When General Motors’ engineers designed the new C8 Corvette Z06’s 5.5-liter flat-plane crank V8, it was something entirely new to them. Never before had they built an engine without a cross-plane crank, nor one that had such a massive rev count. So it’s no wonder the engineers needed to get creative when putting together the record-breaking engine. However, the GM engineers knew they lacked the required experience, so they decided to do some benchmarking by purchasing a Ferrari 458 engine.
C8 Corvette Z06: Benchmarked From A Ferrari 458
According to The Drive, the so-called Gemini Project’s chief engineer, Jordan Lee, stated during a deep-dive presentation of the LT6 that the team was extremely interested in what made Maranello’s engines tick back when development began.
“We wanted a Ferrari 458 engine, to take a look at their components and see what they did,” he stated. At the time, buying a 458 to extract the engine wasn’t on the table this early in development, and they needed to find a more reasonable source for a test motor. “We were able to buy a wrecked car engine from Poland on eBay. We sent them a check for something like $25,000, and we were all pretty pleased and thrilled that the engine actually did show up.”
The team didn’t know how legitimate the buying process was. According to Chevy spokesperson Trevor Thompkins, the motor was simply delivered on a pallet directly to the company’s Pontiac, Michigan engineering facility. From there, the crew got right into the disassembly process, and Corvette’s chief engineer, Tadge Juechter, said they were surprised at what they found inside. But once they finished inspecting the Ferrari 458 engine, they began working on improvements for their own engine.
Why a Ferrari 458 engine? Because at one point it was the most powerful naturally aspirated flat-plane V8 engine ever built. That record has since been shattered by the LT6 V8 engine in the Z06, which is the most powerful naturally aspirated production V8 engine in the world, full stop.
Once a C8 test car was on the road, the team used an actual 458 to test against the prototype. Eventually, the 458 GM used to benchmark against the C8 was sold, and they bought a 488 once it was available. Later, they went back to a used 458 after realizing the newer turbocharged Ferrari was lacking in “soul” compared to its naturally aspirated predecessor.
When considering the extreme benchmarking that took place when creating the LT6 engine for the C8 Corvette Z06, you’ll have a deeper appreciation for the hype surrounding the 670 horsepower, 8,600 rpm Corvette, especially when considering that it’ll arrive at dealerships for under $100,000.