Shafiroff’s Budget Friendly Real Street LS3 Engine Package

If you have been in the performance industry for very long, the Shafiroff name will undoubtedly ring a bell. Scott Shafiroff, the owner of Shafiroff Racing, has been building high-performance engines for almost 50 years. And while it has assembled everything from monstrous cubic-inch racing powerplants to mild-mannered small blocks, its attention to detail has never taken a back seat in the process.

One of the more popular combinations Shafiroff Racing has built over the years is its 540 cubic-inch big-block Chevrolet engines, with over 5,000 units sold. And while the company is known for creating traditional small- and big-block engines –both Ford and Chevrolet –they started working in the LS market back in 2006. Shafiroff said, “We had a lot of chassis shops and hotrod shops in the northeast that wanted LS engines, so we started building them, and we were impressed with the engine right from the beginning. It’s just a great design, and the power is remarkable when compared to a small-block Chevy.”

Shafiroff’s Real Street LS3 engine starts its life off as a GM Performance LS3 crate engine. The team will tear the engine down to check clearances before reassembling the engine with performance components.

Enter The LS

As you can imagine, Shafiroff Racing has built some wild LS engines over the years, and even offers a dedicated tab on its website specifically for LS and LT combinations. There you can find complete drag race combinations, pump gas engines, long blocks, short blocks, and just about everything in between. And while we love massive cubic-inch LS high-performance platforms, they are almost always associated with big dollars, which can be a problem for budget-minded enthusiasts.

When we caught wind of Shafiroff’s latest offering, we got excited — and not because of another exotic big-inch high-dollar LS engine that most of us can only dream of purchasing, Shafiroff built the engine that most LS enthusiasts will want and at an affordable price.

Shafiroff uses precision instruments like these dial indicators to measure every aspect of the engine to expose any problems that may exist before assembly.

“Any engine that we build from scratch in-house, you’re looking at over $10,000 at bare minimum,” Shafiroff explained. “Many of the guys out there will buy a GM crate engine and then spend a lot of money changing out some of the components to make it better, but they don’t know if the combination is right. So, I wanted to develop a package that we could sell for well under $10,000, and we did.”

Shafiroff’s Real Street LS3

Shafiroff’s plan for the Real Street LS3 was a solid one: in this case, he would start with a GM Performance LS3 crate engine to keep the cost at a minimum and build from there. And if you’re not familiar with these engines, you may not realize that the LS3 has all of the right parts and offers an aluminum block with six-bolt caps and a nodular iron crank with a 58-tooth reluctor wheel. The short block also houses a set of powdered metal Gen IV connecting rods attached to a set of Hypereutectic aluminum pistons, which have proven very durable over the years.

After a custom Comp camshaft is installed in the LS3, Shafiroff dials it in with a degree wheel to make sure everything is perfect.

Teardown

When building a Real Street LS3, the first order of business for Shafiroff is to take the engine down to a short block. The team starts by removing the valvetrain and heads before extracting the harmonic damper, front cover, timing set, and camshaft. With the parts out of the way, it’s time for the upgrades. But first, the engine tolerances will get checked out. Shafiroff said, “General Motors is good, but they’re not always perfect. So we check rod side clearance, torque figures, and make sure everything is up to snuff.”

The team meticulously checks piston to valve clearance on each cylinder before the assembly process to ensure adequate margin.

The aftermarket parts that Shafiroff uses for this affordable engine increase horsepower and add durability, giving the customer the best of both worlds compared to a factory crate engine.

All of the nice stuff that someone would want to do to a crate engine, we do it for them. – Scott Shafiroff

Camshaft

One of the key components of this combination is the camshaft. Shafiroff designed a custom cam and then had COMP Cams grind the unique bump stick known as the SSRE Hydraulic “Street Roller” camshaft. The crew will then install the new cam in the short block as the engine starts to take shape again. But this custom grind has some mystic about it, as Shafiroff was unwilling to share the details with us. “Ehhhh, that’s a slippery slope,” he chuckled. “Everyone has their own opinion on camshafts, and we like to keep that one under our hat. It’s certainly not a radical design, but we like to keep the number to ourselves. So let’s just say it’s the right cam for this particular combination, and we offer it in two versions: one for carburetors and one for fuel injection.”

Valve spring height is checked out before the heads are reassembled with conical springs and lightweight retainers.

The Rebuild

With the SSRE camshaft installed in the LS3, Shafiroff attaches it to the GM crankshaft with a new three-bolt Rollmaster steel billet timing set with an IWIS roller chain before it degrees the combination for maximum horsepower. A GM blueprinted oil pump will then be installed before replacing the front cover.

In this image, you can see the reassembled L92 68cc aluminum heads ready to be reinstalled on the engine.

However, with the addition of the new cam, high-performance springs are a must. With the camshaft locked down, Shafiroff will place a set of Hi-Rev hydraulic roller lifters before reinstalling the GM L92 68cc chamber aluminum heads. Comp Cams’ conical springs and Ultra-Lite retainers are utilized to finish off the heads before they are sealed to the block with GM MLS Head Gaskets and ARP head bolts.

GM Multi-Layer Steel (MLS) head gaskets are used with ARP hardware to seal and secure the heads to the block.

Shafiroff Real Street LS3 Specs:

  • GM Performance LS3 Aluminum Block With Six-Bolt Caps
  • GM Performance Nodular Iron Crank With 58-Tooth Reluctor Wheel
  • GM Performance Powdered Metal Gen IV Rods
  • Hypereutectic Aluminum Pistons
  • SSRE/Comp Cams Custom Hydraulic “Street Roller” Camshaft
  • Camshaft Degreed & Set For Maximum Power
  • Hi-Rev Hydraulic Roller Lifters With Preload Set
  • Rollmaster Billet Timing Set With IWIS Chain
  • GM L92 68cc Aluminum Heads
  • Comp Cams Conical Springs With Lightweight Retainers
  • Manley Chrome Moly .080-inch Wall Pushrods
  • GM MLS Head Gaskets
  • ARP Head Bolt Kit
  • GM Blueprinted Oil Pump
  • GM Cast Aluminum F-Body Oil Pan With Windage Tray
  • GM Aluminum Front Cover with Seal
  • GM Aluminum Rear Cover with Seal
  • GM LS3 Rocker Arms with Trunnion Bushing Kit
  • GM Harmonic Balancer with Camaro Style Pulley
  • Holley Valve Covers (Polished or Black)
  • GM Cam and Crank Sensors Installed
  • Engine Oil System Is Primed
  • Dyno Proven Horsepower
  • GM Two-Year/24,000-Mile Warranty
  • 6 Quarts Lucas 5W20 Break-In Oil

After the heads are torqued down to spec, it’s time to start on the valve train. The first step is to install a trunnion kit in the factory rockers to replace the needle bearings. Then the correct lifter preload is set by using the proper length Manley pushrods. Finally, a set of Holley valve covers are used to seal the valve train off and are available in a powder-coated black finish or polished aluminum.

If someone is looking for an engine in the 600 horsepower range and they don’t want to spend $13,000 on a custom-built unit, this is a fantastic alternative. – Scott Shafiroff

Before the Real Street LS3 is ready to ship, Shafiroff installs the GM cam and crank sensors and primes the engine, making for one less thing the owner needs to worry about before starting their new powerplant. SSRE also includes 6 quarts of break-in oil, making for one less item you need to pick up at the parts store. And this engine is covered by a two-year or 24,000-mile warranty.

Shafiroff uses a fourth-gen F-body oil pan on the Real Street LS3 since it fits in various vehicles.

Power By Numbers 

On the dyno, the Shafiroff LS3 Real Street engine is stout. In fact, it amazed Shafiroff himself.

“What really surprised me about this combination is how much power the engine made. I was hoping to produce 575 horsepower with a small cam. Of course, I still wanted the cam to sound good, but it had to offer excellent drivability, but it isn’t big by any means. However, with the engine on the dyno and an APD 950 CFM 4150 carburetor, the engine immediately went over 600 horsepower. I was really impressed!”

The rocker arms are also upgraded with a trunnion bushing kit before being installed in the engine. 

The Shafiroff combination is impressive because it cranked out 605 horsepower at 6,600 RPM and 510 lb-ft of torque at 5,400 RPM with a carburetor and Trick Flow intake manifold. And since the engine comes as a long block, the consumer can choose to run a carbureted setup or fuel injection depending on their wants and needs.

But Wait, There’s More…

There are still a couple of things you need to know about the Real Street LS3. First, some options are still on the table. Shafiroff said, “We can sell the long block as is, or we can upgrade it with a carburetor and intake and make it as complete as the customer wants.” Secondly, when ordering an engine from Shafiroff, it covers the freight for you if you’re in the lower 48 states, saving you hundreds of dollars on shipping charges.

The Real Street LS3 engine comes to your door with a primed oil system, six quarts of Lucas 5W20 Break-In oil, and a GM two-year/24,000-mile warranty.

If you’re in the market for a 600-plus horsepower engine that’s better than what GM offers, you will be hard-pressed to find a better deal than Shafiroff Racing’s Real Street LS3. This engine has all of the right components to make it dependable for years to come and enough power to take care of most enthusiasts. Plus, it’s assembled by one of the most renowned engine builders in the country and can be yours for $8,995.00 delivered to your door.

For more information on this LS engine and others, be sure to visit Shafiroff.com.

Article Sources

About the author

Brian Havins

A gearhead for life, Brian is obsessed with all things fast. Banging gears, turning wrenches, and praying while spraying are just a few of his favorite things.
Read My Articles

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