6.0L Engine Swap in a 1982 Chevy K5 Blazer
Modern V-8 Power For Any Truck
GM’s LS-series engine has taken over the automotive world; it is now a common sight between the fenders of muscle cars, hot rods, planes, but what about trucks? For a long time, the fear that an LS conversion would cripple a bank account left truck enthusiasts clinging to the SBC and BBC that motivated the hobby for more than 40 years. Things have changed, and those not willing to evolve will be left behind at the gas pumps filling up at $4.00 a gallon. So what options are there? Engines pulled from a Camaro, Corvette, GTO, G8, and other LS-powered cars can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $15,000 and are not a common sight in local salvage yards. The alternative is to look for an engine out of a late-model GM truck. These trucks have an engine life expectancy of 200,000-plus miles, so salvage yards are littered with GM truck engines pulled from wrecks. In addition to being readily available, these engines are extremely affordable when compared to a crate motor. The truck engines are under the Vortec badge, yet feature all the same technology as the popular LS1, LS2 , and LS3 except with an iron block in most cases. A 5.3L truck engine with full accessories can typically be located anywhere in the U.S. for under $1,000 and that’s with low miles. These 5.3L engines are the most common engine of the entire LS family and offer 300-plus horsepower in a stock application. A 5.3L with a performance cam, LS6 intake, and headers is easily capable of 400 hp. The larger truck engines such as the 6.0L and 6.2L can demand more money, but offer even greater power potential. With that being said, there is an LS engine for nearly any budget and power demand.
This conversion will break down the complete LS swap process, including installing an LS–based motor into one of the most common 4x4 platforms in the world, the 1973-1987 GM truck and 1973-1991 GM SUV. While this swap is specific to the GM truck platform, the same basic principals will apply to any vehicle receiving an LS conversion. This swap happens to be on an ’82 Chevy K5 Blazer. This ’80s icon was purchased off Craigslist for the total price of $1,200 and came with a run-of-the-mill 305ci small-block. The motor took forever to start, 15 minutes to warm up, it leaked oil, and offered less-than-desirable fuel mileage and performance with only 160 factory horsepower. The Blazer is planned to take over as a daily driver, so the need for a fuel-efficient and reliable motor is crucial.
Engine choice is typically the first step in any LS conversion. Retro LSx was contacted to locate a suitable engine for the Blazer. After discussing the amount of horsepower we desired, an ’04 Cadillac Escalade 6.0L LQ9 engine, with 345 hp from the factory was chosen. When purchasing any engine, regardless of its cubic inches, it’s important to get all the necessary components from the donor vehicle. The components needed for any LS swap are as follows: starter, alternator, power steering pump, and A/C compressor. The engine’s electronics are also critical if you plan to reuse the OEM harness as we did on this conversion. Make sure to locate an uncut engine harness, PCM, mass airflow (MAF) sensor, gas pedal, and O2 sensors. Also note that emission laws vary between states, so be sure to check with your local laws before attempting an engine transplant. For this swap, we used an ’82 Chevy Blazer, which is exempt from Georgia emissions testing because it’s more than 25 years old.