GEN3 CAMARO ENGINE A MISSED OPPORTUNITY FOR SUPERCARS

By Bruce Williams

With the cost of the new Gen3 program skyrocketing – including the engine development program, Auto Action editor Bruce Williams asks… Did the Gen3 Supercars development team miss an opportunity to introduce a currently available, contemporary and more market-relevant Chevrolet V8 engine for the next Camaro? He thinks they have!

It may not be known to everyone, but there is a race-proven production Chevy V8 that could well have been fitted to the new Camaro – it would have been a close technical match to the 5.2-liter Coyote V8 at DOHC from the Mustang Gen3, and an engine that could present an opportunity to reduce construction costs and we could have two similar engines the Gen3 Supercars….

The 2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06, which is yet to be released, is powered by the LT6 5.5L DOHC engine, the most powerful naturally aspirated production V8 on the market. Should this have been the Gen3 Camaro’s power plant?

Officially known as the LT6, the Chevrolet 5.5-liter V8 is the modern dual-overhead-cam design that will power the upcoming 2023 Corvette Z06 road car. It’s no ordinary road car engine – it comes with the promise of 670 horsepower (really!) at 8400 rpm, naturally aspirated!

However, instead of pricing the LT6 as the rival to the Coyote V8 that powers the road-going Ford Mustang, Supercars continued its development program for the existing small-block LT hybrid pushrod V8 that has been evolving at Chevrolet since the end from the 1990s. The new racing engine block is purely racing-derived and is used in the engines that power the Cadillac Racing Dpi-VR sports prototypes that compete in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

New Gen3 Chevrolet LT V8 development engine for the new Camaro as unveiled at the Gen3 launch at the Bathurst 1000, 2021

Everything seems to be progressing well, but development costs are starting to rise, insiders report that the price of the motors has now ballooned beyond $75 to $80,000 per motor, well above the originally planned cost of $65,000 . The cost increase is partly due to the development needed to achieve engine parity with the Ford Coyote in Gen3 and the Chevrolet LT engine, two engines with very different basic architectural concepts and displacements.

And while it looks like rising costs are going to be an issue, part of the cost of developing these new power plants is having an engine that will run longer without major rebuilds, and the claimed key benefit of new engines, both red and blue, is that they should run maintenance-free for a full season, saving teams money in the long run.

But back to what seems like a missed opportunity to power the Camaro with a modern Chevrolet engine…

Every detail of the LT6 engine reveals an on-road Corvette engine that builds on the competition version of the LT6 that has powered Chevrolet’s Corvette C8.R endurance race cars since 2019. Among the many successes of the Corvette C8 .R feature six wins and seven pole positions in the 2020 IMSA Sportscar Championship Series in the United States, with six other fastest laps in the GT class.

The #3 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R driven by Antonio Garcia, Jordan Taylor and Nicky Catsburg, winners of the GTD PRO class, WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Twelve Hours of Sebring, Florida. (Photo by Richard Prince for Corvette Racing)

During the 2020 series, Chevrolet won the GT Constructors’ title – its 13th since 2001 – as Jordan Taylor and Antonio Garcia in the #3 Corvette C8.R won the GTLM Drivers and Teams Championships. Much more recently, a little over two months ago, the team of Nicky Catsburg, Jordan Taylor and Antonio Garcia rode a Chevrolet Corvette C8.R to victory in the GTD PRO class at the 12 Hours of Sebring. IMSA.

The same high-tech LT6 engine will power the yet to be released GT-3 competition vehicle, which will no doubt soon find its way to Australian competition via the GT World Challenge Australia series and possibly the 12 Hours of Bathurst.

Coming Soon Chevrolet Corvette Z06 GT3.R Race Car

General Motors claims the all-new LT6 is the most powerful naturally aspirated V8 ever released in any production car and marks a return to naturally aspirated for the track-capable performance model (noting that the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 featured the supercharged 6.2-liter LS9 V8).

In addition to great power, the engine features an 8600 rpm redline and racing-style dry sump lubrication system, as well as highly developed and tuned intake and exhaust systems. . Combined with the high technology, there is also a low inertia rotary assembly rooted in an all new short stroke flat crankshaft which, together with lightweight forged aluminum pistons and forged titanium connecting rods.

Every LT6 is hand-assembled by master engine builders at the historic Bowling Green, Kentucky plant where all Corvettes are built.

DOHC-32 valves make the 5.5L LT6 a very modern engine

The 5.5Lt LT6 features a racing style dry sump system

So, given that a Gen3 Supercars engine would be needed to run a season on a single rebuild, it would seem likely that a slightly detuned LT6 would easily deliver comparatively similar performance and durability to the Ford Coyote engine.

GM Performance insiders tell AUTO ACTION the LT6 is not yet available as a ‘crate’ engine, but hot-rodders and tuners in the US will have access to the engine soon after the car’s release of road.

The Australian cast could possibly arrive several months later. The expected cost of an LT6 crate engine could be in the range of $30-40,000. And, of course, there is already a racing engine program to support the Corvette C8.R – in the upcoming IMSA GT/GTLM and GT3 endurance programs.

So while on paper the LT6 seems like the perfect starting point to do battle with Ford… there’s a big “but” – it looks like it’s not as simple as replacing the LT6 engine. by the Camaro Gen3 power plant.

The LT6 engine is equipped with direct port fuel injection

The LT6 has direct port fuel injection, which is specifically excluded in the Gen3 regulations, which requires the use of a single throttle body injection system. The LT6 induction could be modified, but that would mean modifications to the cylinder heads and an expensive intake manifold and throttle body development program.

Perhaps that was considered a bridge too far, so the Gen3 Supercars Camaro will be powered by the GM Performance hybrid engine made up of various GM-supplied components and parts from other vendors, similar to current Supercars engines.

The Camaro Gen3 continues to be developed with the LT-based engine. MTR pictures

So while the opportunity to have two very similar, modern engine platforms may have eluded us for now, this engine designated LT Hybrid has its origins in the current production Chevrolet Camaro and has a real legacy of racing victories.

The platform (the engine block) belongs to the current LT engine family and is the same component used in the Cadillac Racing Dpi-VR sports prototypes that compete in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, and a 6.2-liter LT1 powers the current Chevrolet Camaro SS road car.

On the back of Gen3 engine development, GM Performance will promote the connection with the Supercar engine and its line of engines and crate components – so hot-rodders and racers can soon buy and/or build their own version of the Gen3 Camaro racing engine.

But could the impressive LT6 – perhaps with a little modification to the Gen3 throttle body settings – have provided the cost-effective and market-relevant solution for the Chevrolet Camaro Supercar teams?

I’m just asking the question…

For more motorsport news, see the current issue of Auto Action.

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