How To Increase Horsepower With Proven Bolt Ons For Your LS Engine

By Rob Fortier – Photography by the CTP Staff

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When it comes to affordable, “bolt-on” to increase horsepower for your LS engine, the $64,000 question has always been: What’s real and what’s nothing more than snake oil? Well, believe it or not, we actually have the answer to that—and it’s rather shocking … no pun intended! We upgrade a Chevy LS ignition to boost horsepower with Granatelli Motor Sports coils and wires.

03 LS valve cover and High-Performance Spark plug wires from Granatelli Motor Sports
Our subject matter for today’s bolt-on horsepower boost segment: Granatelli Motor Sports’ Malevolent Series LS coil packs, OE-replacement, high performance spark plug wires and cast-finish LS valve cover kit.

When it comes to the LS family of powerplants most don’t complain when it comes to factory performance. But we’re not most people, and any opportunity we get to bolster what’s under the hood, we take advantage! That said, when it came to the 5.3 Vortec powering Jason Scudellari’s Bumpside (yes, you read that correctly!) it already had an ample amount of boost in the form of ProCharger’s D1X supercharger—putting out 18 pounds of boost at 7,500 rpm, it was already producing a not-so-modest 1,000-plus horsepower. Word on the street had it that by simply swapping the LS coil packs and wires could garner an additional 15-30 more horsepower … at least.

04 LS Valve cover for a small block chevys
Along with silicone gasket and mounting hardware, the Granatelli LS valve covers feature an integrated internal oil baffle.

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Well, that word came from just off Highway 101 in Ventura, California—home to Granatelli Motor Sports, manufacturers of the Malevolent and Pro Extreme Series of LS/LT performance ignition coils and 0-ohm OEM replacement high-performance spark plug wires. According to owner JR Granatelli, LS & LT engine owners can expect a “minimum” gain of 8-12 hp with the smaller cubic-inch stock engines—and the bigger they get, the more horsepower achieved. Throw on a turbo or supercharger and those numbers continue to climb (simple fact being, the more need for more spark, the more the coil packs can deliver).

05 Catch can system for an LS engine
If you take a closer look at the second lead image, you’ll notice an Earl’s male -8 AN x male 1/2 NPT fitting; part of our installation entails the facilitation of an oil bypass recovery system to accommodate the supercharger’s 17 pounds of boost! On the valve cover side, that required the drilling/tapping of a 1/2 NPT hole top center …

In a nutshell, Granatelli’s OBD-II safe 5-state legal LS plug wires are, as JR put it, “like jumper cables for the coils and plugs,” manufactured to increase power from coil to plug in upwards of 400 percent! With the average stock LS, the wires alone can net in the neighborhood of the aforementioned 8-12 hp; increase the demand for more spark with a forced induction system, and that horsepower gain jumps up to the higher-rent 12-15hp neighborhood! With the addition of Granatelli’s 85,000V Malevolent Series ignition coil packs (50-state legal), stock/naturally aspirated engines can expect an additional 15hp increase, with the forced-induction applications more in the 35hp range. That’s some serious word on the street, if we’ve ever heard—so we had to see for ourselves if there was any truth to these shocking claims!

06 Oil bypass recovery system to accomodate the supercharger
If you take a closer look at the second lead image, you’ll notice an Earl’s male -8 AN x male 1/2 NPT fitting; part of our installation entails the facilitation of an oil bypass recovery system to accommodate the supercharger’s 17 pounds of boost! On the valve cover side, that required the drilling/tapping of a 1/2 NPT hole top center …

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So, instead of simply bolting on said coils and wires and report back to you, Scudellari went a step further: He also obtained Granatelli’s LS valve covers, which he modified to utilize an oil breather/catch can system to accommodate the ProCharger’s boost output. Following the bolt-on procedures, the truck was taken to Westech for a “formal” verification, which ultimately made JR a man of his word with a total combined 35hp increase, upping Scudellari’s real-world, rear-wheel output to 1,043!

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07 Black anodized AN fitting for an LS valve cover
… and installing a black anodized -8 fitting, as such.
08 AN fitted LS Valve cover powdercoated Granatelli Motor Sports
While Granatelli offers the LS valve covers already powdercoated, knowing we’d be making a bit of a mess prior to installation, we started with the plain cast versions and simply had them coated “post mess”!
09 Valve cover gasket for a small block Chevy
Valve cover gasket sealing made easy—too easy! Sure be nice if small block Chevys were designed this way from the get-go.
10 Mounting the LS valve cover on the LS engine
Before the gasket-prepped LS valve covers were bolted onto the engine, Jason Scudellari pre-fit the stand-off rubber mounting seals.
11 Granatelli LS valve covers plug and play
No “messing” with tacky gaskets or the like—literal plug-and-play straightforward install procedure here!
12 LS engine with new Granatelli LS valve covers
No “messing” with tacky gaskets or the like—literal plug-and-play straightforward install procedure here!
13 Granatelli LS coils for the ignition upgrade
And there’s no science behind the mounting of the Granatelli LS coils, either—since they’re direct OE replacements, they mount onto stock LS valve covers with no modifications and/or adapters. Unlike the OE coils though (which are 50 kV), the Malevolent Series pack a whopping 65 kV to the plug!
14 OE style coils with the Malevolent series
And there’s no science behind the mounting of the Granatelli LS coils, either—since they’re direct OE replacements, they mount onto stock LS valve covers with no modifications and/or adapters. Unlike the OE coils though (which are 50 kV), the Malevolent Series pack a whopping 65 kV to the plug!
15 High performance spark plug wires for the ignition upgrade
The 0-ohm resistance/zero RFI/EMI interference LS plug wires are, as the manufacture likes to put it, “like jumper cables from the coils to the plugs. In other words, they’re more than capable of amply carrying double the factory voltage to the spark plugs.
16 Catch can system with ignition upgrade on this LS engine
All said … and almost done! While the ignition portion of the job is complete, Scudellari still has to tend to the oil breather/catch can system. (The injector rail sheetmetal cover was custom-fabbed prior to the ignition upgrade.)
17 LS valve cover connected to Earl's Ultra Pro AN for the catch can
Using Earl’s Ultra Pro -8 bulk hose, Scudellari marked his length from each LS valve cover port (with each respective PTC fitting assembly preinstalled) to his intended location on the firewall for the catch can.
18 Cutting Ultra Pro to fit the LS engine
Since the Ultra Pro is nylon braided, rather than stainless, it’s much easier to cut, and as such the trimming was done using a band saw.
19 Oil line AN catch can connector fittings for an LS valve cover
With the oil lines cut to length, the -8 catch can connector fittings installed appropriately, and …
20 Catch can system mounted on the firewall for an LS engine
… oil recovery system completed. Now it was off to Westech Performance for an official “horsepower gain” verification, which, in the end, turned out to be a total combined 35-plus horsepower, upping the supercharged LS’s rear-wheel number to 1,043 hp!

Granatelli Motor Sports
(805) 486-6644
granatellimotorsports.com

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