The Guide to LS1 Supercharger Upgrade. For many years, GM/Chevrolet‘s LS1 engine has been a reliable power source for supercharged projects. The LS1 engine, which debuted in the C5 Corvette, Camaro, and Trans-Am, already produces a strong 305-350 horsepower and 335-365 lb-ft of torque out of the box. An LS1 supercharger, on the other hand, is a terrific upgrade for individuals wishing to substantially improve the power on their ‘Vette or F-Body Pontiac.
This book will teach you all you need to know about supercharging an LS1 engine. We have recommendations and a kit for you whether your LS1 is stock or changed. We’ll start by going over everything you need to know about forced induction and the LS1, and then we’ll dive into all of the supporting mods you’ll need to make your build reliable and successful. Finally, we’ll break down and examine the best five LS1 supercharger packages on the market. Let’s get this party started.
LS1 Engine Fundamentals for Forced Induction
First, let’s go over the fundamentals of the LS1 engine. GM/Chevy first used the LS1 in the 1997-2004 C5 Corvette, as well as the ’98-’02 F-body Camaro, Formula, and Trans-Am, and the 2004 GTO. The LS1 produced 305-350 horsepower and 335-365 lb-ft of torque depending on the year and model. All of this resulted in a 4.8 second sprint from zero to 60 mph and a quarter mile time of 13.5 seconds at 107 mph.
The LS1 engine is a 5.7 L V8 with an all-aluminum block and head. It has a single cam-in-block overhead valve (OHV) configuration that is actuated by pushrods. Except for the Corvettes, which use fly-by-wire throttle control, the LS1 is fuel injected and uses a drive-by-wire cable system. The advertised compression ratio of the LS1 is 10.1:1, however it is actually 10.25:1 – which is boost friendly.
GM/Chevy released the LS6, which was essentially an LS1 with a redesigned intake manifold, cylinder heads, and significantly revised internals in 2001. Starting that same year, the LS1 received the LS6 intake manifold and cylinder heads, which lasted until manufacture was discontinued.
An LS6 intake manifold and cylinder head, which are direct bolt-on fits, are a popular mod for early LS1s (’97-’00). They are definite must-upgrades for those trying to get the maximum power out of their LS1 supercharged build. Check out our Top 7 LS1 Mods article for a list of other potential mods.
The Fundamentals of an LS1 Supercharger
Now that we’ve learned a little bit about the LS1, let’s take a look at installing a supercharger, commonly known as a blower. Superchargers available in a variety of configurations and sizes, which will vary depending on your build. In the following sections, we’ll discuss the many types of LS1 superchargers, which one you should consider for your build, and any supporting changes you’ll need based on your power levels.
The Various Types of LS1 Superchargers
There are two types of supercharger configurations for the LS1: roots style and centrifugal style. A third type of supercharger, known as a twin-screw, is also available, but it is far less common for LS1 designs.
Centrifugal LS1 superchargers are by far the most popular choice for most builds. Centrifugal superchargers resemble turbochargers in appearance and operation. The key distinction is that, whereas turbochargers use exhaust gases to power their compressors, centrifugal superchargers use a belt. As a result, they are often preferable for projects that seek to produce a lot of horsepower, particularly on the top end.
Roots style LS1 superchargers are the more traditional style of blower and function in a very different manner. Roots superchargers are true blowers in the sense that they do not compress air before pushing it into the intake manifold. They simply force extra air into the engine, where it is compressed inside the cylinder during the compression stroke. They are essentially giant air pumps. They are excellent for instant boost and low-end torque, but cannot compete with centrifugal blowers for higher RPM power and boost levels.
A roots style supercharger is often located directly on top of the engine, whereas a centrifugal style supercharger is located somewhere in the engine compartment. Centrifugal superchargers are a much better fit for the Corvette, Camaro, Trans-Am, and other LS1 equipped vehicles. Because there is so little space under the hood, especially on the Corvette, roots type blowers are difficult to install. It’s still an option, but your size – and hence boost – will be limited.
Which LS1 Supercharger Should You Get?
Which is best for you depending on your power goals and aesthetic preferences. Do you wish to wield the most power? Choose the centrifugal force. Are you looking for an old-school muscle car look? Your best chance is to go with a roots style. Due to size and space constraints, most people would choose the centrifugal for LS1-powered vehicles. However, that is far from the sole option, and mild roots-style constructions remain common.
Modifications to Support an LS1 Supercharger
Let’s move on to supporting mods for your LS1 build. We’ll divide LS1 supercharger mods into two categories: recommended and required. Mods that are recommended will assist your supercharger construction produce more power more consistently, but are optional on moderate builds. Mods that are absolutely necessary to make your LS1 supercharger reliable are referred to as necessary mods.
Recommended LS1 Supercharging Support Mods
Let’s start with the suggested tweaks. As previously stated, beginning in 2001, GM/Chevy upgraded the LS1 intake manifold and cylinder heads to the LS6 variants. If you have a ’97-’00 LS1 equipped vehicle, we strongly advise you to upgrade to the LS6 variants. Both the LS6 intake and heads are direct bolt-on fittings and are known to flow significantly better than the LS1 variants.
The standard LS6 manifold and heads should be adequate for 600 horsepower. If you intend to make more, you should port your intake and heads, if not upgrade to more powerful versions. Upgrading to the LS6 cylinder heads reduces compression on the engine to roughly 9.2:1, which is more boost friendly than the stock 10.2:1, giving it another incentive to be considered.
An improved camshaft is another optional but suggested improvement if you want to make a lot of power. The original camshaft is adequate for 550-600 horsepower, but anything above that requires more duration and lift. Check out our Top 7 LS1 Mods Guide for recommendations on modified LS1 camshafts, heads, and manifolds.
LS1 Supporting Mods Required for Supercharging
There is a long list of required improvements for an LS1 supercharger package. All you really need to worry about for bolt-on mods are long-tube headers with either an x or h-pipe exhaust. Most LS1 supercharger kits will require too much flow through the original exhaust manifold.
Many folks find that only upgrading to the factory LS6 exhaust is sufficient for 600 horsepower. However, you can upgrade to larger aftermarket long-tube headers with at least 1 7/8-inch diameters. Larger long-tubes will be required after 600 horsepower. For LS1 long-tube header recommendations, see the LS1 mod guide mentioned above.
Upgrades to the LS1 Valve Train, Oiling System, and Fueling
Following bolt-ons, you should consider upgrading the fuel system, oiling system, and valve train. Starting with the fuel system, you will need larger injectors and a larger fuel pump.
The size of your injector will be determined by your build level. The stock LS1 injectors have a flow rate of 27-30 lbs/hr, depending on the year and model. For 500 horsepower on the LS1, you’ll need injectors that flow at least 36 lbs/hr, and for 600 horsepower, you’ll need injectors that flow at least 42 lbs/hr. If you intend to use alternative fuels, such as ethanol, you will need to go much larger.
There are also various valve train improvements to be made. To begin, stronger valve springs will be required to handle the boost and higher power. You should also replace the pushrods and lifters with stronger equivalents. It’s also a good idea to upgrade the timing chain. The stock timing chain has been known to fail, particularly when the engine is pushed to high RPMs.
There are two basic ways to upgrade the LS1 timing chain. Many folks simply utilize the beefier chain from the LS2, which has shown to be highly reliable. A double-chain arrangement is also available. The benefit of using a double chain is that if your first chain fails for any reason, you’ll have another fail-safe before your valve train implodes. A properly installed LS2 chain configuration, on the other hand, will not break.
Finally, let us discuss the oil system. Before supercharging your LS1, you should obtain a larger and more powerful high pressure oil pump. The LS oiling system has been known to be poor on higher power builds, so upgrading to a stronger oil pump is a low-cost insurance policy.
Internals of the LS1 and Block Power Limits
The LS1 engine, as well as the entire LS-series, are notorious for having high power restrictions. The LS1 block is usually thought to be capable of withstanding 800 wheel-horsepower before failing. That isn’t usually the true, as some people have run hundreds of horsepower more, but for the most part, 800 horsepower is regarded a relatively dependable maximum. It won’t last 50,000 miles, but it also won’t fall apart after a few runs.
Internally, the LS1 pistons and rods, like the rest of the early LS-series, are good until roughly 500 horsepower. Although the rods are stronger than the pistons, it’s a good idea to update them to stronger forged ones if you want to consistently exceed 500 horsepower. You should also add head studs at this point. If you have a manual transmission, you’ll want a stronger clutch, and if you have an automatic, you’ll want a stronger torque converter. The most common failure locations on the LS1 are the rods, ringlands, and pistons, making pistons and rods the most crucial internal components to update.
The Best 5 LS1 Supercharger Kits
Now that we’ve discussed what it takes to supercharge your LS1, let’s move on to the recommendations. We have a few C5 Corvette supercharger alternatives, as well as some Camaro/Firebird superchargers and an LS1 blower kit in general. Let us investigate.
The top five LS1 Supercharger Kits are as follows:
- Superchargers A&A
- East Coast Acceleration
- Superchargers by Magnuson
- Superchargers by Vortech
1) LS1 C5 Corvette Supercharger Kit A&A
Centrifugal is the type of blower used.
To begin, we’ll look at C5 Corvette LS1 supercharger kits, with the A&A C5 Corvette LS1 supercharger kit at the top of the list. The A&A kit for the C5 Corvette is arguably the most popular on the market, and it is stunning. Everything you need is included, including a very beautiful and huge intercooler for significant cooling.
A&A’s LS1 package includes a variety of V-3 Vortech supercharger setups, all of which are centrifugal. Depending on the blower size, their package may produce anywhere from 500 to 1,000 wheel horsepower.
The A&A kit is also CARB approved, making it emissions acceptable in all 50 states. This is one of the kit’s main selling factors, as it offers a tremendous benefit. It’s a tad costly, but you’re getting exceptional craftsmanship as well as emissions-legal supercharging. It’s truly the best of both worlds, making this kit an excellent choice.
2) C5 Corvette LS1 East Coast Supercharging Kit
Price: $5,699.00 – $6,199.00
Centrifugal is the type of blower used.
Aside from the kits mentioned above, the greatest C5 Corvette supercharger kit by far is the East Coast Supercharging (ECS) LS1 kit. The ECS kit has received rave reviews from the C5 community, and ECS is well-known for their craftsmanship and customer care.
Their LS1 kit comes with three centrifugal blower options, ranging from 500 to 1,300 wheel horsepower. To handle the greater power, it also includes an intercooler and an improved belt system. The head units are the Novi 1500-SI (black or polished) or Novi 2200R, with the Novi 1500-Si capable of 500-800 wheel horsepower and the Novi 2200R capable of 1,000+ horsepower builds.
The ECS LS1 supercharger kit is a terrific value for the money, offering strong quality and performance. We’ve seen a lot of ECS-powered Corvettes, and all of them have happy owners. You may be confident in purchasing an ECS unit for your LS1.
3) Supercharger Kit ProCharger LS1
Centrifugal is the type of blower used.
Let’s have a look at several non-Corvette LS1 kits. The ProCharger LS1 package is an excellent choice for the Camaro and Firebird. Since the LS1 debuted in the late 1990s, ProCharger has been one of the most popular blower options for the LS series of engines. ProCharger is one of the world’s leading supercharger manufacturers, and their LS kits have received rave reviews.
All ProCharger superchargers are centrifugal in design. For moderate but not ridiculous builds, most people use P-1SC or D-1SC blowers on the LS1. All ProCharger LS1 kits include an intercooler and tuning choices. Many of the ProCharger kits are also CARB legal, making them emissions legal in all 50 states, depending on the kit.
Anyone who has a ProCharger on their LS1 would most likely tell you that it works well. They genuinely are the industry standard, and any LS1 powered vehicle will benefit from a well installed kit. For an LS1 build, you should absolutely consider the ProCharger kits.
4) Magnuson TVS2300 LS1 Supercharger Kit
Price: $7,618.81 – $8.025.00
Blower Design: Hybrid-Roots
Magnuson Superchargers, sometimes known as “Maggies” by the majority of the LS1 community, are next on our list. While most people choose centrifugal-style blowers for their LS1, we wanted to provide at least one roots-style option, and the Maggie TVS2300 LS1 supercharger kit is the best. The kit may require some welding to fit within the engine bay, but it is really well-engineered and provides a lot of power.
The 4-lobe high helix rotor design of the TVS MP2300 blower reduces noise while improving power. Both kits contain a bigger air-to-water intercooler, and the Corvette package includes all necessary fueling improvements. The TVS MP2300 supercharger can produce up to 130 horsepower and 130 pound-feet of torque.
While the Maggie cannot compete with the performance of centrifugal systems, it is quite reliable and generates solid boost from the moment you press the throttle. Magnuson has a great reputation for quality and power, and their new LS1 kit is no exception.
Related : The Top 7 LS1 Improvements
5) Vortech Superchargers LS1 Supercharger Kit
Price: $3,585.99 – $3.904.99
Centrifugal is the type of blower used.
Vortech Superchargers is our ultimate suggestion for an LS1 supercharger. Vortech manufactures a generic LS1 supercharger kit that is intended to work with most LS1 powered GM and Chevrolet vehicles, as well as LS1 swapped vehicles.
Vortech’s kit makes use of their V-3 Si Trim supercharger. The V-3 Si is a centrifugal supercharger capable of 22 PSI, 1,150 cfm flow, and 775 horsepower. It looks a lot like the SI head unit used in A&A Corvette’s LS1 package.
The Vortech kit is the cheapest on our list, and it does not include an intercooler. Depending on your vehicle, you may need to modify this kit to fit your exact engine bay. However, it will deliver solid performance and should be considered for a supercharged LS1 build.
Summary of the LS1 Supercharger Upgrade
While the GM/Chevy LS1 already creates plenty of power out of the box, adding a nice large supercharger is a game changer. A few bolt-ons will surely wake up the LS1, but supercharging it takes the LS1 to a whole new level.
A supercharger kit is your best option if you want to easily boost your automobile to 450-500 horsepower without making intake manifold, cylinder head, or camshaft adjustments. It is a much simpler upgrade than those combined, and it produces more power. If you want to get the maximum power out of your car, the other changes are fantastic, but for a good street warrior, a supercharger with some long tubing is probably the best option.