There are times where, even in print, I can't help but show my age. This is one of those times.

Let me start by admitting I'm no techno rodder. I'm a lot more comfortable with a newspaper than I am with the Internet, and far more familiar with carburetors than electronic fuel injection. In fact, until recently my daily driver had a '60s-era 327 with three deuces and solid lifters. That said, I am well aware of the drivability, fuel mileage, and performance benefits of modern, computer-controlled, tune-'em-with-a-laptop mills. Still, the technology intimidates me. I'm working to understand it, but for now I'm sticking to what many younger enthusiasts call "a controlled fuel leak"--a carburetor.The good news for me, and maybe for you, too, is that we're not alone. One of the pioneers of the hot rodding aftermarket has seen fit to spend the R&D time and a chunk of cash developing intake manifolds (and needed components) to convert GM's most sophisticated and advanced small-block V-8--the LS1--to good 'ol carburetion.

Now, for those who've never paid much attention to GM's Gen III small-block, here's some background on what you (and I) have been missing. The LS1 first appeared in the '97 Corvette and '98 F-bodies (Camaros and Firebirds). Even though it represented the third generation of Chevrolet's venerable small-block V-8, its design was entirely new. The LS1 is based on a skirted four-bolt aluminum block with cross-bolt mains, a nodular cast-iron crankshaft, forged powdered metal connecting rods, and flat-top pistons. Topping the block are 15-degree aluminum cylinder heads featuring tall and narrow symmetrical intake ports, along with evenly spaced oval exhaust ports. A hydraulic roller lifter camshaft is standard, as is a composite intake manifold. There's even a new firing order to decrease engine vibration, not to mention a distributorless ignition system using crankshaft and camshaft sensors to determine top dead center and fire the eight individual coil packs in the proper sequence. This ignition requires a more advanced electronic control module (ECM) to control the spark and fuel curves.

By 1999, the Gen III design found its way into Chevy trucks and SUVs. The engines in these vehicles differ slightly in that they use cast-iron blocks, different oil pans, smaller intake valves, a taller intake manifold that raises the runners, and a dual fuel-line return system. Since its introduction, the Gen III engine has employed several different fuel systems and camshafts, as well.

Today, GM offers a complete, injected LS1 in crate engine form, but the mills are also becoming easier to find in boneyards and at swap meets, making them much more affordable for those of us with little interest in their fuel injection and electronics. The LS1 in stock form specs out at 346 ci, and typical Camaro versions are rated at 320 hp at 5,800 rpm and 330 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm. Compression is 10.25:1, which works fine on pump gas thanks to the aluminum heads and precise fuel and spark control. Combine the engine's power with its weight advantage over earlier mills, and it's easy to see the appeal.

So, why would anyone want to mess with such a technological work of art by feeding it with a low-tech carb? Simply put, it's a great opportunity to put a lightweight, powerful, modern engine between the fenders of a vintage car without having to worry about high-pressure fuel pumps, fuel return lines, tank swaps, and complicated piles of wiring, sensors, and electronic control units.

Which brings us to the crux of the biscuit, so to speak. Edelbrock's new carbureted intake manifolds and electronic ignition controllers (manufactured by MSD) not only fit the LS1, they also fit the Corvette LS6 and any other Gen III engine, including the LM7 (5.3L), LR4 (4.8L), and LQ4 (6.0L). Plus, they're engineered to offer maximum power and a broad torque curve from 1,500 to 6,500 rpm, even without fuel injection. The Performer manifold (a Victor Jr. design is also available) made 410 hp and 418 lb-ft of torque in dyno tests with Edelbrock's matching cam and Performer Series carb. The Performer RPM LS1 kit includes a wiring harness and the aforementioned electronic Timing Control Module, which works with OE sensors to fire the coil-on-plug ignition system and offers a choice of three timing curves. A special throttle and trans bracket that works with 700-R4 and Turbo 350 transmissions is included, making the LS1 engine an easy retro-fit into custom and rod applications.

But enough with the song and dance--check out the accompanying images and get on the horn with Edelbrock to see what you've been missing. Then start searching the swap meets and boneyards so you can bring that custom of yours into the 21st century, even if you do it the old-school way!

SOURCE
MSD Ignition
El Paso
TX
9-15/-857-5200
msdignition.com
Edelbrock Corporation
2700 California St.
Torrance
CA  90503
310-782-2222
www.edelbrock.com