MSD's LS Series Ignition Controller Means LS Swaps and a Carburetor Too

10 min read

MSD's LS Series Ignition Controller Means LS Swaps and a Carburetor Too

10 min read

It is universally known that General Motors' LS engine platform is by far the most popular powertrain swap of choice these days, and for good reason. The engines are proven performers, make great power, and are compact enough to fit in not only any muscle car, but pretty much any other vehicle ranging from Austin Healys to Lincoln Zephyrs.

There is one aspect about the LS engine family that likely holds back some people from making the swap: electronic fuel injection. Many enthusiasts just aren't comfortable with the idea of converting to fuel injection. Even with all of the nearly plug-and-play fuel injection systems available, it’s understandable that some would prefer to continue down the path of carburation and its art of simplicity.

The good news is that MSD has the answer for those wanting LS performance but want to stick with their proven carburetor. It's called the 6LS Ignition Controller.

The 6LS (p/n 6014 for red and p/n 60143 for black) is a compact controller designed to manage all aspects of the ignition system (and then some) so a carburetor can handle the air/fuel metering. Obviously, a new intake manifold is required, which Holley offers in several versions including single and dual plane designs. Note that an electric fuel pump is still required as none of the Gen III or IV engines are equipped with a mechanical fuel pump boss.

Looking for a carbureted LS intake? Click below to check out this story!


Even for those that are leery of wiring, the 6LS makes it a simple task with factory style connectors for the camshaft and crankshaft sensors, coil packs, and coolant temperature sensor. It is set up to accept both the 24x/1 or 58x/4 crank/cam sensors, so all of the LS platform is covered. Of course, battery and ignition hot connections are required, but that’s it.

To ease the intimidation of programming, users can choose from several pre-set timing calibrations through a rotary switch. There are settings for nearly any LS based crate or donor engine to get your new engine fired up and driving smooth.

For those that have put a little more compression or cam into their engines, the ignition settings can easily be adjusted and programmed through MSD’s View software (free to download). Once the software is opened on your PC you’ll be able to map out a complete timing curve and even change timing between cylinders.

A few other advanced features of the 6LS include setting a 2-step rev limiter for a launch limit and overrev protection. There is also a built-in 2.5-Bar MAP sensor that allows a timing curve to be based on boost pressure or can serve as a basis for a vacuum advance while cruising. If nitrous is your thing, a step retard can be set up to activate when the spray is active.

One more trick feature is the Launch Retard map. This allows you to retard the ignition timing at the launch to soften the power at the rear wheels, before the timing is ramped back in based on time. This serves as a great tuning tool on the drag strip, as does the 8MB of data recording storage provided in the 6LS as well!

If EFI has been keeping you from swapping over to an LS engine, the 6LS is the answer to your engine swap plans. The unit is basically plug-and-play, doesn’t require a laptop or advanced programming, and controls all of the ignition aspects while an old school carb meters the air and fuel. (It should be noted that the 6LS can also be used to support aftermarket Throttle Body EFI systems like the Sniper or Atomic systems as well!) There are just no excuses not to make the move to LS performance!

MSD 6014 adjustment

To make things very easy, the 6LS has several preset calibrations for popular LS engine swaps including LS1 through LS7 engines, or the LM or LQ series truck engines. You can also use their Windows based View software to develop custom calibrations.

MSD 6014 harness plug-in

The Controller has a direct plug-in harness to connect to the LS engine sensors such as the cam, crank and coolant temperature sensor, along with the coil packs.

MSD 6014 crank sensor

The crank sensor, either the 24x or 58x, is located on the passenger side of the block behind the starter. It is best to remove the starter to easily plug-in the connector and route the harness.

MSD 6014 coolant sensor

The coolant sensor is optional, but is generally located in front of the driver side cylinder head. Utilizing allows timing to be retarded or advanced based on coolant temperature.

MSD 6014 coil bank connector

Each bank of coils has their own connector.

MSD 6014 View software 1

If you’re using a stock engine, simply select your application using the rotary switch on top of the unit. However, if you want to set your own timing curve, idle speed and optional step retards or rev limits, download the free View software and open the 6014 file. This example shows the setup page where you can set the max rev limit, launch limit, coil type and more. The selectable gauges can be viewed in real time with your laptop connected.

MSD 6014 View 2 timing

The ignition timing is fully programmable if you choose. In this example, the idle timing is set a 14-degrees until 1000 rpm where it begins to ramp up to 30-degrees at 3,000 rpm. You can also set timing based on engine temperature, individual cylinder timing, a launch retard and much more. Or, keep it simple and run a pre-set calibration and start driving!

MSD 6014 LS Carb Intake

Holley offers a few different cast aluminum intakes for LS engines. The Street Demon carburetor is a solid choice for a cruiser, as it is easy to set up and maintain. Of course there are countless traditional Holley carbs that also make a great fit!


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