We show up to LS Fest East every year expecting to see phenomenal builds and LS/LT engine swaps. And what’s crazy is we’ve never been disappointed. This show has something to offer everyone and is jam-packed with new model cars, trucks, hot rods, and classics, among other things. Amazingly, this year’s show seemed to offer even more variety than shows of the past. We saw some very unique builds at Kentucky’s Beech Bend Raceway Park that drew a crowd, which we’re showcasing here in no particular order.
The Civette is a classic example of Dr. Jeckle and Mr. Hyde in the automotive world. Thomas West owns this unique build consisting of a Honda Civic body mashed with a Corvette C5 drivetrain, hence the name Civette.
The engine in this creation is almost as wild as the car itself. A stock LS 6.0-liter block was punched out to 427 cubic-inches by Tommy’s Auto and Machine. The long block consists of a set of Haymaker Heads, twin Precision 76/78 turbos, and a Nitrous Outlet direct-port nitrous system as if the turbo’s not enough. Holley‘s modular intake sits atop the powerplant, run by a Holley Dominator ECU with a 7-inch dash.
The Civette started its life at another shop before it was taken to Top End Fabrication. The crew there updated the suspension and rebuilt the rear cradle. Other mods include TRZ control arms, Nitrous Outlet nitrous system, Hudlow axles, a Tick Performance clutch, and short-throw H-pattern shifter, Wilwood brakes, Weld wheels, Corbeau seats, and an 8.50 certified chrome-moly cage.
A Tail Of Two Lamborghini’s
If there’s one LS swap that we can’t get enough of, it’s in the Italian supercar manufacturer, Lamborghini. And this year, there was more than one on the property. We found both a twin-turbo LS-powered Gallardo and a Murcielago.
The Amerighini was built by ICT Billet, which specializes in just about everything for LS swaps. And they chose to LS swap a 2005 Lamborghini Gallardo to show off some of its products and use the company car as a marketing piece. And this steller machine did its job all weekend long at LS Fest, as it had a crowd around it for almost the entire show.
According to Brandon Moreland, Special Projects Director at ICT Billet, shoehorning the LS in place of the Lamborghini’s V10 was the biggest challenge on this swap. Since the LS engine is longer than the V10 block, the guys had to get pretty crafty with the installation and used an LS4 accessory drive on the front of the engine. They then used an adapter to mate the American powerplant to the Lambo’s transaxle and added axle spacers since the engine pushed the transaxle back a couple of inches.
With the engine in place, it was time to get the rest of the goodies stacked on the LS, including a Holley Hi-Ram, a Tick Performance intercooler, ICT Billet valve covers, some custom bracing, and a set of twin turbos. And don’t worry, we have a full feature coming on this car soon with all the details.
If there was one car on the property that would make a purists blood boil, it was Dustin Butler’s 2006 Lamborghini Murcielago, with only 17,263-miles on the odometer. Now, before all of the Lambo fans leave a bunch of snide remarks down below, you need to know that this car was a complete wreck when Butler purchased it off eBay in November of 2015. In fact, the front end of the car was completely gone. Nevertheless, Butler worked on it for three years straight to reassemble and complete it.
A 5.3-liter LS engine now resides where the massive V12 sat at one time. And the only way that most enthusiasts would know it is due to the exhaust note. You see, Butler covered the LS engine with a mock-up Lamborghini intake cover complete with cast carbs. So you can’t even see the LS hidden underneath at first glance. Butler told us that when he tried to enter LS Fest for the first time, the crew had to make sure the Murcielago was LS-powered.
While the LS is currently in stock form, Butler plans to turbocharge the Lambo and make a conservative 550-600 horsepower at the wheels. We will have more on this car in the coming months with a full feature so stay tuned.
LS-swapped G Bodies are not a new thing at LS Fest or in the LS world. There are a ton of aftermarket parts available, making a swap a simple bolt-in process. However, when we spotted the Hulk green Buick owned by Ray Lichtenberg ripping it up during the S-Turn Challenge, we knew this LS-powered machine was something special, and our assumption was correct. You see, Lichtenberg is the previous owner and builder of a truck dubbed the “Hated” Syclone.
Lichtenberg’s GMC Syclone was an LS-swapped monster that he enjoyed for a while before a sheik purchased the vehicle and shipped it overseas as part of a personal collection. The sale of this truck allowed Lichtenberg to start another, build which was the Buick. Since he was a fan of LS power and all-wheel-drive, it only made sense to build an AWD G-body. Especially after seeing what Brian King had done with his AWD G-body.
The Buick is a hodgepodge of GM parts, some from a Corvette, Trailblazer SS, and the rest from a G-body. The engine is a 427 cubic-inch LS with a monster Magnuson supercharger peeking out of the hood and a Nitrous Express system. This 1,000 horsepower powerplant is connected to a 4L60e transmission that has the internals of a Marvel Superhero, thanks to Sonnex.
Lichtenberg intends to race this street car as much as possible, and we will be seeing it at LS Fest again next year.
Nothing But Luv
Cole Reynolds had his mid-engine Chevy Luv on display all weekend at Optima Battery’s booth. The truck commands the attention of people walking by due to its center drive configuration and the mid-mounted LS engine in the bed, which connects to a Porsche 911 transaxle. Reynolds thrashed on the truck for several months to have the Luv at LS Fest. Luckily, he was in good hands, working for Mike DuSold of DuSold Designs in Lewisville, Texas.
The engine in the Luv is relatively simple at the moment. The LS features a set of AFR heads, MSD Atomic Airforce intake, and will get a cam and a custom exhaust system before it’s ready to hit the track. However, with some seat time under his belt, the plan is to up the horsepower after he’s comfortable in the truck. Reynolds’ mission for this build is to hit up events like LS Fest, Global Time Attack, and Optima’s streetcar events and put the Baer Brakes, Ride Tech suspension, and Forgeline wheels to work.
ICT Billet had another vehicle that got our attention and that of those racing in the truck class at LS Fest. The Chevy LS SS was a monster all weekend. Unfortunately, during the race, the 5.3-liter engine started seeping water out of the head. But instead of pulling out of the competition, Cody Hoffman, the driver of the LS SS, drained the water out of the Trick Turbocharged LS engine and went three more rounds, ultimately winning the truck class with a best pass of 4.95 at 144 mph.
After winning LS Fest, Hoffman headed back to Oklahoma to prepare for Race Week. As it turned out, the head gasket was not blown on the truck; instead, there was an imperfection in the head, allowing water to pass by.
Travis Hooper’s 2004 GTO is no stranger to LSX Magazine, as we did a feature on it a few years ago. However, since 2018, the car has undergone massive changes under the hood. A Dart-based 427 cubic-inch mill has since replaced the 347 cubic-inch ProCharged engine with square port heads. Hooper also swapped out the supercharger for a twin 75mm BorgWarner turbochargers and a 417 Motorsports intake and air-to-water intercooler. He also told us that the drivetrain consists of a TH400 transmission with a Circle-D convertor, a 9-inch Ford rearend, and a 4-link setup.
At the time of the interview, Hooper had just buttoned up the car for LS Fest and didn’t have any numbers. However, he expects the new turbocharged powerplant to make 1,500 horsepower and run 8-seconds in the 1/4-mile.
We also wanted to give a shout-out to Ryan at IWF, who built the killer twin-turbo system for the car.
Chris Jackson, of Fort Worth, Texas, had a killer-looking back-halved 2017 Toyota GT86 at the show that was, of course, LS-swapped. The car houses a 408 cubic-inch LS topped off with a massive 88mm turbo.
Since this beauty was built to be a street/strip car, Chris utilized a 4L80e transmission. First, however, extensive floor modifications were made to get the large transmission in the trans tunnel. Other mods include a narrowed 8.8-Ford rear axle, custom front half, Plazmaman billet intake, roll cage, and hours of custom fabrication by Jessie’s Performance in Fort Worth. This car is a work of art, and it’s incredible to see how Jessie’s Performance was able to stuff the LS, turbo, and massive 4l80e into the compact car.
Purpose Built For The Streets
Michael Winterer brought out his killer-looking fourth-gen Camaro and displayed it in the Purpose Built Motorsports booth. We first noticed the massive powder-coated billet Pro-Mod 88mm turbo hanging out of the engine compartment. The second thing we noticed was that the car didn’t have a cage. Winterer told us that a cage is in the works, which made us feel better after he showed us a video of the Camaro pulling the front wheels on the streets of St. Louis.
The Camaro has a stock block forged 370 nestled between the fenders. The Pro Mod 88 set on 19-pounds of boost makes an impressive 1,040 horsepower at the wheels. A TH400 transmission is responsible for getting all of the power to the Moser 9-inch rear end, and BMR Suspension keeps the F-body planted. According to Winterer, future plans include installing air conditioning to keep the Mrs. happy when they’re out cruising.
A New Frontier
Stephen Dorrick, owner of LOJ Conversions, always has something cool at LS fest. And since his company specializes in LS swaps for mainly Nissan’s and Infinity’s, it makes sense for him to bring a project that showcases its products and craftsmanship. For this year’s LS Fest, Dorrick brought a twin-turbo LS-swapped Nissan Frontier.
Dorrick had an interest in building something that was all-wheel-drive (AWD) with a manual transmission. And since the Frontier was available as a 4×4, it was the perfect candidate. So Dorrick started the build with a Tremec TR6060 manual transmission out of a fifth-gen Camaro ZL1 and then swapped it to a C6 transmission tail housing. The Corvette housing has a flat flange on it, which allowed Dorrick to build an adapter for a Trailblazer SS transfer case. He then beefed up the drivetrain with an Armada independent rear subframe and added the beefier Armada front differential, as well.
The engine in the LOJ Frontier is an aluminum Gen IV 6.0-liter with a stock crank, aftermarket rods, and forged pistons. Dorrick used a set of LS3 heads that Texas Speed ported in conjunction with stock head gaskets and ARP head bolts. Other engine modifications include a Texas Speed cam, Titian SR intake manifold, water-to-air intercooler, and a pair of Borg-Warner SXS 252 turbochargers in the mix. You can expect to see the LOJ Frontier being autocrossed and participating in events like Drag Week in the future.
Every year we leave LS Fest a little discombobulated and exhausted as the three-day show takes a toll on the body. We walk for miles covering everything from drag racing, road racing, burnout contests, and even the pits. And with LS Fest 2021 behind us, it’s always fun to go through all of the photos and find some of the best LS-powered vehicles on the grounds and bring them to you. We’re looking forward to doing it all over again at LS Fest 2022, and we hope you’ll tune in to see what we discover next year.