How Did GM’s LS Engines Get Their Name?



Just to reiterate, there is no concrete information available regarding how General Motors came up with the LS name. That means everything you read hereafter is essentially conjecture, however well-informed it might be. But conjecture has been the order of the day regarding the LS engine designation, with fans of the small block beasts conjuring no shortage of theories about what the two letters stand for. Among those theories is that LS might be short for “long skirt,” referring to the size of the cylinder bore, but that has never been confirmed.

The same is true for another popular theory that claims LS stands for “Luxury Sport.” This hypothesis has earned some traction over the years, as the LS and LT designations have sometimes been assigned to automobile trim packages (i.e., “LT” is the shortened version of “Luxury Touring”). It seems unlikely, however, that GM would use the same designation for trim packages as it does for an entire line of high-performance automobile engines.

The most likely theory comes from MotorTrend. The respected auto publication surmised that LS doesn’t stand for anything in particular and that GM used the letters purely as a designation code to differentiate its new line of engines from its LT predecessors. While this theory may not be as sexy as some others, it’s arguably also the one that makes the most practical sense. In the end, though, whether the LS actually stands for anything or not, the engine series remains one of the most celebrated in the history of General Motors, and that’s a mammoth feat in and of itself.

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