We don’t know what it is about turbo LS swaps, but they get our attention. Maybe it’s all of the cool turbo noises. When you combine the psssst of a blow-off or the rat-tak-tak-tak of a two-step with the turbo spoolin’ sounds, it just makes us giddy like a little kid on Christmas morning. What’s not to get excited about? It’s a turbo LS, enough said!
As you can imagine, when we ran across this video of a 1976 Winnebago Chieftain, it was seriously hard to contain our excitement. In fact, someone let out a little squeal because this thing is the ultimate sleeper on some many levels. Other than these guys running straight exhaust it would almost go unnoticed until you hear that turbo whistle and then the blow off pop. It’s virtually impossible to watch the video of these guys beating on this mammoth sized motel of a vehicle and not crack a smile.
The guys over at the Youtube channel Fuel Injection Sucks, bought the Winne and went to work. The Chieftain sets on a dodge chassis so naturally it had a Mopar engine in it. The Mopar 440 was yanked in conjunction with the 727 Torqueflight trans with the goal of swapping in the ever popular 6.0-liter LS with a turbo and 4L80E transmission. During the teardown, everything looked like it went pretty smooth. When the guys started mocking everything up, that’s when the trouble starts. Anytime you do an LS swap you are going to run into problems, some big some small. But, the weirder the vehicle is, the harder it will be to find a solution. The Winne is a good example of this. These guys were in uncharted waters and they had to deal with things like motor mounts, oil pan clearance problems, and fabricate a trans mount. Surprisingly, everything seems to be pretty straightforward with this swap.
After people had poked fun in the YouTube comments section and called it a “turd”, the guys decided to fabricate a turbo kit. The GT45 turbo and blowoff valve are parts purchased from eBay and are probably overseas units judging by the cost of less than 250 bucks. The cast 6.0 truck manifolds were used, but not before cutting and chopping the ends off for V-bands. It appears that other than fabrication, problem-solving was in fact the biggest issue that the guys encountered while doing the swap. Which, all in all, isn’t that big of a problem considering the complexity of this project. A lot of the factory items were able to be reused items like the factory shifter, some of the wiring, the original fuel tank which was modified, and even the stock driveshaft with a u-joint swap. After the factory a/c was adapted over to the 6-liter, the boys got creative with the intercooler install. They actually laid it flat and welded a scoop to duct air through the unit.
Problems really cranked up after the vehicle was moving under its own power. The Winne had a map sensor issue that was remedied pretty quickly. Then the converter stayed locked all of the time which caused big drivability problems for the gang. The solution was another ECU with a different base map. Oh, did we mention that this thing loves fuel? So much in fact, that the guys kept running out of gas in episode 6.
There are 7 episodes altogether and they are pretty entertaining and informative. We didn’t know that we needed an LS swapped Winnebago in our lives, but we do now! One thing is for certain, the boosted Winnebago is sure to bring a small to your face.