 427... not to mention 1/3 the weight and double the driveability

35

LS7 is still a small block, and is quite high strung already. last i checked, a 496 big block can make just shy of 1000hp N/A, i haven't seen an LS1 do that without a power adder.

1,175

thats a highly modified very expensive enigine... and it would weigh roughly 900-1000 pounds while an ls1 would weight 600 max, acelleration would be a little slower, handle much much better and likely get about 4 times the fuel mileage

555

hey there is another motor that might work, ever heard of the Lsx 454 you may be able to find it in the GMPP catalog. or lingenfelter performance has a cam for the LS7 that makes it generate 625 hp. now onto other things; transmission either turbo400 automatic or son of transilla manual would get power to the wheels and last through it, stiffer springs for sure or a track pack suspension then add a shock tower brace if it will fit above and in between the motor & hood. then most importantly; TRACTION since you are looking for over 400hp you are going to need some good rubber, so in my opinion the best way to do it is to get tubs to fit some 10.5" tires out back. Iif you really are committed to it then it will be one badass Camaro, good luck.

305

here's the problem with big blocks in f-body's. Their too big, both in width and in lenghth. There's not enough space there between the strut tower's to fit a big block, nor enough room from the radiator to the firewall for it. plus being that this car is a unibody instead of a subframe it's to heavy to just sit in there. you would need all new engine mounts and a new crossmember a different hood to fit the carb, a hell of alot stiffer shocks and springs in the front end to support it, all new fuel lines to hook up to the carb probably a stand-alone fuel system cus im almost positive that even a big block doesnt need 40psi of fuel. you'll blow so much money fabbing up something to hold a big block that in the end it wont be worth it. and to the guy that said something about the LSX 454, it's not a crate engine its the LSX Bowtie block it's sold independently from all the rest of the components. It's capable of being bored and stroked up to a maximum of i think 473 or something. Like i have been saying all along LT4 is going to be ur cheapest most reliable bet for for a 3.8 camaro if its a 96-97 all the mounts are there the cross member is there just drop it in with a tranny and rearend and your good to go. you'll make 425+ with the LT4 and spend roughly $5k on everything going that route, an LS1 by itself cost's that.

305

i will call bull on that show me where u saw it or ur lying. highest n/a i have ever seen was a mk IV block at 527 push 725whp at 12:1 compression, that was no nitrous nothing.

6,675

i said LT4 earlier too. easiest swap of the bunch and least expensive with great performance and reliability still

your best option for the swap would be a ls1 from the '99 z/28

25

why not a crate zz4 from gm there about 560 to 570 horse stock with a little finess u can get roughly six thirty horses

555

have you ever worked on an engine build? I'm guessing not cuz the zz4 crate is a 350. As ordered it comes in at 355 hp and 405lb-ft of torque. if you are lucky then with a TFS cam, heads , single pane intake and a 750 double pumper carb you can hit 430hp at 6100 rpm. but to get near 600hp from that motor you'll be running near 9,000 rpm and some heavy porting on the heads and forget about pump gas. then it would have horrible street manners as well. for more info on the ZZ4 crate look for the febuary 2009 issuse of hotrod.

25

time and money haha. rear end should be switched to a 12 bolt or 9", tie the subframes with connectors, upgrade rear suspension, new crossmember, might need a new driveshaft, def need a new tranny, 400-500 whp you would want to make sure your parts are forged all around. get a crate ls7 and it will come with everytihng you need generally.

25

it would be cheapest / easiest to buy an lt1 long block, send the heads to lloyd elliott or advanced induction and have them ported and polished with all new hardware, get their custom pack with the valvetrain / camshaft and put all that together. get long tubes, a tune, and some rear suspension and good tires. get subframe connectors. altogether less than an ls7 crate engine and just as powerful and you can tell those people with ls engines that you are just runnin an old lt1, nothin special. total cost... 2000 for long block 1500 for transmission 300 for a 10 bolt rear and all the stuff 1500 for heads p/p and new hardware and cam 700 for valvetrain stuff on top 700 for suspension 700 for good long tubes exhaust 7400 total.. an ls7 crate motor long block costs like, 15000 dollars i think also if you do the labor yourself it costs this a lot cheaper haha. if you cant do the labor yourself might as well buy a z28 ls1 and then do heads / cams for na power and eventually get new rear when your 10 breaks

75

Haa... very well put guys.. thanks again for the advice .. ill update you all as the project moves along

5

If you go the LTx route. Don't buy the LT4 kit it's not worth your money. Talk to someone like Lloyd Elliot or Advanced Induction

better off just buying a v8 camaro, by the time you're done buying wire harnesses & computer and suspension components and transmission drive shaft and so on you'll be able to buy a new car .

220

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