Written by Brett Foote

Life might get in the way, but nothing will stop one LS1 Tech member from building his dream C3 Corvette.One of the many alluring reasons to complete an LS swap? Cost. There are just so many of these things out there that you can pick them up at virtually any corner junkyard on the cheap. So when you drive something like, say a C3 Corvette, there’s really no compelling reason not to throw an LS in it. Especially when you consider the fact that many Corvettes from this generation are just dogs, despite their light weight. Throw in a modern powerplant, and you’ve got a real budget build that moves.And cost was the main driving factor behind LS1 Tech member User-c3‘s decision to source an LS for his 1978 C3 Corvette a few years back. But he also wanted something that drove and rode like a modern car. Not like something from one of the more dreadful periods in automotive history.“The goal – build the baddest 1978 C3 Corvette I could with the least amount of money spent overall. I have had this car for almost two years now, and was just tired of the lack of power and horrible freeway driveability the C3 Corvette is known for. So I decided to do something about it. I didn’t want to spend a whole lot of money and knew I was going to do everything myself.”Work on the Corvette was already well underway before this decision was even made. The OP addressed the ride with a VBP four-way adjustable suspension with Bilstein shocks. He then sourced a 5.3-liter from a truck, but suddenly a much better opportunity presented itself.“By chance I found a crashed ’99 Trans Am WS6 model still in excellent shape with very low miles. It was also a California car with the plates still on it. The car only had some damage to the quarters and passenger side rocker panel. I started pulling everything out and holding onto all the wiring, and anything and everything I thought I would need or want. I sold off everything else. Needless to say, I made money selling the 5.3 I picked up, coming out just about even on the Trans Am deal with everything I need for the swap. It really just cost me a couple weeks of after work labor and a bit of out of pocket expense.”After fabbing up a custom harness bar, parts started rolling in. The OP sourced a Holset HX-55 turbocharger and finished stripping the Trans Am down to a shell.Next came the engine swap and fuel system. A custom sump pan and some tinkering with the oil pan solved some inevitable clearance issues. And things started moving along rather quickly.“Also got more done. Pan drilled, tapped, and installed drain port for the turbo oil line. New clutch and flywheel from ATS. Mounted fuel tank and fuel pump setup. Everything bolted back in – motor, trans, driveshaft. Radiator in and now down to the wire connections and some fuel lines.”And just like that, time for a shakedown run!For a few months, the OP just drove and enjoyed his refreshed ride, sans turbo. But things like a motorcycle build and home remodel slowed down the fab work a bit. As did numerous fitment issues. But he persevered and compensated with some pretty impressive fabrication skills.Sadly, life got in the way and several years passed with no updates. But then, the C3 Corvette build that wouldn’t die resurfaced last year. And just like that, the OP got to work fabbing some new headlights and various other bits. Flared fenders, wider wheels and tires, and a new hood finally gave the old ‘Vette a more menacing, restomod look to match its guts.Despite the OP’s thoughts of selling the car, he just can’t bring himself to do it. He’s simply having too much fun driving it, and we’re having too much fun watching him build it. Be sure and check out the entire build thread here, and chime in with some encouragement to keep it going!Join the LS1Tech forums now — FREE!Tags: 1978, C3 Corvette, LS(, LS1 Tech Builds, Trans Am, ws6

Date written: November 6, 2017

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