Heavy Metal Garage is a Gold Coast workshop known for turning out some of the best hot rod and street machine builds in the country. The shop is headed up by husband-and-wife duo Charles ‘Chuck’ and Rhea Fakes, who spotted a gap in the aftermarket for better solutions to some of the common problems posed by LS engine conversions.
“We developed all these parts as we built customer cars. The idea is to not only make it easier to package LSs into tight engine bays, but also make them look cooler and less ugly for us hot rodders,” says Chuck.
“The goal is to maintain the performance and reliability of an LS engine swap without the messy appearance of using a modern motor.”
Below is a rundown of some of their cool products on offer right now, with more platforms currently under development, including the Ford Godzilla V8.
- LS2/LS3 clockwise billet water pump
- LS billet low-mount air compressor kit
- LS1/LS2/LS3 front drive kit
- LS2/LS3/LSA adjustable low-mount alternator bracket
- LS2/LS3 billet power steering bracket kit
- LS to small-block Chev rocker cover adapter kit
- Dual-snorkel air cleaner – 1970-1972 Chevy Camaro reproduction
- LS exhaust header flanges
- LS billet timing covers
LS2/LS3 clockwise billet water pump
At the core of Heavy Metal Garage’s LS front-drive kit range is the billet clockwise water pump, which is more than just a pretty piece of hardware. Unlike the factory LS anti-clockwise pump that requires extra pulleys and tensioners, Heavy Metal’s clockwise unit means the water pump pulley turns in the same direction as the crankshaft. This simplifies the pulley system and frees up space in the engine bay. It also gives you the choice of different water outlet options, should you need them.
Made in Australia from 6061 aluminium, the kit uses a GM water pump cartridge and comes supplied with all the O-rings, gaskets and bolts for easy installation. They’re available now for AU$1500.
- CNC-machined from 6061 aluminium
- Comes fully assembled, ready to bolt on with all gaskets and bolts supplied
- Utilises GM OEM-style water pump cartridge for ease of serviceability
- Durable two-piece O-ring seal design
LS billet low-mount air compressor kit
If you’re wanting to retain air con in your LS-swapped ride but tight packaging is an issue, then this adjustable billet low-mount air compressor kit could just be what gets you out of trouble. Not only do the brackets allow for high clearance, but they also eliminate the need for the factory a/c belt tensioner to further simplify the accessory drive. You can option it with offset to suit either LS1 or Gen IV LS2/L98/LS3 blocks, and the kit includes all the hardware, a suitable Dayco fan belt and even suction and discharge fittings.
The kit starts at AU$365 with BYO Sanden air con compressor, but Heavy Metal Garage highly recommends you grab the complete kit with the correct compressor.
- Billet 6061 aluminium adjustable compressor brackets (made in Australia)
- All stainless fasteners required for fitment
- Dayco fan belt
- Billet aluminium suction and discharge fittings to suit conventional a/c hoses
- Includes correct air con compressor
- Made to suit either Gen III LS1 or Gen IV LS2/LS3
LS1/LS2/LS3 front drive kit
Heavy Metal Garage offers a range of off-the-shelf front drive kits to suit both Gen III LS1 and Gen IV LS2/LS3 blocks. In the case of the LS2/LS3 kit, a basic kit includes Heavy Metal’s own water pump with pulley, thermostat, outlets and heater block-off fittings.
The bare-bones kit allows for the deletion of power steering and air con, but if you’re not willing to give those luxuries up, you can also option one or both of them back on. If you do, you’ll also get billet brackets, idler, AC Delco power steering pump and pulley, Sanden air con compressor, suction fittings, fan belt, and all fasteners needed.
Even when retaining a/c and power steering, the Heavy Metal front drive kit is far simpler than the factory stuff, thanks to the clockwise-direction water pump. By ditching the anti-clockwise factory pump, the drive kit does away with all the extra tensioners the original system had. Not only does that make it easier to package into other cars, but it also tucks the compressor and power steering pump down low in the bay, nicely out of sight.
The Heavy Metal Garage LS front drive kits offer an alternative to the complicated drive system that is standard on LS-series engines. This attractive design gives an old-school look while retaining standard pulley placement to suit the factory crank drive position.
LS2/LS3/LSA adjustable low-mount alternator bracket
Heavy Metal’s low-mount alternator bracket is an ideal way to squeeze an alternator onto your LS for those tighter conversions, while still retaining the factory LS alternator. The bracket is made here in Australia from CNC-machined aluminium, and can be had either in the machined silver finish or anodised black. Pricing starts at AU$170 with BYO alternator, and they also make a low-clearance bracket to suit LS1 engines, which you can find here.
- Suits LS2/LS3 block offset
- Fits GM factory alternators with a bolthole centre spacing of 138mm / 5.43in
- Manufactured in Australia from billet 6061 aluminium
- Includes all fasteners required to mount up your existing stock alternator
- Needs Heavy Metal Garage power steering mount if power steer is required
LS2/LS3 billet power steering bracket kit
To accompany their low-mount alternator bracket, the Heavy Metal team also makes this cool power steering bracket kit. It must be used with their alternator bracket, and allows a VE Commodore-spec OEM power steering pump to mount nice and low to the engine. You can use your own pump, or Heavy Metal can supply one at an additional cost. The standard kit comes with the needed idler pulley and all the fastners required to attach it to the block. Basic kits start at AU$380.
- Billet brackets to mount pump to engine
- Idler pulley
- Designed for use with Heavy Metal Garage low-mount alternator bracket
- All fasteners included to mount bracket and pump to engine
LS to small-block Chev rocker cover adapter kit
Standard LS rocker covers are pretty ugly units, and if you’re after an older-school look, they definitely won’t cut it. Heavy Metal Garage now offers this neat LS to SBC valve cover kit, which includes both their beautiful black Chevrolet-script SBC valve covers and adapters to suit LS heads. The adapters are CNC billet-machined for a perfect fit, while the covers are made from 20-gauge stamped steel. Pricing starts at AU$500 for the pair of adapters and covers, and for an extra AU$100 you can option –6AN steel bungs to suit bigger breather set-ups. You can also buy an adapter kit for LS to Windsor rocker covers for those wanting to hide an LS in the Blue Oval machines, which you can find here.
- Complete kit to convert from LS to SBC valve covers
- Includes left- and right-hand sides
- Brackets are CNC billet-machined for perfect fit
- Comes with correct wire retainers
Dual-snorkel air cleaner – 1970-1972 Chevy Camaro reproduction
Heavy Metal Garage now offers these super-cool dual-snorkel air cleaners, designed to fit four-barrel carbies and mimic the originals found on 1970-’72 Chevy Camaros. They’re a great option for those looking for a clean and simple air cleaner for any SBC or carby LS. The air cleaners are finished in satin-black primer and come with a high-flow air filter. Pricing is AU$380.
- Includes: Base, lid and air cleaner element
- Exact copy of 1970-’72 Chevy Camaro air cleaner
- Designed for four-barrel carburettor
- Comes in satin-black primer
LS exhaust header flanges
Building a set of LS headers from scratch? Then you’ll need a good starting point, which is why Heavy Metal Garage offers a range of stainless LS header plate flanges. Frustrated with other poor aftermarket versions, the Heavy Metal team took it upon themselves to design and make their own in-house. They can be had in both 17/8in and 13/4in sizes and come with Protorque gaskets, making them the ideal starting point to build the perfect seat of headers. A pair will set you back AU$150.
Laser-cut in Australia from 304 stainless steel
Perfect starting point to build any LS exhaust manifold/header
Available in both 1 7/8in and 1 3/4in sizing
LS billet timing covers
Want to beautify your LS timing cover? Heavy Metal Garage now offers this delicious billet timing cover, the perfect upgrade for any LS. The cover is designed to suit the LS3-style front-mounted cam sensor, and suits factory camshaft height. Pricing is AU$595.
- 100% Australian made
- CNC ballnose finish
- Billet 6061 aluminium
- Suits LS3 front-mounted cam sensor
- Suits factory camshaft height
Chuck and Rhea are car nuts from way back, having built a stack of tough cars for themselves and customers. We’ve featured a few of those in the past, including Maurie Pickering’s 1955 Ford F100.
Chuck has a strong motorsport CV, including two seasons of open sports car racing as a youngster and a solid stint in the Supercars paddock with Paul Morris Motorsport.
Rhea has a background in mechanical engineering and has been involved with cars since taking on an XB Falcon coupe as her first project at the age of 18.
Aiming for quality over quantity, Chuck and Rhea take pride in thoroughly designing, testing and selling the best version of a product they can. “We spend hours looking at ways of constantly improving our ideas, and test them in real-world conditions to make sure they actually work as we’d want if we were buying them ourselves,” says Chuck.
Next on the development block is a new range for the Ford 7.3-litre Godzilla engine, with other engine platforms on their list for future.