The LS is one of the most talked about engine families of all times. No matter how (otherwise) brand loyal someone is, if you talk about the LS with a gearhead, there’s going to be a conversation about it. Why does this engine get so much attention? Because it has earned its reputation as a phenomenal piece of metal and magic, time and time again! In the most basic of terms, an engine is just a giant air pump — so, what makes the LS engine so special? Tom Nelson, of Nelson Racing Engines, breaks it way down for us.
Off the bat, Tom pretty accurately pins it down by pointing out that the LS makes a lot of power, is lightweight, and cheap. For a few thousand dollars, you can get a high horsepower engine that’s small enough to fit in most engine bays, what a great foundation! Throw a custom ground cam and ported heads on one, and you’re sailing past the 400 horsepower mark, easily.
Tom gives a lot of credit to the head design, explaining that you can get a set of ported LS7 heads that flow 360 cfm on the intake port — similar to what some NASCAR heads were flowing five years ago. A big cam core allows for the use of a cam that’s pretty aggressive, but at the same time very gentle.
Six-bolt mains and the y-block design makes the motor pretty rigid. The gaskets also get a lot of credit for being engineered to such tight and specific tolerances, cutting out the leaks and inefficiencies of previous engines.
The LS engine is a great foundation for globs of power, that happens to respond to performance parts very well. From the block used, to the heads, and the parts in between, this is a well-thought out design, and an overall smart engine. It’s no wonder these engines have been swapped into nearly any model vehicle out there!
Elizabeth is a hardcore horsepower enthusiast with unmatched intensity for making things faster and louder. She wakes up for power and performance and only sleeps to charge up for the next project that’s heading to the track. From autocross to drag racing, Elizabeth is there with you, so stay tuned for her unique perspective on horsepower news, builds, tech info, and installs — with her, it’ll never be boring!