photos by: Patrick Hill
Taking a Quick Look at What it Takes to Swap an Iron Block LS into a Third-Gen Camaro
As an LS-swapped third-gen owner myself, I can tell you that dropping a GEN-III or -IV V8 into an ’82-92 Camaro or Firebird isn’t the easiest thing in the world, but it sure makes the effort worth it. When these cars were new, they offered the performance enthusiast just about everything you’ve wanted; handling, braking capabilities, looks and plenty of style — at least for an ’80s car. What they lacked, however, is actual performance.
You could argue that there were a few exceptions, like the ’89 Turbo Trans Am and ’91-92 Firehawk, and that performance steadily improved throughout its eleven year model run, but overall, it could have been better. Take it from someone who owns an ’84 Trans Am, that left the factory with an LG4. Or even like our subject car in this story, that started out in life as a TBI 305-powered Camaro.
Being a former Super Chevy project car, it sported a ton of bolt-ons and an aftermarket EFI system on a traditional small-block, but it always had drivability and reliability issues. Unfortunately life happened, and the then owner ultimately sold it, but it has since found its way into the shop of AntiVenom Performance for a budget LS swap.
Utilizing an LQ4 pullout from a junkyard Silverado, it has been lightly massaged with a Chevrolet Performance LS9 camshaft, LS3 intake and LS3 heads. An off-brand 90mm throttle body also sits in place for improved induction duties, with a Scoggin-Dickey throttle body cable bracket in charge of opening the throttle blade.
For increased exhaust flow and proper fitment (after all, LS engines were never offered in third-gens), the crew at AntiVenom utilized a set of Hawks Motorsports long-tube headers and Y-pipe, paired with a Holley Performance true-dual exhaust system. Fitment wasn’t an issue, but we would recommend an experienced technician for all exhaust installation work. If you’re a first-timer, you could find it rather stressful and tiring if you’ve never done it before or don’t have access to a lift, especially.
The factory cooling system just won’t work, either. Partly because the nearly 30-year old radiator and cooling fan isn’t quite up to the task at hand, but mostly because the OEM radiator’s goosenecks don’t exactly work with the the LS’s thermostat and water pump locations. Thankfully, our friends at Flex-a-Lite offer a solution for our LS-awapped cooling needs.
We also wanted to upgrade the suspension, as well as reinforce the chassis and subframe from what it was equipped with from the factory. So we turned to BMR Suspension, who happens to be local to AntiVenom and they recommended a tubular K-member, torque arm, Panhard bar and sway bars. It’s a similar formula that we decided to go with for Project Redrum, and we’ll delve in much further detail on that when the time comes.
If you’re building an LS-swapped third-generation F-body, or plan to, stay tuned for the full series on Project Redrum, or read about it here. We’ll also be following up with this car at a later date, for the results of driving characteristics, dyno numbers and performance figures. Until next time!
Rick Seitz is the owner and founder of GMEFI Magazine, and has a true love and passion for all vehicles. When he isn’t tuning, testing, or competing with the brand’s current crop of project vehicles, he’s busy tinkering and planning the next modifications for his own cars.