“See that there, Bob? ‘This Chevrolet Corvette Engine was handbuilt by… yours truly’.” Under the bonnet, some of the world’s prestigious cars proudly display on a plaque the name of individual engine-builder. General Motors has gone one further: buy a 2011 Corvette Z06 or ZR1 and you can build your LS7 or LS9 engine.
“See that there, Bob? ‘This Chevrolet Corvette Engine was handbuilt by… yours truly’.” Under the bonnet, some of the world’s prestigious cars proudly display on a plaque the name of individual engine-builder. General Motors has gone one further: buy a 2011 Corvette Z06 or ZR1 and you can build your own LS7 or LS9 engine.
Oh, by the way, it will cost you an extra $5 800 (about R45 000).
For a little bit more, you get to bolt on the wheels and spraypaint the exterior yourself… OK, I made that up. But the engine deal genuine, even if the implications are mildly mind-boggling.
Under-the-cosh GM won’t mind the extra cash that owner-building brings in. But it’s surely not as easy as handing Joe ’Vette a toolbox and a pile of engine components. Expert supervision has to be a given. There’s no word, either, about how the scheme will affect warranty claims.
It’s believed to be the first time a programme like this has been offered. GM's Performance Build Centre (PBC) in Wixom, Michigan will play host.
Other “Corvette experiences” include the standard free lessons at a high-performance driving school, the opportunity to take delivery of vehicles at the National Corvette Museum (cost: R4 000), or a guided tour of the Corvette assembly plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky, to watch one’s car being built (about R3 000).
* The Z06 features a frame constructed of aluminium with some carbon fibre panels, and is powered by a 7-litre LS7 developing 377 kW. Performance is quoted as 0-60 mph in 3,7 seconds and a top speed of 319 km/h. If that’s too mild, there’s always the 476 kW supercharged 6,2-litre small-block ZR1, which clocked a record 7 min 26,4 sec lap of the Nürburgring, reaches 60 mph in 3,4 seconds from standstill and hits a top speed of 325 km/h.
* GM says the LS9 is the most powerful regular-production engine it’s offered. Shown here in “crate” form for aftermarket use, the LS9 differs from other LS engines in having stronger block casting, stronger cylinder head castings and steel cylinder liners that are honed with a deck plate installed to maximise performance and cylinder sealing. High-performance parts include titanium intake valves and connecting rods, are used along with high-flow cylinder heads. A dual-brick charge cooler is integrated on a unique manifold system mounted in the Vee, with the charge cooler on top.
* Video: LS9 engine hand built from start to finish