Are Junkyard LS Builds Really as Cheap as We Think?

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The cost of cheap horsepower adds up quickly, if you aren’t careful.

LS swaps are immensely popular for a number of reasons. These wonder engines are lightweight, compact in size, make loads of power with relative ease, and they’re readily accessible. Plenty of people also tout the fact that you can head to your local junkyard and find plenty of LS donor vehicles. Even more people actually do it. And for obvious reasons — it seems like an incredibly cheap way to go about building one.

But as with everything else in life, things just aren’t that simple. Or are they? It’s a question that YouTuber BigKleib34 set out to answer once and for all in this recent video. Heck, he tackles it right off the bat, in fact. “It is cheaper, especially compared to relatively new setups. Like if you want to do a Coyote swap. It’s going to be badass, but it’s going to be more expensive.” Chock that up in the Captain Obvious column.

Junkyard LS

Of course, this subject goes deeper than that. You can’t just “expect to turbo something, spend $2,000, and that’s it,” he goes on to say. And that’s the kicker here. Perhaps the popular notion that you can extract 1,000 hp for $2K is a bit overblown. In this case, our host’s pickup (already equipped with an LS) took roughly $5k to build yet features mostly stock internals.

The other kicker is that many YouTube LS builds are completed with sponsored parts. Which obviously come at a great discount, a fact often not mentioned in the build video. Others tend to embellish the truth about what they spent, blinded by the rose colored glasses of a fresh build. Not to mention the cost of broken parts and screw ups along the way.

So is it really cheap to build a junkyard LS? Well, yes and no. Just be sure and do a ton of research before you take the dive!

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Brett Foote has been covering the automotive industry for over five years and is a longtime contributor to Internet Brands’ Auto Group sites, including Chevrolet Forum, Rennlist, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other popular sites.

He has been an automotive enthusiast since the day he came into this world and rode home from the hospital in a first-gen Mustang, and he's been wrenching on them nearly as long.

In addition to his expertise writing about cars, trucks, motorcycles, and every other type of automobile, Brett had spent several years running parts for local auto dealerships.

You can follow along with his builds and various automotive shenanigans on Instagram: @bfoote.

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