LS7 swap by Mark Stielow                                              See more of Camaro X by clicking here

I have built many high output engines over the years so when it came time to get an engine for my new Camaro project I started the process of planning on anther SBC engine build up. Then I saw the specification of the new GM LS7 create engine (part # 17802397) and felt this was a better way to go. The specs on this engine read like the best race engine you can build:

427 CID
CNC ported head
Titanium Rods
Titanium Intake valves
Offset rockers
Dry Sump
505 HP

The Camaro I was installing the LS7 was originally a V8 car but Gen 1 SBC and Gen 3 engines are very different. I enlisted the help of ATS American Touring Specialty to give me a hand getting the LS7 into my car. ATS sells many parts to help facilitate this swap. They supplied:

Engine mounts
Oil Pan
Transmission cross member to install the T-56 6 speed
Clutch slave cylinder mount for T-56


American Touring Specialties
3685 S. Highland Drive Suite #10
Las Vegas, NV 89103
(702) 245-6305

Detroit Speed and Engineering
185 McKenzie Road
Mooresville, NC 28115
Phone: 704-662-3272
Fax: 704-731-0989


Stenod Performance
185 E. Elmwood
Troy, MI 48083
Phone: 248-307-0056

1490 Henry Brennan Dr.
El Paso, Texas 79936
Phone: (915) 857-5200

Stainless Works
9899 East Washington St.
Chigrin Falls, OH 44023
Phone: 800-878-3635

Rick's Hot Rod Shop
200 E. Sunset Suite K.
El Paso TX, 79922
Phone: (915) 760-4388

Peterson Fluid Systems
9801 Havana St.
Henderson, CO 80640


With the parts from ATS the swap was fairly straight forward. The engine mounts, oil pan and transmission mounts made the engine and transmission a bolt in deal with the only hole needing to be cut was for the shifter to come up through the floor. The next problem for the LS7 was the dry sump tank. I purchased Peterson 2 gallon tank (Part # 08-0005) and mounted it were the battery used to be. It could not be perfectly straight up and down due to the sub frame so I had to tilt it about 5 degrees.

The next big problem was how to make it run. I used mostly MSD EFI parts to make the engine work in its non-stock application. MSD EFI makes a MEFI4 controller and mechanical throttle body to convert this engine to work in just about any application. By converting the engine to the MSD EFI system you no longer need the throttle by wire throttle body and the stock mass air flow meter is not needed. The MSD EFI InGenius software and wide band oxygen sensor make the system easy to dial in. Even thought the system comes with and engine cal that will start and run the engine each application needs some customization to optimize the performance.

The last things to button up in this install is the exhaust and fuel system. The exhaust headers were ATS stainless steel tri-y units. These fit my Camaro great. The rest of the exhaust system is Stainless Works 3” system installed by Stenode Performance. The fuel system consists of a Rick Stainless fuel tank with an in tank Kinsler EFI pump. The tank came from Rick’s ready to bolt in. The LS7 fuel system is a return less system so the regulator is not on the engine but back by the tank. Because this is a stock GM engine why not use a stock GM fuel filter regulator part. I used a Corvette regulator (part # 10299146). This delivers 58 psi filter fuel to the engine.

I have had the engine in the car and driving for a month now and it works great. It idles at 700 RPM and pulls like my old roller cam rumpity rump engines that I’ve had in the past. I’m getting 11 second ¼ mile passes and a warranty.

The car I started with was a California Black plate car that still had the original numbers matching 350 4 barrel engine with a turbo 350. Pulling the car apart was very cool because it was all stock. Because it was a plane Jane Camaro I did care about the original engine. But drive train went to a good home because a friend of mine has an SS small black car that was missing it drive train so all the cool original parts went into his car.


A quick comparisons on how the LS7 looks in the redone engine compartment.



The first thing I did when I got the engine was test fit the accessory drive, headers and MSD engine wiring harness. The MSD harness for the MEFI4 engine controller was a true plug and play harness. It was correctly terminated for all the stock GM sensors and it included extra sensors and adaptors to read fuel pressure sensor that connects to the fuel rail (see photo) and oil temperature sensor.

The headers are made by ATS (American Touring Specialties’) they are made of 304 stainless steel of a tri-y design. They are made to work with the LS engine mounts to work with a 1st gen f-body. Due to there tri-y design the have great ground clearance and fit the stock sub-frame great.


The other key enabler to get the dry sumped LS7 into a stock 1st gen body is this trick oil pan made by ATS. The pan is made of steel and is redesigned clear the sub frame and have inlets and outlet for the dry sump system.



The other part of the dry sump system is the tank. This is shot of the tank being mocked up prior to the car being painted. The tank that works well and fits well is a Patterson 2 gallon tank (Part # 08-0005) with a -12 AN pickup, -12 AN return and -12 AN breather.


The accessory drive I used is a C-5 or C-6 Corvette accessory drive less the A/C pump. The A/C pump is a Vintage Air compressor (Part # 04670MTA) spaced forward to clear the stock cross member. To make this work I had ATI (part # SK286D2) make a custom harmonic balancer pulley which moved the A/C belt track forward 53.41 mm. While I was at it I had ATI make the damper 10% smaller. I hade to make a bracket to mount the compressor to line up with the new A/C belt. Since I did this modification ATS now offers a complete bolt on accessory drive system.

Because the stock throttle body is throttle by wire and not compatible with the MEFI4 controller I replaced it with a mechanical unit from MSD EFI. The new throttle body is a direct bolt on replacement 90 mm unit that incorporates a IAC and TBS sensor.



For fuel delivery I call Rick Stainless fuel tanks and had the build me a tank S/S tank with an internal EFI pump sized for the LS7. This was a direct bolt in part that replaces the stock tank. The tank had fuel feed and retune line and a fuel level sensor. I used a stock GM fuel filter regulator from a Corvette (Part # 10299146)


Because the LS7 create engine is set up to be use in a Corvette the pilot bearing is incorrect for an F-body T-56 transmission. So that needs to be changed to use the T-56.



Ron Davis makes a very nice bolt in radiator for a 1st gen F-body to accommodate an LS based engine. I had Ron Davis make the radiator with the inlet and outlets on the passenger side to allow room for the 4” inch aluminum induction tube. The inlet tube was made by Stenode Performance out of 4” mandrel bent tubing. This tube leads over the a 4” I.D. K&N filter that pulls air from behind the drivers side headlight.


While the car was at Stenode Performance they installed the Stainless Works 3” inch exhaust out the back of the car. As you can see from this Photo the ATS headers have great ground clearance and the system looks great.

The Engine Control Module (ECM) is a MEFI4 unit sold by MSD EFI calibrated by using there InGenius software. It has a user friendly interface and come with an LS7 calibration in it the will start and run your engine. With some small fine tuning for drivability the system work great. The MEFI4 controller is small and water proof so mounting it under hood simplifies the installation.


Race pack dash mounted in Detroit Speed dash.




MSD EFI also sells a digital Racepak dash the work in conjunction with the MEFI 4 controller. The dash uses a CAN bus data steam out of the ECM the plugs right into the dash. This allows the driver to read directly the sensors from the ECM. And doesn’t require redundant sensors in the engine. The dash is trick because it allows you to program the information you want to see on different screens that you can scroll through. The dash also allows you to set warning light for low fuel pressure, high coolant temps, low oil pressure etc.


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