One bolt-on makes any boneyard 5.3 eat LS7s for breakfast.

Vortech Engineering has done it again. Now owners of 1999-2013 Gen III and Gen IV Vortec V8 engines (as pulled out of Chevy, GMC, and Hummer light trucks and SUVs) can install a belt driven V3 SCi supercharger without any intake or front dress hassles. Just call Vortech Engineering (or your local Vortech rep) and say: “I want a Vortech for my Vortec.” It didn’t used to be so easy.


For an amazing fifteen years (1999 – 2013), the 4.8-, 5.3-, and 6.0-liter LS engine front dress looks pretty much like this. Factory AC equipment (low mount) can be used, but only if the vehicle engine bay will accept it.

The history of hassles stems from the fact GM used different intake manifolds and front dress on the light truck / SUV based Vortec engines than it did on non-Vortec passenger car applications like 1997-up Corvette, Camaro, Firebird, GTO, etc. But with Vortech Engineering’s GM Vortec-specific kit (PN 4GX218-154L), that’s all a memory. Now, the taller Vortec barrel-ram intake manifold and throttle body stay put, and the front drive setup remains nearly intact.


Our 1967 Chevy C10 pickup takes Vortech kit number 4GX218-154L, which includes full instructions. With the black powder-coat finish, it cost $3,401.99, the same as an optional polished finish. To save about $250, go with the satin finish.

What this means is owners of 1999 – 2013 Gen III and Gen IV powered trucks can give their work trucks, trailer haulers, family movers, and fun machines an 8-psi injection of life (the 4.8-liter Vortec 4800, 5.3-liter Vortec 5300 and 6.0-liter Vortec 6000 are all serviced by this kit). It sure beats starting another fat payment coupon book!


To ease assembly, Vortech “ghosts” the sub-assemblies together using flexible vinyl sleeves to hold fasteners in position. Obviously, they come off during assembly but it’s a nice touch that helps prevent confusion.

Or, for Car Crafters with a sense of adventure, as rust and wear begin to force Vortec-powered work horses into retirement, their 4.8-, 5.3-, and 6.0-liter engines become ripe for harvesting—and swapping into lighter platforms. The stock Vortec front dress is proven to fit 1978-up G-bodies, C10 pickups, Tri-Five Chevys, and most vintage (pre-1975) muscle cars.

 

The stock belt tensioner is removed and will not be reused.

In this story, let’s watch as the guys at Spencer, Massachusetts’ NextGen Performance—an authorized Vortech dealer and installer—demonstrates how crazy simple it is to mount a Vortech V3 SCi to a lightly modified (LS9 cam and LS6 springs) Vortec 5.3. Once installed and after tuning, this little devil made 478 horsepower and 464 lb-ft for well under $4,000—of which less than $500 paid for the junkyard 5.3 core engine.

 


The Vortech supercharger mount takes the place of the stock belt tensioner. Stock, low-mount style factory A/C equipment will fit if the engine bay has adequate room. On engines with the factory optional “high amp” alternator, the vertical ridge of the pulley will rub the larger alternator case. The Vortech kit thoughtfully includes the problem-solving smooth face pulley in case this situation arises.

Think about it. You could pop together a Vortech supercharged 5.3 (or a 4.8 even!) then embarrass ZO6 crate engine buyers for a third the investment. It’s all possible when you put a Vortech on your Vortec!


The Vortech V-3 SCi belt-driven supercharger has a maximum flow rating of 1,050 cfm, perfect for the 4.8-, 5.3-, and 6.0-liter displacement common to Gen III and Gen IV truck engines. A major perk is the self-contained oiling system. There’s no need to tap into the engine’s oil galley or run a drain line to the oil pan.

The included V3 SCi supercharger comes with a 3.60-inch pulley to deliver 6 to 8 psi of boost. Vortech sells smaller pulleys in 3.48-, 3.33-, 3.125-, 2.87-, and 2.62-inch diameters, which can generate up to 17 psi. NextGen strongly recommends “pinning” the crank pulley to guard against slippage as boost levels increase.

The Vortech supercharger bolts to the mounting plate. The V3 supercharger comes pre-filled with synthetic lubricant. It must be changed after the initial 2,500 miles, then again after every 7,500 miles of service. A capped drain line is included in the kit to ease blower case draining.

The GM spring-loaded belt tension unit (and its 3.5-inch pulley) is replaced by this pinch-type item. The 2.75-inch idler has a smooth face since it acts against the back (non-ribbed) side of the accessory drive belt.

The stock drive belt is replaced by a six-rib Vortech item (PN 2A046-115) that now runs the supercharger and accessories. Shorter belts are available from Vortech if smaller blower drive pulleys are anticipated. Eric Buzzell says, “I pull the belt as tight as possible then tighten the pinch bolt.” Note how the drive belt wraps nearly 75 percent of the pulley to prevent slippage.

The Vortech kit is compatible with factory “low mount” A/C equipment. Don’t snub the 4.8L (LR4), 5.3L (LM7) or 6.0L (LQ9) “truck” intake manifold; it’s an excellent power maker up to 6,000 rpm. Only the fuel injectors need attention.

The stock 26-lb. fuel injectors won’t keep up with fuel delivery needs under boost. The remedy is a set of 60-lb. injectors from Deatchwerks (PN 32D-00-00-0060-8). If this supercharger is installed on a GM pickup or SUV, the stock in-tank electric fuel pump is safe for re-use and will keep up. On older cars with supercharged Vortec engine swaps, a Walbro 255 (or equivalent) fuel pump is required.

The plumbing comes in sections with high-grip elastic sleeves and stainless clamps. The total system adds 48 pounds to the engine assembly. A few trucks were fitted with aluminum block 5.3s (LM4 in 2004-up SSR, L33 in 2005-2007 C and K extended cab). Though they shed 100 pounds, their delicate cylinder liners can be a liability under boost. Stick with iron blocks for maximum durability and lowest cost.

The wastegate is boost-referenced and taps into a source of constant vacuum inside the intake manifold.


NextGen’s 1967 C/10 shop truck (“Farm Truck”) was used to test the new Vortech blower kit. On the Turbo Mike Tuning (Charlton, MA, 508/641-7789) Mustang chassis dyno, its mildly worked Vortech 5300 made 308 horsepower at 5,000 rpm and 350 lb-ft at 3,000 rpm with the Vortec belt off. Then with the drive belt reinstalled and 8-psi pulley, horsepower jumped to 478 at 5,700 rpm with 464 lb-ft at 5,200 rpm. The Vortec 5300 is stock except for an LS9 camshaft and LS6 valve springs (PN 12499224).

PIN THAT PULLEY!

All Gen III crank pulleys are press-fit onto the crankshaft snout before being trapped by the center bolt. To guard against slippage with the additional load of the Vortech supercharger, NextGen Performance strongly suggests pinning the pulley to the crankshaft. Here’s how…


Eric Buzzell whipped up this crank pinning fixture using a hardened ¼-inch steel washer with a precision drilled ¼-inch hole.

With the center bolt tightened in place and the fixture immobilized, a 15/64-inch bit drills into the crank snout and pulley hub by equal amounts. Maximum depth of drilling is 0.800-inch, as marked by blue tape.

After the 0.800-inch deep hole is made, a ¼ x ¾ hardened steel dowel is driven into the void. A slight press fit retains the dowel. The pliers hold a sample dowel.

A new GM center bolt (PN 12557840) traps the dowel. The orange material is jelled silicone that will liquefy and fill leak paths when the bolt is tightened to 240 lb-ft.