If you're a Corvette Action Center forum member, you can login to the forums below. If you're not a member, you're welcome register here for free!

Supporting Vendors / Dealers - Advertising - Shop

2009 Corvette ZR1: Ruthless Pursuit of Power: Supercharged Edition - Page 1 of 7

<< 2008 Corvette Tech Center

2009 Corvette Tech Center >>

2009 Corvette ZR1 - LS9 Engine

Next page

Page 1 of 7
© 2008 by Hib Halverson
No use without permission, All Rights Reserved

Discuss this article

Once, I was a skeptic.

Back a few years, reading the Corvette Action Center's rumors of a C6-based "super Vette", I thought..."600 horsepower, 100-grand-plus? No freakin' way!"

Later, intel revealed that an early prototype of what, by then, some called "Blue Devil" was destroyed by an oil fire during a test session at GM's Milford Proving Ground west of Detroit. Still a skeptic, I continued to think... "Well, if there was a program (which, at that point, there wasn't) it was just another failed (fried?) concept."

A year or so went by and, with growing rumors about Blue Devil (the second), my skepticism waned. Uh, well ok by then it really wasn't skepticism. It was my being pissed-off knowing pigs would fly at warp speeds before I could afford a Vette costing a hundred large.

click for larger view

Image:  Central States Trucking.

One of the famed "Blue-but-Actually-Red Devil" sequence showing the engine.

On February 19th last year, an enterprising employee of Central States Trucking Company in Romulus, Michigan, near Detroit Metro International Airport, was preparing a pair of then still highly classified Blue Devils (which were actually red) for air freighting to Europe and a Nurburgring test, did an impromptu photo session which included engine shots. You couldn't say "hypertext markup language" before imagery was all over the Internet. If that wasn't enough, after the photo session the guy did a short road test of the car. Three days later, according to a report taken by the Romulus Police Department, he got fired. Ya think!!

Bad for him. Good for us.

Seeing the underhood, huge, on my 23" Apple flat screen, it was obviously a "beta" engine and, seeing that big charge air cooler, I knew, blue or otherwise; GM Powertrain was working on one devil of a motor.

So, I was wrong.

The don't-call-me-SS-Z07-or-Grand Sport, super Corvette project was legit all along and will result in the most amazing iteration of America's Sports Car ever the 2009 ZR1, destined for dealer sales floors a month or so from now.

Those who'll get to road test the new King of the Hill Corvette are way above my pay grade. The cost:benefit ratio of inviting C-list press to press previews pales next to the bang-for-the-buck in PR efforts like the first (3rd gen) ZR1 going to auction at Barrett-Jackson or unveiling soirees at the Detroit Auto Show.

Not so the sitch at General Motors Powertrain. The engine wizards up in Pontiac have a great story to tell with the ZR1's 6.2-liter, supercharged version of the Fourth Generation SmallBlock V8 known as the "LS9". They know that, to most of the Barrett-Jackson set, gearhead techie articles about engines are like alien communication from galaxy far, far away. Thus, to get that story out, Powertrain engages media which actually understands how engines work.

That's where the Corvette Action Center comes in.

click for larger view

Image:  GM Powertrain

Two of the key folks on the LS9 Team: Assistant Chief Engineer, Ron Meegan (left) and Design Responsible Engineer, Yoon Lee, spend several hours with the CAC interviewing for this article.

Last January, GMPT's communications staff offered us some face time with two of the people who made the LS9 happen. At the invitation of Powertrain Communications Assistant Manager, Tom Read, during a week in late January, we caught a jet to snowy Michigan and spent a morning at the Powertrain mothership in Pontiac talking with Powertrain's Executive Director of Engine Engineering, Sam Winegarden (click here for that interview); LS9 Assistant Chief Engineer, Ron Meegan and supercharger Design Responsibility Engineer, Yoon Lee, and an afternoon examining and photographing the engine's parts.

In addition, Jim Parks, a public relations specialist at the Eaton Corporation, the supplier of the LS9's supercharger hardware, arranged a conference call with two engineers at Eaton: Supercharger Product Line Advanced Sales Manager, Grant Terry, and Product Development Manager, Mike Sitar.

Back on 17 December 2007, GM Powertrain did a conference call with media about the LS9 engine. During that call seven months ago, Tom Stephens, GM Executive Vice President, Global Powertrain, spoke about the thinking of he and others three years ago, during early stages of the project, "For horsepower, we said, 'Let's go for 100 horsepower per liter, so...620.' We don't know exactly (what the official rating will be), but it's not going to leave here (at) less than 620."

After that conference call, around the Corvette Action Center we were all saying that GM Powertrain would beat the projected, 620-hp, by a slight margin. Sure enough; they did.

click for larger view click for larger view
Click image for larger view

At the National Corvette Museum's April C5/C6 Bash event, Corvette Chief Engineer, Tadge Juechter, gave the public a ZR1 "walkaround". Even after Juechter's 45-minute briefing, there were people still pinching themselves to make sure they'd finally seen a real Blue Devil.
Image:  Author
Click image for larger view

In a packed Chevrolet Theater on the same weekend, GM Powertrain announced the SAE power and torque figures for the LS9.
Image:  Author

On 25 April, at the National Corvette Museum's "C5/C6 Bash", during an LS9 seminar in front of a standing room only crowd in the NCM's Chevrolet Theater, GM Powertrain, Small Block Chief Engineer, Dean Guard, revealed the official, SAE J2723, power and torque ratings for the 2009 ZR1's engine: an astonishing, 638 horsepower at 6500 rpm and 604 lb/ft torque at 3800 rpm.

So...how in the heck did those engine wizards in Pontiac develop an engine that makes (good grief!) almost 640 SAE Net Horsepower? Read on...

click for larger view click for larger view
Click image for larger view

In the end, LS9 hype was justified by just one chart. Look at the LS9's power and torque curves then, look below it at the V10 Dodge's curves. Any questions?
Image:  GM Powertrain
Click image for larger view

The LS9's supercharger assembly.
Image:  GM Powertrain

Next page