In a move to continue its renowned customer service, Corvette has created the Corvette Engine Build Experience, which allows new vehicle owners of the 2011 Corvette Z06 or ZR1 to build their new car’s LS7 or LS9 engine at the General Motors? Performance Build Center (PBC) in Wixom, Michigan.
Corvette is one of the few, if not the only, manufacturer that still builds their engines using manpower only, without any robots. An engine technician builds one engine at a time, beginning with the crankshaft all the way to the engine top cover. The Corvette Engine Build Experience is believed to be the only one in existence.
Corvette enthusiasts, being the most passionate in the car industry, can actually help build their own Corvette engine under the watchful eye and supervision of an engine technician. This opportunity ignites a long-lasting commitment between the customer and the company. This privilege adds $5,800 to the price of the car. Other options include a private tour of the assembly plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky (featuring a more exclusive tour of the plant than the regular public tour), the presentation of their car at the Corvette Museum across the street from the plant, and a two-day complimentary attendance at either driving school in Arizona or Nevada.
When a customer selects the Engine Build option, the car dealer submits the order to Chevrolet. A special concierge contacts the customer to help make arrangements. Travel arrangements to and from the Build Center are the customer’s responsibility; however, the Chevrolet concierge assists with booking local lodgings and meals, arranging local transportation to and from the Center, coordinating all customer activities at the Center and helping schedule the actual building of the engine.
The customers actually build their car’s engine under the support and supervision of the skilled technicians that build the engines every day. These technicians hand-build Corvette’s Z06 LS7 7.0L engine, ZR1′s 6.2L supercharged LS9 engine and a variation of the Grand Sport’s LS3 6.2L engine, without the use of robots or an assembly line. After the engine is assembled, a personalized nameplate is added to the engine next to the builder’s name. The finished engine is then shipped to the Corvette assembly plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky, to be installed in the customer’s car. All engines are tested and certified before being installed into any car. As with all engines assembled at the Center, the Engine Build Experience engines are also covered by Chevrolet’s five-year, 100,000-mile transferable powertrain warranty.
The LS7 engine has its origins in General Motor’s small-block V-8, built 50 years ago. This new 505-horsepower small-block with technology borrowed from Corvette’s racing experience allows the Corvette to reach 198 miles per hour. The engine has titanium rods for durability as well as a dry sump oil pump. This oil pump system is designed to keep the engine lubricated properly during the cornering loads that the Corvette can produce in excess of 1 g.
The engines are pushed through 15 sub-assembly stations that are equipped with the necessary tools and components needed for that particular stage of assembly. Tools such as electric torque wrenches ensure the engine’s accuracy along with the expert eyes of each technician. Completing about 30 LS7 engines a day, each member technician is specially trained. After the engine is completed it undergoes a 20-minute heat test and is balanced before being transported to the assembly plant to be married with a new Corvette.