By firing up that bowtie-clad crate motor, you’re celebrating Chevy’s lengthy and well-documented history of building race engines. Plus, the neighbors probably need to learn how to appreciate the aroma of race fuel reaching combustion anyways.
One of the great things about being an American citizen is freedom of choice, and in the case of automotive fanatics like ourselves, this means having the freedom to order a full-blown 454-cubic-inch LSX454R crate motor online.
Thanks to the guys over at GM, who have graciously opened their photo vaults to us, you too can now get a brief history lesson on the science behind the evolution of Detroit muscle.
1. 409 V8
In its heyday, the 409 was churning out around 425 horsepower, making it an obvious choice for any GM enthusiast who wanted to dominate in NHRA Stock and Super Stock drag racing classes. Easily recognizable due to its W-shaped rocker covers, the 409 is about as iconic as it gets in the engine world.
2. 427 “Mystery” Engine
GM says this engine was specially designed by Chevrolet and “included design elements that would evolve into the Big Block family.” Later, plans to name the motor the “Mark II” V8 were scuttled when a corporate edict pulled GM brands from organized racing, thus limiting its potential and presence.
3. 302 Small Block
But by utilizing its wide range of Small Block options, engineers were able to take the 4-inch bores from the 327 engine and mate it with the 3-inch stroke out of a 283 engine in order to achieve an idealistic 302 cubic inches. In an effort to get the engine homologated (inspected and approved) for series eligibility, Chevrolet opted to install it in a special version of the Camaro which ended up having an option code that you might recognize: Z28.
4. 427 ZL1 Big-Block
Once other dealers got wind of this procedure, everyone was talking about the Gibb’s special package, and even though only 69 ZL1-powered Camaros ever hit the streets, these motors flourished as engine swaps grew increasingly popular and easy to execute. This engine offered the best of both worlds for GM enthusiasts, as it had all of the power of a Big Block but with a curb weight that came in around 100 pounds less thanks to being almost entirely constructed out of aluminum.
5. SB2 NASCAR Engine
6. R07 NASCAR Engine
Designed strictly as an engine that was meant for NASCAR racing, the R07 had nothing in common with previous Small Block or Big Block engine designs other than being made of metal and having things like eight pistons within its walls. Having said that, it did feature “mirror port” cylinder heads, something that was similarly seen in GM’s infamous line of LS engines.
Interestingly enough, this same engine still powers NASCAR Sprint Cup racers to this day, with 15 recorded wins in 2015 alone claiming Chevy a record-setting 13th consecutive manufacturer title.
7. 7.0 Liter Corvette C6.R
Concocted to house a forged steel crankshaft, titanium intake valves, sodium-filled exhaust valves, titanium connecting rods, a dry-sump oiling system, and hydro-formed exhaust headers that featured unique “quad flow” collector flanges, the LS7.R engine was an unstoppable monster for its time.
8. Chevrolet/Ilmor 2.65 Liter Turbo V8
Positive performance results were staggering, and before long this oddball engine had become most racers’ preferred powertrain. All the way up until 1992, the 2.65-liter motor ruled the roost, owning 64 of the 78 races outright, and racking up six consecutive IndyCar Indianapolis 500 wins.
9. Chevrolet/Ilmor 2.2 Liter Twin-Turbo V-6
This direct-injection, small-displacement engine produced around 700 horsepower consistently, was near impossible to break, and powered various Chevrolet drivers to 10 wins during the 16 races in 2015 alone, a feat that included Juan Pablo Montoya’s famous Indy 500 win.
10. 1.6 Liter Turbocharged Inline-4
Scoring more wins than any other manufacturer, four consecutive driver championships (2010-2013), and three consecutive manufacturer titles from 2010 to 2012, the Chevy 1.6-liter turbo proved that dynamite can come in small packages. Isn’t it funny how something as mundane sounding as a pint-sized production engine found in a Chevy Cruze can take the world by storm?