Corvette Under the Hood
STEP RIGHT UP and see the AMAZING Z06 engine assemble itself in virtual reality!!! AND see the Monster-Motor LS9 built in just 2-minutes and 13-seconds!!!
If you’ve been following us here at CorvetteReport.com you will have noticed that WE LIKE ENGINES here. Being a muscle car, sports car, and drag racing historian, I’m well versed on the great engines of the past. It took a long time for aluminum to work its way into American performance engines. All the way back in 1957 Zora Arkus-Duntov was proposing an all-aluminum engine for the Corvette. It just seemed like an excruciatingly slow process. We got aluminum intake manifolds, water pumps, bell housings, and transmission cases by the early ‘60s, aluminum heads from ‘67 to ‘69, and one minimal attempt at an all-aluminum big-block in ‘69 with the 427 ZL-1. While the ZL-1 was available as a separate purchase for a long time, we had to wait until ‘97 for the arrival of the all-aluminum LS1. Since then, we have been treated to the LS6, LS2, LS7, LS3, and the 638-HP monster LS9.
Machined steel is cool, but there’s something unique about machined aluminum. The LS7 animation is quirky-cool. Not only does the engine float in a blue sky, the crankshaft and entire assembly is animated as the parts come together on their own, the entire engine horizontally rotates. It’s very cool.
The second video is a speeded up assembly of a real LS9 engine at the GM Performance Build Center, in Wixom, Michigan. The new Corvette Engine Build Experience option lets ZR1 and Z06 buyers watch and help build their own engine. How cool is that?! The video is kind of an “over the shoulder” view of the experience – but, REALLY FAST! Continue reading
John Greenwood’s 427 ZL-1 BF Goodrich Corvette Race Car
Aluminum engines are so common today that no one even notices. But back in the ‘50s and ‘60s, aluminum engine components were considered trick hardware. All-aluminum high-performance engines were only found in exotic European cars. Having learned his engineering and racing craft in Europe, Zora Arkus Duntov first proposed an all-aluminum engine as part of the 1957 Q-Corvette proposal. Also included in the proposal was an aluminum transaxle. This was actually part of a larger plan called the Q-Chevrolets for 1960. Chevrolet chief engineer, Ed Cole, envisioned the entire line of Chevrolet cars equipped with the transmission mated to the rear axle as a way of vastly improving the interior space of every Chevy.
The plan was eventually scrapped for cost reasons, but Duntov was definitely keyed in on the idea of adding aluminum engine and drive train components into his Corvettes as a way to lighten the car. Through the ‘60s, aluminum parts slowly crept into the Corvette. But it wasn’t until the introduction of the ‘67 L-88 that the automotive press and fans really took notice of the lightweight hardware.
But when Zora and his team unleashed the all-aluminum ZL-1, jaws dropped and eyes popped! The thought of a solid-lifter, 12.5:1 compression, big carb 427 that weighed as much as a small-block was just OUT’A SIGHT! FAR-OUT! GROOVY, MAN!
Hot Rod Magazine splashed the all-aluminum ZL-1 on the cover and caught a lot of heat for spinning the fan on an engine that was obviously not running or attached to anything. The yellow headers or ANY headers for that matter were NOT part of the ZL-1 package. Unfortunately for fans of lightweight Corvettes, the ZL-1 was for all intent and purposes a teaser option. Yes, the ZL-1 was an official option costing $4,718, PLUS $1,032 for the L-88, on top of the $4,781 base price of the ‘69 Vette. Only three ZL-1’s were “officially” built and all are accounted for. However, there may have been 10 or so ZL-1 Corvettes built as demo cars. CARS Magazine editor, Marty Schorr was one of the fortunate few that got to drive a ZL-1 ‘69 Corvette and it was NOT one of the three surviving ZL-1 Corvettes.
Special thanks to http://www.rmauctions.com/
Fortunately, for racers, such as John Greenwood, ZL-1 engines could be purchased as crate engines. While Greenwood wasn’t the only Corvette racer to use a ZL-1, his stars and stripes, BF Goodrich-sponsored Corvette became a legend. One ZL-1 engine even made its way into Jim Butcher’s Top Fuel dragster and actually held the NHRA elapsed-time national record for a few week in 1973. The all-aluminum ZL-1 gave Butcher a 500-pound advantage over the cast iron Hemi dragsters of the day!
It’s too bad that it would take 28-years before a production Corvette would finally be powered by an all-aluminum engine. The LS1 engine powered the ‘01 C5-R Corvette to Corvette’s first big class win at le Mans. Today’s all-aluminum, 638-horsepower LS9 engine is the most powerful production car engine ever produced in Detroit’s history and is ONLY available in a Corvette!
Would a Fuelie ZL-1 work for ya? YIKES!!!
NHRA Gatornationals – Hemi fans COULD NOT BELIEVE that Jim Bucher’s little Chevy Top Fueler set the NHRA Top Fuel ET National Record with a 6.09 ET! Too bad the car didn’t dip into the 5’s!
I covered the 1969 ZL-1 Corvette in VETTE Magazine in July ’09 in ICS No. 149
Drivable Corvette Art
I consider Kevin Mackay to be a “Corvette artist.” Some of us use paint, markers, pen & ink, etc. You know, “artsey” stuff. Some artists work in other mediums – such as metal and fiberglass. Kevin Mackay’s “Corvette Repair” doesn’t just perform world-class restoration work on classic C1, C2, and C3 Corvette race cars and regular Corvettes, Kevin is also a mechanical, educational artist.
It’s always a pleasure to see Kevin at the shows. Last weekend we were vendors at the Strictly Corvettes and American Muscle Cars Show in Atlantic City. When you love Vettes, what’s there to not like about a Corvette show? We saw lots of smiles and had many interesting conversations. Kevin Mackay was on hand for the third year in a row with a delightful stable of customer cars, as well as several of his beauties. Continue reading
The Latest Installment in VETTE Magazine’s “Illustrated Corvette Series” by K. Scott Teeters
Were it not for NASCAR Chevys trailing behind nearly everyone in the early ’60s, there may never have been a big-block Corvette. Fuelie Corvettes were doing very sell in SCCA sports car racing, but the NASCAR Chevys where in trouble. While GM was officially not racing in the late ’50s and early ’60s, Duntov and a few other Chevy engineers kept select Chevy racers supplied heavy-duty specialty parts for field testing. Engineers tried to help with the Z11 Impala option that made a 427 out of the 409 truck motor. The car performed well as a drag racer, but wasn’t a competitive stock car racer.
In the Summer of ’62, Chevy engineer Dick Keinath was tasked to design the next generation big-block Chevy engine. Since the 348/409 was called the Mark I, the new engine was named, Mark II. The new block was based on the thick bottom end design of the 348/409 for low end strength, and new free-breathing heads. Continue reading
Corvette Engines As Miniature Automotive “Art”
Note the quarter on the display base for scale.
Modern high-performance engines are just amazing machines. A quick look at the most powerful production engine to ever come out of Detroit is the supercharged LS9 ZR1 Corvette engine. This 376-cubic-inch engine has a Net horsepower rating of 638-HP. Measured in the old “gross” power rating system and the number would be easily be in the low 700-HP range. The ZR1 and it’s little brother the 505-HP Z06 can easily smoke ANYTHING from the old glory days of the stump puller muscle car era and get double the gas mileage to boot!
But this isn’t about numbers, it’s about aesthetics. Take the plastic or carbon fiber covers off on any LS-powered Corvette and you’re greeting with a maze of complicated hardware. I guess I’m “old school,” but I enjoy looking at old, pre-smog control device muscle car and racing engines. The simplicity of those old mills was oftentimes “art.” Continue reading
An American Auto Exotic – ‘50s Style!
1957 Fuel-Injected Corvette – An American Classic
Today, fuel-injection is no big deal. But lets roll back the clock at least 60 years. The first successful mechanical application of gasoline F-I was in the V-12 engines used in the WW II Messerschmitt Bf 109 airplane. After the war, Mercedes-Benz used direct-injection in their W. 196 Grand Prix racer, the 300 SLR racing car, and 300 SL sports car. Mercedes-Benz used a “timed direct-port injection” that was very efficient, but complex and expensive.
In the early ‘50s, the world of sports cars was pioneered by European car makers. Fortunately for us, one of the most powerful and influential designers in Detroit had the sports car bug. GM’s Harley Earl envisioned an American sports car and most of us are familiar with the beauty queen turned street brawler Corvette story. As fate would have it, Chevrolet chief engineer, Ed Cole hired another key player, a man with sports car engineering and racing experience – Zora Arkus-Duntov. Fortunately, GM had an engineer that understood the complexities of F-I, one John Dolza from the Rochester Division.
Ocean City, New Jersey Lifetime Resident, Dewey Powell’s 4WD, 392 Hemi Powered Corvette to the Rescue!
When you live close to the shore, like I do, it’s not uncommon to see 4WD vehicles with surf fishing racks on the front bumper. The formula is this; fishing racks + beach = 4WD vehicle, usually a truck. That’s what threw me when I first saw Dewey Powell’s menacingly cool-looking ‘81-bodied Corvette at the Strictly Corvettes Show, in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The first thing I noticed was the stylized fishing pole rack and the way it was angled back from the middle to match the car’s pointed nose. Then the tall tires and L88 wheel flares got me. “WOW! What’s this?” When I looked under the hood and saw a dual-quad 392 Hemi, I said, “Who built this?!”
Dewey was completely relaxed in a lawn chair, wearing jeans, black cowboy boots, a black t-shirt, and his wrap-around shades. I could tell that he was “the guy.” I asked him, “I’ll bet that this is your car and you built it, right?” “Yea, that’s right, and I drove it here today. You should have seen it yesterday, it was covered with sand.” I had just met Ocean City’s local legend, Dewey Powell. Continue reading