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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Million-Dollar Baby
When we arrived at Wixom, it was only the second day that engines were being built for retail sale. The day before, six engines were started with the first one-serial number 01-destined for the first retail production ZR1 to be built. That car, which would be built a month later in Bowling green, kentucky, recently sold at Barrett-Jackson for $1 million. Proceeds from the sale will benefit the United Way for Southeast Michigan, so the crazy price is a good thing.

"This is an iconic moment in Corvette and small-block history, and very fitting as we get ready to embark on our company's next century," said Sam Winegarden, executive director, gasoline engine engineering for gM Powertrain. "The LS9 is the embodiment of GM's first 100 years of performance experience and technology, and there is immense pride among everyone involved with its development and manufacturing."

Shown from left are: dean guard, chief engineer, small-block engines; Jeff Stafford, assistant superintendent, PBC; Tom Morrissey, skilled engine builder and builder of million-dollar first ZR1 engine; Ron Meegan, assistant chief engineer, lS9 and lSa; and Mike Siegrist, design system engineer, small-block engines.

When the engines are done, they are double checked and sent offsite for a 20-minute hot test and dyno validation. it takes from 4.5 to 5 hours to build an lS9 at Wixom, which means they can churn out around 45 units a week. Between the nine engines in this picture there's 5,077 horsepower just waiting to find homes in GM vehicles.

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