I should be getting my Tahoe back from the paint shop soon and now I want to start thinking about performance mods. It’s an ‘02 5.3 L59 (don’t know if the block is iron or aluminum) with 200k miles. Here are my goals:
1. A spectacle: I’m not into the whole “sleeper” thing. I want this thing to stand out
Then paint it pink with lime green stars. Put a taxidermy leopard on the hood and 14 purple ****** sticking out of the grill (just so people get out of the way). Were talking about an engine right? Not sure what you are trying to have stand out.
2. Ridiculous: I’m the king of overkill. I want this thing to be unique and over the top. My baseline goal for phase 1 is 500 whp but a platform that I can continue to build on, just as long as I can reasonably achieve number 3, which is...
FI. Build it up right, spend the extra money, and you will be able to go from 500 to much higher with very little (relatively). OR, you could be one of the few that might want a …………..
3. Value: I’m willing to throw some money at this build so long as I get reasonable HP/torque gains in return.
FI. Spend the extra money, build it up right, and plan for higher boost from the start.
4. Low end: I want this thing to launch off the line with solid torque throughout the entire band. I don’t want a high revving motor whose torque kicks in at 3500. I also want to be able to tow a nice size load.
That's supercharger not a turbo, OR...……….
5. Daily driver manners and reliability: I don’t plan to take this to the track and I don’t want a finicky truck. I just want it to be a blast to drive on 91-93 pump gas.
6. Gas mileage: I mean, come on..
But how bad are you willing to be? Is this a daily driver, that you are cool with cutting your tank range in half, or can we get past the 8.1?
So that isn’t too much to ask for, right? Lolz
I’m tossing around the idea of swapping in a used Vortec 8.1 with a Raylar stage 2 head/cam/intake kit. That should produce 525 hp with 585 tq naturally aspirated. Then I could add a Raylar (Whipple) supercharger later in phase two.
For me, its the mileage thing. I'll stop bringing it up, but you should at least figure out how many miles you drive a year, figure out how much you have spent in fuel, and then double it. That's partly to do with you putting your foot down more.
I know there isn’t a huge community around the 8.1 like there is the 5.3, but there does seem to be a cult following. Plus I just think it would be cool—you don’t see many 8.1 Tahoes.
There is a reason for both of those things. As said by another poster, Do you want to utilize the engine technology of the old-school racers from the 60s (that were getting 8mg and about 130-150hp from big blocks), ORRRRR... Do you want to utilize the Gen III/IV+ LS engine crowd racers (camaros, corvettes, firebirds, trans ams, LS1, LS2) that have done what you want. you can use to upgrade your parts such as using Gen IV rods to upgrade the Gen III rods. There is SO much more that's been done, that's going to be cheaper, quicker, more reliable, and readily available.
The downsides are my gas mileage would SUCK, I would be more limited on both GM and aftermarket parts, and it’s definitely not cheap. I’m anticipating 2k for used motor, 6k for Raylar build, $2k for ancillary/labor. And that’s before I get into the exhaust or transmission (I’m thinking I’ll swap in a 4L80?).
That's more than a 5.3 or 6.0 build would cost. I would expect a 5.3/6.0 to be more reliable
Or could I check most of my boxes for far less money by building out and supercharging my 5.3? I’m concerned that it has 200k on it. I want this thing to last forever! How do I know if it’s in good enough shape to invest in?
YES you could. Take it to an engine builder and have them do it. Or even better have one built up and installed. SPEAKING AS SOMEONE WHO CAN NOT DO IT, HAS NEVER DONE IT, AND PROBABLY NEVER WILL, (I'm only half-full of shit if I admit it up front), but swapping an engine should only take about a day once its ready. Then sell the (did you have a 5.3?) for I see them about $750-$800 complete.
I’m obviously pretty clueless. Any input is much appreciated.