One of the most exciting engines in this year’s crop of supercars is definitely the 2023 Chevrolet Corvette’s LT6 flat-plane 5.5-liter naturally aspirated V8. Ever since realizing how closely it mirrors the C8.R race engine, we’ve been all about it. In fact, it looks like it’s on for one of the best performance bargains of all time and we at Car Autance got to see a cutaway of the engine on the LA Auto Show floor. Here’s what we noticed.
One of my favorite parts of an auto show is poring over the cutaways of engines, cars, and gearboxes that automakers set up in their booths. Unfortunately, this trend seems to be going by the wayside with only a few manufacturers bringing the goods this year. But at least General Motors still loves a good cutaway and treated us to a display of the Z06’s LT6.
The tech tidbits I read about were all present on this demonstrator engine. Sometimes, automakers change little details in the name of aesthetics but the LT6 had the interesting stuff. Particularly, the intake system and the valvetrain. Let’s start with induction.
The first thing that struck me was the huge proportions of the twin throttle bodies that metered air to the engine. I did not have a ruler on me so I used the trusty Measure app on my phone to get a sense of its size. Taking measurements five different times to get some minor level of accuracy, I came back with a diameter of roughly 3.5-inches or 89 millimeters. I wouldn’t take that number as gospel but I can say that one of these throttle bodies would be large on a normal engine. Two of them mean that this V8 is flowing serious air.
Next, we have the intake manifold or plenum. Internally, there are three butterfly valves that open and closed based on vacuum, throttle position, and other engine parameters monitored by the ECU. This is interesting because it shows a serious level of control over the induction resonances and pulses that can help make power at different RPMs. Pressure waves travel out from the engine back up the intake that can help or hurt airflow. With this technology, GM can decide when both sides of the engine talk to each other because it can aid or hurt airflow.
Moving slightly down front the intake, we are now looking at the non-adjustable solid finger-follower valvetrain. A brief explainer on what a “solid” valvetrain means: Most valves have a hydraulic spring of sorts called a lifter, filled with engine oil, that cushions against the movement of the valve. In a solid valvetrain, there is no hydraulic cushion, it is a direct mechanical connection that allows for higher revs and more aggressive camshaft profiles compared to lesser stuff.
The weird part for me is that GM claims the valvetrain will require no lifetime service and that is adjusted so perfectly from the factory that it will last the life of the car. Normally, solid valvetrains require periodic and precisely scheduled servicing so the engine doesn’t burn a valve. I will be curious to see what owners of Z06s experience over thousands of miles. Anyways, it’s called a finger-follower valvetrain because of that strange finger-looking thing just below the camshaft. There is a deep world of camshaft and valvetrain knowledge that is good for a future post. For now, a glance at the combustion chamber.
Just a bit further down south are the actual valves and pistons of the engine. This part is not exactly novel technology, but it looks to be a well-designed combustion chamber, lightweight-looking pistons with short skirts (the extended bits of metal on the sides of the piston), and a direct-injection system that injects from the exhaust side of the engine. The injector is the chrome cylinder to the right of the image. A lot of the secrets in this area aren’t self-evident and it would take some nitty-gritty testing to learn about it. It’s pretty neat though.
That just about does it for technology on this cutaway engine. At least, that’s what caught my attention. See anything cool I didn’t discuss? Comment it up down below. I will nerd out with you.
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