Building a powerful engine has long been about metric dollars. As the horsepower numbers increased, the zeros before the decimal point seemed to keep jumping up in the same steep curve. With today's amazing engine offerings available in crates directly from the factories, and aftermarket support at an all-time high, big-time power has become well within reach for the everyday working man on a real budget. Upholding our opinion on the subject is the 6.0L LQ4 we are featuring here. Netting 500 crank horsepower on a dyno with nothing exotic inside it, the LS-based mill left us in bewilderment that so little could work so well.
It used to be that you needed some serious know-how and maybe a friend or two that owed you favors to be able to even find, let alone build, a properly running LS engine. With this budget-built brawler, that mindset has all changed. We wanted to know more and we wanted to know where the secrets were hidden to finding big power at a lower cost. After poring over the parts list along with examining images showing the engine's assembly, we are extremely happy to report that nothing crazy popped up, and this engine can easily be yours with a modest amount of cash outlay. That's right, going fast doesn't have to empty your savings account, because high-quality parts at low price points now exist. Through our diligent price checking on parts, we put less than $4,500 into it (not including the labor necessary to put it together). Do you have some mechanical ability? Then build it yourself and save even more!
One of the main things to realize when building a stout LS engine is that the stock parts themselves can easily handle 500 to 600 hp (depending on the engine chosen to start with). Since the crank and rods are cast items, many jump to the conclusion that they need to be replaced for reliability. Those old ways of thinking have been replaced by a much more knowledgeable base of builders who have used the original internals, yielding great results in many naturally aspirated and even turbo/supercharged applications with nary a hiccup. Our choice in pistons necessitated the change of our rods due to the pin design, but the rods we chose were only $400 for the whole set and they included ARP fasteners. That's money well spent, and it illustrates the kind of thinking we put into this engine.