Convince me...LS vs. LT vs. crate

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Convince me...LS vs. LT vs. crate

Post by Roadcaptain S3 on Sun Jul 24, 2016 10:48 am

It looks like the engine swap will start this fall. I've been reading old threads and trying to educate myself on the pros and cons of
a crate 350, LS or LT.

There ain't nothing wrong with the little 305, except that it's a little 305. I'd like to be able to smoke the tires once and a while on dry pavement. Smile

LT
I have a shot at a wrecked 95 impala SS and/or a 96 Caprice LT1. No title, no keys. Both have front end damage but low miles. That means I can buy the entire drive line, fuel tank harnesses etc for less than $1000 and then scrap what I don't use and get most of the $$ back. So a more or less free LT swap. A 77 Chevelle with a 95 Impala SS underneath.

Crate:
Obviously I can get a brand new, warrantied 290 HP crate 350 w traditional carb etc with pretty reliable ignition etc installed by me and a friend. Last time I did it with the Laguna and using a rebuilt 700r4, I spent around 3 k.

LS
I've read through Wally and alowerlevel's threads. I'd be looking at a used engine. If I'm lucky, I'll be able to find a 4.8, 5.3 or 5.7
with around 100k miles for $600-$1000, then another 1500-2000 in parts depending on fuel tanks, harnesses, fuel pumps AC etc

LS swaps are the cool thing to do right now, but I really can't see any gigantic advantages the LS has over the other two options.

Everyone talks about the reliability of the LS EFI and ignition, but I've rarely had any trouble with the HEI ignitions. Everyone also talks up the mileage gains, but they never really say how much better they do vs the carbs.

I understand that LS engines are easy to upgrade as far as HP and TQ, but most of the used 4.8s and 5.3s available didn't make any more power than the crate from the factory, and now they have a lot of miles on them.

I'd like hear what ya'll honestly think. I'm fortunate enough to have the budget to do any of the above.

All three options bring me in around 300 HP, all for around the same cost, except the LT option which would almost be free and I'd gain an OD trans as well. The downside is the optispark ignition and the short run of the LTs, making future maintenance issues kind of iffy and a lack of a lot of aftermarket stuff.
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Re: Convince me...LS vs. LT vs. crate

Post by Damon23 on Sun Jul 24, 2016 11:06 am

I had a LT in a 75 Firebird. The motor had the upgraded optispark and was wonderful. Only thing that worried me was the low oil pressure but that was normal for the car.

Your right, the LS is popular. Very popular. So much that you see them all the time. Nothing new. But you get reliability, power and economy. The biggest thing you get is aftermarket for those motors so you will never run out new things to add to it. I thought about doing one in my 63 Catalina but after talking to a guy they nickel and dime you to death during a retro fit.

If my 75 Malibu needed a motor I personally would buy a 290hp crate. I know several people with those motors and one particular guy has one in a 67 Camaro vert that has 44k on it that motor and has had zero issues. That motor with headers, edelbrock intake and 600 carb and he has had a powertour cruiser for the last 7 years and has had all the power he has needed. He thought about doing a efi upgrade on it but said it runs so good he does not want to fool with it.

So for me I'd buy the crate and either do a FI set up or just carb it and be done. Huge aftermarket and no complicated electronics.

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Re: Convince me...LS vs. LT vs. crate

Post by Joe73 on Sun Jul 24, 2016 12:52 pm

If your 305 is running good I'd leave it and go with a 3.73 rear and overdrive trans. That will wake everything up. 300 hp is good but not much fun with highway gears.
Main benefit to me would be the lower first gear ratio of the overdrive trans. That coupled with a 3.73 will be real nice. A 200r4 has a 2.74 first gear as opposed to a TH350 with a 2.52 first gear. So, lets say your running a 2.56 rear. 2.74 x 2.56 = 7.01 But a 2.52 x 2.56 = 6.5.
When you come up with around the number "9", thats the most fun to drive all around.
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Re: Convince me...LS vs. LT vs. crate

Post by impalamonte on Mon Jul 25, 2016 12:26 pm

Don't know if you have seen my build : http://www.g3gm.com/t8709p25-update-1973-monte-carlo-body-off-frame-resto

My 2 cents.....

But , the LT1 as you said is practically free. My brother and I have parted out a couple of 9C1's. The parts bring money for some reason!! I am sure they will for the SS.
I have had no issues with the OPTI. IF I do , I will purchase the retro unit that MSD created , NEW with the upgrades GM should have given it.
I didn't have to alter the frame crossmember. My A/C unit remains on the bottom of the engine for a clean looking install.
You have a ready to- go- fuel tank without having to pay for a fabbed one just to get the pump unit in the tank. IT FITS ALL DAY !!
Parts for this small block are readily available. With your money you save...supercharge it with a used unit. May eek our 400hp reliable. Again, free from the proceeds
after you part out the SS.
The only advice I would lend is to remove the intake and install new gaskets / torqueing to factory specs while out of the car.
They had the propensity to become lose at the rear thus creating a vacuum leak wreaking havoc with attempting to find an issue ( I went through it)

Clean it up , install it , ride and drive.

Believe or not.....I have people ask me....what is that from??!! I don't understand it , they only put this engine in BILLION Camaro's and T/A'S through the 90's.
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Re: Convince me...LS vs. LT vs. crate

Post by Roadcaptain S3 on Mon Jul 25, 2016 6:06 pm

Thanks for the link. I hadn't seen it. Nice car.

The LT is a really good option as far as I'm concerned. Especially considering that just about every mechanical part from an Imp SS or 9C1 works on the 73-77s.

A lot of my decision will be based on what my buddy wants to do. He's the real expert and we're using his shop.

BUT, he seems to want to do an LS. I think it's a LOT more work and probably a lot more expense. The engines are cheap and plentiful, but when you start adding up all of the associated parts, it can get pretty pricey and I think more complicated than a lot of guys think.

Engine, fuel pump, wiring, electric fan, cpu, exhaust mods, gas tank or gas tank mods, motor mounts, oil pan etc etc.

And in the end, you've got an engine with 100,000+ miles on it.

Some car guys are almost as trendy as football players. Seems that most of the guys I  talk to seriously about it, can't really come up with good reasons for the LS other than "everybody is doing it".

And I'm not taking a shot at those that have done it. I admire the skill.

But if I make a check list of the pros and cons of all the above, the LS looks like the biggest PIA for about the same results as the LT or crate option.
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Re: Convince me...LS vs. LT vs. crate

Post by jerry46765 on Mon Jul 25, 2016 11:31 pm

Bobby, you didn't say what you plan to do with the car, cruise, drag, road race, what?

I could go on and on about fuel injection but your car is set up for small/big block Chevy with a carb and HEI.

Why make life complicated without a specific need/purpose?

Thanks -

Jerry
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Re: Convince me...LS vs. LT vs. crate

Post by Crawf388 on Tue Jul 26, 2016 1:41 am

I have just completed the motor swap of a 6.0L from a 03 escalade into my 75 Laguna.  I did exactly what you are talking about.  I bought a wrecked 1994 caprice with the 4.3L mini LT1 V8 for $400 and took the gas tank, straps, rear posi, front spindles, and a few other odds and ends.  After taking everything i wanted i sold misc parts for $800+ before scrapping the shell.  BUY THE IMPALA OR THE CAPRICE!... or both.  The fuel tank and trans alone are worth the effort.

The LS swap is a breeze with all the good information on this site and a few select others.  All bolt in stuff, motor mounts, wire harness rework and ecu reflash.  All in, i'm about $3,200 but mostly because i paid up for a complete drop out 6.0l ($1,600) rather than a much cheaper 5.3l.  Also, currently using my original TH350 to keep cost down.  The aftermarket has become so plentiful they are actually competitive and costs of the parts and services are quite reasonable.  

I don't think you can really go wrong with any of the options and have something solid and cool.  But i can say i'm not even close to done with my Laguna and i'm already searching the for the next project i can stuff a LS into.
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Re: Convince me...LS vs. LT vs. crate

Post by Roadcaptain S3 on Tue Jul 26, 2016 6:01 pm

jerry46765 wrote:Bobby, you didn't say what you plan to do with the car, cruise, drag, road race, what?

I could go on and on about fuel injection but your car is set up for small/big block Chevy with a carb and HEI.  

Why make life complicated without a specific need/purpose?

Thanks -

Jerry

Cruiser...but eventually a long distance cruiser. I have visions of visiting different cities for car events, Power Tour or maybe just the fabled Rt. 66 trip someday. My wife's dad was a car guy and they spent a lot of time doing stuff like that in their later years.
I will retire (again) for good in a few years and kinda plan on doing a few trips a year.

No doubt that the current 70s tech is sufficient for weekend drives and the occasional cruise or car show within 75 miles or so.

But...more a modern set-up (and dependability and efficiency) certainly has it's appeal.
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Re: Convince me...LS vs. LT vs. crate

Post by Roadcaptain S3 on Tue Jul 26, 2016 6:03 pm

Crawf388 wrote:I have just completed the motor swap of a 6.0L from a 03 escalade into my 75 Laguna.  I did exactly what you are talking about.  I bought a wrecked 1994 caprice with the 4.3L mini LT1 V8 for $400 and took the gas tank, straps, rear posi, front spindles, and a few other odds and ends.  After taking everything i wanted i sold misc parts for $800+ before scrapping the shell.  BUY THE IMPALA OR THE CAPRICE!... or both.  The fuel tank and trans alone are worth the effort.

Thanks. That helps.

Leaning more and more towards the LT/ Imp SS swap.
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Re: Convince me...LS vs. LT vs. crate

Post by bigredlaguna on Tue Jul 26, 2016 11:36 pm

I would probably build a carbureted engine. You can put a lot of the newer tech into it. Heads with ls-like combustion chambers, thin ring sets on the pistons, along with lighter pistons that are as durable as the old heavy slugs.

But that is just me liking the old school stuff, and at least surprising the injected generation how well and dependable a carbureted car can run.

Having said that, computer controlled injection is nice because you can go anywhere you want without worry. To the beach today-cool. The mountains tomorrow- let's go. Even a tank of bad gasoline won't knock you sideways unless it is really bad. I would definitely go for the Impala deal with the lt engine because you would need alot of that stuff anyway for an ls swap.
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Re: Convince me...LS vs. LT vs. crate

Post by brownbomber77 on Sun Jan 15, 2017 10:22 pm

I like what this guy is saying...and my neighbors and I are doin a 5.3 into an '84 Caprice. The crazy thing is...a Cam and headers gets ya 300HP reliably to the wheels every day with a tune...never have to touch it.

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Re: Convince me...LS vs. LT vs. crate

Post by fasrnur on Sun Jan 15, 2017 10:51 pm

In the end it's what ever you're comfortable with in my opinion. I'm old school and have no problems tuning a carb. Don't get me wrong, the LS and LT1 are great engines and make great power with superb reliability, but here's something to think about. If you're in Spiderbreath Arkansas, or Buzzerdtoe Wyoming, how easy will it be to find that sensor, injector, or anything else that one might have to order when your car breaks down? Let alone find someone that has a computer to hook up to? I know, everyone has those things these days, or do they? lol
If you have a carbed car and it breaks down, chances are good that you're going to be able to figure it out on your own and find parts much easier. Then fix it yourself and be on your way.
As for reliability for a carbed car, how is it that when our cars were new they were driven from coast to coast without any problems?
Go for what you want and have fun with it when it's done.

Jeff....
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Re: Convince me...LS vs. LT vs. crate

Post by Roadcaptain S3 on Sun Jan 15, 2017 11:31 pm

I haven't done anything yet.
Every time I get in and cruise around, I ask myself why change a good thing? The old girl purrs like a kitten.
If it ain't broke...Smile
I also was working on some cosmetics, swapping to 74 bumpers etc. Then we moved and it's been house projects up until this week. Now I'm on to suspension and wheels.

I also swapped another car for a Wrangler. Using that as my winter beater and improving a few things with it.

I may (or may not) get on the engine swap this spring.
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Re: Convince me...LS vs. LT vs. crate

Post by bigredlaguna on Tue Jan 17, 2017 12:18 am

"I may (or may not) get on the...." This phrase applies to at least 20 different things for me. It has created for me a reputation as either a procrastinator or being lazy. Head Bang
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Re: Convince me...LS vs. LT vs. crate

Post by Roadcaptain S3 on Tue Jan 17, 2017 8:00 pm

Not enough hours in the day, Big Red. Not enough hours.
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Re: Convince me...LS vs. LT vs. crate

Post by Tom77 on Wed Jan 18, 2017 8:35 am

Since I havent seen any posts for a crate engine yet here go's. I went the easy way. Bought a turn key 383 stroker from Blueprint Engines 450HP 450 Torque. This motor came complete and pre run. All we had to do was starter alternator power steering and air. Had it in since 11 and drive the h--- out of it. Only issue I have ever had is with a Revolver serpentine belt system I put on. Belt kept slipping. Changed to a gator belt and all is good.
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Re: Convince me...LS vs. LT vs. crate

Post by brownbomber77 on Wed Jan 18, 2017 4:46 pm

fasrnur wrote:In the end it's what ever you're comfortable with in my opinion. I'm old school and have no problems tuning a carb. Don't get me wrong, the LS and LT1 are great engines and make great power with superb reliability, but here's something to think about. If you're in Spiderbreath Arkansas, or Buzzerdtoe Wyoming, how easy will it be to find that sensor, injector, or anything else that one might have to order when your car breaks down? Let alone find someone that has a computer to hook up to? I know, everyone has those things these days, or do they? lol
If you have a carbed car and it breaks down, chances are good that you're going to be able to figure it out on your own and find parts much easier. Then fix it yourself and be on your way.
As for reliability for a carbed car, how is it that when our cars were new they were driven from coast to coast without any problems?
Go for what you want and have fun with it when it's done.

Jeff....


When was the last time an LS engine was found on the side of the road...? ha

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Re: Convince me...LS vs. LT vs. crate

Post by thatfnthing on Wed Jan 18, 2017 6:17 pm

fasrnur wrote:In the end it's what ever you're comfortable with in my opinion. I'm old school and have no problems tuning a carb. Don't get me wrong, the LS and LT1 are great engines and make great power with superb reliability, but here's something to think about. If you're in Spiderbreath Arkansas, or Buzzerdtoe Wyoming, how easy will it be to find that sensor, injector, or anything else that one might have to order when your car breaks down? Let alone find someone that has a computer to hook up to? I know, everyone has those things these days, or do they? lol
If you have a carbed car and it breaks down, chances are good that you're going to be able to figure it out on your own and find parts much easier. Then fix it yourself and be on your way.
As for reliability for a carbed car, how is it that when our cars were new they were driven from coast to coast without any problems?
Go for what you want and have fun with it when it's done.

Oh, please.

You prefer carbs, and that's perfectly fine.  I totally agree with the first and last sentences.

But anyone who knows how the LS EFI works (and you're obviously just arguing carb vs. EFI here, since there is plenty of aftermarket support for converting the LS platform to carb if you want to) knows that every other statement holds no water at all.  

If you are a car guy, you have the tools and parts to work on your car.  Period.  In your case that's jets and a timing light.  In the case of EFI, it's a code scanner and a computer.  If someone doesn't know anything about cars, they're just as mystified with a carb problem as they would be with an EFI problem.

Everyone here is located somewhere near a parts outlet of some sort and/or the internet, and I can tell you from experience that brick-n-mortar parts stores only have LS parts -- they have to special order anything for my Monte.

Sure, the carb car can go across the country.  But the EFI car can do it a couple dozen times without needing a rebuild or a tuneup, and use a lot less fuel in the process.

The simple fact is that EFI beats carb on every single metric except price.  So don't denigrate EFI until you've actually done your homework.
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Re: Convince me...LS vs. LT vs. crate

Post by pila on Wed Jan 18, 2017 7:52 pm

I haven't fooled with the LS types, and know zero about them, but reading about the power some of them make, is kind of surprising, for their cubic size.
Only LT I've noticed was an LT-1, which had the distributor down in front, which reminded me of my flat head Ford days ! Very Happy Expensive distributor I noticed, from GM, although Accel has one for less bucks...

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Re: Convince me...LS vs. LT vs. crate

Post by 73ss on Wed Jan 18, 2017 8:36 pm

I'm impressed with the LS motors. I had a 03 silverado for 8 yrs with the 4.8/4spd combo, Dead reliable truck, good mileage, no oil use, kept it until 167K. plenty of power for an everyday driver, I recently got a clean low mileage 13 silverado with the 5.3/6 spd.  All I gotta say is WOW. It feels like theres 400 inches under the hood. so far so good. Some of the big motor feeling is the 6 spd trans. It has a 6:1 first gear compared to the old 4 spd with a 3.08:1 first. New truck gets about 1 mpg more than the old. I did have to replace the intake gaskets on my 03. Turned out to be quite easy. 2 fuel lines, unplug some wiring and lift off. No coolant to drain or distributor to pull. I would rather do an intake on a LS over the old small blocks.
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Re: Convince me...LS vs. LT vs. crate

Post by ant7377 on Wed Jan 18, 2017 10:10 pm

I have one in my 09 Pontiac G8 . That car flies! The thing that kind of bothers me is an LS in my Monte that thing would be lost! No shroud and no fan there would be 4 feet to the motor! My buddy has one with a turbo in a Buick wagon,he got it out of a wrecked van,still went high 10s!
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Re: Convince me...LS vs. LT vs. crate

Post by fasrnur on Wed Jan 18, 2017 10:57 pm

Roadcaptain S3, rather than turn this thread into a thread of insulting other's intelligence and opinion, I'm going to do the respectful thing and bow out of this discussion. I wish you the best of luck with whatever you decide to put in your car.

Jeff
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Re: Convince me...LS vs. LT vs. crate

Post by impalamonte on Thu Jan 19, 2017 2:31 pm

Ant7377 , I too have a LS series engine. Its in my 05 CTS-V with the manual 6 speed. What fun to drive.....when I do drive it !!

I have thought that if something was to happen to the Caddy.....I believe I could find a spot for the engine !! Though , I do like my LT-1 setup in the Monte.

Mark me as a EFI proponent !
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Re: Convince me...LS vs. LT vs. crate

Post by Sinister on Wed Jan 25, 2017 3:01 pm

I prefer a simple engine compartment with an easily replaceable belt and no messy wires everywhere.
I don't want to have to deal with o2,map sensors etc...nothing but headaches,not to mention the electric fuel pump.
Id rather spend $1000+ for upgraded engine internals and run a nice new Holley..nothing runs better or easier.IMHO
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Re: Convince me...LS vs. LT vs. crate

Post by TrendSetter on Sun Sep 10, 2017 4:14 pm

I built sbc and bbc motors for a living for a while and nothing is easier to work on than a ls motor.
now i have a 800hp twin turbo awd daily driven silverado (stock 130k mile long block), and im about to drop a $300 5.3 into my 73 wagon.
give the ls a try, you will never want to look at a distributor or carb again.

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