LS-swaps into already-LS-equipped cars might seem rather redundant, but this LS3-propelled C5 ‘Vette makes a pretty good case.
As you already know, the Gen-III LS-family saw its debut back in ’97 in none other than the C5 Corvette. The LS1 was the series’ maiden voyage, making a healthy 350 ponies at the flywheel.But while it did its job and did it well, it was, of course, the first of its kind. As such, it consequently became the basis off which many improvements were made for the superseding members of the LS-family.
When compared to the other cheaper or more powerful alternatives in its generation, the LS1 is not commonly looked to as the most profitable power plant. Many other LS- or LS-based motors can come at a lower cost, perform a bit more reliably or offer greater power-potential.Obviously then, the C5 Corvette – which is grounded to only the LS1 mill (except for in the LS6-powered Z06 models) – can drastically benefit from a more adept LS. Whoever first owned the C5 in the above video from TheSmokingTire YouTube channel must have thought so too, as the factory LS1 has been ditched for a beefier LS3.In the video, Matt Farah (who himself owns a tastefully-tuned base model C5) and current-owner Travis take the re-vamped ‘Vette for a quick canyon run, accompanied by Farah’s ever-insightful commentary. Of the mentioned upgrades on the car – aside from the LS3 transplant – are forged pistons and rods, a mild camshaft, long-tube headers and a tune, suspension goodies like swaybars and coilovers, and a taller 3.73-geared rear end.
Most notably, however, is the swap to C6 Z06 brakes and a TR6060 gearbox and shifter from a C6 Z06 (assuming it’s from the same ’08 and up year-range C6 as the car’s LS3). Essentially, Travis’ C5 both stops, goes and changes gears under the power of a C6, which Farrah proclaims to do wonderful things for the driving experience.
According to his assessments, there’s a noticeable difference in both sound and throttle response thanks to the extra half-liter of displacement the 6.2-liter LS3 offers over the 5.7-liter LS1. The LS3 is widely venerated for its broad, flat torque curve, which Farrah points out as definitely giving this C5 an edge over his own LS1-powered ‘Vette.
However – despite being a larger motor in terms of power and displacement – the original LS1 and the C6’s LS3 (long-block for long-block) weigh nearly the same, and the original T56 weighs only about 20 pounds less (wet) than the C6’s 146 pound (wet) TR6060. As a result, little if any upset of the C5’s original weight distribution and handling characteristics would occur – meaning that Travis’ ‘Vette likely acts like nothing but a torquier, more powerful C5.
There was no word as to why could be any number of reasons why this swap was originally done – perhaps the owner prefers the power of the C6 but the look and feel of a C5, or perhaps the original LS1 gave out, opening the door for the upgraded power plant. But either way, let this be a lesson to those who are on the hunt for a car to LS-swap (or even for a motor to swap into their car): LS-swapping your LS isn’t as dumb as it sounds.