If there’s an engine more directly tied to American culture than the small block Chevy V-8, we certainly couldn’t name it. It’s been in production for 56 years, and it’s powered everything from family sedans through Le Mans winning race cars. It’s powered generations of Chevy and GMC pickups, too, and has been embraced by GM subsidiaries in Europe, England and Australia. If you’ve never owned one yourself, chances are you’ve driven (or been driven in) plenty of them.
It’s oddly fitting that the milestone engine is an LS9, destined for a Corvette ZR1. The supercharged LS9 is 6.2 liters (376 cubic inches) in size, and cranks out 638 horsepower, making it the most powerful engine ever stuffed under the hood of a GM product. It’s also a far cry from the very first small block Chevy V-8, which displaced 4.3 liters (265 cubic inches) and put out 195 horsepower when equipped with an optional four-barrel carburetor.
The small block Chevy is currently in its fourth generation, but here’s some good news: the fifth generation small block, which will feature technology like gasoline direct injection, is currently under development. Expect this engine, likely in 6.2 liter size, to power the upcoming C7 Corvette.