With automakers focused on hitting fuel economy standards for 2015 and beyond, it seems like the days of the small-block V-8 are surely numbered. After all, most automakers are downsizing engines
and introducing hybrids and electric vehicles at an astounding rate; could it be that the storied small-block-Chevy
will soon go the way of the dinosaur?
Not so, says Mark Damico, GM’s small-block design system engineer. In fact, General Motors
has invested some $890 million to produce the next generation of its small block V-8, which should arrive sometime in 2013. Expect to see plenty of fuel-saving technology in the new engine, including gasoline direct injection and cylinder deactivation.
Expect GM to use lightweight aluminum engine blocks for more applications in the future, too. In 2010, GM manufactured 955,200 small-block V-8s, of which only 267,456 used aluminum blocks. The weight savings of aluminum versus cast iron is significant, but aluminum adds cost to producing an engine. GM will likely find a way to reduce production costs on their next-generation aluminum blocks, since the weight savings (and associated fuel economy gains) are critical to meeting future CAFE targets.
Since the first small block V-8 was built for the Corvette in 1955, GM has built nearly 100 million examples. Power output has ranged from anemic (like the 110-horsepower, 4.3-liter V-8 used in the 1975-76 Chevy Monza) to stupefying (the 6.2-liter, 638-horsepower V-8 from the Corvette ZR-1
). For GM, the small-block V-8 remains an essential component of their pickup truck, full-size SUV and sports car lines, so don’t expect that to change any time soon.