LS Swap Cost: What I Paid for My LSx V8 Swap & How to Budget Build Yours

1964 Impala

Got a Fox-body Mustang? 240Z? ‘54 Mercedes? You’ll need to go ahead and LS-swap it. You can’t swing a melting ice cream cone at a car show without dripping it on at least a dozen LS engines. With these swaps becoming so popular, I began to wonder if the saying “Cheap, fast, and reliable—choose two” had finally met its match. I decided to LS-swap my own car to find out just what it takes mechanically and financially, and I review what the LS swap cost was for my ’64 Impala and how to budget your own with this post.

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Deciding to LS-Swap My ’64 Impala

My 1964 Impala convertible is a car that I have had since 1997, and I drove it for the first time around 2014. Needless to say, it’s been my project for a while. The car came from the factory with a straight-six engine that I could always rely on to run like complete garbage. The carburetor was the reason the engine always ran so terribly, and also the reason why I wholeheartedly believe that all carburetors belong in an airtight container at the bottom of the ocean. The only thing that this carburetor did well was inhale the happiness from my soul and burn it within each of the six cylinders.

After years of trying to love my straight-six, I smartened up and decided to find a better engine—one that actually made me happy when I fired it up; one that was a little wild and fun; and one that wouldn’t unexpectedly get weird on me. I basically wanted the maple frosted donut of the engine world. That underdog maple donut, a little offbeat and not for everyone, that you have to respect because it’s a smart choice. Anyone that has ever experienced the maple frosting knows it’s always the right decision if you’re playing the long game. So the solution to my engine problem was obvious; I just had to LS-swap it.

1964 impala in the middle of LS engine swap

My coworker here at 1A Auto happened to have a super low mileage 6.0L LS engine (LQ9) with new 6.2L (L92) heads sitting on it, and a variety of other fancy bits to go with it. After months of offensively low offers from my end, I eventually forked over the cash and bought it from him. This was the first major step into #ThatLSSwapLife for me, and I was thrilled to be doing it. From that point on, I began gathering all the things that I needed to properly swap my car to be a Muncie M21 4-speed shifted, fuel injected 6.0L V8.

LS engine ready to be installed

LS Swap Cost: Budget Build Chart

I sold one of my other project vehicles to fund these Impala updates, and I tracked everything I bought throughout the entire build. Some items on my list were completely unnecessary for a simple LS-swap (see: shiny alternator bracket), and other items were mistakes that I made (see: fuel line mistake).  That is why I have also included the two columns on the right for my estimates on a “budget build”.

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Parts I BoughtWhat I PaidBudget Build ItemsBudget Build est. Prices
6.0L LQ9 Engine$1,500.00Junkyard 4.8L 5.3 LS Take-out$450.00
Bellhousing (BHCV-10004)$267.20Auto Trans from Craigslist (TH350/TH400/4L60E)$200.00
Flywheel (FWG-460535)$312.95Flexplate$50.00
C5 exhaust manifolds$50.00Used exhaust manifolds$50.00
7″ Brake booster$54.49  
V-band clamps (three) 3″$57.56V-band clamps (three) 3″$57.56
V-band clamps (two) 4″$76.00Weld the majority of the exhaustFree (bribe a friend?)
Clutch pivot ball$9.95Automatic transmission mount(Modify yours)
Clutch (11″ clutch with 1 1/8″ 10 spline)$200.00  
Bellhousing bolts$17.95Bellhousing bolts$17.95
ARP Flywheel Bolts$31.89ARP Flexplate bolts$31.89
Weld in bungs$30.19  
Weld in bung caps$29.38  
Fuel pump & regulator kit$169.99Fuel pump & regulator kit$169.99
Fuel tank$93.95Draw fuel from the existing sending unitFree
3/8″ Sending unit$43.95  
Engine mounts$12.13Engine mounts$12.13
Aluminum Radiator$179.99Junkyard Radiator$75.00
Rad hose upper$15.29Rad hose upper$15.29
Rad hose lower$11.19Rad hose lower$11.19
Radiator fan$27.58Radiator fan$27.58
Oil + Filter$25.00Oil + Filter$25.00
Alternator bracket$159.99Reuse truck alternator bracketFree
Fuel hoses mistake$94.00  
Fuel hoses mistake fix$65.00Reuse fuel lines on vehicleFree
Exhaust Hangers$19.70Exhaust Hangers$19.70
Straight 4″ Exhaust pipe$165.86Straight 4″ Exhaust pipe$165.86
Mandrel bent 4″ exhaust pipe$89.00Mandrel bent 4″ exhaust pipe$89.00
Dynomax 24217 Muffler 4″$52.83Straight pipe itFree
Harmonic Balancer Bolt$9.99Harmonic Balancer Bolt$9.99
Harmonic Balancer Installer Tool$14.99Harmonic Balancer Installer Tool$14.99
OBDII pigtail$7.95OBDII pigtail$7.95
Gauges????Junkyard air intake parts$15.00
  Reflashed PCM$100

Now, you’ll see I spent nearly $4,000. Yikes! This is why you should never, ever, ever add up your receipts when building a cool car. You will also notice that the “budget build” was less than half of my total. The biggest reason for this is because the 4.8L, 5.3L, and automatic transmission options are a HUGE savings over the 6.0L / manual transmission option. Those engines and auto transmissions are more plentiful and just plain easier to swap into a car. I also could have grabbed a lot of these parts used from a junkyard for far less money than I did. That being said, this shows you how all of these little items add up fast with any kind of engine swap, not just the LS variety. I definitely didn’t expect to spend nearly $4,000 on this engine swap, but somehow I managed to do so.

LS engine installed in 1964 Impala

In the grand scheme of engine swaps, horsepower per dollar spent, and overall happiness from having fuel injection, both are actually a pretty great deal. The 6.0L manual is exactly what I want in my Impala, and building a big block Chevy with the same power would easily put me in a similar price range. For the LS swap “budget build”, the combination of parts may not be perfect, but it will be totally functional and reliable. Once the drivetrain is up and running, you can pick away at the small stuff as you enjoy the vehicle. Maybe throw a cam and valve springs at it, or add in some tuning and a turbo.  Cheap, fast, and reliable—I’m calling this a SUCCESS!

Got an LS V8 Swap? Tell us about it in the comments!

Written by Jeremy Nutt.

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The Real LS Engine Swap Cost on My '64 Impala - 1A Auto
Find out what the LS engine swap cost was for the LS engine swap on our expert's '64 Impala and tips for staying on budget with this post.
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Jeremy Nutt

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31 thoughts to “LS Swap Cost: What I Paid for My LSx V8 Swap & How to Budget Build Yours”

  1. Hello I had a question if I would be able to do an los swap on my 1990 Chevy blazer 4.3 and I able what’s the price to be done??

    1. If you are clever and trying to get an LS the cheapest way, I think you might currently have a 4l60 transmission, so maybe with a bellhousing you can use the same transmission, and use the 4.8 or 5.3 and then you just need to figure out like half of the stuff he listed.

    2. I’m doing that exact swap, using good new parts with a t56 6 speed, 5.3l, psi harness, tbss intake, injectors, 255lph, vette radiator with twin spall fans, and comp cam, beehive springs good for 460 hp/42] tq. Im over 10k into it.

          1. Hi Jason,
            I’m all the way in Massachusetts, so I won’t be of much help! However, I would recommend that you find a local hotrod / car restoration shop and give them a call for an LS engine swap estimate. You can also find a local car club or even a local automotive Facebook group and ask where other people are having their work done. The last option is always to jump in with both feet and do it yourself, and learn along the way!
            Good luck with your build!

  2. I’m dropping a 6.2 in a 1990 Suburban 4×4. $3,000 for the Suburban, and $4,000 for the engine, harness, belt-driven components, ECM, transfer case, and transmission. I’ll update y’all on the mechanical bill. I’m not a mechanic, so I’m having a local professional do this one.

    1. That sounds like an awesome truck Luke! Please keep us updated with the progress. Are there pictures anywhere that we can see? Some other thing that may add to the cost are exhaust system, driveshafts, transmission computer (assuming you are using a 4L80E), Radiator, Fuel system (tank/pump/hoses), and gauges. I’m excited to hear what the total is, and more importantly, how easily the truck shreds rear tires.


      1. Thinking of doing this with my 66 Impala any idea how much I’d pay in labor if I had someone do it? What would be reasonable, I’m in southern California.

  3. I have a 1950 Cadillac, 2door coupe. The car overheated, cracked the heads, and was parked in the back yard for 23 years by the original owner. I bought the car 24yrs ago, I put a 350 motor/350 turbo trans. I drive it all the time. But, I would like to swap an LS motor/tranny combo.
    Can you give me some recommendations on where to shop for the best prices, and shops to get the work done? I live in Los Angeles CA.
    Art Bonilla

    1. Hi Art! I’m on the other side of the country, so I’m not of much help as far as knowing the good shops. If I was in your shoes, I’d probably check out the local car shows & cruise nights and talk to the people there about who they use locally for projects like these. I’m sure there are plenty of places in LA that could do this sort of work. It’s also worth noting that you could keep the TH350 trans that you are currently using, and you could buy some adapters that will put the LS engine right where your 350 already is. So really the plumbing and electrical would be the only time consuming parts. Since you already have a 350/350 combo in there, you’re already way ahead of most people!
      Good luck!

  4. 1st off thanks for the price list. Very helpful. I’m getting ready to drop a 8.1 (496) beast into my 79 square body step side. Any advice? Lol

    1. I love Square body trucks – Especially step sides! Hmmm, as for advice… There are a few things that I think I did right right my swap.
      Here they are:
      – Build a new exhaust system and use V-Band exhaust clamps for everything. They are amazing.
      – If you can weld – buy a brand new gas tank, and customize it for a feed, return, and drain. Welding on AN fittings is awesome.
      – Buy an oil pan that fits right. Don’t cut up and old one and weld it shorter.
      – Figure out what you are going to do about dash gauges early in the build, and plan for it, because they are kind of a hassle if you want them to look good on your dash.
      – Plan for a turbo upgrade and add drains to your timing cover before you put the engine into the truck 🙂

  5. I am in the early stages of dropping a 6.2 LT1 motor out of a Camaro ss into a 1981 Chevy p30 step van. I’m wondering if it’s the right motor for the right car or should I go more L86. I want it to run like a beast but still be reliable and be able to load it up on miles.

    1. Hi Ed,
      I don’t have much experience with the Gen 5 engines because they are priced out of my league at the moment. That being said, I’m fairly confident that you’ll have some additional challenges with both of those options over the early LS engines because the LT1 and L86 are both Direct Injected engines from what I recall. While that is totally awesome technology, it isn’t quite as main stream as the earlier port injection systems. So some additional research/money will likely be necessary to get the engine running 100%. The rest of the engine swap should be similar to any other LS swap.

      As for LT1 vs L86 – I think you’d be happy with either. They both make 400+hp stock, and will surely be reliable as ever. If you did want to save some cash, you could easily go with a 6.2 LS3, and you’ll likely have the same horsepower and reliability.

      Lastly the engine swap in a P30 van sounds absolutely outstanding! Keep us updated!

      1. Thank you sir! Well why searching for engines I ran into a steal on a 81 vette. So looks like I’m on the search for LS motors for both that and the P30. Been doing some research and starting to look for a 97 or newer for the vette and P30. Just seem hard to find where I’m at (IN) for a decent price at least.

        1. Have you looked on ? That’s a great way to search local salvage yards for these engines. You just need to know which vehicles they came in.

  6. So, the Suburban is coming along very well. Since I have little confidence in my mechanical abilities, I am having a local mechanic do the install.

    So, I was at $7,000 in parts, and the install and other expenses is about $5,300. That puts the total at $12,300 for the parts and labor on a turn-key LS swap.

    It will not be a tire-shredder though. I had a 6” lift installed, and I’m adding 35×12.5 tires. I lowered the front and rear gears to 4.10 and added e-lockers. Pictures to come. They need to put the cab back on the chasis.

    1. Luke – Thanks for the update! I once put a 6″ lift and 35’s on a K5 blazer and it was absolutely awesome. It was actually so big that we had to take the lights off the roof to get it out of the garage! I think you’re going to have a seriously beautiful truck when it’s done! I also appreciate the real-world numbers you are giving us. It’s nice to have several points of reference for other people that are thinking about doing an engine swap.

  7. Hey Jeremy. Awesome read. I was directed to an LS1 possibility by my cousin who has an older impala and cadi. I’m purchasing a ‘72 Nova from a friend and this is going to be the first thing I do. Any suggestions. I read what you said about the gages as well. I’m on the east coast as well so she will be in the garage for her make over for the next few months. Thanks

    1. Hi Jason! I have a friend with a 72 Nova that we put a 6.2L and T56 in. The T56 required extensive changes to the transmission tunnel. As for the LS engine itself, it’s pretty straightforward. I believe my friend bought a Nova-specific LS swap oil pan and we still had to notch the crossmember out. So I’d recommend any cheap LS oil pan that sort-of fits the nova, and then notching out your subframe crossmember. It basically needs to happen regardless, so you might as well go with the cheapest oil pan you can. The F-Body pan may be a decent fit? I forget. (Oh an sells them for a great price!) We also notched the subframe for the low mount alternator on the driver side. You can probably get away with a top mounted alternator, but my friend wanted to get fancy.

      Other than that, it’s the basic LS stuff, engine mount adapters, wiring, radiator, fans, fuel pump, maybe a different intake manifold, modified exhaust manifolds, and gauges. Once you get started, feel free to reach out with any specific questions you may have. I can also reference my friend’s car if I forget. 🙂

      Good luck! I think you’ll be really happy with the LS. I’ve done it to a few cars, and I’m always amazed at how great they run.

    1. Hi Levi,
      I got the parts from tons of different places. It has been years since this swap, but off the top of my head, I’d say for all the stock-replacement style parts, and for performance/custom things it was,,, and

  8. Hey I have a 72 cutlass I’m doing a 6.2 ls3 I went to summit and purchased a wiring kit for 1000$ and motor mounts for 169.00 and fuel pump for 100$ sum whatt should I do next and who did you get to do the swap

    1. Hello,
      I do all my own work, and I’ve also 6.0L swapped my 72 Lemans. The 6.2L is a great engine that you will love in your cutlass. I’d say you’re going to need a radiator, oil pan & sump, a bunch of fuel hose & fittings, intake piping, exhaust manifolds that fit the cutlass, and probably a different transmission (the Buick/Olds/Pontiac th350 and th400’s have a different bellhousing than the Chevy ones). You’ll also want the cylinder head vent hoses, and if you do drive-by-wire, you’ll need a throttle pedal and throttle module. Oh, and a PCM, gauges of course, and all the engine accessories (alternator, water pump, harmonic balancer, a/c?)

      Here’s a video of mine doing a small burnout to see if it had a posi in it.

  9. Levi,
    What are the part numbers for the radiator hoses if you still have them. I have been looking for hoses and cant tell from the picture that shows the radiator.

  10. I have a 2004 5.3 out of a yukon….I purchased a narrow mount serpentine kit which moved the alternator on the bottom….now the harmonic balancer is not lining up ….I was told that a 2001 corvette balancer would work….stuck

    1. It’s probably best to check with the company that makes the serpentine kit to see which harmonic balancer they recommend. Generally the Corvette and Camaro ones are closer to the engine, and the truck ones stick out further. You usually need to match your waterpump to the harmonic balancer, because they are different depths as well. Generally people use all truck parts, or all camaro parts, or a mix of camaro & corvette parts. Good luck in your build!

  11. I was exercising my ability to lowball a project car. Bought a 86 El Camino in Arizona. Got a good deal, not great. Then I bought a wrecked 2018 Camaro SS which is now mostly on the floor. What a car, great engineering. I bought all the LS swap stuff beinbg precise the whole time that the motor is a 6.2 from Camaro SS. Well the Holley oil pan wont fit, everyone insists it will. The car was advertised as an automatic, no such thing in a CamaroSS to my surprise, no research of course because I am so smart. Bought a Quick Performance 9″ ford fit fine but since the motor has a 6 speed I needed a different brake package. So I am going to mock up the drivetrain and set the body which probably won’t fit now without an oil pan. But I bought all the cool shit. I have 20k in the project and no labor. Sandblasted the frame myself which I painted black with Chevy Orange accessories. Thought I was pretty smart until I started this project. Wanna help?

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