Chevy 350, LS, Vortec? What do all the names mean?
It can be a little confusing. It all started with the venerable Chevy small-block, which, in its most popular form was the Chevy 350. In the 1990s, GM started looking for an engine to replace the small block and settled on a clean-sheet design, known as the LS. While the LS was similar to its predecessor since it was an overhead valve V8 with similar dimensions, almost everything was new. The LS1 was debuted in the C5 Corvette. GM built upon the architecture from there and expanded the LS-derived engines into their truck line, which was branded “Vortec.” While the Vortec engines are often not as powerful as the true LS models, they gain many of the advantages of the LS engines at a fraction of the cost, thanks to massive production numbers.
The LS is the perfect engine conversion for a Land Rover Discovery. Because the Rover V8 is already very similar to a Chevy 350 with its GM origins, an LS, with its overhead valve architecture, fits smoothly into the engine bay. Other engines with overhead cam designs can be a bear to fit into the Land Rover frame. Furthermore, the LS has just about the largest aftermarket of any engine. It is easy to find engine computers, harnesses, throttle bodies, performance cams, and just about any part you could imagine. This makes it the logical choice for a Land Rover Discovery engine swap.
We often recommend using the 4.8L or 5.3L Gen 3 LS-based Vortec truck engines over a true LS engine. The reasoning behind this is because the Land Rover Discovery is closer to a truck or SUV, like a Silverado or Trailblazer, rather than a Corvette. Using the truck engine often results in a better setup for a Land Rover Discovery because the truck can benefit from the millions of dollars of R&D that GM put into designing an engine for a heavy truck rather than for a light car. That being said, a "true" LS engine can be used as well.
A lot of people ask why we don’t support the Chevy 350. The straightforward answer is because it results a less desirable end-product for around the same amount of money. The Chevy 350 is built on now-outdated architecture. While it is a fantastic engine for its time, the LS is a modern redesign of the 350, taken from the experience of learning from the 350’s faults. The LS makes more power, more reliably, while getting better fuel mileage. While a constant argument is that the 350 can be found or rebuilt cheaply, nowadays LS engines are so plentiful in junkyards that the price can be about the same. Even a 4.8L LS can make as much power as a Chevy 350 now.
Overall, the LS offers the best value and performance compared to any other engine option for a Land Rover Discovery engine swap. You can see our Land Rover Discovery LS conversion kits here.