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1978 Chevy El Camino 305 v8
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Looking to swap out my original 305 for an LS but I don’t know too much about these things so I was wondering if some of y’all could help me find what’s the best option. My 78 is my daily so I need something reliable, but also want some power and some good sound.
 

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Hello John,

Do you have an LS engine / transmission in mind? I read two LS swap books cover to cover before getting started on my swap. The best advice that I can give you at this point that saved me a whole lotta' grief is to stick with Holley LS swap parts:

Holley 302-2 or 302-3 oil pan
Holley Hooker Blackheart headers
Holley forward-bias frame stand engine mounts

Your choice of LS transmission will dictate whether you need floor pan sheet metal work. The 4L60E likely won't need sheet metal work but the 4L80E almost certainly will.

You will need a different engine harness either purchased or de-pin the harness from the swap vehicle.

Do you have somebody close by to do your required powertrain control module operating system changes? Mail order is possible but I frown on that for several reasons. I do my own tuning on these devices now - for free, zero cost.

It is not often said but an LS swap will take you twice as long as rebuilding the engine you have and cost way more than you thought it would. But I have no regrets about mine.

Rick
 

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78John , The LS series of engines are soo good that it is hard to say anything contrary and would not want to talk you out of one if that is what you want . Should you decide on an LS swap , Rick`s good advise will get you started . For the novice there is some complexity to installing an LS motor . Depending on what you want , there are a number of great engines available that install easier , cheaper and have some power . I am thinking that if I cannot find a 59 Camino I can afford , I will repower my 87 . The engine I am thinking about is the General Motors Performance ZZ6 EFI turn-key . It is a tried and true 350 cu. in. crate engine complete with drive accessories and 420 horse power . Modern electronically controlled port fuel injection ( fits standard air cleaner ) alum. heads etc. Anyway , just a thought and good luck with your ideas .
 
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What they said^^^^^

Also going through the archives here and on other G-Body forums will answer a bunch of questions.

I also leaned heavily on LT1swap.com, I know it says LT1 but he is current on info all the way up to the latest generation Chevy swaps. Lots of wiring harness info here. I had Brendan flash my computer and remove everything I didn't need and was able to fire my swap up without any problems other than final tuning.

I recently purchased a HPtuner and am beginning to learn tuning myself. Hopefully I'll be able to tune my LS swapped Mustang like Rick when I get it running. Probably late summer/early fall if all goes well

Everything will cost more, be more frustrating, take more time, but be the most rewarding thing you can do to a car, IMHO. My ElCo can sit in the garage all week and it fires up first twist of the key just like the 05 Escalade the motor came out of, and drive with great manners but becomes downright possessed when the pedal hits the floor!

Good luck!

Joe
 

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Everything everyone above said is true but there was one point not addressed. You said it was your daily driver, how long can you afford for it to be down for a complete driveline swap? LS will require engine, computer, and tranny. If you just want drop in power, get a modern 350SBC and THAT's a simple drop-in plug-in-play (comparatively speaking) with almost the same power specs
 

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comparative power specs...I think the only reason to really go LS is because it is a better designed block, not because it makes more power. You could stick a different camshaft in the SBC and make equivalent power for less money

137485
 

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Why can't he use his TH350 behind the LS?
He can, even GM makes an adapter for the flexplate, it will bolt right up. The problems start at the throttle body. If you get a drive by cable like a 99-02 it's easier to adapt the TV cable. If it's a drive by wire throttle body it's a whole new ball game. I've seen a work-around involving using the throttle pedal to operate the TV cable, problem is getting things to line up and work good enough that you don't ruin the trans. I suppose a full manual valve body is an option but would get tiring quick especially in a daily driver. I gave up real quick and went with the 4L60E life is good.

Ray is right about swapping a crate 350 being the fastest easiest solution, it will still burn a hole in your wallet just a lot smaller one.

I do have a different take on the situation though, I bought my ElCo after I paid off a car I bought for my son and used a bit of cash down (less than a crate 350) on my 04 Sierra and put the ElCo into project status and spent the next three years getting an education on LS swapping. I found this site about the time I got it running, probably would have saved a year or so and a grand or so had I found this place earlier.

There's no right or wrong way to go, either way will be an adventure. Either way you go have fun, enjoy your car and let us know if there is anything we can help with. Good luck!

Joe
 

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I am just about to wrap up an LS3 swap in my 82. I hope. I bought the car in December to make this swap. I wanted a daily driver that my wife would think was dependable enough to go anywhere with so I elected to go with all new stuff. I got a Blueprint engine with Holley Sniper and MSD controller. A new 6-speed Tremec replacing automatic. Coilovers, aluminum radiator, wheels and tires, AC system, power steering, alternator, stainless Hooker headers, Holley motor mounts and on and on. I knew it would be expensive and it was still more than I thought. But I'll have a close to totally reliable new 40 year old car that my wife can drive anywhere and it'll have 538 HP and 488 Torque. I'm satisfied...well almost satisfied. I'm about a week away from making smoke.
 
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