Vortec vs ls1 swap total cost? - Impala Tech
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-01-2019, 11:21 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2019
Location: Claremore, OK
Posts: 8
Hi all,

I know the ls swap topic has been beaten to death but here we go...

So the 5.3\6.0 swap is common and documented all over the place. You need a motor, trans, wiring, accessories... and then you need a fbody oil pan, ls1 intake and some accessory brackets... obviously summarizing here but you get the point.

So locally I can get a decent 5.3 4l60 combo for about $1000 with all wiring and accessories. Add $200-$300 for an intake and another $300-$400 for the oil pan. Depending upon my setup, another $200-$400 for accessory changes. This is a swag estimate but helps validate my question.

So with the above setup we are at about $1850 for just the motor/trans

My question: again locally, if I keep an eye out I see ls1’s go for around $1500-$1800, the already have the correct intake and oil pan, assuming I have the right mounts and fuel setup I can just throw it in without taking anything off the motor? Am I right? Does that logic make sense? What am I missing?
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-01-2019, 11:56 AM
Join Date: Jan 2006
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The total cost of the install. EFI requires an electric in tank pump (tank is about $1,000 to $1,500), and a return line. It wants a three stage cat in the exhaust and an oxygen sensor in the stainless steel exhaust manifold (the ECU can be programed to accept a heated Oxygen sensor in your tubular headers, but you can not drive the car until the catalytic converter lights off (reaches operating temp). Reprograming the ECU brings up another point, an aftermarket ECU so you can program it (they're only $1,200). Now you have the serpentine accessory drive (best if you use the Cadillac system as it is closest to what you have). Then there is the steam pipe for your brand new aluminum after market radiator to consider. The gearing change in the rear end (its about another grand by the time you buy all new parts) to work with a deep first gear OD tranny (you have to keep the revs high enough to be above the lock up RPM).

In general power per dollar is a 400 or larger small block as the most bang for the buck, then a 496 or larger big block, then you get to enjoy the LS series of engines in your older car in terms of dollars you actually spend.

I am surprised the LS has dropped that low for a used engine already, but then again they haven't made a 400 cube small block in over forty years so they are going up in price (twenty years since the last new BBC was built).

Big Dave
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-02-2019, 09:15 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2019
Location: Claremore, OK
Posts: 8
Thanks for the input Dave, I should have been more specific in my question... Assuming that all of the "other" things were accounted for, fuel, exhaust, wiring... since they are essentially the same for either choice I am trying understand potential differences between a truck based "LS" 4.8/5.3/6.0 and a Camaro LS1.

If I go with a truck motor I already know that I need a new intake, new oil pan, some mods to the accessories... Is the truck motor popular simply because they are so plentiful? Are there other things with an LS1 that I may not have accounted for? I know the LS is an aluminum block but were talking a 63 Impala, weight is not really a factor, what else could I be missing?
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-02-2019, 10:09 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2018
Location: Coopersville, MI
Posts: 389
From what I have heard is the 6.0 LS cast Iron truck block is the best at handling crazy boost or boring out to a 6.2 Liter. The Aluminum blocks shave about 110 lbs off front end weight. Of course if you can afford an LS 7.0 you get 427 cid in a super light engine that will run circles around a 400 and with a little boost will put big blocks to shame.

I talk about boost, because that would be the main reason I would go to an LS motor. They are cheap to boost and if you want to boost a 5.3 liter with crazy boost and make 1400 HP you can relatively cheaply. If you blow the motor you can go to a junk yard and pick a new 5.3 liter up relatively cheaply and drop it in with little work and be back out on the track.

I may swap to an LS if I was looking at making a daily driver cruiser as well. Reliable starting with very little regular maintenance. backed by a computer controlled 4-8 speed automatic transmission that moves a truck at highway speeds with decent fuel mileage and Horse power. Since Trucks came with anything from a 3.08 rear gear to 4.11 as long as your in that ball park you should be good to go with the stock rear. Then again you start pushing boost and going to 450+ HP the rear end may die with all the shifting if you do hard acceleration.

I personally like the idea of building "W" motors for the 58-64 Impalas, but the cost is way more to do this than an LS swap. Maybe build a SBC 409 and get the 409 fender tags, then you could tell everyone you have a 409 even if it isn't a Mark I BBC.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-02-2019, 11:30 AM
Join Date: Jan 2006
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You have already noted the difference between the engine that ls placed in a pick up from that used in a Cortvette, Cadillac, or Camaro (the only regular production vehicles to get an LS V8; though you can find a COPO 9C1 Impala from a junk yard or at auction to get everything you need with an LS already installed in an Impala body).

Principle differences are:

Block: truck uses cast iron for durability since they expect it to run forever. Passenger cars use aluminum because Chevy has to hit it's CAFE numbers as a fleet on mileage so a they put aluminum engines in cars that have 30 % aluminum body parts to make everything lighter. Watch this to see what a light weight and 6.0 liters of LS can do

Heads: Cars got better heads because of the need to meet tighter emission restrictions. That means a car engine makes more power cc for cc than a truck engine due to bigger valve, better heads and higher compression ratios.

Cam: All are single cam push rod engines but the more aggressive "Hot" cams are only found in car engines.

Accessory drives are packaged to fit the vehicle. Because you can actually see the engine when you open the hood of a pick up the they are spread out. The other vehicles have their accessories moved around to fit into the amount of room available under the hood. The Corvette with it's dropping down aerodynamic hood moves all of the accessories lower so that the alternator and air pump are four inches off the road. The closest to your form factor under their hood is a Cadillac CTS. The Camaro F body is as small and as tight a fit as it was when it was first introduced with a big block under the hood. Chevy modified the engine to fit the car.

That difference in room is also reflected in the intake manifold. The best flowing is the pick up truck but it is too high to fit under the hood of a car. The F-body is the next best flowing and will fit but I would still use an aftermarket one. Then comes the Cadillac which will fit under your hood, followed by the 'vette intake that is suffering from being flattened by the low hood (that is part of the reason why the police car beats it in a drag race).

Big Dave

Last edited by Big Dave; 12-04-2019 at 09:22 PM. Reason: Spelilng
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-04-2019, 07:45 PM
Join Date: Jul 2018
Posts: 3
Hey bud, anything you need to know, hit me up. I've done many ls swaps and built even more.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-05-2019, 07:59 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: chattanooga tn
Posts: 131
I've a a 4.8 swapped into my 68 for about 8 years now, my 63 about a year and a half. Both do a great job of moving the car down the road, and destroying tires too. You don't need astronomical money to make it work either. I've done many swaps over the years. You can find used camaro pans cheap online. Car intakes reasonably too, a ford style radiator works best. STock harness you get with the engine can be modified and used, pcm can be flashed to turn off security and unwanted codes. Headers are cheap, you'll need the block hugger style on a 63. Engine mount plates are about $60, fuel system ends up around maybe $500 if you go with an inline pump, which CAN be done without being noisy.( mounted on rubber isolators) the brp hotrods kit isn't worth the money to still have to make it fit. Hell im using the stock column shift in both of my impalas. I'm happy to answer any questions you might have too.
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