Ferrari 458 engine used as reference for C8 Corvette Z06 LT6 V8

When General Motors engineers designed the 5.5-liter flat-crank V8 in the new Corvette C8 Z06, it was something entirely new to them. Never before had they built an engine without a cross crank, or one that had such a high RPM. It’s no wonder engineers had to get creative when creating the record-breaking engine. However, GM engineers knew they lacked the required experience, so they decided to do some benchmarking by purchasing a Ferrari 458 engine.

C8 Corvette Z06: reference of a Ferrari 458

According to The readerthe chief engineer of the so-called Gemini project, Jordan Lee, said during an in-depth presentation of the LT6 that the team was extremely interested in what set Maranello’s engines back when development began.

“We wanted a Ferrari 458 engine, to take a look at their components and see what they were doing,” he said. At the time, buying a 458 to mine the engine was not on the table this early in development, and they needed to find a more reasonable source for a test engine. “We were able to buy a wrecked car engine from Poland on eBay. We sent them a check for around $25,000, and we were all very happy and thrilled that the engine actually showed up.

Ferrari 458 engine

The team didn’t know how legit the purchasing process was. According to Chevy spokesman Trevor Thompkins, the engine was simply delivered on a pallet directly to the engineering plant in Pontiac, Michigan. From there, the crew went straight into the teardown process, and Corvette chief engineer Tadge Juechter said he was surprised at what he found inside. But once they finished inspecting the Ferrari 458 engine, they started working on improvements for their own engine.

Why a Ferrari 458 engine? Because at one time it was the most powerful naturally aspirated V8 engine ever built. That record has since been broken by the Z06’s LT6 V8 engine, which is the world’s most powerful naturally aspirated V8 engine, period.

Once a C8 test car was on the road, the team used a real 458 to test the prototype. Eventually the 458 GM used to compare to the C8 was sold, and they bought a 488 once it was available. They later switched back to a used 458 after realizing that the new turbocharged Ferrari lacked “soul” compared to its naturally aspirated predecessor.

We’re sure that won’t be the rhetoric when the C8 Corvette eventually features forced induction on the upcoming ZR1 and Zora models, but hey, that sounds like an honest take.

When you consider the extreme benchmarking that went into creating the LT6 engine for the C8 Z06 Corvette, you’ll get a better appreciation for the hype surrounding the 670 horsepower, 8,600 rpm Corvette, especially if the it’s expected to hit dealerships for less than $100,000.

LT6 V8 engine
Picture via GM.

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