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2010 Car Craft Engine Swap Drags - Engine Swap Drags!

Take These Engine Swap Ideas, Build A Car, And Compete In The . . .

By Car Craft Staff, Photography by Car Craft Staff

GTO Nova
"I decided that the more parts I could use from that '04 GTO, the better it would be." That was Rob Smokowski's reasoning for purchasing a rolled '04 GTO with 31,000 miles for a mere $5,000. He stripped everything he thought useful, sold other parts he didn't need for $1,000, and still has plenty of spares for his daily driver '04 six-speed GTO he bought brand new. He says he has roughly $4,000 in the entire swap. "Plus, if I break down somewhere, the parts I need will be for an '04 GTO." The original Nova was a 50,000-mile six-cylinder in pretty good shape. Bolting in the LS1 and T56 manual gearbox was easy with help from an LH3 oil pan. He also used an American Touring Specialties (t56kit.com) crossmember to position the trans. One of the mildly challenging aspects of the swap was adapting the hydraulic clutch master to the stock clutch pedal. Smokowski says the key is to keep the rod from the pedal to the master level at midstroke, and he started by placing the pedal at the floor with the master cylinder at maximum stroke. He then fabricated a bracket to locate the actuator rod to the pedal in the correct location and to help limit pedal return travel. Smokowski says excessive return travel can destroy the master. He also used a QuickTime bellhousing to connect the trans to the engine along with a Monster clutch.

Who: Rob Smokowski
What: '72 Chevrolet Nova
Where: Phoenix, AZ
Engine: '04 GTO LS1 5.7L
Transmission: T56 six-speed
Rearend: GM 12-bolt, 3.31:1

A. Smokowski retained the two LS1 factory fuse blocks under the hood, but if you wanted to hide them, they could be repositioned under the dash or perhaps above the inner fender panel on the passenger side.

B. If you're looking for a better fuel pump pickup and fuel return for an otherwise stock muscle car fuel tank, Robbmcperformance.com makes a very nice all-aluminum fuel pickup assembly with a -8 inlet and return.

C. Smokowski heard about a cool idea to adapt the stock throttle body inlet to an airbox fixed to the hood that would integrate a filter under the hood to pull cool air in from a cowl hoodscoop.

'67 Camaro
Tom's Camaro has been part of his family for longer than Tom has been around. This car was originally purchased by his grandfather at a Chevrolet dealership in Albuquerque, New Mexico. "It was a very basic car. It had the 250 inline-six, a three-speed column-shifted manual transmission, and a push-button AM radio," he told us. His grandfather owned the car until his death in May 2007. He left it for Tom in his will.

The first thing Tom did was swap the front drum brakes for discs. "It all took off from there," he says. After the front brakes came Hotchkis front springs, then a Hotchkis sway bar. He upgraded the rear suspension similarly not too long after that. But it was when he was helping a friend swap a cam into an '02 Camaro that he decided to do an LS swap. "The engine was so easy to work on, I knew I didn't want to build a regular small-block after that," he said. In early 2008, he started collecting the parts he needed, and by the end of the year, he found a great deal on a 5.3 out of a Suburban. The rest, as they say, is history.

Who: Tom Foglesong
What: '67 Chevrolet Camaro / '05 LM7
Where: Tempe, Arizona
Engine: '05 LM7 5.3L
Transmission: '04 GTO T56 six-speed

A. The stock 8.2-inch 10-bolt axle remains in place. Tom's got 3.73:1 gears in it.

B. A used T56 from an '04 GTO is bolted up to the engine. Foglesong picked it up for a pretty good price, too. Fortunately, he disassembled the box to inspect it prior to installing because two of the gears needed to be replaced. The synchro teeth in the gear faces were badly worn. Apparently, the GTO owner was an autocrosser and road racer, and the gearbox suffered because of it. Factoring in the cost of the repairs to the purchase price, Foglesong may have been able to buy a new transmission from the start. The bellhousing is stock to the '04 GTO. However, his clutch is from an LS7 application. He got one for a great price from a friend of his who bought the whole assembly, flywheel, pressure plate, and friction disc as a takeoff from a shop that builds sandrails. It pays off to shop in odd places for parts like this.

C. First-gen Camaros are rear steer, and that causes clearance problems with LS oil pans. Foglesong bought an F-car pan and had it notched to clear his car's centerlink. Otherwise, it fits his stock crossmember perfectly.

D. Originally, Foglesong tried a pair of Edelbrock motor mounts, but they placed the engine far enough back in the engine compartment that he had clearance problems with his heater. He bought new mounts from Car Shop Inc. that locate the engine farther forward than the Edelbrock mounts.

E. Edelbrock delivers the fuel to Foglesong's diminutive LS engine. An Edelbrock 650-cfm Thunder AVS carburetor is parked on top of a Performer RPM LS1 intake manifold.

A. Foglesong pieced together an F-car accessory drive, buying a new alternator, used power steering and water pumps, and new brackets from GMpartsdirect.com. He does not have air conditioning; otherwise, he would have had to notch the engine crossmember to clear the A/C compressor.

B. An MSD 6LS box controls the ignition timing. Foglesong bought a custom wiring harness from Innovative Wiring.

By Car Craft Staff
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