Holley’s LS Fest started as just one event at Beech Bend Raceway in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Now, there are three LS Fest events and they all continue to grow each year. If you attend one of these LS gatherings, the first thing you’ll notice is the variety of vehicles that have received an LS heart transplant. We roamed the grounds of Beech Bend Raceway to find our 10 favorite LS-powered rides. You’ll want to check out the full gallery we’ve included at the bottom of the article so you can see even more shots of these cool whips.
Mike Meyers’ 1962 Corvair Station Wagon
The rear-engine Corvair was an interesting car when it was introduced by Chevrolet. People either loved it or hated it, and Mike Meyers fell solidly into the love camp. Meyers owns numerous Corvairs, and has converted several to a front-engine configuration using a G-body chassis, including this 1962 wagon. Under the hood, you’ll find a 5.7-liter LS engine out of a 1999 Camaro that’s backed by a 4L60E transmission. The body was grafted onto a Monte Carlo chassis that uses a 10-bolt rearend out of an Olds Cutlass.
“I wanted to build a late-model wagon that wasn’t out there. I came across this on eBay and got it for a good price. It was a decent car and fit perfectly on the G-body chassis. It’s a cruiser and has run 12.20 at 118 mph at the track. It gets a lot of looks and it makes the Corvair purist angry. I’ve had Corvairs since I was 14 and always loved building them,” Meyers says.
Heath Hoover’s 1956 Chevy 210
Heath Hoover built this 1956 Chevy 210 to be a driver, and he has really put some miles on it, more than 44,000 since it was finished. The Chevy is powered by a 5.3-liter LS and gear changes are handled by a 4L60E transmission. Hoover used Ridetech suspension parts at each corner of the 210 to give it a great stance, and added a Ford 9-inch rearend for good measure. The custom interior was created by Hoover and his wife, a task they don’t plan on tackling ever again.
The 210 has been in Hoover’s family for decades and it has always been a driver.
“My dad bought this car in the 1980s, and we would ride in it with him to meet my mom after work. We’d cruise down the main drag in town and just enjoy it. I got the car from my dad and tore it completely down on a rotisserie. The car got some new metal where it needed it, and I min-tubbed it for the bigger tires. We will drive it on the Tail Of The Dragon, or take it on a weekend trip without any issues at all,” Hoover explains.
Dennis Shepard’s 1964 Malibu Super Sport Convertible
We all have that one car we really want to buy, but it just seems to slip through our fingers for some reason. Dennis Shepard missed out on picking up a 1965 Malibu Super Sport at a Mecum Auction, so he went on a quest to find one when he got home after the event.
“I bought this car about 12 years ago off of eBay. The guy brought it to me and said he’d take it back home if I didn’t like it. He pulled the car out of the trailer and we fell in love with it right away. It was a 283 four-speed car, and we drove it like that for several years. The car was involved in an accident, so we decided to do a full restoration and Heath Hoover did all the work,” Shepard states.
Heath Hoover blew the Malibu totally apart and got to work making it into a show-stopping ride. The 283 cubic-inch mill was replaced by a modern LS3, and the four-speed was removed in favor of a TREMEC T-6060 transmission. Under the Malibu, you’ll find an entire Ridetech catalog of parts, plus a GearFX 9-inch rearend. Hoover also added a full Wilwood brake package to the car, along with Vintage Air A/C, cruise control, and other upgrades.
Brian Watson’s 1972 C10
At first glance, Brian Watson’s 1972 C10 looks fairly tame, but when you start to look closer, you see this truck is built to run. Under the hood, you’ll find a 416 cubic-inch Dart-based engine that’s been topped off with stock LSA heads, and a 2650 Harrop supercharger. Watson bolted a 4L80E that uses a Reid case as its foundation, and a Circle D torque converter to the engine so power can be transferred to the rear wheels.
“I saw the truck on Craigslist and drove all the way to Georgia to pick it up. The truck was totally stock when I got it, and I have spent several years building it. It had a junkyard 5.3 with a 4L80, then it got a 6.0 with an LSA blower and nitrous. I blew up that combination and started to build a new engine. Everybody loves C10s, and I always wanted one. I wanted to LS swap it for sure to make it more reliable. I street drive the truck all the time. I’ll even drive it to the track and home,” Watson says.
Mark Matthews’ 1965 AMC Rambler
You could say that Mark Matthews really is a “rambling man” when you look at his taste in cars. Matthews has owned three AMC ramblers, including this 1965 model, and they’ve all been sharp. This particular car is equipped with a 5.3-liter LS, a Powerglide transmission, PTC torque converter, and an 84mm Borg Warner turbo. Matthews controls the engine with a Holley Dominator ECU.
Currently, Matthews has another AMC he’s building, so he purchased this car as a street ride that will see the track on occasion. The car was purchased turnkey and runs on E85, so that saved Matthews some build time so he could make LS Fest this year.
Scott Chaney’s 1987 El Camino SS
This 1987 El Camino owned by Scott Chaney is a true SS, and he has spent a lot of time making it look perfect. The small-block Chevy that used to live under the hood was removed and replaced with an LS6 out of a CTS-V. A 4L60E transmission takes care of the gear changes, while a GM ECU and PSI wiring harness controls everything. The car has been lowered 2 inches, rides on Viking coilover shocks, and the Wilwood brakes live inside a nice set of American Racing Wheels.
“My first car was a 1978 El Camino that I got while I was in high school. It was the car I owned when my wife and I started dating, and I kept it until we got married. I saw this car on Facebook Marketplace and it was rough, but I saw its potential. I showed the car to my wife and she said we didn’t need anything like that again. She ended up buying the car for me as a 50th birthday present. I wanted to LS swap it and slam it on the ground. It’s a driver and I’ve put a lot of miles on the car over the past two years,” Chaney says.
Chris Sanders’ 1973 Camaro Z28
Chris Sanders has put a lot of work into his 1973 Camaro Z28 and it really shows. The 6.0-liter LS under the hood features a fully forged bottom end, and a top end that uses LS3 parts. Behind the beefy 6.0 mill, you’ll find a TREMEC five-speed transmission and GM 12-bolt rearend. The Camaro’s suspension uses parts from Ridetech, including their shocks, four-link, and air control system. Inside the Camaro, you’ll find the interior out of a fifth-generation Camaro, and a dashboard that Sanders made himself.
“I was looking for a car and worked with a guy that was selling two. I ended up buying them both for just $500. The other car didn’t have a title, so I gave it to my friend who helped me build this car. This car was in pretty bad shape, the only thing we saved was the roof and firewall, everything else is all brand new metal,” Sanders explains.
Jared Lucas’ 1972 C10
Jared Lucas, owner of Lucas Performance, created a modern classic with his 1972 C10. This truck is Lucas’ interpretation of how it would be equipped today if GM was building it today. A 6.2-liter LS out of a Denali was topped off with a LSA supercharger, and crammed in between the truck’s front fenders. This combination generated a healthy 702 horsepower on E85. Lucas tastefully lowered the truck with drop springs and Pro Spindles from Wilwood. Lucas painted the truck and did all of the interior work except covering the seats, which was handled by Whimpey’s Upholstery.
“The movie Dazed and Confused is what influenced me to buy the truck. I bought the truck in 2010 when I had a real itch for a C10. This truck was very plain, and I saved some money on it. I went with the LS because it’s the modern small-block Chevy, and it works so well for a build like this,” Lucas states.
John Curby’s 1980 Camaro Berlinetta
The Berlinetta Camaros were released to appeal to female car buyers with their plush interiors and stylistic body lines. John Curby found this 1980 Camaro Berlinetta and didn’t want to make big changes, just some nice enhancements. An aluminum L33 5.3 mill that’s controlled by a Holley Terminator X was matched to a TH350 transmission with a 501 Performance torque converter to power the car. On top of the engine, you’ll find a Holley single-plane intake and throttle body, this gives the car a classic look under the hood. A Full Hotchkis Stage 3 suspension with Viking shocks, Wilwood brakes, and 3030 Autosport wheels round out the build.
“I was in the market for a second-gen Camaro and was seeing a lot of split pumper cars. I didn’t want one of those. I wanted something different. I bought it off consignment, it was all original and I wanted to keep it as a survivor for the most part. I’m the second owner of the car. I lost my dad early in life and he had a first-generation Camaro. Since I was the second generation in the family, I wanted to get a second-gen Camaro to keep the tradition going,” Curby says.
Steve Lewis’ 1966 GTO
Not every build has to be about extreme amounts of horsepower or radical levels of customization. Steve Lewis wanted to build a GTO that was a drive-anywhere type of car. A simple 5.3 LS that’s controlled by an OEM ECU and Muncie M20 transmission are what moves the Goat down the road. The suspension is untouched, except for a set of aftermarket front upper control arms.
“It’s an old car with a modern driveline. My uncle had the car for 30 years. He tore the car apart to restore it, but never finished it. I bought the car and started building it during COVID. He wanted to see the car finished and drive it, so I made sure to get it done, and he got to take it for a spin. This was my first build and I got to do it with my friends. The car was built to be a driver, something that could be driven anywhere and enjoyed,” Lewis explains.
As you can see, there’s always an interesting mix of vehicles at LS Fest. We could have easily done a list of 100 rides if time permitted. LS Fest is an event you need to check out in person so you can see every cool car that comes through the gates.