Why The LS Is So Good

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GM’s LS engines are ubiquitous in the world of performance here in America. These modern V8s get swapped into everything from Dodge Vipers to Mazda RX-7s. Why? Why are they so good?

This video from /Drive explains it all.

Rather, Tom Nelson from Nelson Racing Engines explains it all. He’s a good person to ask. If there’s anybody who knows how to make huge power out of an LS block, it’s him. If you want an 1,800 horsepower dune buggie, you go to him. If you want a 1,540 horsepower pre tourer, you go to him. If you want a 1,350 horsepower to power your startup supercar, you go to him.


In short, the LS is common, cheap, compact, and it breaths well. As Nelson, explains, an engine is basically an air pump. The better it cycles air, the more fuel it can burn, the more power it can make.

Watch the video and you’ll understand why an LS sits in your neighbor’s Camaro.

Photo Credit: GM (LSA pictured)

Contact the author at raphael@jalopnik.com.



Actually, the LS is good only because it’s physical size and weight are good relative to the engine displacement you can achieve.

It doesn’t breathe that well at all, it just breathes well compared to the old fashioned V8s that Nelson is used to. The LS seems awesome compared to a traditional small-block chevy, but compared with any decent DOHC head it’s nothing to write home about.

I design engines for a living, and so I understand that packaging and weight are super important. That being said, the only reason the LS is so ubiquitous in the aftermarket is because the traditional hot rodders won’t give up their pushrods. It was an easier update for them than say....the Mod Motor.