Is your car among the candidates for an LS swap? It probably is. The LS engine comes in a variety of sizes and you’ll probably find one that suits your vehicle.
This LS craze has its roots in 1997, when the LS engine made its first appearance when GM released the 345bhp C5 Chevrolet Corvette. After that, GM used versions of that engine for every car they produced that wasn’t FWD. After that, their band of techno wizards found a way to turn the engine sideways. That allowed them to put it in the FWD Chevrolet Impala SS and Pontiac Bonneville GXP.
So now the LS engine can be found in a wide range of vehicles. This V8 engine is cheap but powerful. It’s very reliable, and you don’t really need a lot of maintenance. And it’s so compact that it can fit in all but the tiniest of engine bays. In fact, it’s been shoved into inline-4 and even some electric motor engine bays.
Some cars seem to be much more suited to the LS engine than others. Here are a few of them:
- Ford Expedition. It’s true that Ford has produced some excellent V8 engines. But the 5.4L engine on the Expedition doesn’t quite qualify. It’s puzzling why Ford didn’t even try to put a good engine under the hood, but you can do it with one of the LS engines from the GM trucks.
- BMW 1 Series M Coupe. If you like going to the track, you’ll find the BMW 1M a fun car to drive around. But BMW didn’t really build a high performance variant for it. Instead, you can just build one yourself. Just install the 7.0-liter LS7 engine from the Corvette Z06. That monster of an engine is perfect for this.
- Hyundai Genesis Coupe. The tiny engine of this car doesn’t really impress lots of people. It’s merely a 3.8-liter V6. But then you can swap that engine with the brutal supercharged 638-hp LS9 and you’ll have a much more exciting car to drive around.
- Honda CR–Z. Do you want to turn your ordinary CR-Z into an extraordinary performance car? Put in the 430-hp 6.2-liter LS3 V-8. And if you really want to turn heads, mid-mount that V8!
- Mazda MX–5 Miata. If Mazda had decided to put a V8 in their Miata, it would have been like the Shelby Cobra. And if that’s not enough, you can turn it into a modern Cobra 427 S/C. All you need to do is to put in the 505-hp LS7 with its 470 lb-ft of torque.
- Lotus Evora. It’s not exactly fitting for some Lotus Evora drivers to brag about their ride. After all, it’s only using a Camry V6 engine. But it’s a different matter if you put in an LS engine. And since this engine is mounted transversally, the base Evora can accommodate the 5.3-liter LS4. That gives you 303 hp and 323 lb-ft of torque. That same engine, with a blower to provide even more horsepower, can also be installed in the Evora S. It’ll be more powerful than the original 345hp engine.
- Scion FR-S / Subaru BRZ. These cars are virtually the same and they use the same naturally aspirated engine. If you don’t want to go with forced induction for horsepower to maintain its character, then you may want to go with the huge naturally aspirated LS7.
- Nissan NV. At first glance, the Nissan NV is just a plain ol’ large commercial van. But if you want to give it secret powers, you can swap its engine for the supercharged LSA from the Camaro ZL1. The 580 horsepower will really get it to go any time you want.
- Volvo XC90. Sure, the XC90 is an old model. So what? Just put in an LS3 and it’ll be even better than new.
- Toyota Prius. Ah, the venerable Prius. If you really want to shock sniggering teens at a corner red light, you can replace that environmental engine with a monstrous supercharged LS9 with a staggering 638hp. You may have to replace the battery pack and the powertrain. And while you’re at it, you may want to convert it to rear-drive and put in a manual transmission.
- Mazda RX-7 and RX-8. LS engines are popular among lots of Mazda cars, and that’s because the rotary engines can be a bit off-putting. It’s so hard to maintain, and the aftermarket support for them isn’t exactly broad. It’s much better to just get one of the LS-swap kits than to go with a rotary rebuild with modifications. You get more horsepower and you save money.
- Honda S2000. You really have to rev up this car’s F20C – F22C1 engine to make it go. And you can do that more easily with an LS V8 engine. You end up with an agile, 2-seater sports car with an open top and an American V8 engine.
- Porsche 911. Yes, an LS swap has been done on these cars. In fact, some aftermarket companies even specialize in doing it. The LS engine is actually lighter. These LS swap are also very popular for the 993 and 996 models, as these cars are somewhat affordable now.
- BMW 3-series and 540. Lots of BMW cars already have V8 engines. The problem with engines such as the stock 4.4-liter V8 is that they’re expensive to maintain. Even somewhat minor work on the engine can cost more than swapping the engine for an LS engine. And for the most part, they don’t really change the personality of the car.
- Toyota Supra. This is especially true of the earlier models with their A70. The LS engines are simply better.
The truth of the matter is that the LS engine can be—and have been—swapped into so many cars that it’s hard to keep count. Basically, all the cars that can be driven by the rear wheels are candidates for an LS swap.