Cars with an LS3 Engine (And Why They’re So Popular)

If a vehicle exists, it has probably been LS swapped. And the vehicle doesn’t even need wheels; not even planes are safe from the mighty LS engine!

What is an LS Engine?

An LS engine is a pushrod V8 engine produced by General Motors. The engine is made of aluminum, which makes it light. The pushrod design means it only has a single cam, which makes the engine compact at the same time.

An LS engine makes anywhere from 300 to 430 horsepower from the factory, depending on the model. Since the engine is naturally aspirated, it takes to modification really well. That means you can squeeze out even more power if you decide you need more down the road.

ls3 engine cutaway
LS3 engine cutaway (Credit: David Kimble)

Cars With an LS3 Engine

There is a surprisingly long list of vehicles that came with an LS engine from the factory. The most popular variant of the LS engine is the LS3. The LS3 engine was used in factory vehicles between model years 2008 and 2017.

1) Chevrolet Corvette

2012 Chevrolet Corvette
2012 Chevrolet Corvette

The most popular car with a factory LS3 engine is the Chevy Corvette. The Corvette is GM’s flagship sports car and strikes an amazing balance of performance, reliability, and low cost.

Corvettes are so popular you are likely to see one every time you leave your house, and they are popular for good reason. Not only are they fast in a straight line, they also handle the corners really well.

The 6th generation (C6) Corvette from 2008-2015 is the one with an LS3 engine (non-Z06 models). That car makes 430 hp from the factory, which is more than enough to handle anything you might encounter on a public road. If you really want to open up a Corvette to see what it can do, you’ll probably want to take it to the track.

2) Chevrolet Camaro SS

2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS
2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS

The Camaro is GM’s answer to the Ford Mustang. Classified as a pony car, it is compact, powerful, and affordable. Unlike a Corvette, a Camaro can seat four people (though it only has two doors).

From 2010-2015, the Camaro SS with a manual transmission was also equipped with an LS3 engine.

3) Pontiac G8 GXP

2009 Pontiac G8 GXP
2009 Pontiac G8 GXP

The Pontiac G8 is a 4 door sedan with a good deal of muscle. There were three engines offered in the G8. The GXP trim had the LS3 engine and was produced for model year 2009.

The Pontiac G8 is sold as the Holden Commodore in Australia.

4) Chevrolet SS

2017 Chevrolet SS
2017 Chevrolet SS

The lesser known Chevy SS is a sleeper car through and through. Although it looks like something your grandma might drive, it’s basically a 4 door Corvette.

The Chevy SS has a lot in common with the Pontiac G8. This car is also known as the Holden Commodore VF in Australia.

5) Vauxhall VXR8

2009 Vauxhall VXR8
2009 Vauxhall VXR8

Another Australian vehicle, the Vauxhall VXR8 is also known as the HSV Clubsport or HSV GTS. In 2009, the vehicle received an LS3 engine to match the Corvette and Camaro SS. This car is not available in the US.

LS as a Crate Engine

The LS engine is offered as a crate motor, which means you could buy a brand new engine from General Motors and it would be shipped to you on a palette. The ability to buy an engine from the factory has made the LS a very popular engine for enthusiast builds and kit cars.

Turnkey LS Swaps

A turnkey engine swap is when a shop builds you an engine swapped car end to end. You give them a stock car, you get back a well engineered build that can handle the increased power of your bigger engine.

Flyin’ Miata

Flyin’ Miata is an aftermarket performance company that makes parts for all generations of the Mazda MX-5 Miata. For a while, Flyin’ Miata offered a turnkey engine swap where you provide a car and roughly $50,000 to build the rocket ship of your dreams.

Not only did you get Corvette power in a car barely bigger than a go-kart, the car was said to be quite drivable by YouTubers who reviewed it. Unfortunately due to emissions regulations, this swap has been discontinued for the time being.


Hennessey Performance takes a bare bones Corvette or Camaro and turns it up to 11. In addition to greatly increased power, Hennessey backs their work with a 3 year, 36,000 mile warranty. There are also upgrades available for many other vehicles as well.


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