General Motors unveiled its latest V-8 engine at a media event this morning. Now in its fifth generation, the company’s venerable “mouse motor” features a raft of advanced technologies, but at its core it’s still a small block.
The original debuted back in 1955 and it was a revolution in the Chevrolet Corvette, the longest running car nameplate in automotive history. It delivered 45 more horsepower and weighed 50 pounds less than the straight six it replaced.
Today’s version is no less significant. Referred to as the LT1, it displaces 6.2-liters and is expected to put out an estimated 450 horsepower with 450 lb-ft of torque. To hit those numbers it features numerous advanced technologies, things like direct fuel injection, variable valve timing and an 11.5:1 compression ratio. Surprisingly premium fuel is not required, it’s only recommended.
Engineers threw in a forged steel crankshaft, sodium-filled exhaust valves and cylinder deactivation for good measure. The latter of these features is a boon for fuel economy. Tadge Juechter, Corvette Chief Engineer, says the next-generation ‘Vette will beat the fuel economy of today’s car, which delivers up to 26 miles per gallon on the highway. The LT1 launches next year in the C7 Corvette.
Juechter said the new V8 should move the car from zero to 60 miles an hour in less than four seconds, a few clicks better than today’s car.
With all of these 21st century add-ons some people may ask, is it still a small block? “Unquestionably yes, the DNA is still there” said Jordan Lee, Small Block Chief Engineer and Program Manager. He said “it’s a small block in every respect.” In fact the original and the LT1 share the same bore spacing, a critical engine dimension.
Along with performance and fuel economy NVH was a major target as well. Lee said “I always look for refinement” adding “we’ve taken the edge off . . . and the irritating noises.” He also said “I love all the small blocks,” a sentiment that’s no doubt shared by legions of Corvette enthusiasts around the world.