Engines Exposed: Chevrolet's Crate E-ROD V8 Is Ready To Go


Chevrolet's plug and play engine.

Gearheads usually fantasize about throwing a giant V8 into an old car, like a Valiant or a mid-1960s Nova. For a time the fastest street legal car in the US was a 1966 Nova owned by Larry Larson. It housed a twin turbocharged 565 ci Bowtie V8 with an estimated 2,300 hp. That's pretty good support for the old adage "no replacement for displacement," except for the fact that it has turbochargers. With cars older than 1975, the idea of a V8 swap is a no-worry situation. Just drop it in and go, and don't worry about smog laws or emissions, or even an ECU.

Nowadays, however, it's become more popular to get more creative with chassis options. Take the 240SX, for instance, where owners are dropping in Chevy LS1s with little to no issues. Going even further, some racing companies have taken it upon themselves to cram a twin-turbo V8 into a first gen RX-7.

Unfortunately though, to do this with a vehicle newer than 1975 requires lots of additional parts to make it street legal in states with rigid smog laws, like California or New York. Typically what are needed are catalytic converters and street-legal intakes, in addition to approved ECUs, and that can become complicated unless a complete donor car is found. Chevrolet has heard the cry of the Californian hot rodder (among others), and streamlined the process for vehicles earlier than 1996. Chevrolet has introduced the LS3 E-Rod, a 6.2-liter V8 delivering over 400 horsepower with a 6400 redline. It uses robust internals to deliver a 10.7:1 compression ratio, and is a complete crate engine.

Chevrolet advertises it as able to go "direct from the Camaro SS to your project vehicle," as it comes with everything needed for an engine swap. It has street-legal parts, and comes with a street-legal ECU for what Chevrolet is calling non-Corvette applications. That means it's designed to work with cars earlier than 1996. There's no doubt that Chevy has made hot rodding easier by providing a solid base powerplant, and because it's an LS motor there's plenty of room for growth. The E-ROD starts at less than $10,000, and that's not the worst deal on the market. Again, that price includes even the ECU. Further, it's got everything you need for the swap, down to the O2 sensors. No more excuses.

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