Updating a big old truck
Keep in mind that since emissions regulations are different in all parts of the country, unless otherwise stated here, you’re on your own with that. They come straight from the experts at Chevrolet Performance, Pace Performance, and Scoggin-Dickey Performance Center (SDPC).We went to these three companies for recommendations because GM is the OE and has a vibrant crate motor inventory, and Pace and SDPC are two of the largest volume performance engine retailers in the USA. 1973-1987 CHEVY/GMC C/K TRUCKS The 1973 Chevy/GMC pickups were clean-sheet designs that came out mid-way through 1972, replacing what many consider the last of the “classic” GM light trucks, those made from 1967 to 1972.1988-1998 CHEVY/GMC GMT400 TRUCKS General Motors went through a massive redesign on its light trucks for the 1988 model year with much sleeker sheet metal, more cab options, and a brand-new 4×4 independent front suspension.Engine choices started with a wimpy 4.3L V6 and went up to a 7.4L (454 ci) big-block, with two diesel choices as well.Developed as a high-torque engine with a low-end torque-grind roller cam, heavy duty forged powdered metal connecting rods, forged crankshaft, and hypereutectic pistons, the HT 383 is designed for hard work.Its 325 hp output at 4,500 rpm doesn’t hurt either,” continued Fitch.
Rated at 250 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque (at 3,600 rpm), this engine is not a powerhouse, but as a stock replacement engine that’s all brand new (not rebuilt), it dwarfs the power output of the small-blocks that came from the factory in these trucks.
The HT 383 should only be used in 1979 and earlier pre-emissions street vehicles or any year off-road only vehicles. Jamie Meyer at Chevrolet Performance calls this “an affordable LS crate engine with power and durability.” It’s based on the same engine used in hundreds of thousands of GM trucks, including the Silverado and Suburban, and is a better way to go than pulling one out of a wrecked truck in the junkyard.
LS Retrofit Chevrolet Performance: E-Rod LC9, part no. You can get this engine two ways: a conventional 5.3L assembly (shown here), or the E-Rod version that also includes performance-enhancing camshaft phasing.
Because it’s an E-Rod, it comes with the controller and other hardware to keep the smog cops at bay, if that’s a concern.
It makes 326 hp at 5,400 rpm and over 300 lb-ft of torque from 2,000 to 4,800 rpm, and has an aluminum block and heads, so it’s lighter than the engine you’re replacing.