The following is not intended as a history of the Gen 3 & 4 engines but a guide to help you compare options to price.
The LS1 was the first. 1997 5.7L(346 CID)
Gen 3 available as 4.8L, 5.3L 5.7L an 6.0L have cathedral port heads.
Beginning with the LS2 the cam position sensor and knock sensors were relocated, and is designated a Gen 4. The tooth count of the crank position reluctor wheel was increased from 24 to 58 teeth for improving timing accuracy.
Beginning in 2005 Gen 4 lineup discarded the 5.7L an 2007 saw the first 6.2L engines in cars and trucks.
Rectangle intake ports where first introduced(in Australia) in 2007 commonly referred to as LS3 heads, but are found on other engines such as L92 L98, LY6.
In my opinion the best choice for a performance LS style motor taking into account price will be the 6.0L LY6 aluminum block with LS3 heads or the L98 and L9H 6.2L with these same heads.
Earlier engines connecting rods are not as strong as found in the later model engines.
These older engines can still be found, but tend to have over 200,000 miles on them because they are so old now.
A Camaro or Corvette LS1or LS6 engine starting around $3000US, with transmission $4000US.
The LQ4 and LQ9 where 6.0L (366 CID) iron block motors used in trucks, SUV and Caprice.
They are popular to use for boosted (super/turbocharged) builds as are the low cost 5.3L (327CID) engines.
Aluminum block motors weigh 106lbs iron 216lbs. The difference in a drag race is 0.12 seconds.
The LS2 is a 6.0L aluminum block engine and was introduced as a replacement to the 5.7. It was very popular in Holdens. The L76 version introduced Active fuel management (AFM). AFM is a system controlled by the ECU AKA ECM AKA the computer to control oil pressure to the lifters. At cruising loads 4 cylinders a deactivated. The loss of power is unnoticed and the fuel consumption is decreased. This is a good thing especially with NZ petrol prices. However the lifters can malfunction spoiling operation. Malfunction is not common but it does happen. Clean oil of the correct viscosity is important. Repair or replacement of fail lifters will add cost.
The L92 is a 6.2 aluminum block, this is the one people want. The average cost for an engine only is $5000NZ plus shipping to NZ approx. $700NZ
L99 Engine:-Compression Ratio10.4:1Horsepower Rating400 hpTorque Rating410 ft./lbs.
L92 Engine:-Compression Ratio 10.5:1Horsepower Rating 403 hpTorque Rating 417 ft./lbs.
LS3 Engine:-Compression Ratio 10.7:1Horsepower Rating 426-436 hpTorque Rating 420-428 ft./lbs.
The LS7 is 7.0L (427CID) Corvette motor with better heads, dry-sump oiling and titanium rods.They typically sell used above
Engine sold by salvage yards in the US are described as running when removed.
Most engines will likely provide years of trouble free operation,
BUT THERE IS NO GUARANTEE.
Once the engine arrives in NZ it is too expensive to return to the US for an exchange.
I am providing these engines at the lowest cost I can, however I will provide a basic inspection of the engine.
I look for physical damage.
I remove the spark plugs and look at them.
I then spin the motor over with the starter and perform a compression test on each cylinder.
If I find trouble I talk with the engine supplier about a replacement option.
The BRAIN or COMPUTER
The terms PCM (Powertrain Control Module), ECU (Engine Control Unit) and ECM (Engine Control Module) are use generically by many people. A PCM will control both engine an transmission functions. ECU ECM TCM TCU (Transmission Control Unit) only control one system.
When the engine arrives to me with the PCM and wire harness it is not ready to start. The harness lacks terminals, specifically the OBD-II port. I can have the harness prepared, and the PCM reprogrammed for a swap application.
Or a new harness.
Or a new PCM system, but aftermarket ECUs can't shift more than 4 gears.
The factory PCM requires someone to go inside and turn various programs off before the engine will start.
I offer this service.
I also offer other labor parts options.
New oil pump.
Cylinder head CNC porting.
Just for the record here are the aluminum block engines.
5.3L LM4 L33 LH6 LC9 LH8 LH9 LS4
5.7L LS1 LS6
6.0L LS2 L76 L77 LY6 L96
6.2L LS3 L99 L92 L9H L94
Why don't you just tell me what a motor will cost me?
It is not that simple, but I will say the lowest priced aluminum block engine without transmission or ECM landed in NZ is like $8600NZ.
It goes up from there.
If you are looking for a similar engine for $5000NZ you need to look locally or in Australia.
Looking on eBay USA shows you what Americans pay for these engines.
I plan to ship a few engines out to a friend in NZ who plans to sell them at swap meeting for $1000NZ more than buying directly from me.
We believe there are more people in NZ looking for these engines, but will not send money to the US and wait hoping for the best.
There are plenty of stories out there of people being burned by crooks in the US.
By removing this concern you only have to pay $1000NZ more.
Torque (Tq) is the measured power of an engine.
It can be represented as acceleration speed or ability to pull a heavy load.
I is primarily generated by cubic capacity, therefore a 7.4L will make more Tq than a 6.0L and a 6.0L more than 5.3L.
Compression ratio plays a very small part, stock motors all a short duration camshaft, so no gains there.
As mention the intake will play a factor.
So how much is the Tq differences?
Simply multiply CID of a Gen 3 SBC by 1.0 to get peek ft/lbs of torque.
Therefor a 5.3L will make 327Tq and a 6.0L 366Tq.
Horsepower (Hp) is Tq X RPM :- 5252.
The higher the Tq can climb in the RPM range the higher Hp.
To achieve this you need to increase airflow beyond the supplied factory settings.
A longer duration camshaft holds the valves open for longer allowing more air to flow in and out.
This will raise the RPM where peek Hp is produced.
However, a corresponding loss of Tq (or Hp) will occur below 3000 RPM.
Vacuum at idle is reduced for the power brakes and the sound of the idle becomes choppier.
"Porting" the cylinder heads or replacing them with higher performance heads also allows more air to flow through the engine increasing Hp.
Increasing Hp can win races, but will not increase the pulling power use by a truck.
The most effective way to increase both Tq and Hp is with an aftermarket longer stroke crankshaft making more CID.
Cathedral V Rectangle
So should you look for a cathedral(cat) port or rectangle(rec) port head motor? That depends on the power level you are seeking. Cat heads flow approx. 335CFM @ .600 intake valve lift whereas rec heads flow 360CFM.
In a back to back dyno test comparison a 408CID motor made 475Tq with cat heads and 460tq with rec heads.
At 4000 they matched Tq at 483.
At peak Hp RPM 6200, cat 543Hp 460Tq rec 581Hp 492Tq.
AFR cat heads made 602Hp 510Tq.
I can also supply the more powerful direct fuel injected LT family of engines.
These engines make more power and get better fuel economy than the Gen 3 & 4 engines.
These engine have nothing in common with an Gen 4 engine, it is a new design and very much superior.
But most people swappping engines are afraid of it.
There are 2WD and 4WD automatic.
The 4L60/5E is a 3 speed with 1 overdrive and is controlled by the ECU.
The 4L80/5E is similar but STRONGER and LARGER.
Think of think like comparing the older TH350 and 400.
The 4L80E probably won't fit in the tunnel in your old car.
Then there are 6L80E transmissions.
You guess it 6 speed.
And now 8 speed even 10 speed transmissions are attached to these engines.
These transmission require the factory ECU.
There are variations on driveshaft attachments.
Then there are factory gearboxes.
6 and 8 speed, even 10.
If you want an engine with one of these transmission you will need to run the factory ECU.
I can either modify the factory harness to ready it for use, or replace it with a custom made one.
The Holley Terminator X ECU is an easy way to manage a used LS engine, even a Ford engine.
The Terminator X Max will drive a 4 speed automatic transmission.
The factory SUV manifold makes more power under 4000 RPM than a car manifold.
Most aftermarket manifolds will make more power above 4000 RPM but not below.
The Holley Sniper dual throttle body cross ram increases power between 2000 and 4000 RPM by 30 plus ft/lbs of torque.
An Edelbrock dual plenum carb manifold with a Sniper TBI EFI makes for an old school look and make similar lower RPM power gains.
If you mix and match Engine, ECU, Transmission you will need a stand alone TCM for a 6L80E when using a Holley Terminator X as the MAX will not help.
Standalone 6L80E transmission controller(http://www.zerogravityperformance.com/product/tcm-2650-mechatronic-transmission-controller-6l80e-6l90e-6l50e/)
Oil consumption in LS motors is a problem with some LS type engines. The solution I know of begin with issues related to the AFM Active Fuel Management. From what I've read gaining 1mpg is all you can really expect, maybe 2mpg if you are lucky. That is a lot of technology for such a small gain and can cause trouble, therefore loosing the AFM to avoid a problem is a common practice. You can turn the system OFF in the ECU. Beyond that you need to open up the engine.
VVT Variable Valve Timing is another complex system for small gains, however it is less troublesome so leaving it active is of little risk.
A second cause is poor valve cover ventilation design. Later model covers were improved. Drill addition drain hole inside the cover help.
The extreme solution is adding an adjustable PCV.
Adjustable PCV design to reduce oil consumption
Then adding a catch can system goes farther.
Then there is concern about the piston oil ring groove which lacks a slot or drilled holes in the groove to drain the oil from the ring. While extreme the only solution here is to remove the pistons and drill holes in the groove or replace the pistons.
Th e LSA is a supercharged 6.2L engine. These typically begin pricing with transmission starting at$10,000US however $14K is more common and $20K not unusual.
The LS9 is the more powerful Corvette version starting at over $16,000US and good luck finding one.
Another option is a less expensive engine and add boost.
First exchange the pistons and camshaft. Then add a used LSA blower, or a Procharger, or Torqstorm or turbos.
You'll spend less and make solid power. Because boost is King a smaller 5.3l engine is a good candidate.
The little recesses under the ring groove are inadequate.
Drilling holes in oil ring groove.
I do offer these products and services, piston drilling, camshaft and lifter replacement.
I also build LS engines from the ground up to make over 600Hp.
HP Tuners allow turning AFM VVT and VATs OFF
Coming from a small town in NZ I learned to build rather than buy. I build engines, websites and write emails.
There are maybe 20 US engine supply websites you might look at in addition to mine and I recommend you do. It will help you compare cost and availability.
Then you can write to me with any questions and I'll give you honest information, no sales hype.