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#1071358 - 07/18/21 04:44 PM 86 Monte Carlo LS swap  
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Stidy Offline
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Stidy  Offline
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Chicago, IL
Hey guys,

I’m new to this forum, and compared to many of you, I don’t have the knowledge of engine intricacies, requirements, or compatibility necessary to speak technically about the topic. So this is my situation. I have an 86 Monte Carlo SS, with the original 305 engine and want to swap it out for an LS3. I’m willing to spend about 10k-15k to get this done, but I haven’t the slightest clue as to the first steps I should take other than going to a shop and getting raped. That being said, I do want a new crate engine to start so if I have to spend more I will, but I have no clue as to what it entails much more than that. I joined this forum because I know there is a wealth of experience and I simply want to get this done by next summer. So any advice would be greatly appreciated.

#1071359 - 07/18/21 06:48 PM Re: 86 Monte Carlo LS swap [Re: Stidy]  
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CM1SCW Offline
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Welcome. I have had the ls3/6l80 swap done a few months ago and I am happy with it. I have some photos in my album on here of the swap. Like you I looked around for a good shop to perform it and they did excellent. As far as crate engines, GM performance sells the ERod connect and cruise packages with 4l65 transmissions although that would be your budget alone. Again welcome and good luck maybe someone else has more advice.Good work isn't cheap and cheap work isn't good.

Last edited by CM1SCW; 07/18/21 06:51 PM. Reason: Addition
#1071360 - 07/18/21 06:58 PM Re: 86 Monte Carlo LS swap [Re: Stidy]  
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Stidy Offline
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Appreciate that

#1071368 - 07/19/21 03:52 PM Re: 86 Monte Carlo LS swap [Re: Stidy]  
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If you have some money to spend and can attempt the work yourself, I'd look strongly at the Holley packages. None of the challenges you will face are that difficult, and there's plenty of help here.

Just curious, how set are you on a crate engine, and how set on LS3? What transmission do you want? Do you have an HP goal in mind? What are you wanting out of the swap, reliable swap with 400 hp? Dragstrip machine? Comfy street cruiser to take to shows? Autocross and linear power band? Answers to some or all of those can help determine what you really need and can get a parts combo that works well and fits your planned budget.


Shawn

'85 MC with budget 5.3L swap, TH350 with stock 2.14 rear end
It ain't much off the line, but it's nice on the highway
#1071372 - 07/19/21 08:35 PM Re: 86 Monte Carlo LS swap [Re: Stidy]  
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Stidy Offline
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Stidy  Offline
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Thanks Hunter, unfortunately for me I wouldn’t know the first thing about swapping out an engine so I’m going to leave it to the experts. I do however have a guy who told me he is willing to do the work, so maybe Holley would be the best option for me in that regard.

I’m not necessarily set on the crate or the LS3 but I do want the LS engine. As far as transmission I was looking at the 4l80 for the LS3. Horsepower I was looking for wild be around 4-500, but the car is going to be used simply for driving but I want a significant amount of power because why not I guess. With all that being said, I’m open to any and all advice. Thank you again for your response.

#1071373 - 07/20/21 01:22 AM Re: 86 Monte Carlo LS swap [Re: Stidy]  
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86ttop Offline
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Just a guess, the 4L80e is probably gonna require some floor massaging!


Leo Paugh
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#1071374 - 07/20/21 01:29 AM Re: 86 Monte Carlo LS swap [Re: Stidy]  
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Stidy Offline
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Stidy  Offline
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Is that code for alterations to the vehicle?

#1071377 - 07/20/21 03:01 PM Re: 86 Monte Carlo LS swap [Re: Stidy]  
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Hunter79764 Offline
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The 4L80 is a bigger transmission and sometimes needs the floor to be "Massaged" or clearanced - Not a big deal, usually a few hits with a hammer. I think it is usually just some tabs that can safely be cut off, but I can't remember exactly. 4L80 is a good choice, it will handle 500 hp easily with good life, and not nearly as involved as a 6L80 six speed swap (or a stick shift, for that matter).

My biggest advice is not to get hung up on the Crate Motor aspect. Part of what makes everyone want to LS swap everything is that they run great for hundreds of thousands of miles and are cheap when purchased from a donor vehicle that was wrecked. 400 horsepower is basically just a normal, run-of-the-mill truck 5.3 with a cam and maybe a couple other bits. 500 can be done with just about anything 6.0 or bigger and some simple mods (there's tons of recipes online from parts vendors, car magazines, YouTube, etc.). Crate motors will certainly do what they advertise and do take an element of guess work out, but in my opinion they are one of the most expensive ways to get an engine. If money is no object, you have a tight timeline, or some other good reason, sure, go for it, but most folks familiar with the LS line don't hesitate to install something with well over 100k, no rebuild needed. With your budget, I don't think you have to go down the "Save Money Rabbit Hole" like some of us do, but a clean take-out with a cam swap, headers, and good tune can meet your power goals and cost a lot less than an LS3 crate motor, which will still need careful selection to get all of the bits and pieces required to go with it that are already included with a take-out engine (harness, computer, accessory drive, misc bolts, etc.).

I'm not a Holley fan-boy, but their kits do work well with each other, just don't expect a lot of compatibility if you get some of their parts and some from other manufacturers. If I was in your shoes, I would look at their kit with all mounts and full exhaust, but no front drive accessories, fuel tank, or radiator. There are a number of combinations of front accessories that work, and you can probably make your donor's system fit well for a fraction of the $1500 they want for their alternator and Power Steering kit. For the fuel, get an EFI tank and sender from Rock Auto for an 86 Monte with 4.3 TBI, a good in tank pump, and have it wired and plumbed up. For the cooling system, you really don't need a whole lot of radiator. A good stock replacement should work, but if you want some bling, there are plenty of aluminum options that will fit. Add some fans from a Camaro or pretty much any other V8 GM that fits and you are all set. I have a radiator built for an LT1 (90's) Camaro and the electric fans to go with it, works great in mine. There are a number of reputable harness modification services out there, they can also build one from scratch for a little more money. From there, you have options about how you want to do all kinds of little things, but that covers the main bases.

Find out who you want to do your tune, they will help you with parts selection, cam, throttle pedal, things like that. There are plenty of people that can swap an engine/drivetrain, and plenty of people that can tune an engine, and plenty of people that can suggest parts. Finding one guy (or one shop) with all of that will make your life easier, but will cost you more money. Find a good tuner than can help with parts, then deliver it all to a handy shop for install and you get to be involved with the build, get what you really want, and save some money along the way. And of course, the forum here is a huge help in any of those areas, all you have to do is ask. (Providing good information, pictures when needed, and some amount of personality along the way usually help too smile

Of course you know what they say about opinions, and I'm sure plenty of folks here would disagree or change something on my list, but I'm throwing it out there, hoping it helps give you some direction.


Shawn

'85 MC with budget 5.3L swap, TH350 with stock 2.14 rear end
It ain't much off the line, but it's nice on the highway
#1071378 - 07/20/21 03:22 PM Re: 86 Monte Carlo LS swap [Re: Stidy]  
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Stidy Offline
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Stidy  Offline
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That is a lot of useful and solid information! Thank you kindly. Like I said I’m a complete novice in this realm but this will definitely help me get going in the right direction as well as save a ton of money that I may have otherwise spent foolishly. Thank you very much for taking the time to break these things down for me.

#1071381 - 07/20/21 05:21 PM Re: 86 Monte Carlo LS swap [Re: Stidy]  
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mmc427ss Online content
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I'm sure you saw this post on this forum. Lots of good info here and will go a long way in understanding the LS swap into a G-body.

http://www.montecarloss.com/community/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=576161#Post576161

Over the years the swap has become much simpler due to the aftermarket swap parts available.

Many have went down the have a shop do the entire install, just be aware you need a very credible shop to not rip you off AND do a quality install.

My choice in doing a automatic trans would be a 6L80E from either GM or TCI. Both expensive and probably require tunnel massaging to fit. The 4L80 and 6L80 are close to the same size. 6 spds is a lot more fun than 4 spds. And with the TCI you could also option paddle shift. Big dollars though.

As any car project goes budget is always the determining factor to end product. And, rarely do they ever come in at budget price.
Bob

#1071383 - 07/20/21 06:04 PM Re: 86 Monte Carlo LS swap [Re: Stidy]  
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Stidy Offline
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Stidy  Offline
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Appreciate the info

#1071385 - 07/20/21 06:53 PM Re: 86 Monte Carlo LS swap [Re: Stidy]  
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I can personally vouch for all for all of the holley swap stuff.

Strongly recommend their trans crossmember, engine mounts, headers and exhaust system. Truly bolt in.

For the fuel system, Holley can you have covered as well. They actually have full kits for EVERYTHING you need to get it bolted togethger and fueled.
https://www.holley.com/products/eng...sion/level_5_ls_swap_kits/parts/VK090063

That being said you can re-use truck accessories and they will clear the hood, if you get them from a boneyard.

For EFI controls, It's hard to beat their holley terminator X MAX system.
https://www.holley.com/products/fue..._x_max_ls_kits/terminator_x_max_ls_kits/

doing it this way wont be the cheapest way, but it would be the quickest and most complete way to do it, even for a shop.


86 SS 6.2l LS3, Ilmor intake, Summit Stage 4 Cam, Stainless long tube headers, Stainless 3in exhaust, Tremec T-56 Magnum 6 speed, Eaton Truetrac 8.8 LSD, UMI Cornermax Front Suspension, 3-link Rear suspension w/ UMI Control Arms, UMI Front & Rear Braces, Brembo Brakes
#1071386 - 07/20/21 06:59 PM Re: 86 Monte Carlo LS swap [Re: Stidy]  
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Stidy Offline
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Stidy  Offline
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Chicago, IL
Appreciate that Travis

#1071388 - 07/20/21 10:53 PM Re: 86 Monte Carlo LS swap [Re: Stidy]  
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Hunter79764 Offline
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Yep, Holley does have more stuff, but for these cars, you can spend a few thousand extra on "swap" parts, or spend a few hundred on OEM stuff that works just fine. It's one of the things that makes swaps relatively easy in G cars compared to a lot of other chassis (Chassis-es? Chassi? Chasses? Whatever that's supposed to be...). OEM EFI tanks are cheap, and hood clearance and steering box location keeps things simple for retrofits. It's an advantage to a car that spanned from Malaise era to semi-modern, designed to fit straight-6's and Big Blocks but closing out with Turbocharged, Fuel Injected V6's...

And x2 on the Terminator system. I tend to forget about it, but it works great and is more forgiving of parts combos and modifications, and is easier to tune. Parts will cost about double vs running a factory ECU, but if you want to tackle the tuning yourself (and with this, you probably could as you pretty much set basic parameters and information and it does a lot of the tuning itself), the savings on hiring a tuner may make it the cheaper option, or at least even money. And then you can make changes in the future to dial in your tune with no additional costs if you modify later.

Travis, I know you are in the process of redoing everything, but for reference, your current signature ( 6.0L LQ4, TBSS intake, Summit Stage 3 NA Cam, Stainless long tube headers, Stainless 3in exhaust) made what kind of power? I would venture a guess that it would be pretty close to what he's looking for as a parts combination...


Shawn

'85 MC with budget 5.3L swap, TH350 with stock 2.14 rear end
It ain't much off the line, but it's nice on the highway
#1071392 - 07/21/21 01:25 PM Re: 86 Monte Carlo LS swap [Re: Hunter79764]  
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Travis Jones Offline
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Originally Posted by Hunter79764
Yep, Holley does have more stuff, but for these cars, you can spend a few thousand extra on "swap" parts, or spend a few hundred on OEM stuff that works just fine. It's one of the things that makes swaps relatively easy in G cars compared to a lot of other chassis (Chassis-es? Chassi? Chasses? Whatever that's supposed to be...). OEM EFI tanks are cheap, and hood clearance and steering box location keeps things simple for retrofits. It's an advantage to a car that spanned from Malaise era to semi-modern, designed to fit straight-6's and Big Blocks but closing out with Turbocharged, Fuel Injected V6's...

And x2 on the Terminator system. I tend to forget about it, but it works great and is more forgiving of parts combos and modifications, and is easier to tune. Parts will cost about double vs running a factory ECU, but if you want to tackle the tuning yourself (and with this, you probably could as you pretty much set basic parameters and information and it does a lot of the tuning itself), the savings on hiring a tuner may make it the cheaper option, or at least even money. And then you can make changes in the future to dial in your tune with no additional costs if you modify later.

Travis, I know you are in the process of redoing everything, but for reference, your current signature ( 6.0L LQ4, TBSS intake, Summit Stage 3 NA Cam, Stainless long tube headers, Stainless 3in exhaust) made what kind of power? I would venture a guess that it would be pretty close to what he's looking for as a parts combination...


it made 420WHP. For a cruiser I'd recommend a milder cam. This needs a 3000+ stall converter.

And yes, you can piece meal the whole kit together for significantly cheaper, but then not much is guaranteed to work right. If you're having a shop do it, you're likely paying by the hour. Any stoppage or modification of the parts you buy is going to cost you cash. The prime thing that I like about the Terminator X is that it will work with a 58x or 24x motor with a different harness.


86 SS 6.2l LS3, Ilmor intake, Summit Stage 4 Cam, Stainless long tube headers, Stainless 3in exhaust, Tremec T-56 Magnum 6 speed, Eaton Truetrac 8.8 LSD, UMI Cornermax Front Suspension, 3-link Rear suspension w/ UMI Control Arms, UMI Front & Rear Braces, Brembo Brakes
#1071393 - 07/21/21 01:36 PM Re: 86 Monte Carlo LS swap [Re: Stidy]  
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upflying Offline
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I did the swap 5 yrs ago with Holley swap parts and a GM crate engine and transmission. Pretty much plug and play during the 6 month project in my garage. I removed the front clip to make the swap easier. Only item I farmed out to pros was the exhaust system.
Dont forget to add the cost of a rear end to handle the power, 9", 12 bolt or Grand National axles.
You will also need a new cluster from Dakota Digital.
Thankfully Summit Racing is nearby, I was making daily trips for parts..especially the AN fittings.

Last edited by upflying; 07/21/21 01:39 PM.

86 MCSS Notchback coupe, LS3, 4L65E, QP 9", Eaton Truetrac, 4 wheel disc, column shift, Dakota Digital, silver with maroon bench interior

#1071394 - 07/21/21 01:42 PM Re: 86 Monte Carlo LS swap [Re: Stidy]  
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88ssBrent Online content
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I've never done any form of a ls swap but I have done a few projects. The one thing I can say is do your research, figure out every piece you need, and have a real world figure on cost before you start. Any auto project will nickle and dime you to death . Tkx swap $5100, exhaust $1673, 305 top end build $3100, thats with me doing all the labor. I think a lot of people look at projects like the manual swap and they see the price on trans is $2700 and think thats not too bad, they don't think about the other $2400 in other stuff they need. Take your time, be honest about what you will use the car for, and do your research. Good luck and enjoy the process.

#1071395 - 07/21/21 02:18 PM Re: 86 Monte Carlo LS swap [Re: 88ssBrent]  
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Originally Posted by 88ssBrent
I've never done any form of a ls swap but I have done a few projects. The one thing I can say is do your research, figure out every piece you need, and have a real world figure on cost before you start. Any auto project will nickle and dime you to death . Tkx swap $5100, exhaust $1673, 305 top end build $3100, thats with me doing all the labor. I think a lot of people look at projects like the manual swap and they see the price on trans is $2700 and think thats not too bad, they don't think about the other $2400 in other stuff they need. Take your time, be honest about what you will use the car for, and do your research. Good luck and enjoy the process.


This is why I make a spreadsheet for every build, every part, with links and costs. This is also a good way to find replacement parts in the future.


86 SS 6.2l LS3, Ilmor intake, Summit Stage 4 Cam, Stainless long tube headers, Stainless 3in exhaust, Tremec T-56 Magnum 6 speed, Eaton Truetrac 8.8 LSD, UMI Cornermax Front Suspension, 3-link Rear suspension w/ UMI Control Arms, UMI Front & Rear Braces, Brembo Brakes
#1072018 - 09/13/21 10:37 PM Re: 86 Monte Carlo LS swap [Re: Stidy]  
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I don't get in here much, probably should start more. Good info in the above posts, over the years there has been a ton of parts available to swap an LS into pretty much anything that drives, floats, flies....

I built my SS back in late 2010 when pretty much nothing was available, a lot of thinking outside the box, some custom designed parts, using what I could find and definitely trial and error. Made it happen though and refined it over the years to what it is now.

This is a well detailed build thread of my SS with some other links of what I've done. You'll see the parts lists and what is involved with the work in the pics.

https://gbodyforum.com/threads/1984-monte-carlo-ss-6-0l-t56-swap-build.75220/

As mentioned above, crate engine isn't a necessity, I found a 6.0l out of a 3/4 ton Fleet Van that was well maintained with 45k miles, I added the parts I wanted and it definitely makes power.


1984 MONTE CARLO SS 6spd
6.HO | LS6 INTAKE | CUSTOM CAM | BUILT T56 | CUSTOM 9" REAR | 3.89 GEARS
2002 EBM C5 Z06 | FREE MODS | BOLTONS WITH TUNE

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