Prev Article Next Article

Looking For Speed—A selection of essential performance upgrades for your LS engine project

Posted By: Steve Baur
Written by the FSC staff
Photography courtesy of the manufacturers

 
Undoubtedly one of the most popular performance engines on the planet, General Motors’ LS series of small-block engines became a go-to swap engine for a wide range of vehicles. These engines also spawned robust aftermarket support that serves nearly every part of these powerplants from engine blocks and intakes to camshafts and cylinder heads. 
 
There are so many parts and pieces available to upgrade your LS engine, that we couldn’t possibly list them all on these pages. The embarrassment of riches can make it difficult to discover every possible option available. With that in mind, we scoured the offerings from a wide range of companies and highlighted some of the most interesting offerings here.
 
Most of the companies listed here offer a wide range of LS upgrades in addition to those highlighted here, so be sure to dig deeper if you see something you like. Likewise, these companies are always innovating new hardware, so there are sure to be even more offerings in the future. For now, however, check out some of the hottest upgrades around for your LS engine.
 

ARP

 
When it comes to assembling an engine, ARP builds high-performance fasteners for every aspect of most engines. Of course, swapping to high-flow cylinder heads is a popular modification, so ARP offers these Pro series cylinder head bolts for 2004-and-newer LS engines. Cold forged to improve durability, they are heat-treated before the threads and machined and are rated at an astounding 190,000 psi. They are available with hex or 12-pint heads and come complete with hardened parallel washers for even load distribution.
 
Visit: ARP-bolts.com
 
Compressed Air Supercharging
 
Boosting an LS for improved performance is one of the most popular modifications around, but Compressed Air Supercharging offers a new take on power adders. Think of this arrangement as supercharging delivered in a similar form factor to a nitrous system. CAG offers systems that a system to store, meter, and control the discharge of high-pressure compressed air into an engine that can double the output of the naturally aspirated engine. Moreover, these systems are said to offer low charge-air temperatures, high-charge densities, and decreased sensitivity to fuel quality and ignition timing.
 
Visit: CASupercharging.com
 
BES Racing Engines
 
If you follow racing, you know BES Racing Engines builds all-out powerplants for race cars, but the company also offers other upgrades, including complete cylinder head packages for LS engines. According to BES, these are one of the “baddest LS 1 heads on the planet, but they can dial in just the right head work for your combination from a street machine to a full-blown racer. The BES heads feature bronze valve seats, PSI or PAC springs, Manley titanium retainers, Manley hardened valve locks, and Victory titanium valves.
 
Visit: BESRacing.com
 


Brian Tooley Racing
 
With a wealth of LS offerings, including some pretty trick camshafts, Brian Tooley Racing knows how to make the most of this engine platform. Of course, maximizing LS performance starts with getting the air into the engine, so BRT developed its Equalizer Intake Manifolds for both cathedral- and square-port LS heads. Designed to feed an engine that makes peak power between 6,000 and 8,000 rpm, these cast-aluminum intakes feature a 102mm profiled throttle bore, multiple MAP sensor location options, and a two-piece design that allows easy access for porting, though their profiled port openings are designed to optimize out-of-the-box performance.
 
Visit: BrianTooleyracing.com
 
Cam Motion
 
As you can tell by the company name, Cam Motion specializes in designing camshafts for every possible performance need. That includes a complete line of LS grinds and custom options. The company’s flagship hydraulic rollers are the Titan series units, and this Titan King grind is designed for 6.0- and 6.2-liter LS3 applications with rectangular port, LS3/L99/L92-style heads and promises gains as high as 68 horsepower and 21 lb-ft of torque. Said to deliver smooth, quiet operation and superior high-rpm valvetrain stability, it is at home on the racetrack with the requisite high-stall torque converter, rear axle ratio, and induction upgrades. Naturally, Cam Motion also offers companion valve springs, chrome-moly pushrods, and high-performance lifters to maximize the performance of this cam.
 
Visit: CamMotion.com
 

Competition Products
 
When you turn up the cylinder pressure and the rev limit, a robust crankshaft provides a solid foundation for any LS build. Howards Racing Components’ Billet Reaper Crankshaft from Competition Products starts as E4340 Aircraft Quality Bar Stock before being precisely CNC-machined. It features lightning holds on all rod journals, large fillet radii on all bearing journals, and center counterweights. It is stress relieved and shot peened before being nitride to improve wear. Its rod and main journal surfaces are also micro-polished to reduce friction. Fitted with double damper keyways, these cranks are available for stock and stroker displacements.
 
Visit: CompetitionProducts.com
 
Chevrolet Performance
 
Right from the factory, the LS family of engines are impressive performers, but there can always be more power. Chevrolet Performance knows a thing or two about enhancing the output of these engines. When it comes to the boosted variety, the factory hot rodders developed this LSX-SC cylinder head. Cast from A356 aluminum and treated to Hot Isostatic Pressing for reduced porosity, these heads feature CNC machining on the intake ports, exhaust ports, and combustion chambers. They also feature a thicker 0.750-inch deck and a thicker .300-inch exhaust face. These are the same heads employed on the COPO 350 engines run in the Holley EFI Factory Super Cars class and are optimized for boost with 2.20-inch intake valves, 1.61-inch exhaust valves, and beehive valve springs right out of the box. Of course, if you want to do your own porting and install your own valvetrain parts, a bare casting is also available. 
 
Visit: Chevrolet.com/performance-parts
 

Dart Machinery

 
If revving up your LS and running a carburetor is in your plans, Dart Machinery offers its Race Series 10° LS cylinder heads and matching Race Series LS 10° Box Ram Intake Manifold. This combination is designed with racing in mind, whether the engine is naturally aspirated or enhanced with a power adder. The heads feature raised Pro Stock oval ports, canted valves, and wedge-style combustion chambers. Meanwhile, the intake and exhaust valve locations are reversed. The intake offers optimized port shapes, plenum volumes, and runner angles, along with a removable top that allows fitting a four-barrel carb or other custom induction.
 
Visit: DartHeads.com
 

Holley Performance Products

 
Whether you are swapping your LS or just want more performance, Holley has just about every angle covered. When it comes to controlling the LS engine, its Holley EFI Terminator X systems will cover all the bases. Shown here is the system for GM LS1/LS6 engines and it delivers a host of features, including real-time fuel learn, high-impedance injector drivers, an integrated 1-bar MAP sensor, and four programmable inputs and outputs. With the included 3.5-inch LCD touchscreen, you can not only tune the engine but check on its vitals with the gauge display. These systems utilize Bosch LSU 4.9 wideband oxygen sensors for accurate air/fuel ratio measurements, and the systems self-learning helps get your engine up and running in a hurry. 
 
Visit: Holley.com
 

Jesel

 
For racers running GM LS7 and Gen 5 LT heads in classes that don’t allow cylinder head modifications, Jesel developed these Pro Steet Pedestal Rockers. Machined from heat-treated 4340 billet steel and surface-coated to resist corrosion, these rockers rotate on precision-ground, tool-steel trunnions fitted with dual 3/8-inch-wide needle bearings with thrust washers for added high-rpm stability. Standard with needle-bearing valve tip rollers and ARP fasteners, the Pro Steel Pedestal Rockers feature a tool-steel lash adjuster for cup-end pushrods. Available in 1.80 and 1.90:1 ratios, they are up to the task of high-revving naturally aspirated and power-adder engines. 
 
Visit: Jesel.com
 
Late Model Engines
 
If the Variable Valve Timing system in your modern LS engine is vexing you, Late Model Engines offers a solution. Known for its complete engine programs, the company also offers upgrade hardware like this LME Billet Front Cover. This beautiful piece allows deleting the factory cam phaser, which can fluctuate at high rpm or under high boost. With this gorgeous, billet front cover from LME, you can ditch the factory phaser and install a cam limiter to ensure consistent performance. The cover accepts factory sensors and seals to the block and pan with an O-ring. It is available for dry- and wet-sump applications.
 
Visit: LateModelEngines.com
 
MAHLE Motorsport
 
When pushing a factory engine to higher levels of performance, the pistons are usually the weak link. To ensure your LS has stout slugs, MAHLE Motorsport offers its PowerPak+ Piston Kits for LS applications. These kits feature pistons with strong, lightweight, low-drag slipper-skirt forgings with phosphate coatings that prevent micro-welding of the pin grooves and pin galling. Treated to a Grafal anti-friction skirt coating that reduces drag, scuffing, friction, cylinder bore wear, and piston noise, these pistons feature hard-anodized top-ring grooves for extra protection against micro-welding. They are forged from either 4032 or 2618 aluminum alloys to suit street or all-out racing applications.
 
Visit: US.MAHLE.com/en/motorsports
 

Maxima Racing Oils

 
Once your LS build is complete, it needs a performance motor oil to ensure optimal power and longevity. Maxima Racing Oils’ RS Full Synthetic is available in a wide range of viscosities to suit the needs of your LS combo. Based on a full-synthetic, triple-ester base stock it is blended with proprietary friction-reducing additives with advanced anti-wear and extreme pressure agents to optimize power output and reduce wear. Its shear-stable polymers are designed to maintain viscosity and film thickness to ensure consistent power and wear reduction.
 
Visit: MaximaUSA.com
 

Moroso

 
Keeping an LS properly lubricated in a racing environment requires an oil pan designed to ensure the pick-up is fed under high g-loads. Those are present when a COPO Camaro surges forward on launch. For LS engines set for drag duty, this GM LS Camaro COPO oil pan from Moroso will ensure the oil flows where it is required. Designed for ’16 and newer Camaros, these fabricated aluminum pans feature trap-door baffle assemblies, anti-climb baffles, and anti-slosh baffles to ensure the oil remains accessible to the pickup. The pans will clear a 4.25-inch stroke and feature a billet-aluminum, spin-on oil filter adapter with a ¼-inch N.P.T. sensor port. These pans are legal for Stock Eliminator and Factory Super Cars competition. 
 
Visit: Moroso.com
 

Oliver Racing Parts

 
If you are upgrading the pistons in your LS engine, connecting rods is an important consideration as well. The rod specialists at Oliver Racing Parts offer rods for a variety of LS applications, including these Standard Light units for standard crank journals. The company tested a variety of designs to optimize its rods for the on-center big-end setups used in LS engines. These standard-light beams feature a 2.1-inch crankpin journal and a 6.125 center-to-center length. For more robust power-adder applications that generate up to and beyond 2,000 horsepower, Oliver also offers its Speedway Series rods with the same measurements. 
 
Visit: OliverRacingParts.com
 

Erson Cams

 
The cam specialists at Erson developed LS camshafts for a wide range of applications to suit any performance need. One example is this LS Road Rage hydraulic-roller unit for 1997-and-newer LS engines with high-flow heads, increased compression, a 3,000-3,500-stall converter, and proper gearing.  Designed for displacements ranging as high as 427 cubes, this cam features lots of overlap and a gross lift of .578/.578-inch with a d duration at .050 of 237/254 degrees. The result is a rowdy idle and strong mid-range torque and top-end horsepower.
 
Visit: PBM-Erson.com


Performance Distributors

 
No matter how stout your LS engine is, you still need to light the fire. When cylinder pressure elevates due to increased compression or the presence of a power adder, it increases the demand on the ignition system. For those in need of a hotter spark, Performance Distributors created its Sultans of Spark coils for 1997-2019 GM LS engines. These coils deliver more voltage for improved performance, and they allow for spark plug gaps as wide as .065-inch. Fitted with brass terminals and thermal-epoxy leads that shrug off heat and vibration, the SOS coils are compatible with aftermarket tuning and are a direct replacement for the factory coils.
 
Visit: PerformanceDistributors.com
 

Philadelphia Racing Products

 
Start spinning your LS engine higher and the stresses on the valve train increase. To deliver more stability, Philadelphia Racing Products offers its Billet LS Rocker Stands. Machined from 6061 aluminum, these bars ward off flex and distortion to ensure accurate valvetrain events and reliable performance on engines with stock and aftermarket LS3 cylinder heads. 
 
Visit: PRPRacingproducts.com
 

Powermaster Performance

 
To ensure that your LS engine’s electrical supporting equipment — ECUs, fuel pumps, cooling fans, etc. — perform at an optimum level, Powermaster Performance created its XS alternator for LS applications. Facilitated by an optional billet LS bracket, this alternator delivers adjustable voltage from 13.5 to 18.5 volts to work with 12- or 16-volt electrical systems thanks to digitally controlled regulator. It is available in 180- and 220-amp versions, and black, chrome, polished, and natural finishes. 
 
Visit: PowermasterMotorsports.com
 

Proform

Not only are valve covers a requirement for a finished engine, but they can be a great finishing touch as well. Case in point, Proform’s Black Crinkle LSX Emblem Chevrolet valve covers fit LS engines and feature a black crinkle finish and a raised LSX logo. Designed with a slant-edge center bolt, these tall-style valve covers feature baffles and include all the necessary mounting hardware. They also feature threaded mounting holes for the optional integrated ignition coil brackets, and the passenger side cover is machined with an oil-filler hole.
 
Visit: ProformParts.com
 
Red Line Oil
 
Any performance engine requires a high-performance motor oil to enhance its performance and extend its life. With a long history of developing synthetic lubricants, Red Line Oil offers a wide range of oils to meet the needs of your LS engine. Using a full-synthetic ester formula, Red Line Oils engine oils deliver enhanced protection across a wide range of engine operation and its high-temp stability and oxidation resistance increases the lubrication of hot metal. Meanwhile, its high-natural viscosity index delivers thicker oil film in bearings and cams and reduces evaporation which enhances efficiency and ring seal.
 
Visit: RedLineOil.com
 
Ross Racing Pistons
 
Hearty pistons are crucial to any engine build, and Ross Racing Pistons offers several stout slugs for LS applications. Its complete kits include pistons, rings, locks, and pins and these LS Flat-Top pistons are designed for nitrous applications running up to a 250-horsepower shot of spray. Forged from high-strength, 2618-T61 aluminum, these flat-tops feature forged side reliefs with internal and external bracing. They can also be optioned with upgraded pins and lateral or vertical gas porting. 
 
Visit: RossPistons.com
 


SCE Gaskets

 
All the best engine hardware won’t matter if the head gaskets can't seal in the cylinder pressure of a high-performance engine. SCE Gasket’s Vulcan Cut-Ring head gaskets are designed to corral as much as a 16:1 static compression ratio or 35 pounds of boost, or a 250-horse shot of nitrous oxide. They do so with a hybrid construction basted a composite body of a pliable, perforated metalcore composite gasket body that seals fluids, while its polymer coating provides lubricity between the gasket and sealing surfaces. Its silicone-bead seal ensures crucial areas don’t leak because of extended head-bolt spacing or deck deflection. Meanwhile, their solid stainless cut-rings bite into the head to deliver a stronger mechanical barrier to combustion pressure.
 
Visit: SCEGaskets.com
 
Scoggin Dickey Parts Center
 
Offering every imaginable part and piece for an LS engine, from complete crate engines to the latest Chevrolet Performance gear, Scoggin Dickey Parts Center knows an LS engine needs to breathe deep. To that end, SDPC offers these Nick Williams 112mm Electronic Drive-By-Wire Throttle Bodies for LS applications, which provide plenty of airflow for making power. These fully assembled units include a stepper motor, so disassembling the factory throttle body is not necessary, and they utilize the six-pin connector compatible with late-model wiring harnesses.
 
Visit: SDParts.com
 

Shafiroff Race Engines

 
Known for its complete engine offerings, Shafiroff Race Engines also offers components to facilitate custom builds. The Stage III LS Internally Balanced Rotating Assembly is meant for LS builds destined for heavy shots of nitrous or big boost. The foundation of the kit is a Callies/Compstar 4340 crankshaft with eight counterweights. Rounding out the rotating assembly are Molnar Power Adder 4340 Forged H-beam rods, asymmetrical ARP 2000 rod bolts, Diamond L2K 2618 forged-aluminum pistons, H-13 steel wrist pins, Total Seal steel rings, and Clevite 77 H-Series bearings. That said, Shafiroff offers a variety of crankshaft, piston, pin, ring, bearing, and rod options to further customize the engine build to your needs.
 
Visit: Shafiroff.com
 
T&D Machine
 
For street machines that also need more performance on the track, developed its LS3/LS9 direct bolt-on rocker arms. Requiring zero machine work, these rugged, billet-steel rock bolt right on and allow lash adjustments via an adjuster screw. They can be optioned with different ratios as well as other options. And, if the bolt-on rockers aren’t enough for your application, T&D offers a wide range of shaft-mount rockers that deliver even more valve train stability to LS applications.
 
Visit: TDMach.com
 

TorqStorm Superchargers

 
LS engines and boost have always been fast friends, and TorqStorm Superchargers offers kits to boost LS engines. In addition to its traditional, single-supercharger systems, this win TorqStorm Supercharger can boost your engine beyond 1,200 horsepower. The kits include two superchargers, two blow-off valves, two air filters, and all the needed brackets, pulleys, belts, and hardware for a complete installation. The plus version also includes a Sanden SD-7 AC compressor, a Type 2 Power Steering Pump, and a Powermaster 165-amp Alternator, while the race version adds an ATI damper and separate eight-rib belt for each supercharger. An intercooler is optional but highly recommend on non-carbureted engines.
 
Visit: TorqStorm.com
 

Trick Flow

 
To deliver the airflow needed for big-power LS builds, Trick flow fused features from the factory LS3 and LS7 cylinder heads and added its airflow expertise to develop the GenX 255 cylinder heads. Delivered with fully CNC Competition Ported runners treated to a high-resolution surface finish, these heads benefit from valve angles altered from 15 to 12 degrees. With increased piston-to-valve clearance and compatibility with all LS head gaskets, the GenX heads accept LS3 intakes and LS9/LSA supercharger manifolds. The fit 2007-to-present 6.2-liter engines and are available fully assembled or bare
 
Visit: TrickFlow.com
 

Vortech Superchargers

 
To deliver the boost efficiency of its V30 Centrifugal supercharger to LS engines, Vortech created a Billet Mounting Bracket Assembly designed specifically for performance engines running big boost. With the ability to support anywhere from 1,400 to 2,800 horsepower, these kits are based on the V30 head units that feature a high-efficiency, five-axis machined billet impeller and high-diffusion housing developed in the company’s SAE-J1723-compliant supercharger test cell. Its impeller shaft is designed to withstand the rigors of high-powered drag racing. The LS-specific bracket system features a billet aluminum, twin-plate construction compatible with most blocks and cylinder heads, and its 50mm cog drive delivers slip-free boost across the rev range. 
 
Visit: VortechSuperchargers.com

VP Racing Lubricants
 
Surely you know VP Racing Fuels will allow your LS engine to deliver maximum performance, but the company’s lubricants brand offers a wide range of synthetic motor oils that will ensure maximum performance and long life from your engine. VP Racing Lubricants’ Street Legal – Full Synthetic Formula uses select synthetic base oils and a state-of-the-art additive system to maximize protection and performance. Meanwhile, it resists the formation of sludge and varnish deposits in stop-and-go environments like NMRA/NMCA TorqStorm Superchargers True Street competition, while maintaining wear protection in harsh conditions on the street and track. 
 
Visit: VPRacingFuels.com

join our

email list

You’ll be first to know about NMCA events, race results and so much more!