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.

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Every builder takes his job seriously, especially since his name goes on the side of the blower. Of course gM has a tool to help the builder get his nameplate in just the right spot.

With the supercharger installed, the engine is sealed and pressure tested. air is forced into the oil and water passages and the computer makes sure there are no leaks. if the pressure isn't held, the builder has to figure out where the leak is occurring and fix it before the engine can move farther down the line.

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Before the builder can torque down any bolt he must first scan the appropriate bar code for that set of bolts. This sets the electronic torque wrench to the proper setting and prevents errors, since the system won't let the builder scan the next fastener until the first ones have been scanned and torqued. all of these torque operations are stored and key the engine's serial number.

At station 10, the exhaust manifolds are installed. These are the same as those used on the lS7. fabricated from 18 separate parts, there's a specific left and right side. To make sure there's no mix-up, they're installed at separate stations-10a and 10B. The racks they're on are color-coded, yellow for the right side, and brown for the left. You can see the new integrated oil cooler mounted to the block.

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The flywheel is put on using a two-pass system, and on the final pass each bolt is marked with paint to show it was finished. Notice the nine bolts used to secure it to the crank instead of the six found on an lS7 crank.

The last step for the builder is to weigh the engine. Since the lS9 doesn't have a dipstick, the oil is added by weight so it's important to know what it weighs dry. in our case it was a svelte 530 pounds

After the weight is recorded, the lS9 is tested. first it's run by natural gas so it can be externally balanced. Then it's hooked up to a dC motor and put through a cold test for 45 minutes.