Here at LSX Magazine, we’d thought we’d seen just about every LS swap possible. But we weren’t expecting to come across Ryan Cleary and his LS swapped snowmobile. Yes, we did just say snowmobile. And, as if LS swapping a damn snowmobile wasn’t enough, he decided to throw some boost at it because you only live once—though maybe he doesn’t know you only die once, too.
When it comes to speed machines, we like to think we are just as crazy as the next guy but this thing takes insanity to a whole different level. Ryan Cleary over at Havel Auto Service built the maniacal sled, and this isn’t even his first one. His team has built multiple sleds that laugh in the face of impossibility and include LS engines. But Ryan’s aspirations were spawned from a desire to win–a compulsion any LS fan can relate to.
“We’re car guys, and huge LS fans. There were a lot of big turbo sleds running around winning everything so we thought we could do them one better,” Ryan said. “We always build things off the norm, so we came up with this. We’ve built three now. The first had a small-block Chevy and I sold that one, after that I wanted to go with an LS so we built that first one with nitrous. After that, the next logical step was to go turbo, so we did.”
The turbocharged snowmobile, aptly named “Death Wish Freakshow”, started life as an Arctic Cat but is now an amalgamation of go-fast goodies and—well, death wishes. the Havel Auto crew started out with a 5.3-liter L33 out of a Silverado and though many would be content to keep it naturally aspirated in an application that is basically just a motor on skis, they went ahead and threw 8 pounds of boost at it anyway.
Naturally, the snowmobile’s transmission was not up to the task of transmitting that much power, so they backed the LS with a bullet proof powerglide two-speed transmission–equipped with a trans brake no less–just for good measure. To keep the motor flush with fresh air, the Havel team swapped the L33’s stock intake for a sheet metal piece that is much more at home in the boosted application.
A set of turbo headers feeds a custom built cross over that spins a 76mm On3 Performance snail. And though it might look pretty DIY, the guys from Havel really took their time with this one to make it a quality build. The powerglide transmission has even been fitted with an SFI-approved scatter shield from TCI to ensure the whole thing doesn’t become a rideable hand grenade.
Many in a similar situation would be tempted to go with a standard drive-by-cable throttle body, but Cleary tells us that the sled still uses the drive-by-wire setup that the engine originally came with. The snowmobile also has something no other sled has (other than a boosted LS), a shifter. The white cueball shifter can bee seen on the left and side of the sled.
Needless to say, we both want to ride this thing until the track falls off and run away screaming without ever having touched it, all at the same time. At a snowmobile race back in February of 2016, the sled went 137.6 mph in just 800 feet! Now, we know snowmobiles are fast, but good hell that’s a blistering pass by any measure and Ryan says the sled has more in it.
“The drivers were slipping that day, and you can’t see it in the video but the track was slipping on the drive wheels that spin it,” Ryan explained. “So we had a guy build specialized drivers for it that are massive. We had to rework the tunnel on it but you can’t tell and they don’t slip anymore. We also had a new skid built for it by the same guy, so there is quite a bit of stuff better about it. Once we get this thing rockin’ it should be way faster.”
But Ryan says he’s not finished yet. They are currently building an LS3-headed L76 (the 6.0-liter engine from the G8 GT and Caprice Police Cruiser) to push the boundaries even further. The setup doesn’t add much in the way of weight but does bring much more displacement to the party–which is rarely a bad thing. Ryan tells us that the new setup should be capable of more than 1,000 horsepower and will utilize the previous 76mm turbo.
“The turbo is fine for now, but we’re think about doing something different this winter, maybe a set of twins, I don’t know,” Ryan said.
We have to assume that a large majority of the time spent trying to ride this thing is just desperately hanging on for dear life. Either way, we still want to give this thing a spin. After all, you only live once, right?