The guys over at Speed Academy recently made a pilgrimage to the small block mecca of Tonawanda, New York to take a walkthrough of GM’s Powertrain factory. Since opening in 1938 there have been 71 MILLION V-8s made here making this ground zero for Chevy and Corvette fans.
What’s even better is we get to see a smokin’ hot 650 hp LT4 go from a rough casting to fully assembled masterpiece on its way to Bowling Green where it will be mated to a nasty, new Z06 Vette.
With a recent $400 million spent on tooling upgrades for the 5th gen small block, the Tonawanda built LT1 has been awarded Ward’s “10 Best Engines” in both 2014 and 2015. Its big brother the LT4, adds a 1.9-litre supercharger with 9 lbs of boost seated well within the valley between cylinder heads, adding only one-inch to the height of the engine.
If you want to see why the auto industry will never employ the number of people it once did, look no further as the arsenal of robots in synchronized movements in this factory that can create tolerances equal to a human red blood cell, we’re not kidding.
While the automation revolution is here to stay, there are many tasks still carefully handled by humans. The rods, bearings, pistons and crankshaft are all tenderly assembled by hand by skilled workers that know they’re building something that people write songs about. All Corvette motors are born here, so anytime you see a new Vette (or any V-8 Chevrolet) you now know where the “Heartbeat of America” came from.