Sixth-gen small-block on horizon as GM invests $918M in U.S. factories
GM announced hundreds of millions in investments in the production of the next generation of small-block V-8 engines for use in pickup trucks and SUVs. There is no information yet on the power, displacement, or efficiency of the upcoming V-8s, but GM did share that the investments will be spread over four facilities in the United States that will build V-8s.
The Flint Engine Operations plant will continue to produce the 3.0-liter inline-six turbodiesel used in full-size pickups and SUVs while the factory gets a $579 million upgrade to assemble the sixth generation of GM’s small-block V-8. The Michigan facility will also machine the block, crank, and cylinder heads.
Bay City Global Propulsion Systems, also located in Michigan, will receive $216 million to further support V-8 production with camshaft, connecting rod, block, and cylinder head machining. Defiance Operations in Ohio will see a $47 million investment to support casting V-8 engine blocks and components of EVs. Finally, Rochester Operation in New York will see a $12 million retooling for V-8 intake manifolds and fuel rails along with $56 million for producing battery-pack cooling lines for EVs.
“Today we are announcing significant investments to strengthen our industry-leading lineup of full-size pickups and SUVs by preparing four U.S. facilities to build GM’s sixth-generation small-block V-8 engine,” said Gerald Johnson, GM executive vice president of global manufacturing and sustainability. “These investments, coupled with the hard work and dedication of our team members in Flint, Bay City, Rochester and Defiance, enable us to build world-class products for our customers and provide job security at these plants for years to come.”
For those that need a refresher, the previous and current generations of the Chevrolet/GM small-block V-8 are:
Gen 1: 1955–2003
This is the classic small-block, that includes everything from the original 265-cubic-inch V-8 launched in the 1955 model year through the rowdy 327 and 302 as well as the ubiquitous 350. The last of these engines were the Vortec variants, that lasted until 2003 in vans and commercial vehicles.
Gen 2: 1992–1997
Built in 4.3- and 5.7-liter displacements for rear-drive cars, GM’s second-gen small-blocks were best known as the LT1 and LT4 used in Camaros and Corvettes. Reverse-flow cooling and front-mounted distributors set these apart.
Gen 3: 1997–2007
First seen in 1997 in the all-new C5 Corvette, this was the biggest change to the small-block architecture yet. While it still used the familiar 4.4-inch bore spacing, the intake and exhaust ports were evenly spaced and the block was a deep-skirt design.
Gen 4: 2005–2020
Just a minor update to the Gen 3, the Gen 4 brought improvements to the block as well as more powerful ECUs, also introducing displacement on demand.
Gen 5: 2014–present
The fifth-gen V-8 debuted with the C7 Corvette and rolled out to the sixth-gen Camaro and full-size SUVs and pickups shortly after. It is still used in the C8 Corvette. The major changes are direct injection and a reordering of the valve arrangement that places the intake valve at the forward-most position on the driver side, as opposed to every other small-block before it.
We’re not sure how the sixth-gen V-8 will differ, but GM commented that the sixth-gen small-block will be for pickup and SUV use, thus notably ignore the Corvette. We’ll be paying close attention as the details emerge and will be keen to learn about the engine that future hot-rodders will be scooping up from wrecking yards in decades to come.
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