Why Corvette Soldiers on with ‘Old-Fashioned’ Pushrod Engines

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Chevy often catches a lot of flack for refusing to kill off its old school pushrod engines. But they’ve got a few very good reasons not to!

Technology is a wonderful thing. Thanks to the art of progress, we live in some truly spectacular times. Aside from the obvious like smartphones and advanced medical tech, we can march down to our local car dealer and buy some of the fastest and most efficient machines ever built. Heck, you can even get a mini-van or mega SUV capable of outrunning many of the heralded muscle cars of the ’60s and ’70s. But one thing hasn’t changed over that time frame  the Corvette still uses a pushrod engine for power.

In fact, the Corvette is truly the last real sports car to hold on to this “old-fashioned” engine technology. And it’s not like overhead-cam engines are anything new or unproven at this point. So why the heck would Chevrolet not update its iconic fiberglass wonder? Why stick with something so old school in a world of increasingly complicated tech? Well, that’s what Jason Fenske from Engineering Explained is here to, uh, explain in this informative video.

Corvette ZR1

The biggest benefit of a pushrod engine, as most of you already know, is that it is relatively small and lightweight. This is because the camshaft is located inside the block. Modern LS motors have become incredibly popular swap candidates for that very reason  they fit in almost anything. And in the Corvette, the compact size allows the engine to sit lower in the car, which benefits handling.

It’s also no secret that small block Chevy pushrod engines have a stellar reputation for reliability. And you can thank simplicity for that. Pushrod engines have fewer moving parts, thus less that can break. And that simplicity makes them cheaper to produce as well, which helps maintain the Corvette’s status as a performance bargain. The basic design of the pushrod engine also means that it offers up a lot of low-end torque at the expense of a higher redline. Which, of course, is what many of us prefer.

Corvette ZR1

So perhaps we shouldn’t dismiss the iconic pushrod engines of the world as dead just yet. Chevy sure hasn’t. In fact, they’ve managed to do what other manufacturers haven’t – apply modern tech to an old school engine to keep it alive and competitive with all those newfangled, high-tech motors!

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Brett Foote is a longtime contributor to Corvette Forum, Chevrolet Forum, Rennlist, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other auto sites.

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