This new-in-crate, twin-cam LT-5 is ripe for an engine swap


Few engines exemplify the full-throttle 1990s horsepower war that raged between the Dodge Viper and Chevrolet Corvette better than GM’s LT-5 V-8. With four camshafts, 32 valves, and 405 horsepower, the 1990-95 ZR-1’s powerplant was pure overkill. And if you missed the opportunity to purchase one new, here’s a second chance.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/12/03/new-in-crate-lt5-for-sale


I’ve always thought that an LT5 swap in a 96 Impala SS would be amazing…


@Greg_I - Good choice.

Maybe take the choked-up 454 out of the original SS pickups and drop this in? Lose a little weight, gain a lot of power… Sound like fun to me.


@Kyle The sleeper factor in the Impala would be immense! I’m not sure if I could bring myself to pull a big block for a small block on the truck though. I will agree that the old TBI 454 is a dog performance wise. Gen V 454s are sort of a weird design too and you cannot simply bolt on heads from the later Gen VI Vortec 454 or the traditional Mk IV engines. That said, a set of Gen V, square port marine heads would do nicely with a monster cam and swapping the TBI to a stand alone EFI system would be nice. 450+ HP and 500+ lb-ft torque would not be out of the realm of possibility. Or I’d 8.1L Vortec swap the truck with tons of mods. 496 SS anyone?


@Greg_I - But… all those options sound heavy. This LT5 is surly lighter than anything you just mentioned and would make that truck plenty lively and not kill its street manners like a heavy-breathing big-block would.


@Kyle They are heavy for sure, but I’m sure the instant torque a big block creates will negate any deficits in weight. I have a soft spot for Chevy Big Blocks though (hence the reason why I daily an 8.1L Vortec pickup). I think an LT5 would be cool in anything (except the GP, I couldn’t bring myself to swap that). I think your Corsa would react favorably to the swap…


@Greg_I - You make a good point, that would be a really fun swap to the Corvair.


I have a 91 Corvette with the L98 . I would love to swap with the L98.


I recall several companies making small block swap kits for the 2nd generation Corvair. There was a guy going to my junior college in the early 1970’s that had a maroon '65 Corsa convertible with a 327/350 in it.

He and the guy with the 2 litre 911 powered early Karman Ghia were always going at it!


I’ve been building a 1956 Chevy Nomad with an Art Morrison chassis for several years. I have an LS-1 and Tremec 6-speed ready to drop in. Sure be fun with an LT-5.


@kq6ea - The two companies were Crown and Kelmark. I would really like to find a Kelmark converted car for my next Corvair, as they had just a little more legroom than the Crown cars. Getting the transaxle to survive always meant a certain amount of gentleness in each shift, but I think I could live with that since it would be so unique and fun to drive.


Right on. I bought a 96 Impala new and loved it. Intake and exhaust mods worked well but I overdid the suspension to the point that it was a buck-board on the road yet surprising on the track (but a track car it was not)! Tim the Toolman built a 96 Impala SS repleat with the LT5 AND a five speed manual. That’s exactly what I wanted to do but couldn’t afford to do any more than think about it. Lucky for me my current hot rod is a CTSV wagon with a six speed and a 750HP upgrade yet I still double-take every time I see an SS.


@Kyle What I remember from my Crown friends was no problems with the trans. Internals were basically the same Saginaw 4 Speed that came behind the low HP 327 in Corvette. Of course there was the hollow main shaft. Always wanted one but had to be content with my Chevy V8 Austin Healey. Went as well but didn’t handle as well. As to the featured engine you can’t find a new one but you can buy used ones with an entire ZR-1 wrapped around it for less.


Crown must have been the company I remembered. It was a really complete kit, and I was tempted to look further, but hey, college student with pretty limited funds!

Never knew Kelmark made a kit. I thought they just did entire kit cars. I saw several Fiberfab cars, and was not impressed with them.


What’s completely crazy is a complete C4 Corvette can be had for $20,000 or less. This seller of just an engine is asking for $19,500. Not realistic at all.
Just the same, why are ZR1’s selling for next to nothing? Makes no sense for the King of the Hill Corvette.


I should have said in my above post: “a complete C4 Corvette ZR1 can be had for $20,000 and under”.