We’ve argued whether the LS swap – particularly into classic iron – is “overdone” before. Many would say “No way, Jose!,” while most of our readers would moan, “Yeah, we’re pretty tired of it.” It’s not that the state-of-the-art LS platform isn’t a worthy entry into the muscle car canon, but it comes at a pretty hefty price.
LS swaps aren’t the simple procedure that aftermarket companies and GM would like you to believe – at least, not yet. The engine swap entails a lot more than unbolting the bellhousing, the coolant hoses and the motor mounts. This isn’t out-patient minor surgery, its a full-on sex change operation.
The new powerplants require specific pulleys, water pumps, starters, headers, ignition systems, and suffer from some transmission-mounting woes. While a TH350’s bolt pattern will mate up to the late-model V8, the details can be dizzying. Recently, Speedhunters’ Casey Dhnaram, found a car at the 21st Jamboree Drag Races in Australia that exemplifies this point.
Not only is it a beautiful specimen of the muscle car era, but is also an impressive sleeper. The ‘68 Camaro SS is pretty complete from the outside, but beneath its hood lurks some pretty evil hardware. Equipped with a turbocharged LS engine, from the outside, the Camaro looks stock, only hinting at its racing potential with 275/60 drag radials tucked under the rear end.
With its newly rechromed trim and flawless paint, the car looks like it should be on the lawn at a car show somewhere rather than in the midst of pit lane at a competitive drag race. Inside the car, a few modern gauges and a modern shifter are set off nicely by perfectly maintained black interior components. But that’s where it ends. As the Camaro runs modern ignition, its ECU, management systems and modern technologies are all tucked neatly into the glove box for a clean look.
While this sounds simple, the feat is far easier stated than executed. Many magazines – such as this one – have gone through the undertaking of shoehorning a modern LS motor into a classic. Many of our contributors are in love with the swap and strongly encourage its increasing popularity – while others, like SLTV Editor Kevin Shaw, speak out against it.
Shaw stated, “It’s about the same payoff as eating crab or lobster. It’s expensive, and there’s too much work for not enough food. I’d rather have a good ol’ fashioned steak.”
Ultimately, it’s a question of preference. The joy of hot rodding is found in its freedom. As many readers of Street Muscle proclaim, “It’s your car, do what you want.” So if a highly-modified LS engine with a massive turbocharger is what you want to build for your ’68 Camaro, it’s your choice.