Awhile back I read on [insert redacted Gawker-owned site here] about how they bought a smashed up Chevrolet Express 1500 for some cheap sum, parted it out, and netted themselves a “free” LS-block V8.
For some reason I didn’t link this up at the time to the L76. The L76/L77 are the mainstay of the Pontiac G8, Caprice PPV, and Commodore VE/VF – effectively, it’s the Zeta platform’s V8 engine of choice. In case you’re wondering, for the Camaro they splurged and went with a full LS3 – same as the Pontiac G8 GXP and Chevrolet SS.
The Chevy Express (and its twin the GMC Savana), from 2010 onward, use the GM L96 as the default V8 engine. It is still in production at GM’s powertrain manufacturing plant in Mexico, alongside the L77 engine for older GM cars (such as the Caprice PPV and Holden Statesman).
The only other V8 offered is a Duramax 6.6L V8 – the only Duramax engine aside from the new-generation Colorado Diesel that is really sold today. I’m only pointing that out so you don’t buy a wrecked Express and take it home to find out it’s diesel… That was sarcasm, by the way.
From the looks of it, the L96 is effectively identical to the L76, but for the loss of Active Fuel Management (AFM, or DoD – Displacement on Demand), and the addition of E85 support.
The way I see it, that’s a win-win. Some G8 GT owners blame AFM-derived vibration for the loss of cylinders past 100,000 miles. Holden avoided using AFM for the most part on the Commodore, but it was required to meet emissions demands in the United States. For the record, I believe GM resolved these issues by the time the 2010 Camaro shipped – the LS3 doesn’t seem to have the same AFM issues like L76 did.
Both engines are Generation IV small block LS engines. They’re a hybrid of the LS2 and LS3 – with key components from each. The L96, L76, and L77 are all LS2-based engines, that combine LS2 small blocks with LS3 technology, fuel injectors, and cams (literally) overlaid on top.
There’s one more important engine to consider, and that’s the L98. This is what Holden used in place of the L76 from 2008 to 2010 in manual-transmissions Commodore VE’s. The only difference I can find between the L98 and L96, are E85 injectors added to the L96. The two engines appear to be identical, otherwise. The L96 started up in 2010, immediately after the L98 was discontinued – so they likely are one and the same. That makes for great swapping potential!
In theory, at least, the Zeta ECU’s should speak to the L96 engine without any retuning required. Both the L76 and L96 have identical horsepower ratings on regular gasoline. I am not sure how the Zeta ECU would handle E85 ethanol, but the injectors would at least be all set for it.
The only downside to parting out a wrecked Chevy Express to net a “free” L96, is that GM decided to only offer the L96 on the Express 2500 & 3500. The Express 1500 stuck with the older 5.3L V8, which I believe was based on an LS1. So, you’re going to have to do a lot more parting out work – or find a better deal, to pull off a “free” L96 engine.
So… anyone considered this swap for a G8 that blows its engine? Can’t say I’m not starting to monitor the junked 2010+ Chevy Express’s and GMC Savanas in my area for a good rear-ended candidate.
Plus, an L96 with an LSA supercharger would at least be interesting, if not a first.