The Chevrolet V8 – A history

The Chevrolet V8 – A history

Chevrolet was not the first American manufacturer to build a V8 engine – that distinction goes to Cadillac (1914) – but Chevrolet certainly has built the most famous one.  Today some 105 million V8 engines of varying displacements have been built by Chevrolet and the tradition continues today.

The story of the Chevrolet V8 goes back to 1953.  This was the year that Chevrolet introduced the Corvette with a reworked version of their inline 6 cylinder “Stovebolt” engine.  Renamed the “Blue Flame Six”, this hopped up 235 CID engine put out a tepid 150bhp. When rumor hit GM that Ford was going to introduce an overhead valve V8 in 1954, GM rushed an overhead valve V8 into production. One of the driving forces was that Ford’s emblematic sports car, the Thunderbird, was being outfitted with a sporty V8 and Chevrolet had an old fashioned, in-line 6. This detail was a major market issue and sales of Chevrolet’s Corvette languished.

In 1955, Chevrolet introduced their 265 CID V8 engine to great acclaim. It was rated at 195bhp and was available in most Chevrolet model cars. At this point, horsepower wars officially among Detroit steel took off and increasing engine power became marching orders for decades. In fact, just one year after the 265 was introduced, the 265 engine’s horsepower was increased to 225 and in 1957 the engine was bored out to become 283 CID.

Those that know Chevrolets will easily recognize the following engine displacements: after the 283 came the 327 and soon thereafter the 350.  When fuel economy concerns caught up with the industry in the 1970s, less powerful engines such as the 307 evolved.  Today, Klick Lewis, a car dealership in PA tells us that the fifth generation of the Chevrolet V8 is being designed.  It has been reported that the 2014 Corvettes will be offered with the Gen 5 LTI engine and it is being rated as delivering 450 horsepower with 450lbft of torque.

It should be noted that the new Gen 5 LT1 engine is not all about power. It is lighter and more fuel efficient than its predecessors. The secret to the fuel economy boost relates to GM’s new cylinder deactivation technology which actually switches off cylinders when the power demand is low. Effectively a 6.2-litre V8 engine then switches to a 3.1-litre V4 engine with the result that the fuel economy is bumped up an amazing 20 per cent. In fact, Chevrolet states the base C7 Corvette will deliver some 26mpg while cruising along on the highway.  This is the finest gas mileage of any V8 in the 60 year history of Chevrolet.


A guest post courtesy of Klick Lewis car dealership of PA.