The introduction of the LS7...
The introduction of the LS7 engine for the '05 Z06 Corvette marked the highest horsepower rating ever for a small-block Chevrolet, at 505hp
Birthdays are fun, but they also mark the passage of time. For the past50 years, Corvettes have sported a litany of small-blockengines--powerful powerplants that consistently offered the best bang forthe performance-enthusiast's buck. Debuting in 1955, small-blockscontinued to rewrite the performance history books each year, deliveringseemingly never-ending reliable power.
We recently created our list of the top 15 small-blocks of all time, andapplauded those best-of-the-best engines. As it is with any magazinelist, we leave ourselves open to criticism. Do you disagree with ourlist? Write us an e-mail. Do you like what we've done? Tell us that too.Want to add one or two you think we missed? Have at it. Finding theranking of the engines to be subsequent to opinion and massivedeliberation, we chronologically listed our picks for the bestsmall-block Corvette engines ever.
Option Code 2934-8
265cid, 195hp/260 lb-ft of torque
The first small-block V-8 Corvette was the life preserver sent down byMr. Duntov to save the Corvette marque. While the first V-8 helped turnthe boat around, it required many years of consistent performance to winAmerica over, especially in light of the competition from Ford'sThunderbird and the surging Hemi-powered Chrysler C300. Rated at 195 hp,the new 265ci small-block was lighter and had 45 more horses than theBlue Flame inline six it replaced.
3,080 built with 225hp(official) 240hp(unofficial) engine
Engine Code 469
265cid, 225hp(official);240hp(unofficial)/270 lb-ft of torque, 2x4-barrel carburetion
To improve power and aesthetics, Corvette was available with optionaltwin four-barrel carburetors in 1956, rated at either 225 or 240 hp. Theracing-style option was to improve the performance appeal of theCorvette, as well as overall driveability and racing potential. Twoyears earlier, Corvette had only 150 hp, so this was a markedimprovement.
Engine Code 579B
283cid, 283hp/290 lb-ft of torque, fuel injection
Face it: Fuel injection locked in the Corvette as a serious performancecar, the 1hp/cubic-inch engine option being the stuff of legends.Rochester fuel-injection-equipped Corvettes set the bar high inperformance racing events and drew an avid fan base. Inside and out, thenew 283, although only a few cubic inches larger in overall displacementthan the 265 it replaced, changed the entire feel of the small-blockengine and the car that enveloped it.
Option Code 582
327cid, 360hp/353 lb-ft of torque, fuel injection
More cubes are always good, and the move from 283 to 327 ci was a majorjump for Corvette. An additional 45 hp from the previous model year,along with nearly 60 more lb-ft of torque, spurred the Corvette to itsbest performance ever. With finned-aluminum valve covers bracing analuminum fuel-injector intake housing, this engine looked the part anddelivered when called upon.
1,325 built ('64)
771 built ('65)
Engine Code L84
327cid, 375hp/350 lb-ft of torque
The redesigned fuel-injection system from 1963 is just part of thisperformance story. The '64-'65 375hp, 327ci engine was the highestperforming small-block to date, only to be surpassed by the introductionof the ZR-1 engine in 1990 (despite the horsepower rating differentialbetween gross and net horsepower). With a mechanical-lifter camshaft andhigh-flow exhaust manifolds, this was the ultimate high-compressionsmall-block and was a worthy competitor to the big-block engine optionthat was to arrive in late 1965.
Engine Code LT1
350cid, 370hp/380 lb-ft of torque
One of the most balanced Corvette engines ever, the LT1 was a hotperforming powerplant that was able to handle low-speed, daily driverchores, yet unleash all 370 hp when required. With lots of torque, thisengine in the three-year-old C3 chassis made for a better-handlingCorvette than its big-block brethren. Of the early small-blockCorvettes, this is one of the most often overlooked and unsung Corvettecombinations ever produced.
L82 350cid, 205hp/255 lb-ft of torque
Hidden in the performance-weak decade of the '70s was one small ray ofhope: the L82 small-block. Stifled by those horsepower haters who loadedCorvettes with smog systems bent on killing it once and for all, the L82appeared in 1975 and was rated at 205 hp. The L82 name would stickaround for several years with small horsepower increases, reminding usthat small-block engines were once king.
350cid, 205hp/290 lb-ft of torque
Cross-Fire fuel-injected engine
An all-new platform meant time for more power, and the Cross-Firefuel-injected engine used in 1984 was the peak of that inductionprogram. While many challenge its performance heritage, it was thehottest engine in the new '84 and helped Chevrolet sell an impressive51,000 of these new Corvettes. With unique throttle-body injectorsmounted above a carburetor-like intake manifold, they worked well fortheir time, and today many diehard Cross-Fire enthusiasts love themstill.
Engine Code L82
350cid, 230hp/330 lb-ft of torque, Tuned Port fuel injection
The Tuned Port fuel-injection system dazzled enthusiasts upon itsarrival in 1985. With individual tuned aluminum runners and moretrue-to-the-name electronic fuel injection, power jumped up 25 ponies,as did throttle response and the potential for improved performancethrough aftermarket engineering. The Tuned Port-injected engine drewmuch attention to the second-year Corvette and kept sales close to40,000 cars.
Engine Code LT5
350cid, 375hp/370 lb-ft of torque
Corvette went exotic in 1990 as the Mercury Marine-built ZR-1 enginewith twin overhead camshafts and 375 true net horsepower gavesmall-block fans something to talk about. The standard Gen IV chassishad been steadily improving and, through elaborate ZR-1 chassismodifications, the ZR-1 engine had a platform that could take advantageof its potential.
Engine Code LT4
350cid - 5.7L, 330hp/340 lb-ft of torque
The last of the Gen IV Corvettes was the best of the breed, with much ofthe credit going to the impressive LT4 engine. For 1,000 savvy buyers,the LT4 engine could be ordered in Grand Sport option cladding, whichgave drivers the best possible performance package. Still, an additional5,359 Corvettes were built with the 330hp engine sans GS paint, whichgave them the quickest Corvette available over the counter short ofopting for the ZR-1. With the six-speed transmission, drivers had onevery fast and excellent driving machine.
Engine Code LS1
5.7L - 346cid, 245hp/350 lb-ft of torque
A new generation of Corvette heralded the arrival of an entirely newCorvette engine: the LS1. A different engine from previous small-blocks,it still sported the 350ci displacement but shared little else. The LS1,as originally delivered, cranked out 345 hp, but the potential, as wewere to find out, was far greater. The smooth-operating, high-techengine was a perfect match for the sleek and much improved Corvette. Thetwo components paired up nicely, once again making Corvette aworld-class performer.
Engine Code LS6
5.7L - 346cid, 385hp/385 lb-ft of torque
Using the name that put Corvette racing on the map back in 1963, theZ06-packaged Corvette offered a higher-horsepower engine for thesespecially optioned cars. Although available only in the hardtop bodystyle, power was up to 385 and totally changed the attitude and publicperception of the car. Although early version oiling problems challengedthe car's initial success, Chevrolet quickly righted the ship andimproved the option each year, ultimately netting 400 hp from the 350ciengine in 2004.
Engine Code LS2
364cid - 6.0L, 400hp/400 lb-ft of torque
Along with a new chassis, body, and the designation "sixth-generationCorvette," clearly a new engine was also warranted. While the originalLS1 engine took a little while to become fodder for performanceenhancement, the LS2 already benefits from a host of aftermarket partsto make it even better. But for Corvette fans not looking to dive underthe hood, the arrival of the LS2 gave them horsepower numbers equivalentto the Z06 of the previous years in a car carrying 150 pounds lessweight. And you could wrap it in a convertible too. Thank you, LS2.
Engine Code LS7
427 cid - 7.0L, 505hp/505 lb-ft of torque
Imagine the ultimate small-block Chevrolet engine: aluminum block andheads, 7.0 liters of displacement churning out 505 hp, and gobs oftorque: the best of the best for the best Corvette ever made. Sure, itmay not have the allure or sound of the original '57's 283, but when wasthe last time you saw a Corvette nosing upwards of 200 mph? The new LS7engine is the key ingredient to driving Corvette into a land it hasdeserved since its inception: a truly affordable exotic for the masses.If that's not an American ideal, what is?