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Chevy LS3 E-ROD crate engine

Project V8 RX-7: Part 2 - Inside the GM LS3 E-ROD Crate Engine

By Mike Kojima
 
Hybridnoun- the offspring of two animals or plants of different breeds, varieties, species, or genera, esp. as produced through human manipulation for specific genetic characteristics.
 
In what was nearly a generation ago, a fire was started in the Sport Compact performance market. Some guys on the west coast started dropping Acura Integra DOHC B series engines and Prelude H series engines into the smaller and lighter Civic chassis.  Getting rid of the stock SOHC D series econo motor really woke up the Civic. The creation was called a Hybrid and the bigger engine's  amazing performance launched a huge industry that dominated the modification scene creating a lifestyle, Import Performance. Fans of this scene were firmly rooted against anything domestic. Domestic offerings were considered unrefined, unreliable, unsophisticated and redneck.
gm LS3 Engine
The GM LS3 engine was introduced as the base engine for the 2008 Corvette.  It makes 430 hp and 428 lb ft of torque over a wide powerband.  It is only slightly heavier than a Nissan SR20DET and actually lighter than a KA24DE with a turbo kit.  It is only slightly heavier than the rotary turbo it is going to replace in our FD. The power is made with all day stock reliability on pump gas and with the E-ROD kit, 100% street legality.
 
Fast forward 15 years to today. When toying around with the idea of putting a domestic V8 engine in his FD RX-7 Jeff asked me my opinion and I laughed. Why put in some lump of pushrod, 2-valve small block Chevy iron that was designed 40 years ago in your car when you have Eric, the master of making the cantankerous rotary turbo live on staff? You could also make a choice of any number of other good engine offerings mostly from Nissan that could make lots of power reliably.
gm ls3 engine
Sure it still has pushrods and only 2 valves per cylinder but the LS3 is not your daddy's small block Chevy.  The LS series of engines share only the bore spacing with the older generation of engines and feature state of the art engineering making them much stronger with greater power density.  We will be explaining all of this in this and future segments.

 

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Comments
Steve
Stevelink
Wednesday, October 06, 2010 9:01 PM
The weight is amazing when you consider the SR20DET isn't exactly heavy. KA, heavy iron block, that's easy to see. Glad to see this.
rsmotors
rsmotorslink
Thursday, October 07, 2010 4:45 AM
I am looking forward to seeing the end result on this bad boy swap! I am still shocked how light the LS3 block is, still feels so wrong putting pushrod power in something that wasnt even piston powered but I look forward to it anyways lol.

On a side note do you guys ever plan on making a performance diesel? or even playing around with the twin-charge 1.4ltr Vw motor?
8695Beaters
8695Beaterslink
Thursday, October 07, 2010 6:04 AM
I'm pretty sure Dai's car wasn't the first V8 hybrid around (SCC did a feature on an LS swapped RX-7 a number of years ago), but car's like Dai's, Tyler McQuarrie's, and Takatori's all show what a well placed V8 can do. I'm still waiting for Honda to get the sand out of their vagina and build a MAN's V8. Think of it: 400 hp, 4 liters, and 9,000 RPM factory redline. Think of what they could do with 6 liters!
Randy G
Randy Glink
Thursday, October 07, 2010 8:11 AM
I bought my 240sx back in 2006 with the express purpose of swapping in a LSx, but real life intruded.

Looks like a great build! I think an RX-8/LSx swap would be awesome as a daily driver. Next? :)
yo vanilla
yo vanillalink
Thursday, October 07, 2010 9:40 AM
The SBC is probably the greatest engine ever made. The fact that they designed it in a few weeks from scratch is all the more amazing. Great article. I've got that engine assy breakdown pic as my wallpaper; I'm actually about to break down & document the engine internals to that level for work so that's a great visual. Ours is OHV also but... just a little bigger.
Blue-Civic-Hybrid
Blue-Civic-Hybridlink
Thursday, October 07, 2010 12:41 PM
Pure awesome. Now I have a question that can probably be answered here. I am currently contemplating my midlife crisis car build and the car I am leaning towards is Factory Five 32 Coupe. After reading this article, I'm sure I could get this engine to fit into my 32 Coupe and be smog legal in Kalifornia. Does this sound crazy at all?
Jeff Naeyaert
Jeff Naeyaertlink
Thursday, October 07, 2010 12:49 PM
if that thing can fit a big ole 4 valve Ford engine (read on their site), the LS will be a piece of cake. We'll go into it in more detail in future installments, but the packaging of the LS OHV engines are another reason they are perfect for this application.
rsmotors
rsmotorslink
Thursday, October 07, 2010 12:59 PM
Would love to see the suggest RX-8 build but with the new 5.0 ford block.
Fly'n_Z
Fly'n_Zlink
Thursday, October 07, 2010 1:17 PM
@ rsmotors: I think it would be damn near impossible to fit the new Coyote 5.0 in something like the RX-8. Dimensionally the motor is just too big due to the DOHC cylinder heads. They're practically the same size as the engine block. It's the same way with my 3.0 VG30DETT and pretty well all other DOHC motors.
SuperCharger.Heaven
SuperCharger.Heavenlink
Thursday, October 07, 2010 5:40 PM
Hinson Supercars has been making a kit for a few years now. They are shoehorning an LSx into quite a few cars now.

I think there is one more shop making an LSx kit, too.
Blue-Civic-Hybrid
Blue-Civic-Hybridlink
Thursday, October 07, 2010 6:12 PM
Flyin Z, what about the new Coyote 5.0 in a kit car like from Factory Five? Possible fit?
yo vanilla
yo vanillalink
Friday, October 08, 2010 2:43 AM
Judging by looks the coyote is bigger than the old 5-oh. But since Favtory Five's kits are Mustang-based already you can bet people will want it, so if it doesn't fit now I'm sure they're already at the drawing board.
dj06482
dj06482link
Friday, October 08, 2010 4:42 AM
The FFR Cobra kits are now designed to accept the 4.6L based motors. I'm guessing the 5.0 Coyote motor would fit as well. Not as sure on the '32 coupe, but I would bet that the 4.6 would fit.

For an eye-opening comparison between the two engines (4.6L modular vs. 5.0 pushrod), check out Vorshlag's pic: http://www.vorshlag.com/pictures/motor-4.6-4V-004.jpg
BenFenner
BenFennerlink
Tuesday, October 12, 2010 6:39 AM
Blue-Civic-Hybrid the new Mark IV FF Rodaster was designed with the Coyote 5.0 specifically in mind when they did the engine bay (however you could still fit one in any generation I believe). It will also fit into the '32 coupe no problem. A couple have already been built.

BenFenner
BenFennerlink
Tuesday, October 12, 2010 6:50 AM
While I agree the LSx series of engines are huge improvements over past engines and likely the right choice for many cars including Dai's S13 and this FD I wouldn't go so far as to say they are "state of the art" by any stretch of the imagination.
American engines/cars seem to be redesigned (completely) every 50 years or so. Every 50 years we get a truly new crop of engines and cars and they are world competitive for a short while. Our issue right now is that the last American car/engine redesign was in the 1950's (and before that it was during the beginning of automobiles in the 1900's) and we are seeing the current new crop of redesigns coming about 50 years later. Yay! American cars are up to par again for the first time in a half century!
Obviously, I hope this lasts and American companies stick to a much more active re-design schedule instead of resting on their laurels like they always have done int he past. I'm not holding my breath though.

"State of the art"? I don't think so. Go look at the pictures of the heavily touted 6-bolt main block caps and block skirts. Like Mike said, shit Japanese companies have been doing for decades on street cars. And to top that off, the F20C completely embarrasses the LSx with a full lower block integrating crank main caps, girdle and skirts all into one beefy piece. Very race car. Arguably "state of the art" when it comes to lower block construction.
here is a pic of the F20C:


I haven't looked hard enough into the new Coyote 5.0 from Ford. By most measures it truly is a "state of the art" engine, but I haven't looked close enough to make a final analysis on the block.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Tuesday, October 12, 2010 11:21 AM
It is "state of the art". A lot of the cylinder head port and combustion chamber technology is straight out of NASCAR with a lot of the features coming directly from these programs. I didn't even get to the cylinder heads yet which I will later.

Sure some of the Nissan VQ family and even the lame ass QR use a Bed Plate bottom end which is probably the ultimate way to do a bottom end for strength and NVH but the LS six bolt mains and deep skirt block is still state of the art as many modern engines don't have things like this and many purpose built race engines use this sort of way to affix the mains.

When you look at the BSFC that the LS can develop, it is a really efficient engine that can put most and maybe all non DI Japanese 4 valve engines to shame when it comes to power to fuel consumption. Note that this is more of a casual observation, I didn't actually research the BSFC off all Japanese engines but the LS is pretty amazing.

The 2 valve pushrod operated OVH valvetrain offers up plenty of advantages mostly in the engine being smaller, lighter and more compact than a DOHC configuration. The power density of this optimized OHV is pretty darn good. When considering what the Corvette and the new generation of GM's that were intended to be world class needed, a DOHC configuration was strongly considered but a well engineered OVH engine won out, not because it was cheaper but because of its advantages.

I like this engine to the point that when the rules allow, I will be using these to power most of my race type builds instead of turbo smaller engines. This is saying quite a bit but I actually compete and work on these things on a elite pro level.

I am not a FFF or an armchair racer. (not implying that you are Ben!) I have actually raced both Import DOHC engines and now use the LS and the LS has better power delivery, is lighter and more reliable that anything I have messed with to date. I love this engine and it had to win me over, I was anything but a GM motor before, now I want to put one of these in everything.
BenFenner
BenFennerlink
Tuesday, October 12, 2010 3:10 PM
You're preaching to the choir here Mike. I was a convinced of the advantages of the OHV V8 design before you were (if maybe only by a short time period) and I'm well aware of all the advantages and agree in the current LS form it is a world class engine, 2 valves per cylinder aside.

I just don't know if I would hold it up to the current state of engine art/design. Where's the cam phasing? Cam-in-block engines have that now too. I don't see it here. Maybe it would be pointless on a race car and obviously the sheer displacement makes up for every little shortcoming.

I'm just saying, a great engine and a perfect fit for many, many applications it is. Showing off many of the top of current engine tech, it is not. (I understand it doesn't have to.)
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Tuesday, October 12, 2010 3:30 PM
I don't think a production OHC engine has cam phasing yet? I know they are experimenting with it.

I think that GM is better at flow, thermal and combustion simulation that the Japanese and the LS benefits from this.
Jeff Naeyaert
Jeff Naeyaertlink
Tuesday, October 12, 2010 7:57 PM
"GM started using VVT on some LS-style small-blocks in 2007. The L76 6.0L aluminum block, LY6 6.0L iron-block, L92 6.2L Cadillac Escalade, and the new L99 6.2L Camaro are among those LS engines with VVT, with more applications to follow. The L99 is also available as a crate engine from GM Performance Parts (PN 12611022)."

read HERE
gadzooks
gadzookslink
Thursday, October 14, 2010 5:06 AM
As a member of www.NoRotors.com (a forum for piston swapped RX7's of all generation and engines; nothing against the rotary guys) I'm eager to see more of how this project progresses
Anonymous User
Anonymous Userlink
Tuesday, October 19, 2010 1:28 PM
I found this blog because of my connection with the E-rod package development through GM Performance. I am a hot-rod horsepower junky, and believe a V8 is the only real engine, and a Chevy small-block is the king of that hill. That being said, my concern is how much confidence is being placed on the need for the E-rod package to be "smog legal" in California. As of today, it is not legal in California in any vehicle 76 or newer. I wish it were, I think it should be, I think it is amazing, but it is not legal. Whenever you consider any engine swaps or SCV projects (Special Construction Vehicle), check with the BAR Referee center for info on your particular project. Be clear before you start. The CA Referee system has to pass it before you can register it. They are well aware of the E-rod package and GM's attempts to get it legal. When they tell you it is legal, then it is. GM has been mistakenly promoting it as 50-state legal, and unfortunately it is not!
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Wednesday, October 20, 2010 6:38 AM
It will be soon, GM is finalizing approval.
ToddRod1
ToddRod1link
Wednesday, October 20, 2010 7:15 AM
Mike-
GM has already "announced" approval 3 times, and all 3 times it was denied. More importantly, it is GM's lack of understanding the process that is causing it to be denied. My only reason for contacting through this blog, and the many other sources I have contacted, is because it is quite a financial risk to build a complete car, or modify one to use the E-rod, and not be able to register it because it is not smog legal. All I ask is that you check your sources, and the best source is the BAR referee system. For example, I have been told 3 times, by GM Performance reps first hand, that it was "a go". I called the referee each time, and was told specifically why it was still not ok. I proceeded to call back the sources at GM that had told me otherwise, they made a few calls, and called me back apologizing because it was not yet cleared. I was invited to attend Barrett-Jackson in Orange County for the "big announcement" that E-rod was legal, and they received notice on the Friday before that again, it was not ok.
I am not criticizing GM, however I am flabergasted that they have done such a wonderful job promoting this package, and it is an excellent package, yet they are still leading people to believe it is legal in CA.
Once again, please check your sources, and verify with BAR referee, because they are the final step to certification.
Jeff Naeyaert
Jeff Naeyaertlink
Wednesday, October 20, 2010 10:22 AM
ToddRod and Anonymous...

The certification is for Pre-OBDII vehicles so far. Certification for OBDII and Specially Constructed Vehicles is next on their "to do" list (this news being straight from GMPP to me). Below is the CARB EO making the LS3 E-ROD legal in all '95 and earlier vehicles.












willscarcast
willscarcastlink
Wednesday, October 20, 2010 2:51 PM
damn... its going to be hard to tell my ford mechanic that i might be looking for a ls to go in my 240 as opposed to the carbed 302 i wanted.
ToddRod1
ToddRod1link
Friday, October 22, 2010 8:14 AM
Good job Jeff- I am glad that you understand how important the issuance of this EO # is. There is so much confusion in the aftermarket world when it comes to this issue. Even though GM is focused on the SCV market, this hurdle is monumental, and will help leapfrog other manufacturers into doing the same. Emission compliance does not in any way mean loss of power or fun for the enthusast. It is actually a step up to the next level, because combustion efficiency equals cleaner air and also more horsepower! Thank you for helping to educate your followers to the necessary path!
ToddRod1
ToddRod1link
Friday, October 22, 2010 10:58 AM
PS- ToddRod1 and Anonymous are both me, when I first signed up it still posted me as anonymous until I posted the second time. Not that it matters, just a technicality in case it does.
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