These days, it seems that the LS engine is making its way into almost every car imaginable. From Fox Body Mustangs to Volvo wagons, we’re pretty sure we’ve seen, or swapped, an LS into just about everything we can think of at this point—including a lawn motor, a snowmobile and even a plane. And while we hope it will never stop, and we would put an LS is anything we can get our grubby little paws on, there are still some vehicles out there that would surprise you to know had an LS lurking under the hood—or deck lid, as the case may be.
That’s what gave us the idea to bring you this list of 10 supercars that just might surprise you to know are packing LS motivation. While there are a few you’ll recognize, we’re positive that there are some surprises in there as well—some of which even we had never heard of until now. And if this list isn’t proof that the LS power plant is a world-wide success, we don’t know what is.
While some consider the LS engine’s push rod technology to be “old school”, it turns out that some of the most advanced designers and builders around the world don’t seem to think so. In many instances, the LS was used due to its inherent durability in high-horsepower, high-stress situations and its capability to produce gobs of power with relatively minor modifications. Which brings us to the first and most powerful car on our list: the Devel Sixteen
We’re fairly certain you’ve heard of this beast by now, as we’ve covered it in the past and even done some live video streaming in front of its 12.3-liter V16 heart at the Steve Morris Engines booth at PRI 2016. But, in case you are unaware, the Devel Sixteen is a boutique supercar said to make more than 4,500 horsepower and is capable of sprinting from 0 to 60 mph in just 1.8 seconds.
When it first made its debut at the Dubai Auto Show back in 2013, many magazines, including Jalopnik and Road & Track, thought the car was a joke—or bogus at the very least. They didn’t think that anything could possibly be capable of the speed or power claimed by its creators. However, we soon learned that not only was it the real deal, it was powered by not one but two LS engines melded together and paired with not just two but four turbochargers feeding the massive mill.
While calling it two LS engines might be an oversimplification, since the crew at Steve Morris say that it is its own unique blend of components from big-blocks, small-blocks, and designs of their own, for all intents and purposes it is, in fact, based largely on the LS architecture.
There is one small problem with the Devel Sixteen, however, and that’s the fact that it debuted back in 2013 and they still haven’t gone on sale to this day. It’s rumored that they will be offered to the public at some point this year, but Devel tends to say that every year. The truth of the matter is even their website doesn’t have pictures of the mythical beast on it. Some have snapped pictures of it rolling in and out of lavish events, but no proof that the car is anywhere near production—or of its existence outside a prototype for that matter—could be found.
Regardless, based solely on its amazing engine alone, thanks to Steve Morris Engines, the Devel Sixteen had to rank first on our list. If it ever actually sees the light of day, we’ll be the first in line…to get a picture.
Hennessey Venom GT
Ah, yes. The Venom GT. One of our, and Steven Tyler of Aerosmith’s, favorite cars of all time. This might be the LS-powered supercar you are most familiar with. With its twin turbo 427 cubic inch LSX, 1,244 horsepower, and Lotus derived chassis, the car was destined for greatness right off the bat.
You may remember that the Venom GT was actually a challenger to one of the fastest supercars of all time, The Bugatti Veyron. Back in 2014, the GT actually dethroned the Veyron as the fastest production car in the world when it reached a blistering top speed of 270.49 mph—the Veyron Super Sport did a mere 268 mph. However, that claim has since been disqualified by the Guinness Book of Records since only 16 of the 29 planned Venom GTs were ever sold and the record setting run was only completed in one direction and not an average of two runs in either direction (which is apparently the standard for record setting).
However, the Venom GT still holds the Guiness World Record for the fastest accelerating production car ever, sprinting from a stand still to 186 mph in just 13.63 seconds and on to 200 mph in just 14.51 seconds. By comparison, the Koenigsegg Agera R—which has 1500 horsepower and is the next fastest production vehicle—did the same run to 200 mph in 17.68 seconds.
The car was built by Hennessey and based on the Lotus Exige chassis. If you’re lucky enough to be one of the fortunate 16 owners, rest assured that you currently own the fastest production LS-powered vehicle in existence.
The devilishly named Sin R1 has been around since 2012 but production of its road going variant didn’t take place until 2015. The Bulgarian founded and German-built supercar is powered by your run of the mill 6.2-liter LS3 producing 444 horsepower. However, since the car is so light, the LS3 rockets the car to 60 mph from a stand still in just 3.5 seconds.
We’ve seen the Sin R1 several times in person at PRI and even had a chat with the some of the guys from Racer’s Edge Motorsports who told us that they have been successfully campaigning the GT4 version of the car in the Pirelli World Challenge. That car has proved very adept in the class and is looking for an overall win this season.
We’ve never laid eyes on the road-going Sin R1 and don’t know that we ever will considering how few of these supercars are built every year. One thing we do know for certain, though, is that we could make one a lot faster if they’d give us a shot at that stock LS3.
The Falcon F7 has been around since 2012 but that doesn’t make it any less impressive to look at. And speaking of looks, you would never guess that this stunning beauty is built in Holly, Michigan, just an hour outside of Detroit. And while this car is about as domestic as it gets, its performance is anything but.
The light weight car is powered by a naturally aspirated LS7 mounted mid-ship that has been tuned to produce 620 horsepower and 585 lb-ft of torque. Considering the car is built on a custom aluminum space frame chassis and covered in light weight carbon fiber, it’s no wonder that the LS7 accelerates the featherweight to 60 mph in just 3.3 seconds and achieves a top speed around 200 mph. Its creators also claim that it can pull up to 1.3g of lateral acceleration and is capable of bringing its occupants to a standstill from 60 mph in less than 100 feet.
Unfortunately for most of us, the F7 was limited to just 10 units that sold for a cool $225,000 at the time. Much like the rest of our list, this is one LS-powered supercar you won’t see on the streets anytime soon.
The Alessi AR-1 is the personification of “what’s old is new”. Alessi, an American-based fiberglass manufacturer, originally modeled the AR-1 back in 1979 to show off at the New Your Auto Show in order to drive business for their fiberglass venture. The concept was produced to showcase how fancy the company could be with fiberglass, after which it sat around for decades.
33 years later, in 2012, Alessi decided to modernize their original concept and sell it to the public. Naturally they added Corvette brakes, suspension, and engine to the original formula. The LS3 bestowed on the car produced 600 horsepower and you could also get a twin-turbo version that makes 750—quite the upgrade from the original’s Buick V6. The AR-1 is built on a steel space frame and covered in fiberglass and just 50 examples were ever produced.
To us, it looks a bit too close to the Factory Five GTM but that wouldn’t stop us from driving one; especially if it was twin turbo’d.
Savage Rivale GTS
The Savage Riavle GTS just might one of the coolest examples of an LS-powered supercar ever. The Dutch built car is powered by a 600 horsepower LS7 and can go from 0 to 60 mph in under four seconds. Not too shabby for what is essentially a four door supercar. The interior and exterior design aesthetic give this supercar a distinguished shape and the center display case for champagne doesn’t hurt either.
The GTR version of the Rivale weighs in at just 2,270 pounds and is powered by an 800 horsepower twin turbo LS3. However, it sports just two doors, unlike the four amazing gull wing doors found on the GTS. The GTR will sprint to 60 in just 2.8 seconds and is a more track-focused variant of the GTS—obviously.
While the owner of Savage originally wanted the car to compete for a record time around the Nurburgring, no run was ever attempted. We still know relatively little about the Savage Rivale, other than its drivetrain and acceleration specifications; well, that and the fact that it looks cool as hell.
This is one LS-powered supercar that you’ve most likely heard of. And even at that, we hesitate to call it a supercar since the Ultima GTR is more of a bespoke kit car than anything else. With that said, it’s LS-powered and fast as hell, putting it pretty high up on our list.
While the Ultima GTR does require some assembly, and thus can be configured with almost any LS of your choosing, when it was optioned with the LS7 (tuned to produce 640 horsepower) the car was frankly unbeatable. It would rip off a 0 to 60 mph in just 2.6 seconds and dispatch the quarter mile in 9.9 seconds at 143 mph—no small feat for a car who’s suspension was configured mainly to turn corners.
On top of all that, the car was rumored to have completed the Nurburgring in 6 minutes and 55 seconds, making it the fastest road car to have ever lapped the Green Hell. However, those claims were never substantiated and an official lap record has never been released. And though it may have never put down a final time at the Nordschleife, the Ultima GTR did best the Ferrari Enzo and Bugatti Veyron Super Sport around the Top Gear test track by more than 6 seconds, making it the fastest car they had ever put around it.
All of this is not terribly surprising when you factor in that the car only weighed 2,183 pounds, giving it one of the best power-to-weight ratios of all time. Unfortunately, you can no longer buy the GTR kit, but Ultima is still selling cars that will accept an LS powerplant and still put plenty of smiles on any owner’s face.
SSC Ultima Aero TT
Yet another familiar face if you’ve been following along with supercars for any amount of time, the SSC Ultimate Aero TT is again one of the fastest cars ever to be produced. Before the clash of the titans that was the Bugatti Veyron vs. Hennessey Venom GT, the Ultimate Aero TT set the Guineness World record for the fastest production car after it was officially clocked in at 256.14 mph back in 2007, and continued the fight all the way to 2013.
The Ultimate Aero is powered by a somewhat unconventional LS engine. Displacing 387 cubic inches, the LS was said to be a C5R racing engine and, with the help of twin turbochargers, produced 1,183 horsepower and 1,094 lb-ft of torque when it was first released.
Similar to many of the supercars we’ve mentioned thus far, the car was a lightweight due to its mostly carbon fiber construction, weighing in at a svelte 2,750 pounds. The first iteration of the Ultimate Aero TT sold for $431,000 on eBay back in 2007. Subsequent units went for $285,000—making it a relative bargain when compared to other super- or hypercars of its pedigree.
Later versions of the Aero TT would see horsepower figures balloon to as much as 1,300 horsepower in 2013 with the production of the Ultimate Aero XT—though SSC claimed that the new engine in the XT was of their own design. Simulations and testing with NASA showed that the ultimate evolution of the car should theoretically be capable of a 273 mph top speed. However, due to inclement whether conditions, the top speed of the XT was never officially put to the test and SSC lost its record to Bugatti. Only five instances of the pinnacle Ultimate Aero were ever produced.
The Zenvo ST1 is a supercar that you should have heard of by now, but if you haven’t—well, you’re welcome. Zenvo, a Danish supercar manufacturer, rolled out their first ever piece of work back in 2009. The entire car is made entirely by hand with the exception of some help from a 5-axis CNC router.
One of the more unique things about the vehicle is the fact that it utilized a 7.0-liter, twin charged V8 to produce 1,104 horsepower and 1,050 lb-ft of torque. That right, the mill in this bad boy is actually turbo- and supercharged. Now, Zenvo claimed up and down that the 7.0-liter bullet was of their own design, but it seems odd that almost every dimension of the powerplant is identical to an LS7—coincidence? We think not.
Unfortunately, the car has been a bit of a dud in the spotlight. For example, Top Gear once tested one around their famed racing track but before they could, the car caught on fire. Eventually a replacement was sent to complete the lap and finished the task slower than a BMW M5.
Needless to say, the Zenvo ST1 is a looker but appears to be only that. In 2016, the ST1 was replaced by the confusingly name TS1, which ditched the LS7—or whatever they claim was really in there the whole time—in favor of a flat-plane crank 5.9-liter V8 fed by two centrifugal superchargers. We think that they should have stuck with the LS, but that’s just us… we’ve been known to be a bit biased.
The Evantra is a very interesting boutique supercar penned by Hungarian designer Zsolt Tarnok. Its aesthetic strikes us as a mix between the Noble M600 and the Pagani Huayra, but regardless of its origins, it is an undeniably good looking vehicle—though we could do without the cheesy blue interior. The most important part is, of course, the LS7 mounted mid-ship. It has been tweaked to produce 701 horsepower and 625 lb-ft of torque.
The healthy LS7 motivates the Evantra to 60 mph in just 3.2 seconds due to its light-weight construction—though this time aluminum was used extensively instead of carbon fiber. One of its most striking external features is its reverse opening butterfly doors that differentiate it from your run of the mill Lamborghinis and Ferraris. The car is already sitting on a set of deep dished 20-inch OZ wheels obscuring big Brembo brakes.
LS Swap The World
As we’ve shown here, the LS engine is, in fact, motivating some of the fastest and craziest supercars to ever have hit the pavement; giving the likes of Bugatti an Koenegsegg a run for their money.
While many may consider the LS’s in-block-cam design to be an anachronism, we think our list has demonstrated just the opposite. The reliability and capability of the LS to make gargantuan amounts of power put it at the top of the list for some of the world’s best boutique supercar designer and builders. Which, we’re glad to say, means that it’s not just us that think it’s one of the best engines ever produced.
We can’t wait to see what kind of platforms and applications the new LT makes it into and we’ll be back with another of these lists as soon as it does.