When you hear of a V12 engine, most people’s minds drift off to their favourite sports car – Ferrari, Lamborghini, Jaguar or some German motors from BMW or AMG. Well, here’s one from Australia and it’s based on a General Motors LS1 V8!
V12LS have developed the motor with a capacity of 9.2 or 9.5 litres and capable of delivering over 640hp. They showed it a year or so ago as a development bed at the SEMA show in the US. In essence the engineering team took a stock LS1 V8 and cut through the front cylinders and then took another LS1 and removed the rear cylinders and half the next two. Next they welded the two blocks together to form a V12 block. The next step was to trim the heads and weld them together so that each bank had one long head with a custom rocker cover made to cap it off.
As the LS1 is a 90° V, naturally so too is their V12 and this meant having to change the firing order of the cylinders from what the original motors had. In fact they say that this engine fires in the same order as a Ferrari V12 would: R1, L2, R5, L4, R3, L1, R6, L5, R2, L3, R4, L6. A normal LS1 fires in the order: R1, L4, R4, L1, R3, L3, L2, R2 (using the same cylinder naming as V12LS). The byproduct of this is a distinctive exhaust note – most V12s sound very different to a V8 or a V6.
The crankshaft was specially made for them overseas as apparently they could find anyone to make it locally, however they did source camshafts from a local engineering shop. They then made up the fuel intake system out of off-the-shelf parts and used existing electronics to manage the whole process. It worked so well that the motor ended up in a 1968 Camaro custom car at the SEMA show – despite the block being nearly 9 inches longer than the original fitment!
Another interesting fact about this motor is that it is much lighter than a stock V12 from an established manufacturer – the V12LS with an aluminium block is over 40kg lighter than the Ferrari V12 found in the 456 or 550 and over 85kg lighter than the old Jaguar V12, even the new cast iron V12LS is lighter. That’s probably not too much of a surprise considering the age of the Jaguar motor and the fact that it stopped production and therefore development over two decades ago.
I suppose the question is why build a V12 out of two V8s? The cheeky answer is because you can, however think back to the 1960s when BRM built their V16 out of two back-to-back V8s. The rationale was power and smoothness of the running, although getting a V16 to run smoothly was a challenge in those days!
Using a production motor as the basis means that the cost of the basic internal components such as con-rods, sleeves, rings, pistons etc is much cheaper and more importantly, for extra power delivery there is a wide range of aftermarket components that would bolt straight in.
Now, if they could only attract a company like TVR or Elfin to option up one of their lightweight sports cars ….