GM High-Tech Performance Blogs
Arm yourself with the knowledge to go faster
Until you really start to educate yourself on the LS engine, you really have no idea how much you don't know. For example, many people (myself included) take it for granted that all LS engines came with aluminum cylinder heads. However, the original LQ4 6.0L that came in Silverados/Sierras had iron heads. You might be thinking, what does this trivial information have to do with me and my quest for horsepower? Well, if you keep digging, you will find out that the 6.0L LQ9 came with heads identical to the LS6 except with solid valves and larger combustion chambers (for lower compression), and the LM7 5.3L came with heads identical to the LS1 but with smaller chambers. Building a budget nitrous motor? How about some ported 5.3L heads? Maybe a homemade turbo setup? Try some LQ9 heads.
Here is a quick overview of some of our favorite books on LS engines and why they are useful.
How to Build High-Performance Chevy LS1/LS6 V-8s: this is the book that started it all. Will Handzel stars with the creation of the Gen III, covers the basics, shows which factory parts to use for the best performance as well as tips, tricks and several builds. Clearly this book was written by someone with close ties inside GM. The first three chapters are easily the most useful and helpful aspect of the book, though some inconsistencies in the part numbers may require further research.
Chevy LS1/LS6 Performance: another oldie but goodie, Chris Endres has a great mix of inside GM information and real world testing. This book really distills the essential information down for the aspiring hot rodder. This is the only book I've seen with a chart of factory intake manifold plenum volume, runner length and volume.
Building the Chevy LS Engine: this is a great builders' guide. Mike Mavrigan loads this book with plenty of data, facts, and specs on everything from factory Gen III/IV cylinder heads and camshafts to aftermarket pistons. This is a very undervalued book that doesn't get near the attention it deserves.
How to Build and Modify GM LS-Series Engines: this is a very hands-on book with some of the best photography. Joseph Potak harnessed years of LS engine building knowledge and experience into this helpful book. From basic assembly type stuff to reviewing aftermarket components, describing when and why to use them, Potak covers all the bases. This book is one of the most recent printings, so it is therefore one of the most up to date in terms of new products.
Dyno-Proven GM LS1 Thru LS7 Performance Parts: this book is exactly what it sounds like, a pile of dyno sheets. Richard Holdener practically lives on the dyno at Westech, and this compilation shows what a myriad of modifications can do. Ever wonder how an LS1 intake manifold compares to an LS2, or an LS2 to an LS6? Check out page 39. Holdener has a great grasp on comparison data to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of a particular product.
How to Build Big-Inch GM LS Series Engines: Stephen Kim has had his hands on more than his share of LS engines, especially big-cube varieties. This book is an excellent blend of theory and practical knowledge that can help you select the right parts to build a big-cube LS engine. And having been printed just last year, it is up to date on various Gen IV information and new products. This is easily one of my favorite books since it gives the "why" and not just the "what" and "how."
Chevy LS Engine Buildups: this is a compilation of some of your favorite LS builds in GMHTP, Super Chevy and Chevy High Performance. From theory and general overview to cam, head, and intake swaps as well as complete installs and dyno testing of power adders.
But of course, not all great minds have the time to write a book. This is exactly why the Advanced Engineering Technology Conference takes place once a year, so that experts can share their experience and keep up to date on the latest trends. GMHTP sponsored the 19th Annual conference on LSx Performance back in 2008, and the notes from this event are priceless. If you can get your paws on one, you'll find a complete chart of cylinder lengths for all LS blocks in Judson Massingill's presentation plus advanced concepts on virtually every aspect of this engine. Thankfully AETC records all the presentation (audio) and has a CD of all the PowerPoint presentations as well as the notes to make it easier to follow.