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The LS3 engine from General Motors ultimately served to replace the LS2 in the base model Corvette and was still in the same engine family, the Gen IV V8 small blocks.
The LS3 did provide a considerable increase in volume, at 6.162L compared with the 5.967L offered by the LS2. This increase in displacement along with other key features such as the high flow heads, high flow fuel injectors, and increased compression ration resulted in an impressive 30 horsepower over the LS2 in its Corvette offerings.
The LS3 was initially available in the base model Corvette and has also been available in the Pontiac G8, Camaro SS, and the Chevrolet SS domestically, while internationally being available for several Holden applications in addition to the Vauxhall VXR8.
As mentioned, the North American introduction of the LS3 was in the Corvette in 2008 with the engine remaining available as the base model Corvette offering until 2013, a rather long stint in comparison to some of the previous Corvette offerings. The same year the LS3 was made available to Vauxhall owners as well as in several Holden models.
In 2009 the LS3 was added as an option for the Pontiac G8 for one year, and then in 2010 it became the engine of choice for the Camaro SS and is still available in this application.
In addition this was added to the Chevrolet SS in 2014, a North America rendition of the Holden VF Commodore. This engine can also be purchased as a crate engine directly from General Motors with a MSRP of $7,760. This engine was and still is very popular for its power and strength.
LS3 Performance Specs
As mentioned, the LS3 is a very powerful engine, especially for a naturally aspirated engine at the time of its introduction. From the initial offering in the Corvette, this engine could be purchased in a package capable of outputting 430 horsepower at 5900 RPM and 424 lb-ft at 4600 RPM.
This engine is 6.162 L, or 376 cubic inches, but is generally referred to as 6.2L. The stroke is common with the LS2 at 3.62 inches, but the extra displacement is found through the increase in bore to 4.06 inches. The increase in bore size further enhances the compatibility with heads from various heads from other LS series engines.
Head and Block Construction
The LS3 engine is constructed of aluminum alloy block and heads. One special note about the LS3 block is that it was designed considerably stronger that many of the other LS engines with thicker walls. Due to its strength, the LS3 block was later used in the LS9 for the ZR1 engine, a very high output supercharged engine.
Common with many of the other LS engines, the pistons are constructed of hypereutectic aluminum alloy. The hypereutectic construction reduces the thermal expansion of the piston and allows for a tighter fit in design between the cylinder and the piston. The LS3 uses a conventional push rod overhead valve (OHV) valve train. The valve architecture uses 2 valves, 1 intake and 1 exhaust per cylinder.
The introduction of the LS3 was a big step up for the Gen IV family. This 6.2L engine offered an extra 30 horsepower over its predecessor in the base model Corvette. This engine was also well known for having a very strong block, so much so that its block was used later in the LS9 application.
These features combined with many other performance enhancing characteristics are a major reason why this engine is still used today in the Camaro SS as well as for purchase in crate engines.