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Top 10 Engines of All Time (#3): General Motors LS1

Editor’s Note: This series counts down the Top 10 engines of all time—see how the voting was done by reading our initial post.

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of


The LS engine family made up a huge number of votes for your 10 favorite engines of all time, but the LS1 proved to be the most popular. The 5.7-liter, 346 cubic-inch LS1 is the cornerstone LS powerplant, spawning generations of people swapping LS engines into a vast array of automobiles, including non-GM vehicles.

According to, all LS engines share common traits, including:

  • 4.40-inch bore centers (like the original small-block)
  • Six-bolt, cross-bolted main bearing caps
  • Center main thrust bearing
  • 9.24-inch deck height
  • Four-bolt-per-cylinder head bolt pattern
  • 0.842-inch lifter bores
  • Distributorless, coil-near-plug ignition system


The engine launched in 1997 powering the all-new C5 Chevy Corvette. When first launched, the engine was rated at 345 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 350 foot-pounds of at torque at 4,400 rpm. The next year, General Motors stuck the engine into the F-Body cars (with ratings of 305-325 horsepower), including the Camaro and Trans Am.

Some of the notable changes in the LS1 design from previous small-block engines included a switch to lightweight aluminum for car applications and a coil-near-plug ignition, rather than a distributor setup. While previous GM small blocks used a traditional five-bolt pentagonal cylinder head pattern, the new LS1 used a square four-bolt design and featured flat-top pistons.

Top Aftermarket Upgrades

According to Summit Racing, these LS1 parts are the most readily available (number of options as of 1/23/2014 in parenthesis):


Editor’s Note: This series counts down the Top 10 engines of all time—see how the voting was done by reading our initial post.


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  1. I have a 1984 944 that really needs a LS1

  2. Terry L Dillie says:

    I’m disappointed!
    I grew up with Big Block engines, 427,440,455!
    LS1 is so much smaller!?
    Does the drive train make up for the smaller engine?

    • Hey Terry, engine size doesn’t necessarily translate to engine performance.
      For instance, when the LS1 debuted, it was making almost 350 horsepower–on unleaded gas with emissions control equipment. That’s pretty close to what the base Buick 455 made in the early 1970s. (Note: We’re talking HP here, not torque.)
      And to answer your question, yes–somewhat. A drivetrain won’t “make” horsepower, but it can make better use of it. Without going into a dissertation on things like parasitic loss, torque curves, and gear ratios, here’s a brief example: Using a six speed versus a four speed transmission allows the engine can stay in its powerband longer, which can help both fuel efficiency and performance.
      Thanks for the comment, and we hope this helps clear things up–oh, check out the rest of the list, you might like Number Five.

    • Daniel Boyd says:

      Everyone puts twin turbos in them so that might be it

    • Daniel Boyd says:

      Also I’m a life time dodge fan but recently found out Chevy v8s Rev higher then the other 2 of the big 3

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