Automotive

Chevy’s New Roads Magazine Features the Engineers Behind the Z06 Moonshot

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Chevy's New Roads Magazine Features the Engineers Behind the Z06 Moonshot


Photo Credit: Jenny Risher / Chevrolet

With the reveal of the 2023 Corvette Z06 and the deep dives offered by the engineering team, we’ve learned how members of the Corvette team referred to the C8 Z06’s LT6 V8 engine as Project Gemini. There are several reasons for that name, the first being that the high revving naturally aspirated V8 was akin to Chevrolet’s moonshot project. Secondly, the Project Gemini name referred to the massive twin-throttle bodies that sit on top of the LT6. The team even placed over 50 rocket Easter eggs on various parts of the engine, cementing the fact that Chevrolet does indeed still build rockets.

The November 2022 issue of Chevy’s New Roads Magazine features an article called “To the Moon and Track” featuring three key engineers for the project, Executive Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter, GM Small Block chief Jordan Lee, and Performance Manager Alex MacDonald.

Jordan Lee

Jordan says the engine team built their first engine prototypes in September 2015. While the industry has moved to turbos and superchargers, they wanted “an engine that was true to the Corvette DNA and yet unlike any conventional Small Block engine that we’ve done in the past. So: Double overhead cams, four valves per cylinder, unique cylinder block, and a sophisticated dry sump lube system.

Tadge said the team was taking a huge risk as historically, new Corvettes outperform the previous models, and they were worried that the 5.5L naturally aspirated LT6 wouldn’t be able to match or exceed the C7 Z06’s 650 hp from the supercharged LT4. Tadge says:

“We all had to swallow hard and admit laws of physics might not let us exceed that with a naturally aspirated V8. The C7 Z06 was a great car, but the front-engine layout limited the amount of power we could get to the ground. You could do all-wheel drive, except that doesn’t work well with our front-engine layout; there’s no place for driveshafts. It would’ve been a horribly heavy car. We had to do something.”

Of course, that “something” was moving to the mid-engine configuration which puts more weight over the rear tires and allows the team to fully take advantage of the Z06 potential for putting the power down to the pavement

Tadge Juechter

Jordan says by moving the engine behind the driver, they didn’t have to worry as much about the compactness of the engine as they had to with the front-engined cars:

“This allowed us to use a DOHC architecture and not be too limited with the size of the engine. So DOHCs and a large intake manifold were now possible. We also went with a flat-plane crankshaft design to maximize volumetric efficiency so we could make the most power possible. The only downside of a flat-plane crankshaft is the shaking forces can be quite high, not unlike a paint shaker. We often affectionately referred to the LT6 as a paint shaker.”

Juechter also addresses the vibrations and says the team worked to make sure the engine vibrations were not noticeable to the driver or passenger.

Alex MacDonald

Once the prototypes were built and track testing began, the team was amazed at how much power the new Z06 possessed. Alex MacDonald says they were pretty certain the new Z06 would be faster than the more powerful C7 ZR1: “At our first development track event, the C8 Z06 was running lap times faster than the 2019 ZR1, and we were shocked. That ZR1 has its places where 750 horsepower is hard to argue with. Generally, the new Z06 punches above its weight class.

Finally, one of the benefits coming out of the Covid pandemic came with the redesign of the exhaust system. Lee says it was important that people in the car could hear “the symphony” created by the LT6 and Tadge gives full credit to Alex MacDonald and his team for coming up with the quad-reverse megaphones under the lower fascia. Alex says an X-Pipe is one way of making V8s sound great, but there just wasn’t the room for one because the space is so small. “So the novelty of it wasn’t the appearance of a center-exit exhaust, but the sound quality we get from the mixing happening out there, in the turbulent air behind the car — which is pretty wild for me to think about.

Click here to read the entire feature at Chevy’s New Roads magazine at Chevrolet.com

Engineers with the 2023 Corvette Z06

Source:

Chevy New Roads Magagine

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