General Motors crossed a milestone yesterday.

Somewhere on a little counter in GM's Performance Build Center at Wixom near Detroit, a number ticked over from 99,999,999 to 100,000,000, marking the hundred-millionth small-block V8 GM has produced.

That milestone engine is a 638-horsepower supercharged LS9, and will be finding its way into a lucky example of the Corvette ZR1 - quite fitting that the most extreme production GM small-block is also its 100-millonth.

In a line that stretches right back to the 1955 Chevrolet Corvette with only 190 horsepower, the small-block V8 has always been popular for its compact size and relatively light weight, strong reliability and even the potential for decent economy - a Corvette manages 26mpg on the highway.

Naturally, performance has always been key too, and the V8 has appeared in Corvettes, Camaros and all manner of other GM sports cars, including Australian Holdens and British Vauxhalls.

GM also still builds an updated version of the original Gen I engine for marine and industrial use, and produces thousands of "crate engines" for hot rod builders.

GM will even let you build your own LS small-block as part of the Corvette Engine Build Experience. For $5,800 you can construct the engine for your very own car under the expert eye of experienced engine builders at the Wixom plant.

The best thing is, the small-block still has a future, according to GM. Modern technology advances are allowing GM to extract more power and more economy from the engine all the time.

Whether we'll be talking about the 200-millionth small-block in another 56 years or not is open to debate, but in the short to medium term at least, the future is bright for one of the world's most iconic engines.