GM might be pushing hard into electrification, but it’s not done with internal combustion yet. Last week, the company announced an $854 million investment into a variety of its plants to build the sixth-generation small-block V-8. It’s the first confirmation that GM is working on a new small-block, although the company isn’t yet releasing any technical details on the engine.
Of the $854 million, $579 million will go to GM’s Flint engine plant, which will build machine blocks, cranks, and heads, and assemble the complete unit; $216 million will go to the Bay City, Michigan, plant, which will build camshafts and connecting rods, and machine blocks and heads; $47 million will go to the Defiance, Ohio, plant, which will make block castings; and finally, $12 million will go to the Rochester, New York, plant, which will build intake manifolds and fuel rails.
The Chevrolet small-block V-8 dates back to 1954, with the current, fifth-generation debuting in 2013. Along with Stellantis’s Hemi and Ford’s Godzilla truck engine, the small-block is the only surviving overhead-valve V-8 sold in new cars today. (All three manufacturers offer pushrod V-8 crate engines as well.) Currently, you can find small blocks in GM’s lineup of full-size trucks and SUVs, plus the Camaro, the Corvette, and the Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing.
In its press release announcing the investment, GM made only specific reference to full-size trucks and SUVs. We already know that the CT5-V Blackwing is a one-and-done, with the Cadillac brand headed for full-EV sales, and the current Camaro is likely the last of the breed. We’d imagine the small block will soldier on in some capacity for the Corvette for as long as Chevy is allowed to sell it. The new hybrid E-Ray gives a good look at the Corvette’s future—old-school naturally aspirated V-8 assisted by electric power.
We probably won’t see the Gen-VI small block for at least a couple of years. We also can’t help but wonder if this will be the last of its kind.