(Words and photos by Matt Graves) – LS engines are absolutely the hottest thing going. You cannot deny their presence and effect they have on our hobby. They are currently being dropped into everything from C10s to Austin Healeys. I consider them not a Chevy engine but a universal power plant, only limited by your budget and dreams. When it came time to get our C10 powered our immediate choice was a 5.3L truck LS engine. The holy grail of truck engines is the 6.0L, but they cost considerably more. Yes, the 6.0L has a 4” bore so you can drop those Holy Grail LS3 heads on them and go. But the lowly 5.3 can make tons of power for half the money and there are literally thousands of them in the junkyard.
We knew we wanted to build up our engine from more than stock. A quick call to John Bouchard Engines in Nashville, TN and we had a 5.3L coming together. If there ever was an expert in LS engines, it’s John. You may remember him from Horsepower TV and have seen the various LS engine combinations he’s built for the show. John is a young guy with an old school methodical approach to building his engines. He has all the power combinations in his head, carefully hand assembling each one. We told John our goal was 400-425hp, which is very easy to do on a 5.3. Our combination is running .040 pistons, stock crank, custom Bouchard ground COMP cam and Summit Racing roller rocker upgrade. Pace Performance sent us the super cool looking Holley Mid-Rise EFI intake, 24lb Holley injectors, and rails with the door open and closed by an Edelbrock 90mm throttle body.
But the point of this story is EFI. There are so many options these days on EFI systems for LS engines. After some research we soon realized one of the easiest systems out there is Howell EFI. One of the reasons we love the Howell system is the use of the GM OE ECU. You get an ECU and you’re getting millions of dollars in engineering research. It’s rugged and can survive anything, giving you full OBDII diagnostics just like any modern car and it can be mounted in the engine bay. So pick up the phone and call Howell. Give them all your engine parameters, cam specs, injector size, intake set up, make and model the engine came out of, and what OE sensors you have. This is key, so make sure you grab all the OE sensors from your junkyard engine. Howell can even keep the emissions setting so you can pass the sniffer test if you’re running cats. They can also set up the ECU to turn on your cooling fans, A/C and more, programming it to your exact needs, and making installation a breeze. No more spending 2 hours setting up a blank ECU and hoping you get it right. If you do end up needing to tune it, tuning software programs are available, as well as plenty of shops than can fine-tune your program. But out of the box fit, plug it up and run? Howell wins that game hands down.
Follow along as we install Howell EFI on our C10 –
John Bouchard Engines