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Erik Smith

Chevrolet’s Performance LS Engines - A Kit Guide, more or less

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Chevrolet’s Performance LS Engines in Kit Form

The Chevrolet LS engine is ubiquitous in the 1:1 engine swap world. Introduced in the 1997 Corvette, it has become a cliche in all manner of car styles, but for good reason. Its ability to produce a lot of horsepower and the availability of parts has made it into something of a legendary engine.

In the miniature world, there are a number of sources for most of the LS variants. The advent and increasing popularity of 3D printing has also increased the variety and availability. 

I haven’t always been that interested in small scale LS engines, but a recent building idea got me sidetracked into a bit of research and kit finding to see what kits had what LS variants and which were the best. So, follow along, add corrections or ideas as needed, and hopefully learn something as I did in the process. 

(Side note - I will not go into details of all the Gen III, IV and V small block engines - only the high performance, aluminum block LS engines. The Vortec truck engines are based on the generation III small block but are cast iron)

I have examples of and will discuss the LS1, LS6, LS2, LS3 (L99), LS7 and LS9 engines. I  may also throw in some aftermarket 3D printed options.

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Posted (edited)

The beginning: LS1 (Generation III)

Introduced in the 1997 Corvette, the LS1 was a 5.7 L (350 cu in MOL) engine putting out around 345-350 hp. It was available in Corvettes from 97-04 and Camaros/Firebird 98-02.

LS1 - Produced from 1997-2004 5.7 L

Kit sources:

AMT 1997 Corvette (kit #8327, #31832)

AMT 1998 Corvette (kit #3329, #31816, #31833, #31969)

 

Revell 1997 Corvette (kit # 85-2490, #07307)

Revell 1998 Corvette (kit #85-2527, #85-2558, #85-2857,  #85-1648)

Revell 1999 Corvette (kit #85-2578, #85-2154, #85-6657)

Revell 2000 Corvette (kit #85-2345, #85-1344)

 

Revell 1998 Camaro (kit #85-2538)

Revell 1998 Firebird (kit #85-2159, #85-2059, #85-2539)

Revell 1999 Camaro (kit #85-2153)

Revell 2002 Camaro (kit #85-2380, #85-2157, #85-4273)

Polar Lights 2004 Pontiac GTO (kit #6402)

 

Here is the LS1 from the AMT 1997 Corvette. The engine block is void of most detail - this would work out well in a car with limited visibility, but in an open engine bay type car, it may stand out. The Corvette engines require the removal of the transaxle and a donor for a transmission. The coil packs, while they don’t have molded in plug wires, also lack detail. Built as per instructions and in a Corvette model, they would be covered by the “Corvette” plastic parts.

It does come with a great belt assembly with individual parts for the power steering reservoir, alternator and alternator bracket, and an ac compressor. The intake plenum is ok compared to other options but a little under detailed. It does come with a detailed radiator shroud with separate electrical fans. There are no decals for the engine compartment - AMT was in the phase of not really providing much detail in decals through this period.

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Edited by Erik Smith

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Here is the LS1 from the Revell 1998 Camaro. The engine block is nicely detailed and is attached to a T56 6 speed manual transmission. The coil packs are more detailed but have the wires molded in. Note there is also a nasty ejector pin mark on my example. The intake plenum is a little more detailed than the AMT part, with what looks like the fuel rails molded in, not too realistically. Again, the Camaro comes with a nice shroud and separate electric fans. The Revell version I used came with a very nice decal sheet including lots of under hood details. (There are some additional parts included in this kit - I don’t know what they go to - see photo). I think this engine is identical to the Revell 1998 Firebird based on viewing the instruction sheet.

 

Overall, the Revell engine looks a little better, although the belt and front cover on the AMT corvette, while specific to the Corvette layout, are a little nicer.

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Next up, but seems out of order: LS6

The LS6 was found in the Z06 Corvettes and had unique heads, intake and exhaust manifolds, and camshaft (although that’s hard to see on a model). It had about 385 to 405 hp depending on the year.

Kit sources:

Revell 2001 Corvette Z06 (kit #85-2588, #85-2376)

Revell 2004 Corvette Z06 (kit #85-2827)

Monogram 2004 Corvette Z06 (kit #85-4029)

Here is Monogram’s 2004 Corvette Z06:

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Posted (edited)
15 minutes ago, Erik Smith said:

Here is the LS1 from the Revell 1998 Camaro. The engine block is nicely detailed and is attached to a T56 6 speed manual transmission. The coil packs are more detailed but have the wires molded in. Note there is also a nasty ejector pin mark on my example. The intake plenum is a little more detailed than the AMT part, with what looks like the fuel rails molded in, not too realistically. Again, the Camaro comes with a nice shroud and separate electric fans. The Revell version I used came with a very nice decal sheet including lots of under hood details. (There are some additional parts included in this kit - I don’t know what they go to - see photo). I think this engine is identical to the Revell 1998 Firebird based on viewing the instruction sheet.

 

Overall, the Revell engine looks a little better, although the belt and front cover on the AMT corvette, while specific to the Corvette layout, are a little nicer.

 

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Those parts look like leftover parts from the older LT (Second gen designation) engines in the Camaro.  That would be the intake and crank distributor

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Edited by Exotics_Builder

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Posted (edited)

Next in line: LS2

The LS2 is a generation IV block and saw an increase in displacement to 6.0 L (364 cu in). They produced about 400 hp.

**Note - the Revell Chevy SSR is not an LS2 - the LS2 was available in the SSR in 2005-2006 - the model represents a 2001-2004 SSR. The model has an LM4 (an aluminum version of the LM7) 5.3 L engine.

LS2 - 6.0 L (364 cu in) - Corvette 2005-2007, GTO and some SSRs (2005-2006).

Kit sources:

Revell 2005 Corvette Z06 (kit #85-2840) parts are also in the 2006 Corvette Z06 (kit #85-2015) and 2010 Corvette ZR1 kits (kit #85-4216, #07189)

Here are the LS2 parts from the Revell 2006 Corvette Z06 and the Revell 2010 Corvette ZR1. The cover details are pretty washed out and I can’t even read the “LS2”, but the kit may come with decals. I don’t have a 2005, so I don’t know.

 

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Edited by Erik Smith

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Next up, the LS3, Corvette’s base engine starting in 2008.

LS3 - 6.2 L (376 cu in) 430 hp 2008-2013

Kit source:

*Revell 2010 Camaro SS (kit #85-4239) - kit engine is actually an L99 because it’s attached to an automatic transmission, just don’t tell anybody you drive an automatic...

Here is the L99 (LS3) from Revell’s 2010 Camaro SS:

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Next: LS7

The LS7 is the largest displacement LS engine made at 7.0 L (427 cu in) and was available from 2006-2015. It uses a sleeved aluminum block and produces 505 hp.

 

LS7 - 7.0 L (427 cu in) 505 hp. C6 Corvette Z06 2006-2013

Kit source:

Revell 2006 Corvette Z06 (kit #85-2015) - also contains parts for LS2

Here is the Revell LS7 from the 2006 Corvette Z06:

 

 

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Posted (edited)

And finally, for now, the LS9. The LS9 Is handmade, supercharged, and puts out about 638 hp. It uses the LS3 block - the compression is too high to use the thinner walled LS7 block, according to online sources. It was available in the 2009-2013 Corvette ZR1.

LS9 - 6.2 L (376 cu in) 638 hp. 2009-2013 Corvette ZR1. 2.3 L Roots type supercharger.

Kit sources:

2010 Revell Corvette ZR1 (kit #85-4216, #07189) - also contains parts for LS2 and LS7

Overall, this is the kit to get if you want an LS engine. It has the LS9 parts plus all the parts for the LS2 and LS7 included. It also shares the LS7 valve cover plate/coils, which are the cleanest (and have all the coils facing the same direction).

Here is the Revell (of Germany) version of the 2010 LS9:

 

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Edited by Erik Smith

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Here, again, are the additional parts included with the Revell 2010 Corvette ZR1. These include the parts to build an LS2 or LS7:

 

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The 99 Silverado truck kits also have an LS engine

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1 minute ago, Quick GMC said:

The 99 Silverado truck kits also have an LS engine

See above. I was focusing on the performance line of LS engines. The Silverado has an LS based cast iron engine, I believe an LM7. Similar looking, yes. 

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Erik,  This is an excellent reference - thank you for putting it together and posting.  It will be very useful.

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2 hours ago, Muncie said:

Erik,  This is an excellent reference - thank you for putting it together and posting.  It will be very useful.

Agreed. Most helpful.

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Thanx for the work you put into this Erik! This thread should be pinned.

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2004 Pontiac GTO's had the LS1 rated at 350 hp. '05 & '06 GTO's had the LS2 rated at 400 hp.

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7 hours ago, chitownbri said:

2004 Pontiac GTO's had the LS1 rated at 350 hp. '05 & '06 GTO's had the LS2 rated at 400 hp.

Thanks for the correction. I’ll move it up where it belongs. 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, NOBLNG said:

Which engine is in this kit AMT1035M/12?

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Should be a Generation V  LT1 - based on the LS platform. 6.2 L. 
There is also an LT1 in 2013 Revell Camaro ZL1, but it looked very simplified. I haven’t seen either in person. 

Edited by Erik Smith

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7 minutes ago, Erik Smith said:

There is also an LT1 in 2013 Revell Camaro ZL1, but it looked very simplified. I haven’t seen either in person. 

The 2013 Revell Camaro ZL1 has a representation of the LSA engine.

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21 minutes ago, Exotics_Builder said:

The 2013 Revell Camaro ZL1 has a representation of the LSA engine.

 👍🏻 I’ll change my notes. I wasn’t too interested in the kit as it looks like a snap or modified die cast. 

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Posted (edited)

Very good information Eric, thanks for your work.
It's a very good engine...but...the LS is one of the ugliest engines made and that's why most of them is covered up with plastic panels. :rolleyes:
Why couldn't GM do a good engine that looks good as well...because if it's good the Hot Rodders will be all over it...but it's hard to do a nice piece of the LS, like Chip Foose say, the engine is "the jewel in the box", so it has to look nice and you don't want to cover it up.

Edited by Force

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