Years ago, installing an LS engine between the front fenders of first- or second-generation F-Body car was a challenging endeavor. That is no longer the case because aftermarket engine mounts, transmission crossmembers, and peripheral equipment are now readily available for about any combination. When swapping an LS engine into a 30- to 45-yearold F-Body, you’re integrating some of the latest GM engine technology into a vintage car, so it’s not just bolting the engine to the subframe. An LS engine swap into an F-Body goes far beyond that. It’s installing a complete performance package that’s compatible with F-Body chassis. As a result, the LS engine, transmission, suspension, brakes, wheels, and tires all have to be compatible at the minimum; and complementary for maximum performance.
This Tech Tip is From the Full Book, SWAP LS ENGINES INTO CAMAROS & FIREBIRDS: 1967-1981. For a comprehensive guide on this entire subject you can visit this link:
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Before you mount the engine on a hoist and prepare to install it, also select the engine mounts, adapter plates, transmission crossmember, headers, and oil pan because these are part of a package. Although experienced swappers can use parts from multiple brands and essentially piece together their own engine mount kit, I recommend you purchase a complete swap kit from a single manufacturer. By doing it this way, you have compatible parts and make the install much easier because you won’t have fitment issues from mixing and matching parts. Holley, Street & Performance, Energy Suspension, Autokraft, and Turn Key Engine Supply offer kits for LS engine swaps into early F-Bodies.
The installation of an LS engine can be done in the typical garage with jack stands, a solid and reliable engine hoist, and a host of typical hand tools. I recommend that you use a load balancer because it’s easier to position the engine while installing it on the frame rails. A load balancer is particularly helpful when keeping the front sheet metal, which includes fenders, front fascia, and grille. It’s needed especially if you are installing the transmission and engine together as one unit, as I chose to do. It’s cheap and safe insurance for your well-being and to keep your investment.
At this stage, you’ve carefully considered and determined your application, so you’ve selected your engine and determined the setup. Now you need to figure out which transmission you’re going to use. Virtually any one on the market is compatible with an LS, so you have to narrow it down. The good news is that you won’t have to modify the transmission tunnel in most cases. I say “most cases” because many firstand second-generation F-Body cars are close in specification, but the operative word is “close.” The tolerances can vary widely from one body to the next. The only exception that I am aware of is the 4L80E transmission; it is typically quite large and in most cases needs a transmission tunnel adjustment.
Front Clip Sheet Metal
When swapping an LS engine into your first- or second-generation F-body, remove the front clip sheet metal so you have easier access to the front subframe for mounting the engine. In addition, won’t risk damaging the valuable sheet metal when installing your new LS power plant. While removing the sheet metal isn’t a requirement to install the LS, it has many advantages as discussed, and I had my own reasons. For one, I did this for demonstration purposes as detailed later. Also, I removed the front sheet metal because I’m going to change the subframe in the near future, and it makes the install much easier in the long run if I do this step first. Keep in mind that if you remove the front end, you need to realign all the panels for gap and proper fit when the parts are reinstalled.
Several bolts secure the front sheet metal to the frame, and you need to remove the bolts and carefully support the front fenders when removing them. To remove the front sheet-metal bodywork, use a simple socket set with a fair amount of WD-40 and a couple of buddies who can help you lift the front clip off.
When it comes time to separate the bodywork from the frame, get some friends to help lift off the sheet metal. You need to carefully and methodically remove the sheet metal because you don’t want to damage it. When you’re performing a swap project, you don’t want the expense or hassle of performing bodywork because the sheet metal was tweaked or damaged during removal. Although the liftoff procedure can be done with three people, a fourth person makes the job easier to complete because that person can help resolve any unforeseen snags and hang-ups, such as removing missed bolts or disconnecting wiring and hoses. Often times, the “spotter” is the vehicle owner, as was the case here.
Spend the time to make sure all the bolts and fasteners that connect the sheet metal to the chassis have been removed, so you save on the frustration and hassle. Remove a few bolts so the front end can be separated from the rest of the chassis. Several bolts hold the front clip to the subframe and firewall. In fact, several bolts connect to the firewall and the inner fender well bolts. Use a 9/16- and 1/2-inch socket and ratchet to remove these bolts.
Be sure to disconnect important components, such as the front wiring, ground wires, hoses, and anything else that might get in your way. I found it easier to disconnect the front wiring harness at the firewall, which is just under the brake booster and held in by a solitary bolt.
After removing the battery tray, you see one of the six main body mount bolts that hold on the sheet metal. Removing the battery tray and body mount bolts is a simple procedure using the appropriate sockets and wrenches. In this case I had to cut one of them off with a reciprocating saw due to rust. I had the misfortune of running into a seized bolt that rounded off when I took an impact gun to it. I took this opportunity to buy new tools and cut the bolt off. Another body mount bolt is located on the driver’s side. While performing this procedure, it’s wise to replace the stock body mounts with either stock replacements or, in this case, solid aluminum mounts that work together with the Speed Tech subframe. These mounts keep the body securely supported and work just as well on the aftermarket subframe as they do on a stock subframe. They are the same size and shape as the stock versions but are completely solid.
Two bolts fasten the two fenders to the firewall. These are easier to access if you remove the hood hinges.
In addition, you need to remove the bolts that hold the inner fender wells in place. The mounting bolts on the passenger’s side were accessed through the engine compartment while the driver’s side was less complicated if I removed the bolts from the inside of the fender. In addition, there are two lower bolts holding the front fenders to the body. These are located just in front of the rocker panels and are underneath the car held on with J-clips.
At this stage, the front-end sheet metal should be removed from your F-Body. When you’re disassembling the body, bag and label all the bolts and spacers you have removed. It saves time and reduces hassle during reassembly and when aligning the body panels. The front tires should be removed before lifting off the front clip because it allows plenty of legroom and enough room to guide the fenders off. One key tip: Make sure the lower part of the fender has enough clearance to release itself; this is a good job for the spotter as it’s his paint job.
You can certainly retain the stock subframe for an LS swap in your firstor second-gen F-Body. If you choose to use the stock subframe, you need a few special parts to make it work properly, so don’t let that deter you from making a clean install. These parts include special engine mount adapters, a new location for the transmission crossmember, and a set of headers designed for the LS series of engines in either the first- or second-generation F-Body.
Before installing the LS engine in an F-Body subframe, carefully and methodically remove the wiring harness from the chassis because you don’t want to leave it connected to the chassis and damage it when installing the engine. While it is entirely possible to install the engine with the wiring harness in position, it’s best just to remove it to avoid any possible damage.
When the transmission is connected to the LS engine, its bellhousing sits much closer to the cylinder heads than in the Gen I small-block engines so your LS engine sits nearly flush with the firewall. As a result you have a few clearance issues to resolve. The valve cover clearance is very tight and often a valve cover interferes with the heater hose outlets on the firewall. Not only does this cause an issue with typical engine movement during normal operations, but it also makes it almost impossible to route heater hoses. To resolve this problem, you can install a 1969 Camaro big-block heater box and heater core because this repositions outlet fittings so the hoses clear the valve covers. Make sure to get the correct model for your application. The firstgeneration versions are all the same but the second-generation cars use a different design.
The stock brake booster is often too big and crowds the factory LS ignition coils on the valve covers. Replacing the brake booster with a smaller housing is another effective solution, especially if you are going to keep the stock or similar brake package.
Installing a coil-relocation kit and moving the coils is one option. Many companies offer relocation kits. In fact, ATS sells a kit that allows the coils to be moved to the underside of the engine, making them virtually invisible. It features a set of custom-made brackets that allow you to put the coils in any number of locations, including the back of the heads so you have many options for mounting the coils. This kit works with LS3 coils and gives the engine a clean, uncluttered look. Keep in mind what type of brakes you’ll be using as a small booster generally means less brake assist. I was able to find a much smaller, 8-inch dual-diaphragm version that I sourced from Matt’s Classic Bowties. I also used a 7/8-inch master cylinder that provides enough line pressure to provide the clamping force needed for the six-piston Baer calipers.
For my particular engine swap, the stock steering linkage was retained so maneuvering the engine into position under the hood and aligning it with the frame rails was a real challenge. I had to inch my way forward with the LS3/T56 transmission. If the T56 had not been mated to the engine, this procedure might have been a lot easier. A lot of finessing went into using the stock frame mounts and the ATS engine mounts. I often had to lower the engine a fraction of an inch then push it forward to make any progress.
The engine hoist securely supported the engine and transmission combination, but that can’t be said for the chain-to-hoist link, which gave out at the last possible second. I had a friend help me with the procedure moving the engine down and back over and over again. You could in theory do this alone in your shop, as I had to do many times before. It helps to make the install go that much more smoothly with an extra pair of hands and eyes to guide things into place safely. This method had to be repeated many times to get it just right. While I didn’t get a photo of the process, I did use a jack to support and guide the transmission into place. It seemed to help balance the load and provide a fair amount of stability when guiding the engine into place.
Aftermarket Subframe Installation
When you install an LS engine in a stock chassis, all the lines are out of the way and the transmission crossmember is in place for easier install. The crossmember needs to be relocated in most applications depending on your transmission choice. Therefore, you need to use aftermarket engine mounts.
My engine is about to be slotted into position. Removing the front sheet metal makes it a lot easier to install and get at things. It doesn’t take up that much time when all things are considered. I was able to get it in place by alternately lowering it and then pushing it back inch by inch. I used an engine hoist and a buddy to help guide it into place. Repeated movements in small increments are required to get the engine into its final position.
My LS3 is safely and securely in place. I had to do this very carefully because of the transmission being in place; you may have to remove the transmission. The Mast oil pan fi ts quite well with the stock steering linkages. There are a number of other oil pans that may fit your needs.
Here’s the passengerside frame bolt, fuel line, and ground strap. Make sure to clear these two objects when removing the bolt. This frame mount looks as if it has seen better days, so it should be replaced.
The steering rod’s rag joint is often forgotten when separating the subframe from the body. The rag joint is held together by two bolts and should just come right apart. Mine is worn out and really needs a new one. (I will replace it with a solid joint later.)
When using stock parts, it’s best to just replace them. I cut out certain pieces, such as this brake line, because I planned ahead and knew I was going to replace them.
These body mounts are severely worn and must be replaced. If you haven’t done this yet, it’s a good idea not only for performance but for ride quality too. The new bushings install just like the old ones; put them in place before setting the body over the frame.
Support the body with jack stands and make sure the jack stands are securely positioned. Remove the four body bolts from the frame and separate the body. Do this slowly and carefully. I used a jack and a block of wood to move one side of the body at a time. I then used a series of strategically placed jack stands to keep the body level and give me room to slide the new subframe into place. Although it may seem that the body is stable, you don’t want the jack stands to slip and compromise safety.
After you drag out the old subframe, you are left with really good access to the car. This is the best time to repair any holes and add a fresh coat of paint.
I followed Speed Tech’s recommendation and installed their solid body mount kit. The body mounts install just like the stock ones: Place them in their location and drop the body onto the frame making sure to use the corresponding mount from the bottom of the frame. The little rings on the mounts ensure each one goes in the correct place. Speed Tech supplies all the Grade-8 hardware to complete the job. You could go with the stock rubber mounts, but considering the amount of work it takes to replace them, I felt it best to just use solid ones and be done with this project for life.
With the wheels mounted to the subframe, I was able to roll the frame under the car with the engine and transmission already attached. It allowed me to maneuver the subframe into place and square up the car. I then used a jack to tip the front of the car down enough to match the angle of the subframe. My brother-in-law Erik helped me align the frame and subframe. Using the alignment holes on the middle body mount, I made sure it was as square as possible before heading out to the alignment rack. A long screwdriver or a dowel helps align the frame fore and aft and you shouldn’t need any special tools to get it square; these holes are sufficient. Later at the alignment rack I found out that I was .1 degree within complete square of the car, so using this procedure is extremely accurate. Four massive frame bolts installed and the job was complete in less than half an hour with the aid of a good buddy
You can see the lines on the frame mounts to indicate which is which. The lower half (far right) mates perfectly with the upper half (left and middle) to form a solid place to mount the car. The frame mounts have rings around them. In this case they match up to make the correct mate. For example, some have two rings, some have three, and the others have one ring.
An LS engine swap, in reality, starts from the bottom up and engine mounts are quite possibly the most important piece of the entire swap process. The correct positioning of the engine and fitment of the radiator, headers, exhaust, hoses, wiring, and other components is critical for performance and reliability. You need to select the engine mounts and adapter plates while taking the rest of the engine package into consideration. In other words, when you select the engine mounts and adapter plates, contact the manufacturer to make sure that the oil pan, headers, accessories, and other parts you plan to use are compatible with the engine mount package.
Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for mounting the engine in the chassis because different manufacturers have different mounting locations for the engine. If the engine isn’t correctly mounted on the frame, some of the parts, such as the exhaust, hoses, and steering rod may not fit. It may be difficult to correctly align the driveshaft for the rear axle assembly. The transmission crossmember location, the header fit, the amount of room for a radiator and fan combination, the clearance of your oil pan and the front-drive kit all rely on the correct mounting and placement of the engine. This highlights a major point that I make throughout this book, which is the importance of coordination and careful planning. A matching engine mount and header combination is your best ally when doing this swap.
Make Your Own Engine Mounts
Making your own engine mounts is a bit daunting. That used to be the only option when installing the LS engine into first and second generation F-Bodies. Thankfully, the aftermarket has come to the rescue to solve this simple, yet important part of the swap.
As mentioned previously, externally all LS engines are virtually identical, and this holds true for the engine mount location. The four bolts holding on the mount are all in the same spot and have the same spacing, so the same mounts you would use for an LS1 fit every other iteration in the LS family. The four mounting bolt locations are slightly forward of the engine centerline when viewing it from either driver’s or passenger’s side.
When swapping an LS engine into an F-Body car, often the transmission does not line up with the mounts while the stock engine aligns perfectly with the mounts when installed. One reason may be the engine mounts you just swapped in are not compatible. The Gen I small-block has a 13 ⁄8-inch area that extends beyond the rear part of the passenger-side cylinder head where the transmission bellhousing bolts to the engine block. The Gen III/IV LS series has a scant .060-inch area that comes out of the same area where the bellhousing meets the block.
There are many types of engine mounts, but as a starting point, you need to determine the type of engine mounts you have on the engine and frame. Just because your F-Body came with a small-block, it doesn’t mean the engine mounts and frame mounts are the same. Tall and short smallblock frame mounts have been used. General Motors installed two different heights of mounts on F-Body cars. One type was designed for high-performance cars while the other was designed for common road cars. The high-performance versions, designed for the Z/28 and other cars, were lefthand 35 ⁄8 inches and right-hand 33 ⁄4 inches. An engine-mount thickness of 21 ⁄8 inch helps achieve the correct engine mount height. The common F-Body 4- and 6-cylinder mounts are 311⁄16 inches for left-hand mounts and 315⁄16 inches for right-hand mounts. The mounts are 15 ⁄8 inches thick. The difference between these two numbers is the height. To order the correct parts, be sure to select the correct size and shape of engine mounts for your chassis.
Many companies make engine mounts for an LS swap into 1967– 1981 Camaros as well as a host of other vehicles. Motor mounts are relatively inexpensive and can be ordered in just about any combination and shape. Typically, a good quality set of engine mounts sells for about $150 and slightly more for higher quality sets so you shouldn’t have to fabricate a set of your own but that is always an option.
You can fabricate your own out of 1/4-inch plate steel, but it’s not worth the time and effort. Engine mounts are inexpensive and readily available. Most complete kits come with Energy Suspension polyurethane Chevy engine mounts. These mounts are the small-block standard of the three bolts. The major difference between manufacturers seems to be materials and finish of the engine mounts. Some are made of aluminum while others are plate steel.
For most LS engine swaps into F-Body cars, you can use the stock mounting locations. You should trial fit the engine in the frame. If the sheet metal has been removed, it makes the process much easier. With the engine on a cherry picker, align the engine mounts with the chassis mounts. If it properly aligns and clears the firewall, your job is much easier. However, it doesn’t always work out that way. Sometimes the engine needs to be set back, forward mounted, or to have adjustable mounts. Because of inconsistent and inadequate quality control at the factory in the late 1960s and early 1970s, some cars can be as much as 1/2-inch off from another F-Body car. It means that not all parts are going to fit exactly as designed.
As I’ve been told, you “have to think like a hot-rodder,” and that means you need to think and work through a problem. Sometimes that means having to tweak things to make them fit. So, with that said, there is no single engine mount I can recommend for all engines and F-Body chassis. As a result, you need to test fit, measure, and work out the correct engine mounts for your engine, car, and setup. However, if you know that you want to set the engine back an inch or more, you have already guaranteed yourself the need for a custom set of engine mounts and extra work.
Aftermarket LS Engine Mounts
Because engine mounts are only one piece of the engine swap system, you need to select engine mounts that correctly position your engine in the chassis with the oil pan and transmission crossmember, and allow adequate room between the valve covers and the firewall. Fortunately, all LS engines have the mounting bosses in the same location. The following are some of the sources that make high-quality engine mounts.
Dirty Dingo: Dirty Dingo Slider engine mounts provide a wide range of adjustability. According to the company, the mounts move the engine vertically up to 1/4 inch and allow mounting it 2 inches aft while being able to use the factor rubber mounts (in some cases). Double check that these measurements work with your application, so you don’t run into problems. You might want to give them a call just in case.
Holley: Holley made a push in 2010 to become one of the major LS aftermarket suppliers for swappers. I had to sit up and take notice at the advances Holley has made in its LS swap lineup. Holley offers a complete line of LS swapping accessories and products. Specifi cally, its catalog of engine mounts can cover nearly every possible swap known to exist. The company offers a mount plate for 1/2 inch forward, 11 ⁄4 inches and 1/2 inch up, stock, and 3 inches forward.
ATS: As mentioned previously, I chose a lot of the parts for my vehicle based on a performance aspect. ATS’s engine mounts are made from aluminum rather than steel, and thus reduce weight. This weight saving might not seem like much, but when added to many other weight-saving procedures, it can add up to quite a bit. In the racing world, every little ounce is fodder for being chucked overboard.
Engine Mount Installation
These are ATS engine-mount plates for LS engines and solid body mount bushings. (It’s a nice touch that they match in color.) The LS engine does not have a multitude of engine mounts, so one size usually fi ts all. However, certain engines, chassis, and accessories create certain packaging challenges and you need to take this into consideration when selecting engine mounts.
The ATS LS swap mount kit includes all the hardware and polyurethane bushings made by Energy Suspension. ATS had to make a small modifi cation to the bushings, so these aren’t exactly off-the-shelf parts. The engine mounts are on the right while the black mount plates are in the middle. In addition, these mounts can be installed upside down if necessary, but doing that changes the positioning of the engine slightly.
I checked the fi tting of the mount plate for clearance and then installed the three bolts to secure it. I didn’t have enough clearance between the Corvette-style front accessory kit and the A/C unit. I solved this problem by relocating the A/C pump to the upper side of the passenger compartment.
The ATS mounting plates are labeled to properly identify each side, so there is no confusion on location. They also require installing some flush-mounted bolts from the back of the plate. While ATS did not supply torque specs, they recommended using a dab of blue Loctite on each bolt to keep them in place.
I used a ratchet and socket to install the mount on the plate. The plates can be attached in the correct orientation or upside down for slightly more clearance. Just make sure to use the correct bolts in the correct place per the instructions so you don’t have interference with other components. It should be noted that I have heard of some people having issues with solid engine mounts tripping the knock sensors erroneously. I stuck with polyurethane because this car will see some serious street time and I’d like to keep all of the fillings intact.
The Corvette accessory kit creates a major packaging problem. The A/C bracket gets in the way of the engine mounts and, more important, the frame. I relocated the A/C pump to the upper passenger’s side of the engine. The adapter plate bolts to mounting bosses on the block. The engine mounts fasten to the adapter plates.
I missed this flush-mount bolt the first time I tried to install the engine mounts, so take note of this, and make sure it is installed.
I missed this flush-mount bolt the first time I tried to install the engine mounts, so take note of this, and make sure it is installed.
ATS engine mounts are reversible so they can be used to resolve special mounting problems. While ATS recommends the orientation based on the instructions, they can be mounted upside down on the opposite side of the engine to help with clearance issues in some instances. Not many mounts on the market can make that claim. Now, it must be said that doing this loses some height (it raises the engine) and possibly moves the engine forward, of course, depending on your application.
I had a major clearance problem with the stock air conditioning (A/C) compressor and bracket location that came with the kit from the ScogginDickey GM dealership (see Chapter 4 for the solution). At this stage, I removed the compressor to get the mount to bolt to the engine block. The ATS engine mounts precisely fit the stock subframe as well as Speed Tech’s brand-new subframe.
Just one quick word about the Energy Suspension polyurethane mounts that come with the ATS kit. You may notice the forward edges of the mount have been modified, so the engine and other parts precisely align. One of the ears is removed so it does not get in the way during the engine mounting procedure. Typically, you would be required to run the back metal plate that is provided with the kit. However, in this case, ATS recommends that to keep tolerances tight, you not run the metal backing plate.
Hedman: The Hedman engine mount kit is versatile so you can resolve special fitment issues when installing an LS engine in an F-Body car. The kit sells for $615 and includes engine mount pads, engine mounts, urethane bushings, and a transmission crossmember with Grade-8 hardware. Kit versions are available for manual and automatic transmissions.
This kit may offer a suitable solution if you don’t have a crossmember and are having difficulty aligning your engine with the subframe engine mounts. Essentially, this kit comes with everything you need and it functions as a system. When selecting mounting components, be sure to use compatible components from one company to ensure the engine properly installs. I’ve seen several instances in which an owner buys a variety of parts from different manufacturers, runs into clearance issues, and then has to buy the compatible components. This wastes time and money. This kit works well with proprietary headers.
Autokraft: Autokraft makes a lot of products for LS swaps. Their LS swap adapter plates are specially designed to work with their proprietary oil pan. The mounts feature billet aluminum materials and include polyurethane mounts that come with the kit. Autokraft’s current market price hovers right around $175 for a set of engine mounts.
Selecting the correct oil pan for your particular LS engine swap can be difficult, but today there are many OEM and aftermarket options. Domestic LS engines have a rear sump placement while GTO and Holden cars have a front sump placement. With the many variables involved in an LS swap, such as engine mounts, crossmember, and exhaust, I cannot definitely determine the precise oil pan for a particular engine swap. As I cover later in this section the CTS V-and-later F-Body pans are suitable for certain engine swaps. However, if the OEM pan isn’t compatible, Autokraft, Milodon, Mast, and others make special-application oil pans. After all, the stock first- and second-generation F-Body subframe isn’t always the most hospitable place for engine swaps. In fact, some swappers have to notch the subframe to get a particular oil pan to clear it.
Stock F-Body Oil Pan
A fairly inexpensive option is to run a stock LS F-Body oil pan because this pan fits F-Bodies with a variety of transmissions. You use the stock-location or set-back engine mounts. This pan may require modifications to it or to the suspension pieces including the power steering lines. I have seen instances in which some guys have gotten lucky using the combination of the F-Body LS1 pan and Hooker engine mounts and didn’t have to modify the pan, but I haven’t had much luck making that work. The suspension should go through its full range of travel, which is from full extension to full compression. You should then verify that the suspension components do not come in contact with one another, no binding, and no interference.
Stock pans sell for a premium at swap meets so it often makes sense to buy a new one. Currently, the price for a used one is around $150. For this price, you may opt for the GM conversion kit that is brand new and has all the correct parts. You have to remember to use the F-Body windage tray, dipstick, pickup tube, and gasket to make this work correctly.
LH8 Oil Pan
You might be thinking that the LH8 pan (usually found in Hummer H3s) would work just fine. It has the same basic shape and design of the F-body pan. However, this pan sits way too low in the frame, so it’s not a viable option. To clear potholes, expansion joints, and other common road undulations you have to raise the car’s ride height about an inch. The stock F-Body pan has a depth of 5.25 inches from the block to the bottom of the pan while the LH8 pan is a monumental 8.5 inches. That’s well over 3 inches taller and doesn’t afford adequate clearance for street driving. I’ve heard horror stories of guys hitting speed bumps and cracking their pans.
CTS-V Oil Pan
There’s a small caveat with this oil pan: You have to grab the older version. The newer ones have oil cooler bosses that can interfere with the crossmember on the subframe. This is a slightly nicer option as it can hold slightly more oil than the F-Body version. This pan is roughly 63 ⁄4 inches from block surface to the bottom of the oil pan. While deeper than the F-Body pan, it’s certainly not as deep as the LH8 truck pan.
In a traditional rear sump layout:
- External sump max depth (from mounting flange), 6.75 inches.
- External sump length (from bellhousing flange), 21.5 inches
- External sump width, 10.5 inches
Holley Oil Pan
Holley offers a wide selection of products for LS engine swaps but has been late to the game. Holley’s cast-aluminum LS oil pan is machined to precise specs and has the traditional rear sump oiling system. It has been designed to fit a variety of GM cars and trucks from 1955 to 1987. (My first-generation Camaro certainly fits those requirements.) It allows for the OEM oil filter location and an OEM fit. The kit has everything needed, including the baffle, pick-up tube, and oil filter accessories to make it an easy job. Just provide the dipstick and you’re good to go. These kits sell for just under $400.
In a traditional rear sump layout:
- External sump max depth (from mounting flange), 5.89 inches
- External sump length (from bellhousing flange), 7.65 inches
- External sump width, 9.75 inches
Autokraft Oil Pan
Autokraft claims that this pan clears all types of linkages from stock to a rack-and-pinion setup, and cutting the subframe is not necessary. This pan features four-corner internal baffling, a custom pickup tube that is ideally suited for road racing, and a stock oil filter location for easy access, so performing an oil change is easy. Autokraft machines a billet piece of aluminum to make it possible to run the filter in the correct location. This pan has a 51 ⁄2-quart oil capacity and they recommend that you use a stock F-Body dipstick to make an accurate measurement. To get one of these, you have to shell out about $400.
In a traditional rear sump layout:
- Front half of pan, 1.75 inches
- Width of rear sump, 11 inches
- Length of rear sump, 9 inches
- Depth of rear sump, 5.5 inches
Mast Motorsport Oil Pan
This oil pan for LS swaps fits first and third-generation F-Bodies and even some street rods and trucks. It has the factory oil filter location.
This is important because you don’t want to move the oil filter location if space gets tight with other components, such as the headers (which can be tight) or steering components, depending on your particular build.
This pan uses the OEM pan gasket, so it seals tightly and is easy to find. This pan is unique because it has two -10AN fittings rather than an oil outlet for a temperature gauge or a pressure gauge. These fittings are designed for a remote oil filter if you choose to install one. When looking at the driver’s side of the oil pan, the right side is the “out” or pressure side and the left side is the return. I don’t have any current plans for a remote oil filter in the test vehicle but it would be nice to have. I drilled out the provision in the oil pan and installed a 1/8-inch NPT fitting to run the oil pressure switch from Stack. This way it stays hidden.
GM Conversion Oil Pan
The oil pan swap kit is ideal for just about any LS swap. General Motors calls it the “Muscle Car Oil Pan Kit” (PN 19212593). It fits almost all 1955–1995 rear-wheel-drive V-8 GM cars and trucks that use the traditional wet-sump-style oil pan. The kit includes an oil pan, dipstick, dipstick tube, bolts, gaskets, and pick-up tube with a windage tray. The pan’s front valley measures a very thin 2.625 inches, and the entire unit is only 11 inches wide. After it clears the crossmember and steering linkage, the pan expands to 7.75 inches and tapers off to 6.75 by 7.75 inches for its base measurement. Currently, this LS swap oil pan kit is the most economical on the market at around $150 from your favorite speed parts vendor.
Oil has gone through many changes because of the 2004 federal law that required a reduction in engine oil’s sulfur and zinc-phosphorus compounds, or ZDDP. ZDDP is an oil additive that’s the primary anti-wear agent for internal-combustion engines. It protects against excessive camshaft and lifter wear, premature piston ring wear, and more than usual cylinder wall damage, also known as piston scuff. This change had significant impact on the performance automotive world, especially for those with forged components and flat-tappet camshafts.
In 2004 car and truck models, the federal government mandated that all auto manufacturers must warranty all catalytic converters to 120,000 miles. This is where the reduction in sulfur and ZDDP comes into play; sulfur and ZDDP are considered “harmful gasses” and therefore are caught in catalytic converters, which prevent their emission into the atmosphere.
All catalytic converters fail over time due to exhaust gases passing through the exhaust system, which is unavoidable. Another important factor to know is that all engines discharge oil through the exhaust. While, it’s typically a very small amount, it was decided that it was easier to alter oil make-up rather than rework the catalytic converters themselves.
Current oil mixtures are reduced in sulfur and ZDDP compounds by 20 percent and sometimes more. Mast has seen engines being torn down with barely 1,500 miles on the short-block and showing as much wear as an engine with more than 100,000 miles, all because improper oil was used. Therefore, it is crucial that you use the appropriate oil with a good amount of ZDDP.
Also, Mast recommends that performance engines with forged components use GM Engine Oil Supplement (EOS) for the first 90 minutes of the engine’s life and a zinc and phosphorous ZDDP for the entire service life of the engine. They suggested I use Shell Rotella-T 15W40 API Specification CI-4 Plus or Valvoline NSL Racing Oil 10W30 (conventional engine oil). People have also had good luck using a half bottle of Comp Cams engine break-in fluid with every oil change as it has a high level of ZDDP.
Remember, this is cheap insurance for a very expensive piece of machinery. Invest in high-quality oil; it’s vital protection for your engine.
Written by Eric McClellan and Posted with Permission of CarTechBooks