The GMPP LS7 Is Hand Built On The Same Wixom, Michigan, Assembly Line As The Production Engine
Remember the old saying, "There's no replacement for displacement"? The same holds true today. If you want to be a contender, and not a pretender, there's nothing shy of the $100,000 mark that packs the punch of the Z06 Corvette and its 505hp LS7 engine.
Shortly after the C6 Z06's public debut in fall 2005, GM Performance Parts (GMPP) unveiled an over-the-counter LS7 crate engine at that year's SEMA show. The widespread availability of the new top-dog LS opened the floodgates for Corvette aficionados to transplant this 7-liter monster motor into Vettes of all vintages.
"The LS7 has a lot going for it that owners of midyear Vettes can enjoy," says Dr. Jamie Meyer, GMPP's marketing manager. "Chief amongst these is that it's very light and compact, offering an engine that's the size of a small-block, yet still outperforms big-blocks of that era. [It also] offers unbelievable fuel mileage for an engine that makes more than 500 horsepower. The stock Z06 nails darned-near 30 mpg!"
Word spread quickly that the LS7 was the engine of choice for speed connoisseurs whose Corvettes had the look, but lacked the horsepower to back it up. The popularity of the LS7 is now such that Corvette owners across the world are demanding the engine for their restomod and Pro Touring time machines.
Charles Spiteri, a motor-vehicle mechanic in Albion Park, Australia, is one such enthusiast who realized a GMPP LS7 was the perfect engine for his classic Corvette. But it took a harrowing journey through the internal-combustion jungle before he saw the light for his '63 Sting Ray.
"I've always been a Corvette fan," Spiteri says. "I first saw my '63 in the 1980s, when all it consisted of was a chassis and a body." Owned by George May, an Australian hobbyist, the right-hand-drive Vette was something of an enigma. No one knew any of the details of its history, such as what had happened to its original drivetrain, or why an unknown owner had undertaken the peculiar task of removing the trademark split window from the classic coupe.
By the 1990s, the car was still unfinished, although May had "spent a lot of dollars getting parts for it," Spiteri recalls. It was then that the Ray was purchased by Bob Mayner, another local Corvette hobbyist. Spiteri was optimistic. If luck was on his side, perhaps the new owner would prefer cold, hard cash in lieu of his Corvette carcass.
"I went to see him, and he said he would think about it, because his wife didn't want him to sell. I called him a week later, and we struck a deal," Spiteri says.
With a virtual tabula rasa on his hands, Spiteri's choices for a drivetrain were virtually unlimited. Nonetheless, he chose the traditional route, outfitting the car with a 350-cube SBC mated to a Muncie M20 four-speed. Several years later, he opted for more power, and shoehorned in a supercharged 350 sourced from previous car owner May.
According to Spiteri, subsequent damage to the blower tarnished the splendor of the boosted small-block. "I was getting tired of the supercharger, but I loved the power it had," he says.
Then, in 2007, a friend of his extolled the many virtues of the LS7. "He told me I could buy an LS7 in a crate, so I downloaded all the information and said to myself, `This is the way to go,'" he remembers.
Opening the GMPP shipment, Spiteri found a shiny, new LS7, validated and backed by a full warranty. "The engine is hand built on the same Wixom, Michigan, assembly line as the production LS7," Meyer explains. "When you purchase an LS7 crate engine from a GMPP dealer, you're getting the same record-setting performance that you'll find under the hood of the Z06 Corvette."