Benchmarking is common practice in the car industry. When developing something new, a manufacturer will often purchase a competitor product and then pull it apart to see what can be learned. In 2014, however, it seems it was a little too early in the development life of Chevrolet’s C8 Corvette Z06-bound LT6 V8 to warrant getting a whole car, so instead, engineers bought just an engine. Specifically, a 4.5-litre V8 from a wrecked Ferrari 458 Italia.
Before Chevy created the LT6, a flat-plane V8 with a high redline was unknown territory for the company. Featuring a flat-plane crankshaft and a 9000rpm redline, Maranello’s ‘F136 F’ was ideal. Such a powerplant is not the easiest thing to get hold of, so the engineering team had to buy one sight unseen from Poland via eBay.
Jordan Lee, the chief engineer of the LT6 project, told The Drive the team “didn’t know how legitimate” the $25,000 transaction was, but thankfully, the pallet holding the engine turned up just fine. The destination? It was mailed directly to General Motors’ development facility in Pontiac, Michigan. We’d love to know what the seller was thinking when printing off the address label for that.
Points of interest in the engine included the small size of the bearings and Ferrari’s methods for isolating things like the electronics against the potentially damaging vibrations associated with a high-revving flat-plane engine. C8 chief engineer Tadge Juechter said the study inspired: “a lot of improvements in how we went about [developing the LT6].”
Chevrolet would later get hold of a whole 458 to benchmark the Z06 against, later switching to the twin-turbocharged 488. As reported by Motor Trend last year, the team ended up selling it and buying another 458, preferring the “more soulful character” of its naturally-aspirated engine.
The LT6 is a whole litre bigger than the F156, and with 670bhp on tap, around 100bhp more potent. The redline is a smidge lower, but still far higher than GM’s crossplane V8s at 8600rpm. Also, both the LT6 and F156 feature dry-sump lubrication setups, helping the engine stay nicely oiled even during hard cornering on track.
As for what that’s like to experience for the driver, we’ll have to wait until the reviews are out later this year. Judging by first ride reports, anyone getting behind the wheel should be in for a treat.