When we start thinking about powerhouse engine choices, obviously, LS and LT engines of all sizes immediately come to mind. Everything from a 4.8-liter junkyard LS to the 6.2-liter supercharged LT4 can be an excellent choice to power your ride. We can now add the LV3 4.3-liter V6 to the list of powerhouse engine choices. Scoggin-Dickey’s turbo LV3 is making power on par with its bigger V8 LT cousins.
Same Same, But Different
Now before you start grumbling that this is LSX Magazine and a 6-cylinder doesn’t belong here, let’s take a closer look at the much smaller cousin to the Gen V LT engines. Known as the LV3, these 4.3-liter engines can be found in 2014 and newer GM pickup trucks and 2018 and newer GM service vans. It features an all-aluminum block and cylinder heads. Dane Arnold of SDPP informed us that the cylinder head architecture is identical to the 5.3 L83/L84 cylinder heads. The 4.3 engine is almost identical to the bigger Gen V LT engines minus two cylinders. The other noticeable difference is the 3.92-inch bore size compared to the 3.78-inch bore found in the L83/L84 5.3L LT engines.
Overall if you look at it next to a regular Gen V LT, it just looks…smooshed. – Dane Arnold
According to Nick Adams at SDPP, these engines are being transplanted into rock crawlers, drift cars, track rats, autocross cars, prerunners, swamp boats, and even a Delorean. They have created such a following for being known as strong engines that can make good power that the guys at SDPP developed a line of stage 1 and stage 2 camshafts. Nick and Dane were so interested in these little “buzzin’ half dozens” that they eventually convinced their manager to allow them to pull an example from the local junkyard. With limited time available, the duo roped Kurt Urban from the SDPP Race Shop into helping them with tuning their junkyard gem on the dyno.
Getting The Party Started
Up first was a baseline pull to get starting numbers to compare against SDPP’s stage 1 and stage 2 camshafts. This engine runs a completely stock bottom end consisting of steel rods, a steel crankshaft, and factory high-silicon alloy pistons. There has been no milling or porting of the factory cylinder heads. The only parts that aren’t stock are an LS3 intake and throttle body Nick pulled from the SDPP parts shelf. Since the intake is obviously for a V8, Nick used ICT Billet adapters with the rear two cylinders blocked off for use on the V6. A set of dyno headers had to be used, which were also for a V8. So Nick fabricated a couple of block-off plates and bolted them up. Baseline numbers are 318 horsepower and 351 lb-ft of torque. Solid numbers for an almost entirely stock V6.
Once the baseline dyno pull was completed, Nick began the fun part. He started by installing the stage 1 camshaft, and later, the stage 2 camshaft. Dyno pulls were made with each to compare to the baseline. For the SDPP camshafts to operate properly, LS7 valve springs and Manley 7.825-inch push rods were installed. The stage 1 camshaft produced 343 horsepower and 351 lb-ft of torque. With the stage 2 camshaft, Nick and the guys saw a very respectable increase to 360 horsepower and 365 lb-ft of torque.
Time To Spice Things Up With Boost
Once the camshaft testing was complete, you may think that the guys would be satisfied with their results and call it a day. This was not the case. Nick and Dane wanted to spice things up a bit and see what the little 4.3 could do with some boost thrown at it. Kurt was happy to loan a few of his turbo parts and in a very short time, Nick and the guys had a hot and cold side fitted along with borrowing the Shearer Fabrications air-to-water intercooler from the SDPP twin-turbo L8T build. The turbo is a 61 mm unit that Nick says is designed for a towing boost application on a smaller engine like a 4.8L. So they thought it would be great for the even smaller 4.3L LV3, and they were right.
With their somewhat hodge-podge turbo system fitted to the engine, the guys were ready to let it rip. The SDPP stage two camshaft was left in the engine. To keep the engine safe, Nick swapped the factory AC Delco spark plugs for a set of Brisk RR12S plugs that are two steps colder, and he filled the fuel cell with VP Racing Fuels MS109.
If Some Is Good, More Is Better
On seven-pounds of boost, the mighty V6 jumped to an eye-opening 510 horsepower and 548 lb-ft of torque. Impressed but not entirely satisfied, the guys decided to try one more pull with double the boost. They wanted to push the engine hard without decorating the dyno room walls with rods and pistons. At 14.5 psi of boost, the powerhouse 4.3L LV3 produced 644 horsepower and 730 lb-ft of torque. That’s a little over double the output of the baseline power numbers. Yes, you read that right, a stock block, stock bottom end, tiny V6 with stock cylinder heads churned out over 600 horsepower with a small single turbo set at 1 bar of boost.
The Next Big Thing In A Small Package
The guys at Scoggin-Dickey Performance Parts believe these little 4.3-liter monsters will find their way into more and more applications as people catch on to the major benefits these engines offer. Having the ability to produce over 600 horsepower while weighing approximately 200 pounds less than an iron block 5.3-liter LS engine makes the LV3 a prime candidate for swapping into lightweight vehicles.
Check out the detailed parts list below if you’re interested in duplicating Scoggin-Dickey’s turbo LV3. If you have questions, give Nick, Dane, and the SDPP team a call. They’re more than happy to help you build your own “buzzin’ half dozen.”