Big Change of Plans and More Power!


Blame it on my adult A.D.H.D, or my need to constantly better whatever it is I am working on. I am changing course with this build once again. I have heard it from several that they wish I would stop making changes and just get it done. Well, this is a means to that end, but in a better fashion. My plans were to build a turbocharged, fuel injected Small block Chevy engine for the truck. Which I could have easily done. However, the caveat was that I would be limited in terms of the builds horsepower due to using a stock block (this is highly disputed and while some guys do make very respectable power).

However after talking to several very well known and respected engine builders. I decided I couldn’t reach my goal with a stock block. This meant looking for an aftermarket block that could live at 1,000 – 1,200hp. While there are many that can do that without breaking a sweat, cost quickly becomes a factor. A Dart Little M block with billet mains by the time you’re done with all machining and prep will set you back almost $2,800. And that’s just the block. I was faced with a choice, do I keep saving and go that route, or do I sell it all off, yet once again and change course before I am too far into it and really lose my ass?

I chose the later.

So once I had a new plan in mind, I started looking. The good thing with LS engines is you don’t have to look hard or far before finding one. I found a low mile (119k) 5.3 Gen 3 truck engine for sale for $399 two hours away. So I loaded up Saturday morning and ran over and grabbed it. Along with the accessories and a complete harness that I will customize for use with the Megasquirt. While there were engines closer to me, none with the low mileage of this one.

I also found a 4L80E transmission for sale pretty close for $500. I once again loaded up and snagged that.

So now with an engine and a transmission. I started gathering other parts. I ordered a set of 1.75″ into 3″ up and forward mount turbo headers, T4 to 3″ V Band elbows, 3.25″ V Bands for the outlets, two turbo blankets, LS conversion mount plates (MUCH more on that later) and a nice LS lift plate for setting it in.

I also quickly sold off my Holley Stealth Ram and the rest of my small block Chevy specific parts, which paid for the engine and transmission entirely.

The plans for the LS swap are as follows:

Gen 3 5.3 truck engine

5.3 HO head gaskets with ARP studs

Compstar 6.125″ H Beams with ARP 2000 rod Bolts

Wiseco Forged pistons

Lil Johns Stage 2 twin turbo cam

PAC valve springs

Twin 69mm GT45 turbos

E85 Non-intercooled

Twin 46mm Wastegates

50mm Turbosmart BOV

160lb Injectors (to be determined)


4L80 with performance rebuild (by me)

Converter to be determined

2 thoughts on “Big Change of Plans and More Power!

  1. Out of curiosity, did you choose the LS platform for form our cost purposes? Nice build, and thank you for publishing all of the wiring schematics, They’ve help out tremendously in troubleshooting my 02 Dak. Hopefully one day it too will be turboed, with a Gen III Hemi though, and 5 spd combo.

    1. Thank you, I really chose the LS based on HP per dollar. It’s much cheaper to make big power with a LS than with say a late model Hemi. Plus I did it to be different. There are already several Hemi swapped Dakotas and not that many fast LS swapped trucks. There have been a few, but they have mostly been 11 second trucks. I’m shooting for 9’s with this build. Sounds fun, feel free to send me progress pics to share.

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