When it comes to the Chevy LS layout, what else can be said? There was certainly nothing new or exciting about it. The LS engine family has made history as one of the most well-known and lauded American product lines of all time for a number of reasons. So far, we’ve written a number of articles about the LS3, covering topics as varied as LS3 camshaft upgrades and ported LS3 throttle bodies. But we have neglected to talk about LS3 Superchargers, a major talking point on the LS3 subreddit.
There’s no denying the indisputable fact that forced induction is the perfect complement to Chevy LS engines. The 6.2L LS3 is an excellent candidate for boost due to its strength and robustness. The LS3’s 6-bolt main caps, hypereutectic pistons, and hardened cast aluminum block ensure that it can withstand significant force. Despite the fact that turbochargers are commonly installed on LS3 engines, the blower setup is stylistically more appropriate.
An LS3 may be tuned to produce inconceivable amounts of power from a supercharged 6.2L Chevrolet engine. The power margin you can extract out of a supercharged LS3 is rather large, even without major supporting changes. Supercharging a 6.2L LS3 Chevrolet engine is explained in detail here.
Chevy 6.2L LS3 Engine History
After the LS2, the LS3 became the second LS engine of the fourth generation. The C6 Corvette, Camaro SS, and Pontiac G8 GXP were the vehicles that had the LS3. The stock output of the LS3 was 430 hp and 424 lb-ft of torque. The LS3 was genetically related to the departing LS2, although it featured a bigger bore, increasing displacement to 6.2L.
The LS3 is a remarkable motor in terms of both its design and its performance. Many car enthusiasts continue to gush about classic Chevy small-blocks, but the LS3’s improvements put it in a class of its own. The LS3 incorporates several remarkable strength- and rigidity-enhancing technologies in addition to its excellent horsepower and torque output.
The LS3 is more robust and has less engine vibration because to its deep skirt design that extends over the crankshaft centerline. For each cylinder in an LS3, six bolts are used to fasten the engine’s cylinder heads to the cast aluminum block. In the upper horsepower ranges, this configuration proves to be quite reliable. The LS3 engine block is more rigid because of the structural oil pan.
The LS3 has a powdered metal connecting rod system and a crankshaft made of tough iron. Pistons made of a special aluminum alloy with a flat top are used, as they are both powerful and easy on the engine’s weight. The overall throttle response and efficiency is enhanced by the piston’s lightweight structure.
Chevy 6.2L V8 Supercharging Basics
Let’s discuss some of the fundamentals of Chevy LS3 superchargers before diving in headlong. If you know what you’re doing with an LS3, you can practically break it. When compared to other similar engines, a supercharged LS3 can produce close to 1,000 horsepower with relatively little effort. As a result, before turning up the boost, it’s crucial to be aware of the stock LS3 internals’ performance restrictions.
For the Chevrolet 6.2L LS3, you can choose between two different supercharger designs. These can be either centrifugal or positive displacement superchargers. Though it may sound simple, the vocabulary involved might cause confusion. Expansion in a good direction “PD blowers” and “Roots superchargers” are common names for LS3 superchargers. Muscle car enthusiasts frequently refer to superchargers as “blowers,” so keep that in mind.
6.2L LS3 Engine Limits
The Chevy LS3 has been proven to be an engine capable of handling significantly more power than the manufacturer rating. In its stock configuration, the LS3 produces 415 to 430 horsepower. When comparing Camaro SS applications with Corvettes, the former has a little advantage thanks to its LS3 engine. Supercharged LS3 engines can easily produce twice the stock horsepower. That’s not to imply a supercharged LS3 with the goal of producing horsepower in the thousands doesn’t need extensive preparation, though; changes are necessary.
With the right fuel and a good tune, a stock 6.2L LS3 that has been supercharged can make about 650 horsepower dependably. When you go above that point, you should start thinking about upgrading to stronger internal components. The stock rods and pistons are incredibly durable, but they are still made of cast aluminum. It has been said that stock LS3 pistons and rods can handle up to 700 horsepower, but for maximum dependability, high-boost LS3s should use forged pistons and steel rods. In the following sections, we’ll go into greater depth regarding the customizations that are available for LS3 compatibility.
Tuning and fuelling are two of the most important aspects of developing a reliable turbocharged LS3. When the LS3 is operating close to its internal limits, these two considerations become much more crucial. When it comes to keeping your engine in good shape, the benefits of playing a safe music are obvious. Minimizing detonation and maintaining safe internal temperatures can help prevent internal damage. And the same holds true for switching to E85 from regular gas.
Positive Displacement vs Centrifugal LS3 Superchargers
There is a wide variety of LS3 superchargers available. Positive displacement blowers and centrifugal superchargers are two overarching phrases that describe these machines. Both accomplish the same thing, but in different ways.
If you hear the words “vintage muscle,” your mind immediately goes to supercharged engines with a positive displacement. Sticking out of the hoods of vintage Camaros and Novas, PD superchargers have become famous. Any given rotational speed of a positive displacement supercharger results in the delivery of a same volume of air to the intake manifold. In the LS3 intake manifold, positive pressure will develop if the engine is unable to consume the volume of air being pushed in by the PD supercharger.
The more advanced option is centrifugal LS3 superchargers. Centrifugal superchargers function quite similarly to turbochargers, in contrast to PD superchargers. To feed air into the LS3 engine, they employ a compressor wheel that spins at high RPM. However, turbochargers rely on exhaust gas for power while centrifugal superchargers are belt powered.
Superchargers vary in their power delivery characteristics based on their individual designs. Power delivery is fairly linear with LS3 positive displacement blowers because boost remains constant across the whole rpm range. The boost produced by a centrifugal LS3 supercharger will be much more peaky and available at higher RPMs.
6.2L Chevy LS3 Supercharger Supporting Mods & Tuning
Running an LS3 blower at low boost without any supporting modifications other than a tune is possible, but if you want to push a supercharged LS3 to high horsepower ratings, you’ll need to make a few adjustments. Headers and fueling adjustments are encouraged, but not required, in the initial 500-650 horsepower phases. Those and other reliability and performance enhancing adjustments become mandatory for LS3 power levels above that.
Some LS3 supercharger horsepower goals can be achieved without any additional mods. The Chevy LS’s sturdy construction and high-quality components buy some time before additional structural upgrades are required. That being said, it’s never a bad idea to back upgrades for a supercharged LS3. The already-powerful LS3 engine will benefit from these upgrades, as they will make it even more reliable and provide a boost in horsepower.
The supplementary upgrades for a supercharged Chevrolet 6.2L LS3 engine are, of course, dependant on the desired output. Here we’ll go over the specific modifications your LS3 needs to accommodate a supercharger capable of producing power in the hundreds.
500 Wheel Horsepower LS3
- Supercharger Kit: $6,000-10,000
- Long-tube headers: $700-1,500 (Optional)
For a supercharged LS3 build, 500 horsepower is a safe target if durability is a top concern. It’s clear that General Motors intended for LS3 owners to produce more than 500 horsepower, especially when combined with forced induction, based on how the engine was built at the factory.
This level of power means that supplementary aftermarket modifications are no longer required. A 500-horsepower target will require very little boost. This can be achieved with as little as 5-9psi of boost, depending on the supercharger of your choice. The factory LS3 internals can easily handle the additional pressure that a supercharger adds. Obviously, a proper LS3 tune is always required, regardless of the claimed horsepower.
Above 500 whp, though, you may want to think about upgrading to long-tube headers. The factory exhaust manifolds provide acceptable flow, however they are hampered by the absence of merging collectors. High-rpm performance and overall flow are both improved by long-tube headers, which play to the strengths of a centrifugal supercharger.
600 Wheel Horsepower LS3
- Modifications listed above
- Water/methanol kit: $650-1,000 (Optional)
- ARP Head Studs: $300 (Optional)
- ARP Main Studs: $227 (Optional)
Surprisingly, a stock LS3 engine can handle nearly 200 extra horsepower without any noticeable degradation. In addition, there aren’t very many restrictions in this horsepower range. The standard LS3 bottom end can easily handle the loads needed to push a supercharged 6.2-liter LS3 to 600 horsepower. You needn’t worry about overloading the aluminum block and rotating assembly with excessive horsepower; they can handle numbers in the triple digits.
While the spinning assembly can handle the force, it’s smart to invest in a solid set of head studs and main stud bolts to keep it as still as possible.
The need for gasoline is still a ways off at this horsepower level. If you want to go even further, though, you might want to invest in a methanol/water injection kit. Water/methanol is a cheap and effective way to protect your supercharged LS3 from damage. By using an LS3 water/methanol kit, you can decrease the air charge temperature by 20° to 30°, the cylinder temperature by over 200°, the octane of regular pump gas by 1 point, and the risk of cylinder detonation by 1 point. It’s a safety net that’ll pay dividends at higher HP levels, but you probably won’t need it until after you break the 600rwhp barrier.
800-850+ Wheel Horsepower LS3
- Modifications listed above
- Performance Valve Springs: $100
- 1050cc Injectors: $700
- Upgraded Fuel Pump: $500-800
- E85 Flex Fuel Kit: $300
- Forged Pistons / Rods: $1,500-3,000
Some significant upgrades become necessary as horsepower is increased over 800. This is true from the perspectives of bolstering strength and maximizing performance. Some LS3 internals will start to fail as the load of producing 800rwhp approaches. However, there are plenty of examples showing that a supercharged LS3 with stock internals can produce over 800 horsepower. From a trustworthyness standpoint, however, the prognosis is not good.
For standard pistons and rods, this is close to the power ceiling. While some may want to spring for a whole set of off-the-shelf Weisco or Diamond forged pistons and rods, doing so may be challenging depending on the specifics of your design. In some cases, your construction may necessitate the use of custom pistons, which can be quite pricey.
Supercharged LS3 owners often upgrade to a bigger camshaft made specifically for use with the blower in order to get the most out of their engine. It is essential to think about the supplementary upgrades while installing a larger LS3 cam. High-performance parts, such as new valve springs, may be required to counteract the effects of high revs and reduce the possibility of valve float. Also, exhaust valves for the LS3 should be upgraded from the stock variety to something more robust against heat.
When stepping into the area of high-horsepower LS3, fueling is another important factor to think about. You’ll need larger injectors and either a larger in-tank fuel pump or a pump booster to increase the flow rate of your LS3 fuel system and meet the demands of the supercharger. LS3s with 850+ horsepower benefit from 1050cc injectors and higher octane E85 fuel.
Best 6.2L Chevy LS3 Supercharger Upgrades
The 6.2L LS3 is a popular choice for adding blowers, and thus, there are several available kits for this modification. Actually, there are so many that even listing them would take several pages. However, there are a few kits that have become firmly established in the LS community and are widely recognized by its members. Those are the sets we’ll be discussing in this article.
Several brands of centrifugal and positive-displacement pumps will be discussed as well. Kits to supercharge an LS3 can cost anywhere from $6,000 to $20,000, with the price fluctuating based on the brand, quality of construction, number of included parts, and power output.
1) A&A C6 Corvette LS3 Supercharger
We’ll begin with one of the most often used centrifugal LS3 superchargers. You have undoubtedly heard someone extol the virtues of A&A if you have ever visited the “Forced Induction” section of any Corvette forum. Additionally, it makes logical sense. It’s a great addition to a killer set. One more glaring difference sets the A&A kit apart before we go into the nuts and bolts of it. It is the only centrifugal LS3 kit that complies with emissions standards and CARB regulations. For those want to upgrade their LS3 for daily use, the A&A kit is the best bet.
For more than 15 years, A&A has been tinkering with the secret formula for the centrifugal Corvette blower. They provide excellent kits for the C5 and C7 Corvettes as well as the LS3. All of that expertise yielded a far higher-quality final product. For both of its reliable head units, A&A relies solely on Vortec. LS3s with no changes, such as factory heads and cams, should get the Si trim, whereas LS3s with mild modifications should get the Ti trim.
The A&A C6 centri supercharger kit includes everything you need to install and start using the supercharger immediately. The set has everything you need to get started, including a ram air intercooler, adjustable billet tensioner, 38 of 55mm BOV, spark plugs, and mounting hardware. All bases are covered; there are no exceptions.
The A&A kit has been proven in dyno tests with a completely stock LS3 to produce over 550 hp at modest boost levels. In most cases, that is the absolute minimum performance achievable with the stock A&A package, which means no additional work has been done to the engine’s fuel system or exhaust system.
2) Magnuson TVS2300 Heartbeat C6 Corvette LS3 Supercharger
When it comes to a more classic roots-style LS3 blower, Magnuson has you covered. As a firm more recently noted for merging old-style roots technology with a newer manner of air intake. Unlike a standard twin-screw style of PD blower, the Magnuson TVS LS3 supercharger doesn’t compress air. It simply pushes, or pumps, air into the engine via the inlet port. This results in a more efficient manner of giving boost, as air temperatures don’t rise using the TVS approach.
There are actually quite a few reasons to favor a roots-style Magnuson LS3 blower over a more modern centrifugal one. A significant element that makes the Magnuson attractive is the lack of exterior moving parts. With a roots LS3 supercharger, everything is contained within the supercharger body. The TVS replaces the standard LS3 intake manifold, pulley, and incorporates an integrated intercooler. That makes the total installation much easier. Since it is a PD LS3 supercharger, power delivery is rapid and forceful. Unlike centrifugal superchargers that peak towards the top of the rev range, LS3 roots blowers produce boost virtually immediately and continue to do so linearly through to 6,500 rpm.
As we just covered briefly, the Magnuson TVS2300 Heartbeat LS3 supercharger is the way to go for ease of installation. One of Magnuson’s major boasts is that the Heartbeat can be installed in a day for an immediate 120-horsepower boost. The Magnuson kit is the ideal solution for individuals looking for factory-like power delivery from an easy-install kit.
3) ECS LS3 NOVI 1500 Corvette C6 Supercharger Kit
East Coast Supercharging’s LS3 centrifugal kit is another another great cutting-edge alternative that brings us back to the present. When it comes to centrifugal superchargers for the LS3 engine, ECS is probably the second most popular choice behind A&A. It’s not that it’s of lower quality than A&A; it’s just not as well-known. The ECS LS3 kit may be an underdog, but it’s a tried-and-true setup that has broken several C6 community drag records.
The amount of parts and components included in both the ECS LS3 kit and the A&A Centri kit is just staggering. The package comes with nearly everything you need, from a fuel pump booster to a brand new thermostat set at 160 degrees. Pay close attention to ECS’s concentration on strength and dependability. To alleviate the burden on the LS3 belt system, the package has a billet aluminum bracket and an unique belt tensioner.
There are four distinct head units available for the ECS system, each with their own maximum output. Up to 800 rwhp may be coaxed from well-tuned LS3 engines into the base Paxton Novi 1500-SL unit. Expect between 500 and 600 horsepower with a moderate amount of boost in the base model. It has been demonstrated that NOVI centrifugal superchargers are consistently reliable throughout a wide range of outputs. When compared to a stock LS3, the ECS kit adds at least 200 horsepower and has room to grow in the future.
4) Whipple Chevy Camaro LS3 2.9L Supercharger
The 2.9L Whipple Twin-Screw roots supercharger is the most conventional of the available choices. Whipple is a veteran of the industry, having spent the last 35 years perfecting twin-screw superchargers for General Motors vehicles. You could say they have a firm grasp of the LS3’s positive displacement formula. The 2.9L twin-screw is said to be the most potent PD system available. We have no right to debate.
There are some notable performance benefits to the 2.9L displacement. The biggest benefit of a greater volume is being able to fit a larger air-to-water intercooler, which maintains far lower internal air temperatures than rival designs. Considering that heat soak is a frequent problem with twin-screw blowers, this is a major benefit. The overall volumetric efficiency of the Whipple LS3 supercharger is 99%.
The Whipple, like the Magnuson described above, is meant to be used as a complete set. The Whipple is a positive displacement LS3 supercharger, meaning it has its own oil system and replaces the factory intake manifold. Because of this, it is far simpler to set up than alternative centrifugal methods. A factory tune is not preinstalled on the 2.9L Whipple LS3 supercharger. A local tuner’s assistance is needed for this. If you want a blower that can be used right away, it’s important to know that.
Chevy LS3 Supercharger Guide Summary
The Chevrolet LS3 is a great choice for a supercharged engine. The LS3 is ideal for a blower thanks to its exceptional durability, wide range of available superchargers, and active aftermarket. The LS3’s natural tolerance for high initial horsepower levels is well-known. There are plenty of street-legal C6 Corvettes with 700 horsepower from their superchargers. While many people are tempted by stock high horsepower LS3 builds, it is wise to err on the side of caution and match an LS3 supercharger kit with quality supporting changes that will increase reliability and protect your engine.
Astoundingly, there are a plethora of LS3 blower kits available. That being said, the LS3 community has settled on a few of tried-and-true methods that consistently deliver the desired outcomes. Magnuson TVS2300 or Whipple 2.9L blowers are positive displacement LS3 blowers that will give a linear power band and effective boost across the whole rpm range. A centrifugal supercharger, such as the ones included in the A&A or ECS NOVI kits, is a better option for individuals seeking a more up-to-date solution for their LS3 engine.