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Cylinder Heads

Port Design Cylinder head interchangeability enables great parts mixing to build custom LS engine combinations, but the heads must be matched with intake manifolds that have compatible intake port configurations. The port sizes and shapes include:

Cathedral port – Introduced on the LS1 engine and used also on the LS6 and LS2, cathedral-port heads are named for the unique shape of the top of the intake port. Intake manifolds for LS1, LS2, LS6 and Vortec engines with cathedral-port heads are mostly interchangeable.

Rectangular port – LS7-style – The second LS intake runner design debuted on the Corvette Z06’s LS7 engine. This rectangular design supports the straight-through airflow design of the heads. They feature 270cc intake ports and the ports and combustion chambers are CNC-ported from the factory. Use only with the LS7 intake manifold.

Rectangular port – L92 style – Similar to the LS7 design, but the ports are a little taller and a little narrower. They flow more than cathedral-port heads, but not as much as LS7 heads. In addition to the L92 6.2L engines, this port shape is also used on LS3 engines and some 6.0L truck engines, as well as the Corvette ZR1’s LS9 and Cadillac CTS-V’s LSA supercharged engines. Intake manifold bolt patterns are unique to this port design.

C5R heads – These heads pioneered the rectangular-port design, but because they are designed for professional finishing, their final shape and size depends on whoever is performing the porting.

Head-to-Block Compatibility
Because of their comparatively small bores – 3.89 inches – LS1 and LS6 engines can only use LS1, LS6 and LS2 heads. Using heads designed for larger engines will cause the valve-to-block interference. The larger, 4.00-inch bore of the LS2 enables it to use LS1/LS6 heads, as well as L92-style heads (including LS3, LS9 and LSA engines). The 6.2L engines (LS3, L92, etc.) can use any head except for the LS7 and C5R, while the 7.0L LS7 and C5R blocks can use any LS-series head. LS7 blocks should be matched with heads designed for at least 4.10-inch bores; and 4.125-inch bores are preferred.

Most LS production cylinder blocks share the came cylinder head bolt pattern and the same size head bolts – four 11mm bolts per cylinder (10 in total) and five upper, 8mm bolts. Early LS1 and LS6 engines used different-length 11mm bolts, but engines from 2004 and later use same-length bolts. LS9 engines use stronger, 12mm head bolts.

Non-production blocks, such as GM Performance Parts’ LSX block and the C5R, offer the same head-bolt pattern as production blocks. All LS heads will bolt up to them, but care must be taken to select the most compatible heads based on the appropriate bore size. Because of their large bores, heads designed for at least 4.10-inch bores should be used and 4.125-inch bores are preferred, such as the L92/LS3 or LS7 heads; otherwise valve-to-block interference is an issue, as is sufficient cylinder sealing.

GM Performance Parts’ new LSX cylinder heads use 10 11mm and 13 8mm head bolts, or eight more than a regular-production LS head. That’s more than 50 percent more head bolts than production heads, supplying superior clamping strength.