Even though the question was sidestepped last year when the new Gen V LT1 engine was introduced, GM is looking to offer a crate engine version of the direct-injected powerplant. A concept model of an LT1 crate engine was unveiled at a special party Monday night (November 4, 2013) before the SEMA Show begins in Las Vegas.
“It’s exactly like the production engine,” affirms GM Powertrain engineer Blake Nye, meaning that it will pump out 460 horsepower and 465 lb-ft peak torque with the proper exhaust. “We’ll be looking for reaction and feedback from the show.”
GM officials wouldn’t make any promises or predictions with regards to crate engine potential last year when the LT1 was first shown to the media and introduced as the next engine for the 2014 Gen 7 Corvette. But it was certainly on the powertrain team’s mind as they have to provide service replacements…so a crate version for performance enthusiasts is just a few strokes of a computer program away.
“As we move towards that platform, then this concept is a part of that process,” adds Nye.
The key to offering such an advanced engine to the street is recalibrating the engine-management system and deciding which functions will carry over. The direct injection will definitely stay. The variable valve timing will probably make the cut, as will the throttle-by-wire. The Active Fuel Management (AFM), which is GM’s cylinder deactivation feature, is still up for discussion.
“The goal is to make it ready to drop in and start right up,” says Nye. “But we are working with direct injection for the first time in a crate engine.”Customers won’t have to worry about an exotic fuel pump to provide the line pressure needed to work with direct injection. Typical feed-line pressure used in conventional fuel injection will be sufficient to prime the DI pump, which is driven off the engine’s camshaft.
“One of the biggest challenges is the transmission,” says Nye. “Of course, the Corvette has the transmission in the rear of the car. But we’ve got a few tricks up our sleeve.”
If the LT1 crate engine is finalized and validated on schedule, the package probably wouldn’t hit the Chevy Performance dealerships until late summer or early fall of 2014, according to another GM official. Until then, powertrain engineers will be gauging the response and suggestions from the SEMA Show.