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Senior Privileged Member
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Guys, this is very early feedback on a book that just made it into the Borders book stores:

Chevy LS1 / LS6 V-8s
Will Handzel
ISBN 1-884089-84-4
CarTech Books (order no. SA86)

This is a VERY recent book, authored by a man who at least at the time of publishing was Group Manager of GM Performance Parts. He had access to ALL the inside dope, knew the players, and wrote a GREAT book.

This is one of those rare books that I would recommend you order even without the opportunity to examine it firsthand before buying. You won't be disappointed.

It covers EVERYTHING about the Generation III engines, including the history, reasons for variations from model to model, best components to mix and match, and even shows you how to remove the engine & tranny from the vehicle in a HUGE series of photos (one entire chapter).

I am only maybe 40% of the way through it, but love it.

I have already learned that it is incorrect to call the engine family the "LS1" family. That was ONE initial model of an entire line that includes the LS1, the LS6, all the truck Vortec models, the LQ models (Cadillac Escalade) and now the LS2. It is more accurately called the Generation III, or Gen III, engine line.

The next thing I learned is that ALL these models, including our LM4 in the 03 and 04 SSR, and the LS2 in the 05 SSR, all use IDENTICAL blocks, cranks, rods, and pistons (except for piston coatings on certain LQ and LS6 engines to address high rom/low load oil consumption & other issues), and some blocks are iron versus aluminum. ALL these components are good to at least 500 hp and 6500 rpm without aftermarket improvements being required. So, you can make BIG power with external stuff except for one key item: a better cam (but you can get SOME benefits via higher ratio rockers if you don't want to go to that labor and expense of a cam swap)

ALL the intakes are nylon and VERY similar. The only SIGNIFICANT variation in intakes is for the trucks. The truck intakes (including our LM4) are 3 inches HIGHER than the car intakes, but NOT for some grand "low rpm torque" reason. It was simply because they needed to be higher to allow the throttle bodies and mass flow sensors on the trucks to clear the higher radiators! These intakes appear otherwise IDENTICAL to the LS6 intake, but the extra height costs a BIT of power above 5000 rpm. Not worth changing.

The biggest differences that make the big power differences are the LS6 heads and the LS6 cam. The heads are awesome, and apparently a bolt-on for ANY Gen III engine, if you care to spend the money. It DOES require use of different pushrods, as the higher lift required changing the case cam diameter. The cam is the other key difference, but that is a much harder swap, because of access, and it requires use of different (Z06) pushrods, as the higher lift required changing the case cam diameter, which changed the pushrod length.

Although the Z06 valves are also different, and the valve springs, the stock LM4 valve springs and other valve train components are good to 6500 rpm (as Reese at MTI had already told me). I haven't yet gotten to where they talk about the higher ratio aftermarket rockers, but imagine that they will also recommend going to better valve springs with those.

The author discusses air intakes, and basically endorses the open air filter / cold air source approach, saying that the factory air intake has a lot of noise reduction emphasis at the expense of pure air flow. Those kits you see from K&N and others that have a SMOOOOTH air pipe and cone shaped opebn air filter, shielded at least minimally from direct engine heat, get endorsed as the right idea. The author even says that cutting extra holes in the stock airbox helps, at the expense of some intake noise.

The author says that the larger 85mm throttle bodies on the Corvettes, with electronic throttle control (ETC) (that's important because you can't use a cable throttle control on our SSRs!), offer a performance advantage, and are a good upgrade if you make other changes that NEED the extra airflow.

That's as far as I have gotten in to the book so far, but it has really reinforced what Reese and others have told me, which contradicts my early assumptions when I bought my 04 SSR: The LM4 engine is not some cheaper truck engine compromise. It is the SAME engine internally as the Corvette, except for the key differences that make the extra power: the heads and the cam. The lower intake, the larger throttle body, the hollow valves, and other differences do make a difference, but the biggies are the heads and the cam.

It's NOT like our heads on the LM4 are "bad". They are actually very good. ALL Gen III engines have replicated ports for example (identical geonetry for all cylinders). They just aren't quite as high test as the LS6 heads. Our LM4 even has the BETTER coils (better for really high power applications than the ones on the LS6/LS2) and the better oil pan (deeper, for less churning via the crank rotation).

The author basically says that most of the above similarities are simply because GM wanted ONE standardized engine that could be easily adapted via FEW changes to different vehicles with differing needs. We benefit BIG time from this standardization, as we can bolt on "better" parts as our budgets and wishes dictate.

So, whether you have the 03/04 or the 05 SSR, you have a REAL heavy duty, very easily modifiable high reliability, tough as nails, civilized engine that you can safely take to 500 hp before you need to start upgrading internal components, and even THEN, the upgrades are NOT huge (forged pistons and better crank bolts, but NOT different crank or different rods).

If even half of what this books tells us is true, this engine is a keeper. We DO have the honest basis for a "built" engine.

On our SSRs, the two weaker areas are (1) engine colling (because of our vehicle shape and underhood constraints) and (2) the less than stellar transmission (too little thermal mass, runs a bit hot in our SSRs, and not really capable of taking BIG power).

The cooling situation is one that many of us are creatively analyzing on this website, and sooner or later one of the proposed solutions WILL work (aftermarket 100% duty cycle, higher airflow fan, or the dual fan setup from the Corvette). Or maybe GM will surprise us and fix it themselves!

The transmission situation, for really big power, will require at least an external cooler isolated from the engine radiator, and likely the innards from the stronger version of the automatic transmission in the 05 grafted into the weaker version on the 03 and 04 (they apparently do fit) if you don't want to go to the problem of a complete transmission swap. I don't know about any PCM control issues that could arise though.

I can't wait to get into the remaining 60% of the book. I suspect most of you have ANY mechanical interest will also find it engrossing.

Jim G

8,268 Posts
little need for the book.

Wow Jim, thanks for the info., but there is little need for the book after your synopsis :lol
I'll pick it up soon...
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