GM's 100-millionth small block being built

GM's 100-millionth small block being built

When it comes to engine size, smaller, it seems, is better these days. Desperate to achieve upcoming fuel economy targets, manufacturers are downsizing engines across entire product ranges.

The days of the gas-guzzling V-8, it would appear, have come and gone.

Nothing could be further from the truth, and General Motors wants consumers to know it still has big plans for the legendary small block V-8.

How big? Big to the tune of $1 billion, spent to update manufacturing facilities to build the fifth-generation small block. And big enough to hire or retain some 1,700 workers to build the new engine.

In the very near future, GM will cease production of the “old,” fourth-generation small block to begin production of the Gen-V engine. We know the new engine will use direct injection, which permits advanced engine management for improved performance and fuel economy.

It will run a higher compression ratio, too, ensuring a more complete burn (with less emissions) and greater power, even on regular gasoline. In fact, the Gen-V small block is even designed to be a flex-fuel engine, permitting owners to run on E85 fuel.

We know it will be more fuel-efficient than the engine it replaces and we know it will retain the same 4.4-inch bore centers that have defined the small block V-8 for the past 56 years. That’s where the facts stop and the speculation begins.

A fuel injector, as used on GM's Gen-V small block V-8

A fuel injector, as used on GM's Gen-V small block V-8

First up is the rumor of a smaller small-block V-8, displacing 5.5 liters instead of the current 6.2 liters. This is rumored to be an “entry-level” V-8, and Chevy has already denied that this engine will find its way into the next generation Corvette.

Inside Line cites rumors of changes to the small block’s pushrod valvetrain, that would allow a higher degree of variable valve timing for both increased performance and better fuel economy. GM is neither confirming nor denying these rumors, but it seems clear that the Gen-V small block will incorporate more advancements than just direct fuel injection.

GM recently built it’s 100-millionth small block V-8, which is a testament to the merits of the engine’s design. While four-cylinder engines may be increasing in popularity, there are still applications for which a V-8 is the best choice. While there’s no guarantee that the small block V-8 will last another 56 years, this much is certain: it won’t disappear any time soon.