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The deciding factor for me is cost. Has anyone done a detailed, and true, cost analysis of a LS swap into a Camino?

I would love to see it.

From what I can tell from other forums that I belong to, some of these guys are spending $3000 to $6000 on one of these LS swaps into various gbodys.
 

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They will be having a speaker and demos of a few things, including an LS swap, at the El Camino 60th Event this October. If you haven't checked into it yet, you can find out more about it HERE. This is a NECOA sponsored event that will be one for the history books! Hope to see y'all there! :cool2:
 

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I think it really boils down to what kind of deals you can get / fabricate yourself vs. just paying out of pocket for. I've been slowly piecing together a swap for mine, ended up finding a deal for a good condition 6.0 LS for $700 that'll be going in plus I'm planning on doing all my own fab/welding work as far as the mounts and subframe go which should significantly cut down on cost as well.
 

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I have a LS1 in my 85. My wife is a CPA. So I know to the penny. There are a lot of little things that run up the cost. Mine is built to be emissions legal which added some cost and a lot of headaches. Then a Dakota Digital gauge cluster so the new electronic cruise can be installed. New air conditioning unit. Oh and a bigger radiator. Shorten the driveshaft. I had a lifter that needed replaced so why not beef up the cam a little. And CNC port the heads.Then posi to get an improved rearend ratio. Lots of time the swap will also include the electronic transmission. Mounting the huge PCM module is kind of a pain.

If you are handy with a decent shop and some good buddies you could probably get by pretty reasonable. If not the costs really add up. A lot like remodeling your home. One thing leads to another. Called scope creep.

Reaching thru the window and barely touching the key and listening to it idle....priceless
 

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I have a LS1 in my 85. My wife is a CPA. So I know to the penny [empahasis added]. There are a lot of little things that run up the cost. Mine is built to be emissions legal which added some cost and a lot of headaches. Then a Dakota Digital gauge cluster so the new electronic cruise can be installed. New air conditioning unit. Oh and a bigger radiator. Shorten the driveshaft. I had a lifter that needed replaced so why not beef up the cam a little. And CNC port the heads.Then posi to get an improved rearend ratio. Lots of time the swap will also include the electronic transmission. Mounting the huge PCM module is kind of a pain.

If you are handy with a decent shop and some good buddies you could probably get by pretty reasonable. If not the costs really add up. A lot like remodeling your home. One thing leads to another. Called scope creep.

Reaching thru the window and barely touching the key and listening to it idle....priceless
OK, I would really appreciate if you would tell all of us what this swap ended up costing you. I would love to hear some real-life numbers (and if you have a detailed break-down of costs, then so much the better).

PS Also whether you used any components from Hooker or Holley specifically made for LS swaps into gbodys (and any details if possible).
 

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My costs are a little generic as I hired a lot of the work done and didn't need a detailed breakdown. Since I retired and moved to Colorado I no longer have my nice shop and sold a lot of the tools. But my good job of 40 years provided me with a healthy retirement fund and allows me to watch others work.

I also had a lot of work done not related to the actual install by the same shop. We lifted the body off, sandblasted and powder coated the frame, installed all new suspension bushings, replaced all rubber brake lines, installed new brakes inc. wheel cylinders.

The cost to buy the engine and transmission, have it installed, pcm reprogrammed and everything "connected" was $5,000. The special built wiring harness was $600 additional. $400 for a new all aluminum radiator.

I then spent $2,000 with another shop that is a performance tuner on new lifters,push rods, high pressure oil pump, upgraded cam, ported heads, performance tune and a dyno run. He was also a tremendous help getting the Elco through the required emissions testing.

I'm confident if all this was done in a "previous life" when I had my buddies around and some specialized equipment it could have easily been done for half this cost.

I didn't use any of the specialized parts you asked about. But there was a new air conditioner/specialized bracket that mounted the AC on the upper passenger side. It then cost $400 to have it plumbed in with new hoses and the system tested/charged/cleaned.
 

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I then spent $2,000 with another shop that is a performance tuner on new lifters,push rods, high pressure oil pump, upgraded cam, ported heads, performance tune and a dyno run. He was also a tremendous help getting the Elco through the required emissions testing.
That's a steal for that price. When I did the cam swap to the LS2 in my GTO those same parts alone were well north of $1k. Factor in cost of install plus the average dyno tune of around $600, you made out pretty well.
 

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My costs are a little generic as I hired a lot of the work done and didn't need a detailed breakdown. Since I retired and moved to Colorado I no longer have my nice shop and sold a lot of the tools. But my good job of 40 years provided me with a healthy retirement fund and allows me to watch others work.

I also had a lot of work done not related to the actual install by the same shop. We lifted the body off, sandblasted and powder coated the frame, installed all new suspension bushings, replaced all rubber brake lines, installed new brakes inc. wheel cylinders.

The cost to buy the engine and transmission, have it installed, pcm reprogrammed and everything "connected" was $5,000. The special built wiring harness was $600 additional. $400 for a new all aluminum radiator.

I then spent $2,000 with another shop that is a performance tuner on new lifters,push rods, high pressure oil pump, upgraded cam, ported heads, performance tune and a dyno run. He was also a tremendous help getting the Elco through the required emissions testing.

I'm confident if all this was done in a "previous life" when I had my buddies around and some specialized equipment it could have easily been done for half this cost.

I didn't use any of the specialized parts you asked about. But there was a new air conditioner/specialized bracket that mounted the AC on the upper passenger side. It then cost $400 to have it plumbed in with new hoses and the system tested/charged/cleaned.
Thanks for providing us with the real numbers!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
There is such a laundry list of parts and variables that make for a huge difference in outcome.
Truck 5.3's are the common budget engine but finding a really good deal on an entire vehicle & selling off the rest can be the best deal for someone capable of doing the work.
Laundy list extends way down to other things needed for any good engine such as rearend upgrade.
Trans is another factor. 6 speeds cost more. Good to get matching trans as well as everything else available to avoid a first timer trying to piece together stuff.
As squagg mentioned, making a lot of schtuff others have to buy is a huge chunk.

In my case , bought a complete 1999 ls1/ 6 speed low miles with accessories, wiring, fans,etc, plus a few new fuel system parts delivered to my doorstep for $4600 back in 2002'. already had efi tank setup and my shorter t-5 driveshaft were reused. Made engine mounts, modded crossmember & frame for f-body pan & low mount ac, modded wiring harness,had a few hoses made for hydraboost & ps. cheap headers & lots of misc stuff. Probably another thousand for all the misc stuff down to welding gas. Few hundred for custom ac lines& hookup locally, shoud of started out with aftermarket pump. Approx $700 on electronic autometer pro-comp gauges was a treat to myself. Later did aftermarket ac to clean things up, approx. another thousand to fab myself, but another not directly related variable.
So many varying ways of doing things with these swaps, all isn't just cut & dry till done.
Fast forward to 2019 with not much over 20,00 miles of part time use. Went through several sensors, need some again, 1 starter, & just a few misc engine items. A few clutches are normal consumables for 400 hp & that time. Still never did head cam swap, proper dyno tune, finished my custom cross ram dual plenum intake or tri-y headers. Not running perfect at moment, but recently went almost a year without more than a couple trips around the block & did almost 4 hours of driving worry free,another deciding factor.
Oh, by the way, was just posting a burnout video of a mildly cammed 6.0 test vehicle.
Much more info on ls1tech.com under conversions & hybrids, but once again, not all clear cut.
 

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Hello,


I spent $1300 for a 5.3 liter LS truck motor and transmission. Then about $350 for a Holley oil pan, $600 for Holley headers and around $250 for special Holley engine mounts. About $600 for an aluminum radiator with two fans and a shroud. I think it was around $600 for a fuel injection capable fuel tank and pump. Getting the powertrain control module re-programmed cost $175. An engine wiring harness for an LS cost me about $300. Getting the drive shaft shortened and rebalanced was about $350. These costs are close and might be off a little but not much. I did everything work related with this swap except the cost for the drive shaft changes.


Looks like $4525 for fuel injected dependability and an overdrive transmission. My decision for an LS was also made much easier because my original SBC 350 had three major cracks due to frozen water.


Rick
 

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My 69 has a low compression 454, th400 2:87. The suspension/handling is what needed attention not the driveline, I can burn rubber at will by tromping the gas..

What I love about my 69 is how simple it is, I don't understand why anyone would want to complicate them with all this modern stuff just to change something that they already do well but that's there business, were all after that car buzz..
 

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Mainly because they really aren't that much more complicated, are exponentially more reliable stock for stock, make more power, and get better much gas mileage. The only real downside is up front cost and installation.
 

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I can tell you it was the best thing I ever did. Put a 5.3/4l60e in my 85 last year for power tour. Makes about 350 hp, dependable as a timex and gives me about 24mpg while cruising with the a/c on. I’d drive it anywhere now.
 
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