Friday, August 2, 2013

How to buy a cheap LS1 engine

Wrecked LS1-powered 1999 Pontiac Trans Am sold at auction.


Buy a wreck, get a deal on an LS1 engine. We say ‘thank you,’ to the ham-fisted, seat jockeys who love playing tag with guardrails and trees that get in their way. Those body panel beat-downs have killed many cars, and jacked up auto insurance premiums for everyone, but provided new life for thousands of classic muscle cars and hot rods. These engines make ideal swaps for the gas guzzling collectible parked in your garage. You want to drive your old car, right? The LS1 may be your answer.

LS1: More Bang for your Buck
  Putting a hot, late model, fuel injected V-8 engine into your old school hot rod has been done. Face it, 25 years ago, guys were dropping Tuned-Port Injection Chevy 350s into their neon-painted street machines. Those replanted TPI engines were courtesy of wrecked Camaros, Firebirds and Corvettes. TPI engines got better gas mileage and made enough torque to spin the tires. 
  "Whoo-hoo!" It's 1988 - what time does "MacGyver" come on?  
  Today, the go-to, best ‘bang-for-your-buck’ engine is the LS1, or Gen III small block, which was introduced by GM in the 1997 Corvette. LS1 engines produced more than 300 rwhp (rear wheel horsepower) from the factory. When new, these street fighters waged war and won against the best that the competition could offer. With a few internal mods these engines can produce 500 hp.  

Wrecked LS1-powered Pontiac Trans Am sold at auction.
This wrecked LS1 Trans Am sold for $2,000 at an auction earlier this year. That is a screaming deal on 300 rwhp.


Where to look for wrecked LS1s?
  Most LS1 cars have racked up the miles and many have reached the wrecking yard or auto auction after years of abuse or damage. I spotted the LS1-powered 1999 Pontiac Trans Am in these photos at a recent auto auction in Alabama. It sold for a measly $2,000. The Trans Am had a complete LS1 engine and a 6-speed manual transmission along with tons of other usable parts that could be sold to recoup some expenses. Complete engines sell for $3,000-and-up on ebay. Do the math. Horsepower doesn't come cheap but this is a heck of a deal.


What cars have an LS1?
  Now is the time to get out and score a deal on an LS1 for your next project car. Corvettes were equipped with the LS1 from 1997 until 2004. The Chevy Camaro and Pontiac Firebird offered the LS1 V-8 engine option from 1998-2002. A word of advice: you will have better luck finding an F-body (Camaro or Firebird) that has tangled with an immovable object. Totaled Corvettes are hard to find. When you do find them, they still aren't cheap.


Jody Potter
— Junkyard Life


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Used LS1 engines can be found on ebay and elsewhere on the internet for more than $5,000 with the transmission.
Used LS1 engines can be found on ebay and elsewhere on the Internet for more than $3,000. Some sell for more than $5,000 with a transmission and wiring harness.