THE SOUL OF THE MACHINE: 50 YEARS OF GREAT CORVETTE POWERTRAINS

We are looking at the 2003 Corvette Press Kit that was given out to the media at the 50th Anniversary Celebration in Nashville.  The press kit included 14 press releases.  This one is for Engineering Retrospective/Design and is titled “THE SOUL OF THE MACHINE: 50 YEARS OF GREAT CORVETTE POWERTRAINS”.

To look at photos and details about the press kit and more links to the press released CLICK HERE.

 



For Immediate Release (2003)

Chevrolet Corvette LS6 V8 Cutaway
Chevrolet Corvette LS6 V8 Cutaway

THE SOUL OF THE MACHINE: 50 YEARS OF GREAT CORVETTE POWERTRAINS

MONTEREY, Calif., Aug. 16, 2002 – The allure of a two-seat sports car is undeniable, but the true test of an automotive icon is its performance. The sensuous sweep of a fiberglass fender or the glint of polished chrome can charm the eye momentarily, but the irresistible force of a roaring V8 engine makes an indelible impression.

Almost from its conception, Corvette has been a showcase for engine development. Guided by the inspired hand of Zora Arkus-Duntov, Corvette earned a reputation for technical innovations – a tradition that has endured through five generations of remarkable machines.

265ci Small-block V8

Chevrolet rocked the automotive world in 1955 with the introduction of the 265ci small-block V8. It was simply a brilliant design: lightweight, compact and powerful. Under the supervision of Chevrolet Chief Engineer Ed Cole, GM engineers created a modern masterpiece. The venerable inline six-cylinder engine that had powered Corvette in its infancy was quickly overshadowed.

The introduction of the Chevrolet small-block V8 marked the beginning of the modern era of performance. There were other engines with eight cylinders and other motors with overhead valves, but none with the performance potential of Chevy’s startling new design. GM eventually produced more than 65 million small-blocks, and they won more races and championships than any other production engine.

The first small-block V8 introduced concepts that were considered revolutionary at the time: thin-wall cylinder block castings, interchangeable heads, stamped steel rocker arms with spherical pivots, short exhaust ports to minimize heat transfer to the coolant, slipper skirt pistons, an intake manifold that sealed the lifter valley, and overhead oiling through hollow pushrods. These technical features may seem commonplace today, but they were cutting-edge in the ’50s.

While standard 265ci passenger car engines produced a respectable 162 gross horsepower, Corvette versions raised the ante to 195hp. The catalog of factory high-performance parts expanded exponentially as high-rise intake manifolds, free-breathing cylinder heads, and heavy-duty components were developed for the demands of racing – parts that could be purchased by racers and hot rodders at any Chevrolet dealership.

The arrival of Ramjet mechanical fuel injection

The Corvette was the ideal platform for demonstrating the small-block’s prowess. The arrival of Ramjet mechanical fuel injection in 1957 made it possible for Corvette’s 283ci small-block to produce an amazing one horsepower per cubic inch. Special valve springs and camshaft designs raised the small-block’s redline to new heights. The unmistakable sound of a solid-lifter Duntov cam commanded instant respect at both racetracks and drive-ins.

The 283ci small-block reached its zenith in 1961 when a 315hp version debuted. Although plans to produce aluminum cylinder heads were eventually shelved, the lightweight heads’ enlarged ports were incorporated in cast-iron versions that further raised the small-block’s output.

327ci Small-block

Advances in casting techniques allowed Chevrolet to enlarge the small-block’s cylinder bore diameter to 4.00 inches in 1962. These bigger bores were combined with a new 3.250-inch stroke crankshaft to create a 327ci small-block. The additional displacement boosted Corvette’s top-of-the-line small-block to 360hp.

L84 Produced 375 gross horsepower

With second-generation Rochester fuel injection, larger 2.02-inch diameter intake valves and an aggressive new camshaft profile, the 1964 L84 produced 375 gross horsepower in factory trim. A Holley four-barrel carburetor appeared on a factory small-block for the first time, producing only ten less horsepower than the fuel-injected version.

Duntov’s high-performance Small-block

Duntov’s high-performance team developed intriguing variations on the small-block theme, experimenting with both hemispherical cylinder heads and overhead cams. A 327ci prototype with single overhead cam heads produced 509hp, and a 377ci pushrod Hemi produced 532hp. None of Duntov’s exotic small-blocks reached production, but they stoked the fires of performance at Chevrolet R&D.

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