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SPDRCR LS1 and 4l60e Build Thread

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***NOTE: I will update my parts list as I go along. Hopefully, this will help plan and see how much the total cost is.***


Hello everyone. Figure it’s about time to start a build thread for my ls1/4l60e swap. I haven’t really posted much on here yet. Mostly been creeping around looking at the good info here. I’ve been through a bunch of cars over the years including C3 corvettes, supercharged civic, supercharged C5 corvette, GTI, 3rd gen camaros, and a classic Mini Cooper. My next car after those was a hard choice and it took a while to settle on the 280z. During my search, I did learn I DO NOT fit in a Lotus Elise. Nope not one bit. A C7 Z06 was also high on my list but dang $$$. 

Anyway, I bought the 280 earlier this year with the intention of doing the swap. Could’ve bought one already done but I’ve always wanted to do an engine swap. Found a 78 down in FL with a new cheap paint job, fairly rust free, and running OK. Drove it around all summer and decided I don’t like manual cars anymore. Ten years ago I would never dream of owning a fast car automatic, but it ain’t ten years ago. I wanted a sunroof and mine has duals, yea! Also had a very huge muffler with a 4” tip that was booger welded (no judgment, I can’t weld) onto the stock exhaust piping. 

Goal for the car is to be multipurpose for cruising around town, going to meets and shows, maybe the track, and look good while doing it all. I want to pull the old engine and drop in the “new” as quick as reasonable possible. I do not want a long term project sitting in the garage. Want to drive it! I also plan to do wide flares, wheels, spoiler, air dam, etc. 

I went through a long process of deciding which engine to buy. I wanted aluminum block to save weight. Looked at truck engines but the aluminum ones aren’t all that cheap. Then I started making up random HP numbers that sounded good on paper. 500rwhp, that’s my need! Or is it? Eventually, I came back to earth did a bunch of spreadsheets, of course, and settled on the old 350hp LS1 with the 4l60e. I would’ve liked a ls3 crate motor but then there’s a lot of things in life I would like to have. Everything I need can come from one car without having to piece together car intakes, oil pans, pcm, throttle bodies, etc. Bought a drop unit off eBay from a yard across town and they delivered it to my garage the next day. Game on! 


first look in person. I’m not mad at it. 

gotta look back every stop 



1978 280z                                                   $11,500

Shipping                                                      $600

DMV                                                             $645



engine                            ls1/4l60e              $3,150.00       ebay
engine taxes                 ls1/4l60e              $189.00          ebay
engine delivery+tip      ls1/4l60e              $120.00          ebay

JCI swap kit                         LS1                $1,150.00       JCI

JCI fluids                       vital                       $105.00         JCI
serpentine belt           Bando 6PK1395   $12.00            amazon
belt tensioner             38195                     $37.00            amazon
idler pulley                  dayco 89015          $16.00            amazon **washer needed**
egr plate                     xussbop13             $5.00               ebay
oil pan gasket         GSFX-0381868021   $23.00            Amazon
rear main seal            40640                     $20.00            Amazon
oil pan                     12628771 264-331   $101.00          Amazon

oil galley seal              12573460              $9.00              amazon

throttle cable               jgn8564365          $22.00            ebay

pcv valve                     fv391                      $5.00              amazon

oil pressure                800-048                  $30.00            zcardepot

motor mount           Anchor 3064             $41.00            advance
synthetic 5w-30    super tech                    $15.00           walmart
oil filter                    fram extra guard        $5.00              walmart

tach and speedo      gauges                      $420.00         speedhut



air inlet temp            delphi ts10072        $14.00           Amazon

3.5-4" 90 elbow        SH-90D-R-3.5-4-BK  $21.00          Amazon
K&N air filter              rg-1001rd                 $29.00           Amazon



torque conv bolts        14099                    $6.00            advance

cooler 90 6an-3/8        2az111an6d90     $17.00        amazon

trans 1/4npsm-6an     551114                 $12.00          amazon

fittings on rad               derale13004         $20.00         amazon

trans rubber hose 8'    trans line               $16.00          advance
drifeshaft shipping      usps                       $30.00         usps


radiator                          sdd-ra280z753    $129.00         ebay
16" cooling fan             er9805                  $32.00            amazon

temp sensor                 800-693                 $22.00           zcardepot

water pump                   aw5081               $89.00            amazon

lower rad hose              22478                   $14.00           amazon
upper rad hose gates    21588                 $20.00             Amazon
bypass hose                  87629                   $7.00               Amazon
rad overflow tank    FS00483BK-1            $27.00             Amazon

steam vent coupler AN627-20X125         $15.00             Amazon

prestone dex-cool         af888                    $32.00              advance


speedway pump/reg  91012810               $196.00          amazon

fuel level sender         800-974X                $80.00            zcardepot  
30 fuel clamps                                             $9.00              ebay
5' 3/8 fuel line             hbd 24088              $11.00            ebay
5' 5/16 fuel line          hbd 24078-5            $10.00            ebay
fuel prefilter                K&N 81-0300          $7.00               amazon
10' braided line          GCR424                   $23.00             amazon
3/8 6an to barb         98200                       $8.00              Amazon
3/8 line to 6an x 2    CS00017D0              $16.00           Amazon
line  clamps               R038CLS                  $10.00           Amazon
fuel line tool                                                 $7.00              Amazon
fuel tank vent           Attwood 1607-3        $9.00              Amazon

fuel rail oring set    es 70599                    $12.00            Amazon
36" throttle cable   jgn8564365                $22.00            ebay



6 way fuse box        PSZACCEPS051H    $10.00             Amazon
Relays                       AE-001-1                    $12.00             Amazon
fuse box                   6+6                              $14.00             ebay

12ga wire                   100'                            $15.00            ebay

18ga wire                  100'                            $8.00               ebay

loom tape                 4 rolls                         $8.00               ebay

wire loom                 alex tech                     $12.00            Amazon

ECM program          brandon                    $75.00               LT1 Swap
ecm shipping           usps                             $13.00           usps
OBD 2 harness         13500                         $10.00             Amazon


manifold bolts         rogue                          $10.00             ebay
manifold gasket      ms92467                    $13.00            amazon

heat barrier              13575                          $23.00            Amazon
exhaust wrap     HMHRT25017                  $16.00            amazon


engine hoist              61858                        $90.00            craiglsist
engine stand            jegs 80040                $70.00            ebay
load leveler               63098                        $40.00             harborfeight
dollies x 4                  60659                        $32.00            harborfeight

Eng stand bolts        4inch                          $12.00            lowes

bushing kit                14-2002                     $158.00          amazon

paper and paint                                           $20.00            advance    


Edited by Spdrcr
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First order of business is to get the poor old L28 out of the car. Not much really to say on this. Just disconnect and unplug anything and everything. Then pop it out.


all hooked up 



time to dangle

Definitely take the time to seal up the end of the transmission. I taped a plastic bag over the end but didn’t do a great job. I paid for it. 

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engine bay is a mess! Someone spray painted the radiator and fan shroud. I think a lot of the black is overspray. Very rough to the touch and will not clean. I tried every cleaning method I could think of. You can see the clean squares. I had use sandpaper! 

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Here’s the old junker. LS1 and 4l60e out of a 99 firebird. 150k on it... allegedly. This is another slippery slope. I decided to not mod it and get it running first. If I actually want more power down the road, that is for future spdrcr to worry about. 331FB155-3E8C-42D2-A243-4210F1C694F2.jpeg.6d933af67fc5054c6743f786dfb4438d.jpegA8445253-6928-4279-81BA-E04B24B0F36F.jpeg.291be4da1aa39c6432a2d0af1a7cd6e2.jpegAB8B6998-EA42-48AC-B5D1-C8CAC2832821.jpeg.df48966a37e711d79678b07dc522df36.jpeg

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got the wiring harness off. 


the oil pan was moist (what a gross word) so I decided to change the gasket. 



Figured I’d do the rear main seal too


oh snap! Seriously though. I broke the pan. I was even very careful and went round 3 times. Just touching, snug, and then tight.  


turns out I left a piece of the old gasket on there on accident. I thought it was part of the pan. 

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Wanted to flip the fuel rail so the inlet was on the passenger side where the fuel line will be. Threw on some new o-rings. 

That stupid quick connector! I bought the special tool. Too cheap!

Had to buy a metal one cuz the plastic one was too flimsy. Popped right off after that.  

Threw a new fuel level sensor in the tank. Now I can see how dumb I was to have a full tank when I need to drain it to pull the old pump. 
got a new fuel pump and corvette filter. Pretty usual stuff I think. 



fuel pump mounted up. Don’t laugh at my bracket. Fabrication is not my thing. Still have to mount the filter regulator somewhere. Ordered some fittings and fuel line too. 

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Hey where did that old engine go? Oh it turned into money? What to do now? Order more parts! 
got a set of bushings mostly so I can do the steering bushings while the engine is out. I will deal with the rest later. 


and here is the JCI kit. 

also ordered up some 280z speedhut gauges. Went with the non gps speedo with turn signals and high beam and a tach. I am using the vital fluids from JCI to retain my factory small gauges. Some dummy let the oil and temp sensors leave with the old engine.  



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WIRES EVERYWHERE! started to root around in the wires leftover. I plan on replacing the old fusable links with blade fuses. I read a bunch of threads of the pros and cons and decided to ditch them. I may need to upgrade to blade type fusables in the future. We’ll see. I also cut a ton of wiring out that I won’t be using again. Identified key hot and start, temp, oil, etc. 6AF88EDE-4BF7-4421-9E0F-220FF5DE62EF.jpeg.19f8b4f25037214692f5b8211af9ab45.jpeg


I stared at this so much I was dreaming about it. To be honest I got a bit frustrated and just cut a bunch. 

got those funky frame rails painted up. Nothing fancy here. Just sanded them clean. Etching primer and chassis paint. I want to save as much orange (persimmon red) as I can.



I also hit the crank balancer while I had the paint out. Poor thing look like came from the swamp or something. 

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I said I wasn’t gonna do much to the engine. but figured a new water pump would be a good idea.



And of course needed a new oil pan since somebody broke my old one. 


got the mounts on


and broke out the wire wheel to spruce up some things 



JCI oil and water adapters are in. 



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The engine came without a tensioner pulley so a new one of those. I also picked up a rIbbed idler pulley. The new belt route put the ribs on a flat pulley. I didn’t read up enough and forgot to get a washer to go behind the new pulley. It needs to be a specific size and I got tired of fiddling with it. I’m just gonna run the flat pulley for now. Maybe I will figure it out one day. 


forgot who made this original information. But here’s a shoutout. 


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  • 3 weeks later...

New steering coupler and rack bushings.


the drivers side gave me some trouble. Seems like it’s a common people,  followed some advice and boiled it for a bit. That helped a lot. 694D5B3A-8BEC-4779-B46C-AAA15EB4A4DF.jpeg.29739985e0a9f6a2794999c20b6442d3.jpeg11A10C08-38AE-44D3-A415-BB03B2115F93.jpeg.a19f56389fae428869e8e43d443506ba.jpegA3F354F6-C9B4-4728-9996-69AC3D53FED3.jpeg.b646aac985747cb7bcc47877a72f7193.jpeg

don’t judge the crappy paint job. Still looks better than it was. 

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Radiator time. I have a cheap eBay unit. The stock shroud holes don’t really line up. I drilled it a bit and added the fan. I ordered some hoses based on the search function. 

heater bypass hose



New fittings for the trans. 




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I thought there were a lot of wires before. It’s pretty scary cutting all the wires out. LT1 Swap is the place to go. I also sent my ECM to Brandon to tune out VATS, emissions, etc. Easy peasy to work with. 

I thought about just snipping the old stuff and not getting too deep in the harness. I’m glad I did. Was able to easily identify all the stand alone connections. 

here’s what I ended up with. Fingers are crossed. 

hope I don’t need any of this! Wish I could go on a diet that easy. I’m not going to wrap it until it’s in the car-ish. In case I need to reconfigure anything. 

computer is back


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22 hours ago, walkerbk said:

Having done this before... do your self a favor and put the harness on the engine and get the general layout for how it will fit in the engine bay.

thanks for the heads up. I’m going to wait to get it on the engine before i wrap it up. I have some new loom too. I’m going to try and get the fuse box, relays, and ecm in the passenger side. 

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All right time to stop playing around. Bad boy is going in! DB49131F-7897-4AAD-B610-FB55FAA0E50F.jpeg.df4c183d80f5dbabd65e6295c8eb5f84.jpeg98B43ECF-637D-4898-BF60-EFBDC84BC87D.jpeg.3c5d46db1dba08b5bed8617ccd0793c9.jpeg9E17FDFA-6EF2-4C2F-AF0C-0B7142EAE2C7.jpeg.09372c5ae083201c9003c56b6f678451.jpeg42470EDD-7B3E-4E31-AC4C-3DCC02FD2C87.jpeg.86ebad7f6e11e42ad27706ea281f07ce.jpegDC6650D3-6FAF-4D30-BA8E-35C320DA670E.jpeg.23832340e12c2bb3494e423e1997551a.jpeg


it was a lot harder than I thought. Took me all day. I couldn’t get enough length on the boom. (Thats’s what she...you know what) I had to remove everything off the front including bumper, grill, and even the hood mechanism. That still wasn’t enough. Had to modify the lift by drilling an extra hole. 

 Then I had a problem with the lift which was vapor locked. Had to take take it off mid install to cycle. Then the chains were hitting the firewall before I was even close to the mounts. Had to unhook everything and lengthen the chains so I could push it back. Very fiddly. I eventually had to undo the drivers side mount and bolt it back to the block after it was in. 

I had to shave the top off that mount too since it was hitting the header. A small corner of the JCI mount also needed trimmed. 57D417EF-926F-49AE-9C9E-460150C92296.jpeg.032ca3d6515b841d19eed362a3bf6df8.jpeg
the passenger side coil is very close to the battery tray. I think it’s going to be an issue later. 

had to trim a bracket off the passenger side for the header to fit. No big deal there. 

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9 hours ago, Whitley_280z_2+2 said:

Nice! You’re making great progress. Bold move putting the engine in before wrapping the engine bay wiring ; ) 


what headers are those?

Yeah. I’ve never done a project like this so most of it I’m just doing whatever seems right. 

the headers are the JCI that come in the kit. 

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