Installing a LS1 Motor in my 1977 Camaro-Part 1


One thing you should never say about your hot rod is that it is running better than it ever has.  I had sorted out the EZ-EFI fuel injection and the car was running great.  The fuel injection made it so much more driveable that I was driving the Camaro more than ever.

On April 9th I drove it to the Charlotte Motor Speedway to enter the car in the Food Lion car show.  Got there early, parked the car, cleaned it up a bit, had it judged, walked the show, hooked up with some friends and had a great day doing car stuff!!  Around 3:00 the skies were threatening with possible hail storms so I decided to leave early to hopefully avoid the storm.  I ran into rain and shortly afterwards, I noticed a clinking sound from the engine.  Did not sound like a rod knocking, the temp and oil pressure gauges looked find and the sound was occasional.  Drove on home and the noise was getting worse.

The next day I pulled the valve covers and did not see any problems there.  My son came over and listened to the motor both on the ground and in the air.  We determined that the noise was somewhere low in the motor.   We drained the oil and found shavings.  Not a good sign.  Our first thought was that there might be a windage tray in the oil pan and it may have come loose.  Only way to remove the oil pan is to pull the engine.  Pulled the oil pan and there was no windage tray but there were quite a few shavings in the pan.  Next I pulled the intake and the heads.  Again everything seemed normal until we began removing the lifters.  One of them would not come up out of the hole.  Upon closer inspection, we could see there was wear on the cam lobes and on the lifters.  A rebuild was in the offing if I wanted to keep this motor.

Ever since I had purchased the car I had said if the SBC came out, a LS motor was going back in.  Decision time was here and I decided to follow my instincts and go the LS route.  This is a big change as nothing in the LS is compatible with SBC motors.  Ebay found me a LS1 from a 1999 Trans-Am with 32K miles in Chicago.  We arrived at a price and the seller was going to look into shipping the motor to NC.  At about this same time, Sharon’s dad was put into the hospital.  Initially it was thought he would only be there a few days.  As the week went on with him still in the hospital, we decided we needed to go to northern Indiana.

Since Chicago is only a couple hours away from Sharon’s parents home, we took the truck to Indiana and I made arrangements to pick up the motor.  Turns out the seller was also a Porsche club member and was going to put the LS motor in a 944.  He had just purchased a 1996 993 twin turbo Porsche and had a C4s along with a 944 Turbo.  After talking Porsches for a bit, we proceeded to load the motor in my truck.

Sharon’s dad became worse and Sharon decided to stay with her mom to help out and I headed for home.  Her dad was in the hospital for nearly five weeks, but now is doing much better having progressed from the hospital to a nursing home and then back to living at their house.

During this time, I was doing a lot of research on what was needed to do this swap.  Soon UPS, Fed-Ex and the mailman were all beating a path to my garage door with packages.  At the same time, I was tearing down the old motor, cleaning up all of the parts that I would no longer need and putting them on Ebay.  So far I have collected over $6000 in parts sold which went a long way towards paying for the swap.

After having seen a number of LS swaps where I did not think the motor was very attractive, I began looking for ways to make mine look at least as good as my old motor.  My research had shown that a LS6 manifold from a Corvette Z06 flowed better than a stock manifold.  After looking on Ebay, I did a Google search for “LS6 manifold Craigslist”.  One of the hits was for a LS6 manifold that had been treated to a carbon fiber look.  It looked great and was soon on the way.

Another issue that had to be dealt with were the ugly ignition coils mounted on the valve covers.  I receved a set from Taylor Industries that were made for the Gen 4 Camaros and Firebirds.  The only issue was that the passenger side cover was about 2″ shorter than the drivers side leaving the last coil exposed.  An obstruction on the Camaros and Firebirds was the cause.  After talking with them, they said they would consider making a custom passenger side cover.  After not hearing from them for awhile, I decided to look elsewhere and found the Edelbrock polished covers.  They absolutely look great on the motor.  In the meantime, Taylor Industries had agreed to make the custom cover and I should have it soon.  Once I get it, I will make a decision, but, at this time, I am leaning towards the Edelbrocks because of the way they fit.  They mount the coils directly to the cover which allows the cover to sit lower and surround the coils.  Makes it look like a small block motor.

My old motor had a Billet Specialties V-Trac polished front runner kit which I really liked.  Soon a LS front runner kit had arrived.  After talking with Billet Specialties and getting some measurements, I was sure my existing AC lines would hook up to the compressor and that the power steering lines would be very close as the compressor and PS pump were mounted in basically the same positions on the motor as on my SBC.

I also found a dual snorkle cold air intake that I think will fit.  Won’t know for sure until the engine is in it’s final resting place.  At this point the asthetics had been addressed and it was time to move onto the basics that I would need to make the swap.

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3 Comments

  1. Hi there, I want to subscribe for this web site to take hottest updates, thus where can i
    do it please help.

  2. So where are the photos of the completed camaro?


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