TALK SHOP: Engine Swaps with Industry Pro John Potucek

Stuffing oversized engines under the hood is like a rite of passage in the world of hot rodding. As excited as you may be to have a mean-looking mega blower, always remember these three golden rules before jumping into engine swaps. We caught up with John Potucek for details. After all, he’s a LS-swap king, life-long grudge racer and speed & performance team leader for the Product Master Data group at Keystone Automotive Operations, Inc.

“Show Me the Money”

Potucek Engine Bay “The biggest thing is budget. Whatever that number is in your head at the beginning, just go ahead and double it. Or add a couple grand at the very least,” said Potucek. “If a shop needs to be involved then the budget will be 2-3 times more. A basic LS swap is typically between $2,000-$3,000. I can see shops charging $6,000-$7,000 with parts and labor,” he added.

“And expect a different timeline too because shops that are good at what they do are usually booked a year out. Plus you have to take into account the amount of time they’ll actually have your ride. Make sure to research the shop before committing. They should be able to provide references or pictures of their work. And if this is their first swap then don’t let yours be the test dummy,” he continued.

“Another big thing, visit the shop and judge for yourself. Trust the shop that has a clean and professional setup. They are the ones who will stand by their work if a year down the line you have a wiring issue or something else needs to be adjusted,” said Potucek.

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

Second, “You’re not going to do something that someone else didn’t already do or discover something that hasn’t been tried; if you found a short cut, there’s likely a reason why people aren’t doing it. So follow a proven recipe for success. One of the best ways to do that is to do a lot of research on the forums before even starting,” continued Potucek.

Shop Beforehand

Next, and this is super important and often overlooked, “Make a shopping list and line up everything you need for the build. That includes notes about motor mounts, wiring and if the computer needs to be reflashed,” said Potucek. “And get all that you need before you start a thing. If you have everything just waiting to go in, then it helps big time. You won’t have wires and old parts sitting around the garage waiting for new parts to come in,” he added.

Potucek Motor Install“When I put my motor together in the fall, I pulled everything out on a Friday evening and was driving it by Sunday. Doing a swap and installing a turbo can be a weekend job 1) especially if it’s a LS or Honda, 2) if you’re prepared and 3) if you know what you’re doing. These projects tend to go really wrong with poor planning or when the budget gets blown. And then things get sold off, which is a shame,” he concluded.

True words of wisdom from a pro. Check back with us at The Engine Block later today. Because we’re going to bring you some of the industry’s most insane engine swaps!

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