4.8 LS motor swap into a 1972 Chevy C10 pickup

1972 Chevy C10 pickup 4.8 LS motor swap
1972 Chevy C10 pickup — Chevy 4.8 LS swap project

The 1972 Chevrolet C10 pickup that’s getting a new Chevy LS heart transplant

This truck is a straight up, unapologetic beater. It doesn’t need shiny paint or straight bodywork to haul greasy car parts or a bed full of yard waste, and you could say a few dents and dings help avoid any feelings of guilt about using it as a truck. On the other hand, having the starter mounting ear break off the engine block is a bit more inconvenient. While it is possible to reweld the engine block, swapping in a new LS series motor would also fix the problem – and pick up more drivability, horsepower, and gas mileage in the bargain. We’ll be doing a low buck engine swap to get this truck back on the road. The MS3-Pro may be a bit overkill for such a swap, but it gives plenty of room to grow later, and there’s a couple points where we can take advantage of some of its features even on a stock 4.8 motor.

Choosing a Chevy LS engine for the 1972 C10 swap

Chevy LS 4.8 (LR4)
Chevy LS 4.8 (LR4)

The motor we’re swapping in is a 4.8, engine code LR4. This is the smallest motor in the LS series, but it’s cheap, and even the smallest motor in the series makes more power than the Goodwrench 350 motor it’s going to replace.

The LS motors come in a couple different versions. The truck motors have several advantages for this project: The oil pan is a better fit, and they’re cheaper. For this project, the truck isn’t going to do any heavy duty towing. We decided any Gen 3 or 4 truck motor would do. Even a 4.8 is a horsepower step up, and if we decide it needs a bump up in power later, there’s always the turbo option.

While we didn’t have to be picky about size, we did make a point of looking for a motor with as many accessories in place to save the expense and time of tracking down the parts one by one. A Craigslist search turned up that the local U-Haul maintenance shop had several 4.8s, all under 75,000 miles, sitting around for sale. These had been pulled out of wrecked trucks in the expectation that they’d be needed to fix trucks with broken engines, but the maintenance crew found that wrecks were far more common than blown motors, leaving them with a stack of unused engines to sell off. We bought this 4.8 for $460, and that included the alternator, A/C compressor, and an uncut wiring harness.

The installation itself will cover a series of articles.

  1. Making a set of motor mount adapters
    and installing the engine
  2. Bolting up the transmission
  3. Putting an electric fuel pump in the stock tank
  4. Wiring it up
  5. Tuning

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