Corvette ZR1 High Tech LS9 - First Look: Building The ZR1's 638HP Engine

We Head Inside The Wixom Performance Build Center To See What's Involved In Assembling The New Supercharged Ls9.

Sucp_0811_16_z Corvette_zr1_high_tech_ls9 Ls_oil_filter 1/30

Oil capacity was increased for the lS9 since the ZR1 Vette has an expanded performance envelope compared to the ZO6. The result is a 33 percent increase in oil capacity. This means you'll need 10.75 quarts of oil instead of the previous eight quarts when you do an oil change. The increased oil supply means the mill handles 30 percent more g's. The extra demands of the supercharger prompted gM to design a new LS oil filter with a thicker housing to resist bulging.

There are three of these screens throughout the build line and they are used as check stations. Skip a step, the face will be red and sad. fortunately ours was smiling, so we could move onto the next station.

Not all of the tools used are super high-tech widgets. This jig was designed by one of the builders and properly aligns all the rockers so they can be quickly installed. Neat idea.

At Station 8, the lS9 gets its water pump. for packaging reasons the blower belt also spins the water pump. To handle the extra strain, the pump's bearing was beefed up by gM's engineers.

Sucp_0811_22_z Corvette_zr1_high_tech_ls9 Intercooler 5/30

With the Eaton gen Vi Twin Vortices Series (TVS) supercharger bolted in place, the intercooler can be installed. The new air-to-liquid tube-in-fin intercooler will help lower inlet temps by up to 140 degrees f. The larger displacement of the new gen Vi unit expands the range of the compressor's effectiveness, building power more quickly at lower rpm and sustaining it through higher rpm. The 2.3l displacement of the Eaton will provide maximum boost of 10.5 psi. according to gM, the lS9 doesn't suffer from heat soak.

Organization at Wixom extends to the parts as well as the tools. This system makes it easy for the builder to be sure he is supplied with every part needed for a station and to ensure that all of those parts end up on the engine. Note the new lS9 valve covers. They no longer have the ugly racks, and the coils bolt right to the cover for a cleaner look.

As we said, every torque operation is recorded by the computer and tied to that particular engine. in the event of a failure, this serial number could be input and a complete history of the engine would pop up. in case you're curious, this is the 12th retail-production lS9 ever made. if you're lucky enough to own a ZR1, you can go down to your garage and see if this is your engine in the story. Better yet, have your butler do it.

This gizmo lets the builder install a balancer without breaking a sweat. it uses hydraulic pressure to perfectly install the balancer with a mere push of a button. The next tool (not shown) is a dedicated torque wrench specifically for the balancer bolt.

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