From there he explores the numerous obstacles and their remedies: engine mounting, management, fuel delivery, induction and exhaust, accessories and cooling, and so on. And in doing so he reveals nearly countless tips and tricks that an enthusiast could only dream of learning in a dozen swaps, much less one. Certainly most valuable are the combinations of parts that can configure these engines to surmount nearly any obstacle, many of which can be achieved by digging through GM’s parts pile. To simply keep track of the intake and exhaust manifolds, throttle bodies, sensor, and ECU pairings, much less internal combinations boggles the mind. But this book has them, largely from the author’s inside track with numerous builders, both professional and hobbyists alike. It’s a consequence of Potak’s passion and skills: he’s an ASE-certified master technician.

Though some practiced builders earn a certain facility in doing them, not even in the best-case scenario are engine swaps cakewalks. The simplest ones require considerable preparation, knowledge, and fabrication skills. And by contrast even the simplest LS-series engine is vastly more complex than a “dumb” carbureted engine. But in a nutshell Potak’s Swap Manual is like having a friend who knows the ropes—a friend with significant formal training. I’d consider this an indispensable tool for an LS engine swap, one that will easily pay for itself with the first parts score.

GM LS-Series Engines: The Complete Swap Manual

Joseph Potak

Motorbooks

ISBN 978-0-7603-3609-0

1320: Maybe Not What You Think

They say everyone has a novel inside them. This much is for sure: our pal LeRoi “Tex” Smith sure does. He wrote 1320: Maybe Not What You Think. It’s a fictional account of Zane Calder, a hot rodder and former racer who, while on a cross-country trek in a hopped-up ’57 Thunderbird, inadvertently finds a new life in a sleepy Nebraska town.

If you’re a long-time enthusiast you know Smith’s name by his byline in any one of dozens of publications: STREET RODDER, Hot Rod, Rod & Custom, Car Craft, Popular Hot Rodding, and his own Hot Rod Mechanix, just to name a few. He helped establish institutions: under his tutelage Tom McMullen created Street Chopper, a magazine that facilitated the creation of this very publication. He wrote We Came in Peace, an account of the moon landing, and he co-founded L.A. Roadsters, which of course needs no description.

As Smith describes in his introduction, the characters are aggregates of the many people he’s encountered in his travels. It’s as much homage to Smith’s near innumerable friends and family, a theory substantiated by Smith’s naming protocol: he assigns the characters names from his real life, so the book is a little bit of an autobiography. While I’d consider him a friend and know many of his accomplishments through common friends, I by no means know his whole story; however, I recognize the references. Among other things he refers to the protagonist as King, a thinly veiled reference to himself (LeRoi is “The King” in French, after all). Reading between the lines, he uses the book in one part to reveal the various chapters in his life and in another part to either work through or explain real personal issues.

Also by admission, the book is a sort of plea to inspire subsequent generations to join the hot rod ranks (several of the characters that the book’s protagonist guides are teens, in fact). It goes without saying that the book deals extensively with automotive subjects, specifically about the protagonist’s personal car (the Bird) and a former race car belonging to the town’s garage keeper. In the course of the book he references automotive terms—specifically hot rod, street rod, and racing—heavily.