AEM’s Plug and Play ECU for the Chevy LS1, a Swappers Delight!

 AEM plug and play LS1 ECM

AEM's Plug and Play ECU for the Chevy LS1, a Swappers Delight!

By Mike Kojima

The Chevy LS engine family is not your grandpa's small block Chevy.  Although it shares pushrods, rod bearings and bore spacing with the old school small block it is in fact an all new engine design with modern architecture. The LS has modern compact combustion chamber, high quench heads with 4 instead of 5 bolts so the ports can be designed for better flow, and a deep skirted but lightweight aluminum block with ultra strong 6 bolt main caps, all features that have more in common with late model import engines than the old venerable small block Chevy.  The LS motor also features a direct coil-on-plug ignition system.

Chevy LS1 engine
 The LS1 engine was found in the Camaro, Firebird, Corvette and the Pontiac GTO and donors for sick swaps are easily found on the used engine market. 

Although import enthusiasts have always tended to look down upon the small block Chevy as antiquated redneck technology, there is nothing antiquated or redneck about the LS motors.  The standard LS1 engine is rated at 310 hp and around 340 lb/ft of torque in stock trim.  Not bad for an engine that weighs nearly the same as the KA24DE Nissan 4 cylinder found in the 240SX.  The LS is also exceedingly easy and relatively inexpensive to extract more power from with simple bolt-ons and a huge aftermarket.

The LSI engine is a common one, available in the Camaro, Firebird, Corvette and the Pontiac GTO so donors are easily found on the used engine market.  The growing use of LS engines on the Formula D circuit has proven that lightweight low-stress large displacement LS engines are a more reliable and viable alternative to highly pressurized turbocharged small displacement engines.

LS1 powered FD RX-7
 Our test car was a Mazda FD RX-7.  The Turbo 13B died and the LS1 went in.  The swap is so clean you would swear that the engine came in the car from the factory!

The LS is fast becoming the new hybrid swap replacing K motors in Nissan S chassis and finding homes in the engine bays of 1st and 2nd generation RX-7's.  Turbo rotaries are finicky and fragile and anyone who owns one knows it's not a matter of if you are going to have engine problems, its when and how bad.  With a couple of swap kits on the market, it's relatively easy to replace the high strung rotary with the reliable LS1 with only a nominal weight penalty.

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