Vortec 8100: Everything You Want to Know | Specs and More

Back in 2001 GM wanted to offer an alternative to their popular Duramax engine They needed something mean they needed something lean and they needed something powered by gasoline What’s up, guys, my name is Bryce with Dust Runners Automotive Journal and today I’m gonna tell you everything you need to know about the Vortec 8100. The idea of a gasoline alternative to a diesel engine is definitely not new and is definitely not exclusive to GM Before diesel engines became so popular in light duty trucks The 454 big-block was the normal for 2500 or 3500 truck. If you love GM trucks need something heavy-duty But don’t want to have to deal with finding diesel every time you need to go fill up, then Vortec 8100 is for you. Although most people would rather have the Duramax engine there were enough people who wanted a gasoline Alternative at the time that GM decided to make it happen Basically, they took the crankcase of the old 454 big-block and gave it even more stroke Officially the Vortech 8100 is not recognized as the gen7 big-block although it shares so many things with the Gen 6 big-block That most people just consider it the gen 7 Even though GM does not what makes the Vortech 8100 more powerful than any big block before it, is mostly the displacement. I mean, 496 cubic inches is a lot. It also has better cylinder heads and slightly improved electronics The resulting output is 340 horsepower and 450 foot pounds of torque, which is pretty good considering the outgoing 454 had 290 horsepower and 410 foot-pounds of torque There were variants of the Vortec 8100 that had upwards of 500 horsepower But those were not used in the light duty trucks where the Vortec 8100 is most known for This engine is available in GM 2500 and 3500 vehicles such as a Silverado, Sierra, Yukon XL, Suburban, and Express. It’s also available in Workhorse class a motor homes Malibu boats Mastercraft boats and 1898 combat armored vehicle you may have noticed on that list that there are no Small cars and we’ll explain why in just a second the weirdest thing about this engine is that when most people hear the word Vortec They immediately think of the LS based 5.3 liter truck engine that pretty much everyone swaps into their cars the cool thing about the LS based truck engine is that you can use other LS parts such as ls1 heads for example Unfortunately, there are a couple things that hold the Vortech 8100 back from ever being as popular as the ls based Vortec engines as you could imagine putting an engine this heavy in a Corvette or Camaro would completely throw off the weight balance and make it really hard to handle properly Second thing holding this engine back from being popular is availability Now the Chevy LS you can find it in pretty much any junkyard in the u.s Vortec 8100 was not nearly as popular as the LS So just finding one by itself is kind of hard to do and then what you do find one the price may be kind of High because there’s not a whole lot of them around this Availability also transfers over to the aftermarket as the Vortech does not have a very good aftermarket See, for the LS There’s pretty much anything you want from swap kits turbo kits superchargers cams heads Pretty much anything you want aftermarket plus you can use other LS based parts such as putting LS1 heads on a 5.3 truck engine Unfortunately, the Vortech is not like this. So you can’t just take a Vortech 8100 and put LS one heads on it It doesn’t work that way if you want better cylinder heads You have to go aftermarket if you want a better camshaft You have to go aftermarket if you want anything you pretty much have to go aftermarket You can’t just pick from the pile of GM performance parts out there Those three things combined really hold the Vortech 8100 back from being popular in the enthusiast community Although there are some hot rodders out there who really like this engine for the most part Most people would rather just have an LS based truck engine when it comes to the aftermarket for the Vortec 8100 There is one really cool company that comes to mind and that’s Raylar Engineering What they do is they take an already giant 496 cubic inch engine and crank it up to either 511 or 540 cubic inches They also offer camshafts cylinder heads superchargers and a couple other things for the 8100 There’s stage 3 540 cubic inch kit for example takes that 340 horsepower 8100 and cranks it up to 680 horsepower 685 horsepower for a 540 cubic inch engine really isn’t that much but the thing is with that stroker kit It’s going to make 680 foot-pounds of torque Which is way more than an LS is going to make actually aspirated as we mentioned earlier Vortech was supposed to be an alternative to the lb7 Duramax Which was the Duramax that GM used at the time the 8100 did make more horsepower when it came out But it didn’t have the same amount of torque the Duramax made 70 foot-pounds of torque More but it also made that torque at a lower rpm so if you really if you were really into towing and hauling the Duramax was still the better option and that torque gap grows even greater Farther down the Duramax engine line you go that torque gap gets even larger and larger making the Vortech 8100 less and less attractive To put this all simply the Vortech 8100 is a good engine but it’s not as good as the Duramax which Ultimately kind of led to it being killed off with the six liter LS based truck engine to fill its shoes Due to a heavy weight lack of availability and a small aftermarket. It’s also not very popular in the hotrod community Although there are there are a lot of guys who like this engine and it is gaining momentum It’ll never be as popular as the LS, but it is gaining momentum right now So there you have it. That’s the quick and short story of a Vortech 8100 Let me know down in the comments below what you guys think of this engine Be sure to hit that thumbs up button and subscribe and I’ll see you guys in the next one You

93 thoughts on “Vortec 8100: Everything You Want to Know | Specs and More

  1. Honestly the Vortec 7400 L29 454 had much better potential and much more interchangeable parts available. 3 changes to the stock L29 would give you far more power than a stock Vortec 8100, plus theyre alot easier to find.

  2. The only engine that was actually vortec was the 95-03 Vortec 5700 this is the engine people know as the Vortec. The 5.3 LS is known as the LS engines version of the old 5 liters

  3. I had an avalanche 2500, I had big plans to tune the engine but the truck started eating money and i really didn’t need it for towing or anything other than having a fun truck. I am going to have another 8.1 in my life, that was such a fun engine.

  4. Owned a 2006 Suburban 2500 with the 8.1 and 4.10 gears. That thing was a towing beast. It towed as good as my 2004 6.0 Powerstroke 6.0.

  5. I wish this was a better engine I always loved the Big Block Chevy's this was just a weird mash up of parts. Doesn't share parts with any of the older stuff or the LS and the aftermarket isn't there. It also isn't the most powerful big block GM made.

  6. I have a 2001 2500 Chevy with 8.1 just turned 200000 still going strong i would like to see it hit 300000 if it does it would be my first vehicle with that many miles the heaviest thing i haul is my 5th wheel which i havent haul for a awhile.just replaced the serpentine belt.

  7. In 2002 when I bought my truck I test drove both the duramax and the 8.1. Way more fun to drive the 8.1. I was going to be doing occasional towing and hauling but mostly daily driving so I chose the 8.1 and never regretted it. Later I converted the truck to E85 and a performance tune which really woke it up.

  8. If it is gasoline powered, it is always working against a partially closed throttle plate and with a low compression. It'll NEVER match the economy of a diesel, period.

    In terms of power and torque, you are not going to beat the 445 hp / 910 lb-ft of the Duramax 6.6 (L5P).

  9. Drove a 06 8.1 manual and it could take off in third then shift to sixth and still move faster than my stock 04 wrangler 5spd.

  10. Got a 1999 5 .7 ls3 in my isuzu npr. It knocks like a woodpecker. Eats half a quart a week. And drinks like a truck stop hooker. And only has 175,000 miles. Waiting until she blows and all swap a 5.7 v8 tundra I force motor in their

  11. I just acquired a 2001 gmc sierra 2500hd with 8.1 and allison trans. 208k miles purrs like a big tiger. Have not had much behind the wheel time but it is a huge difference from my 1500 silverado.

  12. I can attest to the fact that they are a good motor, I have a 2002 2500 4 wd with 311k, been a great one.

  13. I have had a 2003 crewcab 4w4 4.10 GMC 2500 HD 8.1 allison set up, I bought new and it has been pretty good for me. I also have a 454 crewcab. I have had 427 performance cars as well. Every big block vehicle I have own does use oil and if mileage is your goal big blocks are not for you. It seems to me that the allison transmission is what really move these 8.1L engines into the amazing pullers. When coming to a hill the allison can drop a couple of gears spin the big block engine faster than most diesel engines can function at. Using a lower gear provides higher torque multiplications and a way you go. My 454 truck has 400 turbohydromatic (3 speed) and when pulling if drops into second gear you can not get back into third gear until the grade decreases. The 454 has a performance cam, milled heads etc. and will out run the 8.1 empty of a stop light.
    About the time of the 8.1 engine the other heavy duty pickup truck manufactures were looking for updated automatic transmissions and nothing compared to the allisons.
    I had a diesel truck right before this 8.1 and was real unhappy with it:
    1. Diesel engines do bad stuff to oil. It turns black and if it spills on your driveway etc. it is going to be there for a much longer time.
    2. Oil consumption: my diesel truck took close to 12 quarts of oil at a change as the 8.1 is about 6 quarts. The 8.1 never uses more a 2 or 3 quarts between changes.
    3. Black stuff I guess it is particulates and the black oil made working on it a giant mess. My diesel was a long bed four door and the engine was covered with black particulates (I can't explain that.)
    4 Transmissions would not hold up, turbo charger blew up, fuel injection system leaked from everywhere, caught fire, smelled real bad, would stall if you stopped fast on long fuel tank and many many more problems.
    I know the newer diesels are much better and twic the power. I didn't have the diesel truck for a long time but was very happy when it was gone. I pull a very large horse trailer and everyone says, I would be so much better of with a diesel truck. I am not sure I want to chance that again.

  14. I was working at Chevy dealership when this motor first came out. I drove some of 2500s with this motor. The alison behind it. It was a strong pulling motor.

  15. I love my 04 2500hd W/T, has the 6.0 LQ4 with the 4l80e and the 4.10 rear end. Pretty basic but is a solid truck. I wish I could find one though with the 8.1 though that would be great in a single cab truck, boosted and built.

  16. I've had my 02 sierra since new and it currently has 325,000 hard miles with no engine work ever done. Paired with the Allison trans. Both are still workin great!! (Knock on wood)

  17. Great presentation, sometimes hard to focus when looking at an attractive speaker, being you. Hope I haven't offended you.
    Please keep up the great work.


  18. brother had a 2001 dually with the 8.1 Allison. We were headed to a drag race with the car on a trailer (7000#s) running down the interstate chasing a vette at 130 for about 20 miles. Decided we better slow it down before we lost a trailer tire or 3. That truck would do 4th gear posi burnouts for days and pass everything but a gas station. AWESOME engine.

  19. I have the 2001 chevy 2500 HD with the 8.1 496 used it 4 work pulling car trailer body is nothing to look @ but I bought a new gmc cpl yrs ago and am interested in selling the 8.1 if anyone is interested I'm in florida you can msg me on fb Carl Fike profile pic is of Michael Myers from Halloween

  20. hi question. I have one of those motors in a Silverado 2500 hd . crank shaft sensor broke off while trying to replace it what would be the best way to get it out . pull the engine or could I reach it through removing the the oil pan

  21. This engine doesn’t have to be popular when ya have Raylar. They are the best! I can send them my plenum and they’ll cut it in half hollow it out for $900. It’s going to be a big difference.

  22. My company has an old rare GMC 3500hd truck the old body style with an 8.1 and the 4l80 for some reason before killing off this body style gm dropped the 8.1 in a few of them.

  23. I put 8.1 in my 84 Chevy Caprice 4 door with Allison two wheel drive had to cut off the floor pan factory wiring harness and computer I'm now pulling 250,000 miles on it yet and had to upgrade my drive shaft and rear axle they failed in the first month other than that my car can pull a house off of foundation or disappear in Tire smoke even in the stock forum I can beat a lot of muscle cars with this fun paid for sleeper

  24. My 2001 8.1 has been a great engine for the past 227,000 miles and still going strong! I don't live near enough to an interstate to be sure I can get diesel fuel.

  25. Vans were never worth big blocks or durmax. They had to be "De-Tuned" because they couldn't fit Allison Transmission. Lots of weight for low HP and much lower Torque

  26. I have a 2004 8.1 with the Allison transmission in a 3500 Suburban and I love it, we use it to pull our 30' RV (approx. 10,000 lbs.), it doesn't get the greatest gas mileage while towing (7-9mpgs) but it sure gets the job done. It gets anywhere from 12-16mpgjust cruising down the highway. I just turned 100K miles, we don't drive it much.

  27. Yeah Raylar might make parts but you have to give a arm, leg and a liver transplant in order to get parts

  28. I've put about 250k on my 01 Suburban with the 8.1. While she still runs strong, the gaskets are leaking like a sieve. Mileage has dropped from 14 to 11 over time, but the power is still there. After moving to a Magnaflow at 180k when the cats went, she has a pretty distinct growl. Since all of the gaskets need replacing, I'm just going to rebuild her this fall and try to get another 15 years out of her.

  29. Also, the 8100 has a taller deck so the intake manifold from a 454 does not fit. They had to make the deck higher to fit the longer stroke. Intake manifolds are the major issue in building a hot rod version.

  30. Get a Ford Superduty with an unreliable 6.0L, pull the motor, put in a 12 valve Cummins then you have something.

  31. Not a diesel killer. Anyone who wants more than 4mpg when towing won't get a stupid fucking gas engine to tow with. You're a dumbass if you think this will start to outsell diesel in a HD truck

  32. You could get the 8.1 with 4:10s or 3:73s. The duramax only had the 3.73. If you get the 8.1 with 4:10s its actually has a higher tow rating than the duramax

  33. I have a 2001 2500 crew cab long bed 8.1. Just hit 120k miles on it and the only issue I ever had with it was the driveshaft shredded in half at 3k miles (I'm the original owner). I also have a 1999 crew cab dually 7.3 f350 (original owner of that too) it has 160k miles on it and its had many more issues than my 8.1. Now, the 7.3 has about 80k more miles on it but after buying a set of new injectors for a diesel truck, the 8.1 big block argument makes way more sense. Lol

  34. How is it a duramax killer? They’re both Chevy. It’s more like a power stroke, lariat, or triton killer

  35. I’m a Chevy guy and wouldn’t buy one I’d rather have my 6.2l Silverado the 8.1 is big heavy and in reality doesn’t make not much power they burn oil and leak like a sieve

  36. should have done just a bit more research on the 8.1 before posting this. the 8.1 shares exhaust manifolds and bellhousing pattern with the 454. block heads pistons cam crank rods intake manifold nothing crosses over and on top of that it uses all metric hardware besides being internally balanced compared to 454 being externally

  37. I was wanting to build a C-10 with a ZZ502 type big block. But they're 6k as a short, 10k as a complete engine. So, I have someone on Facebook marketplace selling an 03 8.1L running, with video of it running pulled from a 2500 van, for 1300, so I was trying to find out how much different a Vortec 8100 would from a ZZ502, there is a company called Raylar Engineering that makes performance parts for the 8.1, but they're still leaning toward the towing end of the spectrum.

  38. You missed one Chevy Avalanche was a Copo truck and you could order it with an 8.1 liter it's one step down from the from the Allison Transmission it's still an electronic I've got one I found it and I love it it's a unicorn

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