Holley’s LS Fest has become a place for people to show off their cleanest and craziest LS builds. This year’s LS Fest West at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway was no exception. The Street Muscle team was hard at work looking for the best and baddest LS Swaps. Below is our list of favorites from the show.
- A Perfectly Ratty 1978 Chevrolet Camaro
We spotted this Camaro on Sunday, the last day of LS Fest. It sat near the concession stand juxtaposed by some rather ordinary cars. The strikingly tough visage of the perfectly ratty Camaro next to a Buick Enclave or whatever it was made us reflect upon all the work that goes into each and every build at LS Fest. It’s probably easy for the unknowing or uncaring person to dismiss this patina’d Maro’ as a hoopty, but for those of us in the know…
The LS topped with a Holley Hi-Ram, badass Hoosiers on Cragar D-Windows, and the killer blue patina – those things make this Camaro anything but ordinary. These aren’t just cars taking people from point A to point B, they’re vessels transporting their passengers to another dimension. Seriously, we’d bet making a pass down the track in this Camaro feels something like a rocket ship. We’ll have to sit down with an astronaut and get back to you, til then, here’s this blue baddie kicking off our list at number 1.
- The Army Truck
We found this ’64 C10 waiting patiently outside the autocross ring. Yeah, that’s right – this one time soldier shuttle, can now be found tearing it up on the coned course. The owner wasn’t much for words, but he was a real cool cat. He explained how his truck has become a talking point for him – a rather introverted individual. That’s just one of the great things about cars, they can be a common ground where introverts and extroverts can come together.
He told us he rescued his truck and found out that it was used to shuttle flight crew back in the ’60s. He said, he really didn’t know much more about the history than that, but he has done his best to preserve what’s there, such as the labels and paint. He hasn’t done anything but wax and polish the paint, if you can believe that! Of course, he has updated the drivetrain to LS power, but how else could he get through the gates at LS Fest?
- The 6.2 Liter Turbo ’64 Impala
We’re always refreshed to see cars that are normally reserved for different types of builds, wearing the latest hot rod fashion – a la this ’64 Impala. The Imp could have easily been made into a clean lowrider, like so many before it have. Fortunately for us, the owner elected to go another route, as indicated by the 6.1Liter Turbo badges on the fenders. The one on the passenger side sits right above the hater pipe exiting through the fender. The 6.0 likely bored to 6.1 has found the perfect home, mated to a manual trans (T56?) Sitting on Welds, and Mickey’s, this Impala had style for miles, and for that reason it’s making our list at number 3.
- Phillip Carey’s Pacer
At this point we aren’t even really surprised when we see an LS swap. They’ve really been put in anything by now. In fact, now it has become a challenge for builders to disguise their swaps in clever ways. Like packaging them in neat little cars, with no indication of racecar guts. For Phillip Carey it wasn’t just about building a sleeper, though. He was building a car that had sentimental connection to him and his family. He explained how his family once had a Pacer because it was all they could afford.
Years later, his wife saw this ’78 Pacer for sale in the local paper, and just had to have it. Phillip knew he wanted to LS swap it, and that he did! As you can imagine, there aren’t many off the shelf parts that allow one to swap a late model LS under the hood of a ’78 Pacer, but he made it work. In fact, since he’s from California, he had to make the car smog legal, so he went with Chevrolet Performance’s LS3 E-Rod package which made things nice and legal. We’re betting he catches a lot of youngsters at green lights with his little bronze pocket rocket.
- The Canadian Cutlass 442
“Some things should never be LS Swapped,” said nobody, ever! Okay, we know that isn’t true, but that’s the first thing that came to mind when we saw this ’67 Cutlass 442. This ain’t for you purists, lets get that out of the way right now. What’s insanely cool about it though, aside from the swap itself, is the fact that Ron Klassen drove it all the way from British Columbia, Canada to Las Vegas for Holley’s LS Festival. Yup, over 1000 miles! Some of you might scoff at that, but it’s still an impressive feat, even if the old school ride is powered by a modern drivetrain. We asked the Ron if he felt bad about changing things up on a rare ride like his 442. He told us the car was in such bad shape, it was really the only way he could save it. He did tell us that if the car was in better shape, he never would have swapped it. Then again, if Ron hadn’t, it wouldn’t be rounding out our list at number 5.
So, there you have it, our top 5 favorite LS swapped rides from Holley’s LS Fest West 2019. Sure, there were some crazier swaps out there, and wildly exotic builds, but for us these just happened to stand out in a sea of GM-powered fishes. Anyway, they’re all unique and fun in their own way, just like all great cars should be. Let us know what you think of our picks in the comment section below. We’ll see you out there next year!