Celebrating 15 years of LS power into Jaguar cars – Part 1
Or time flies when you’re having (LS) fun
As 2023 is actually upon us, I realized the other day that a major milestone in Jaguar Specialties has arrived as well. It has actually been 15 years now (!!!) that we have been helping our customers put LS power into their Jags. Hundreds of projects later, it’s been great fun. But wow, where did the time go?? And the story of how we got here is maybe interesting as well. Way back in late 2006 I was finishing up our work on XJ40 V8 conversions (the XJ6 built from 1988-1994, but that was with small block Chevy engines, not LS….). At that point, customers had been frequently pinging us to look into the LS engine for Jags (particularly the XJS, but also the Series 1-2-3 XJ6 cars as well), but it wasn’t a simple request. Remember, in 2006, the LS engine was barely 9 years old – it came out in 97 in the Corvette, 98 in the Camaro, and 99 in the Chevy/GMC trucks. The LS aftermarket and knowledge base then were tiny so any Jag-LS project would literally be a major undertaking. At the same time, I decided I wanted an XJ6C (the 2 door coupe version of the Series 2 XJ6 sedan) and started looking for a car. A conversation with a customer suggested using LS power and the seed was planted. I started looking for a good coupe, a process that led to a lot of less-than-described “cream puffs” (including one semi-celebrity car, allegedly once owned by Pauly Shore’s mother….) and finally to an interesting 1975 model just 20 miles from our shop. This unusual car was very custom with a molded in body kit, wire wheels, and a very vintage (Mundorf, carbureted) Chevy V8 conversion. It was the perfect candidate. Here are some pics of the car as it came in.
It seemed like a good starting point- a reasonable conclusion would be that since the car was already V8 converted, at least some of the existing conversion hardware could be used for the LS project. That would remain to be seen, and the next order of business was finding a good donor. LS engines were gigantically expensive then but wrecked LS cars not so much so. After a little looking, I found a good running (but heavily wrecked) 98 Camaro Z28 and we had our first LS donor. Here is a pic of that gem..
And the work began right away. The whole time I had been reading all I could about LS swapping, scouring the internet, and talking to everyone I thought had any good experience to share. Again, this was still early in the life of the LS world. So I did what you do when working on a new type of conversion: I bought every different LS oil pan available to try (time consuming and expensive…..), a half dozen different types of OE GM exhaust manifolds (block hugger headers would never work, and custom headers were out of the question due to cost…..), and other various and assorted LS pieces. The UPS and Fedex delivery guys seemed to live at our shop-almost. Finally, after a couple of months, the right combination of pieces became clear and the car was going together. Like our other conversions, everything had to be a bolt in, and we relied heavily on off-the-shelf components where possible with a minimum of custom pieces. Towards the late summer of 2007 I had a running/driving LS1 powered XJ6C and it came out nicely. As a side note, almost nothing of the original (Chevy small block) conversion was usable for the LS- the driveshaft was the only thing reworked and reused. Below is a pic of that first fit (with a goal of designing around a standard GM LS1 accessory drive to keep costs low) and an underhood pic of that completed car, ready for some miles.
And those first miles went great- I loved the car (and still do- I still have it…). After a few months it was clear we had a good LS package here and the first kits started going out. With the great similarity among the XJ6 Series 1, 2, and 3 cars, the work we did on this car applied very closely to all the models, with some adjustments here and there. And we were off and running..
And be sure to have a look at the Jaguar-LSx Gallery on our website- these are all completed cars, built over the years by both us and customers, all using our parts:.
Jaguar LSx Gallery-
Coming in Part 2- Why haven’t you done this for an XJS yet?????