Motech, if at the time that I purchased my supercharger had the price been comparable to between the s/c and the 5.3. Hands down would I have done the 5.3, in fact I still do, but at the 12-20000 range couldn't even consider it. So if that 5-8000 range comes up just might be a s/c up for sale.
Thanks, let me claify my point. Several years ago when we offered out Gen 1 kit it was priced at $3,195, it was pretty bare bones and included mostly hardware. Our Gen II kit added more electronics for better functionality, and it works great, a Gen II 6.2 is what I drive everyday. We also added a lot of items to make the kit more complete, like a coolant bottle, air intake tube with MAF, GM ECM preprogrammed, Jeep PCM programming, shift lever, etc. In addition we modify your shifter, Jeep engine harness, a/c lines, etc so the kit is as plug and play as possible. With the Gen I kit you had to make those modifications yourself.
We had to raise the price of the kit based on the number of labor hours and parts that went into the Gen II kit. Now with years of development under our belts we are in essence deevolutionoizing the kit. Through electronics we can eliminate much of the hardware and compete more on a level with the Hemi swap in that respect. The Hemi has the advantage of being a Chrysler product so integration is easier with less redundant parts, we have narrowed that gap.
When you consider with the LS swap you do not need to remove the battery tray, relocate the battery, cut the firewall and relocate the steering shaft, hammer on the firewall or replace any suspension componants it's easy to see the LS install may become easier than a Hemi. There are some additional steps, mostly electronics that we have streamlined and our goal is to be all plug and play.
I think it is universally accepted the LS is superiour to most other V8's when it comes to size, weight, tunability, aftermarket support, availbility, cool running and power potential; it is simply the best powertrain, diesel or gas, currently avaialble for the JK - IMHO. I base this on ten's of thousands of real life miles in LS JK's. I have driven almost every supercharger, Hemi and even wheeled with diesels. There are no overheat issues, throttle respose is completly linear, cruise control is a dream, no intercoolers, whining and spooling up/down, it's just an honest engine.
Another key point is value for money, or return on investment. An LS will run 250,000+ miles if taken care of. Most of my custumers love their JK's and have invested a lot in upgrades. They say I will never sell my Jeep, it means to much to me, it is a lifestyle; so in the end the V8 swap makes sense. Replacing a couple V6's and the cost of a SC will exceed the cost of the V8 in the end. The SC works well for the guy who can't afford a V8 now and the SC provides an acceptable amount of power for their needs. The sound and throttle response of a V8 is unlike any SC and another reason the V8 is so appealing. Then add the 6l80 6 speed automatic and it really pushes the performance over the top. The 3.8 is dogged down by the 4 speed auto.
Okay so all this actually speaks to the title "low cost V8" these variables need to be considered.
Now for the tech of a low cost LS JK, here is the middle ground mentioned. You can get a stane alone harness and some mounts, even a/c hoses, etc. The LS will run and power your JK. I know most of you will want things like the A/C, cruise control, starting system, cooling fans, charging system, check engine light etc. to function like it should. You don't want the dash lit up like a Christmas tree and lights flashing. Some of you don't care about this stuff in which case no kit will be appealing and that is not who we are targeting.
We have a lot of technology availabe to us now which we can apply to a basic builder kit, eliminate the stuff we don't have to supply that you can source yourself. On the other hand we will have to supply the harness and electronics required to make you JK functional and emissions legal. We are an emission station and I am an emissions inspector, so we know what it takes. We have about dozen JK's emissions certified in CA right now. We supply the CARB calibration, EVAP vent solinoid, fuel tank pressure sensor, up and down stream O2 sensor connectors and set up the system so all the monitors will run and complete; we also maintain all mode 6 data. Every harness is set up for VVT, AFM, full emissions, OP sensor, DLC, BCM breakout, SLP breakout, cooling fan control, etc.
In a basic kit we will supply this harness but no solenoids, sensors or any items not necessary for your JK to be functional. My goal is to bring the price close to where it was 3 years ago.
So hypothetically if the kit were $3,195 and you spent $2k on a iron 5.3/6l80 then another $1k on miscellenaous items plus 50+ hours labor you would be in the same ball park as a SC minus your labor time.
I need to crunch numbers before I come up with a firm figure but this would be my goal. The guy who still wants the full kit will recieve many more items so he would still recieve a good if not better value, just more upfront cost.
Understand it is the technology as well as the hardware you are getting. It will save countless hours trying to figure out how to make your JK streetable. About 10% of my customers have had swaps done by other shops, or purchased a kit from another shop, and cannot pass a smog test or simply are not happy with the functionality of their Jk after sopending a lot of cash. They end up at my shop where we do our best to support them, and we have. It is much easier to start with our technology base than to reengineer something someone else has done. Also the redundent cost to you is wasted $'s.