Buying a crate drivetrain package off the showroom floor and slipping it between the framerails of your hot rod in an afternoon with the result being a 300hp, dead-reliable, factory-proven combination is something most hot rodders would have a very hard time scoffing at. Getting that same result by way of the local salvage yard via a wrecked Camaro or Chevy truck is even more inspiring. But that's exactly what one can expect with GM's Gen III LS1 engine packages. Available in a number of configurations, one of the most common is that of the 5.7L (345ci) throttle body injected version mated to a 4L60E commonly found in Corvettes and Camaros. Yet while the availability, reliability, and performance of the Gen III family of small block Chevy engines is arguably the best combination ever developed, to say that it is the simplest would be doing a huge disservice to the hot rodding community in general.

Like most modern, fuel-injected engines, the LS1 has a number of items that make it starkly different than other powerplants like it in the past. One of the most obvious at first glance is the plastic intake and individual coils on the valve covers. That plastic intake manifold is actually made with injected nylon with a wall thickness of 3 millimeters. With its low height, light weight, and high flowing characteristics, the intake itself is quite a marvel when compared to previous designs. Entering through the front-mounted throttle body, the air passes through rather long runners before mixing with the incoming fuel charge via the injectors mounted almost directly over the valves. The individual coils are a result of the LS1 family's designed lack of a classic distributor. Instead, it uses a powertrain control module (PCM) that tells the coils when to fire each individual plug using input from the crankshaft position sensor and the camshaft position sensor. While this system is extremely effective in both providing performance and reliability, the resulting wiring harness rivals Medusa's snake-pitted head with its myriad of connectors that run to numerous sensors and pigtail connections. This makes pulling and installing a donor motor from the junkyard and into your classic a fairly complex ordeal if one's not very savvy at either automotive electronics or computer-controlled engine systems.

But where there's a will there's a way and, in the aftermarket industry, that way is oftentimes a company that steps up and builds a kit that makes certain aspects much easier and user friendly. For this particular project, that company is Edelbrock. Teamed up with MSD Ignition, Edelbrock has developed a carbureted system that replaces the intake, throttle body, and injectors with a traditional intake manifold and carburetor along with an ignition controller that plugs into the existing sensors and replaces the factory harness.

What this translates to is a system that completely rids the end user of the worry about making all the factory OEM widgets work together. Pulling an LS1 motor out of a wrecked vehicle can now be done in a manner similar to the way it's been done for 70 years. No longer does every relay, fuse, and module need to come out with the engine, along with the rat's nest of a wiring harness. Simply clip the wires at each sensor and toss the harness aside, saving countless hours spent on the garage floor trying to make sense of a filthy wiring harness from the junkyard. Not to mention the money saved by not needing to purchase the stock PCM or fuel injection components with the engine. Of course there are a few things needed in addition to the Edelbrock kit. Most notably, if you're running a computer-controlled transmission like the 4L60E, you're going to need a remote throttle position control sensor for the transmission's control unit. This attaches to the carburetor similar to a typical kickdown cable. The high-pressure fuel pump will also need to be replaced with a pump setup for natural aspiration use.

The kit installs just like any other intake/carb setup would on a classic small block Chevy, except for things like the O-ring intake seals that remind you you're working with a contemporary motor. The MSD Timing Control Module mounts onto the intake directly and is comes with a harness that hooks up directly to the sensors and coil packs. A couple of single connections for ignition power, A/C idle compensator, and tach output, and you're off and running.

We followed along recently with the install of the carbureted kit on our LS1-powered 2004 Road Tour car when it returned to Hot Rods & Custom Stuff to receive the conversion. We started in the morning by removing all the offending OEM parts and by that afternoon, we had the coil covers installed and the motor was looking a lot more like a classic hot rod mill. The resulting setup is something any guy could install in a day in the garage, but more importantly, it's much simpler and the induction system can now be tuned with a screwdriver and a jet change rather than by pulling at random lines on a chart using a laptop computer.

SOURCE
Hot Rods & Custom Stuff
760-745-1170
www.hotrodscustomstuff.com
MSD Ignition
El Paso
TX
9-15/-857-5200
msdignition.com
Edelbrock
Dept. 5.0
2700 California St.
Torrance
CA  90503
310-781-2222
www.edelbrock.com
TCI Automotive
151 Industrial Dr.
Ashland
MS  38603
662-224-8972
www.tciauto.com
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