Somewhere between Detroit and Bowling Green, Ky., there's a 500-hp, 7.0-liter Corvette LS7 engine built by two Automotive News staff members - Senior Writer Dale Jewett, who happens to be a Corvette junkie, and myself.
General Motors usually doesn't let journalists build engines, but this rare exception last month came about as part of the preparation for the start of production at GM's new Performance Build Center in Wixom, Mich., west of Detroit.
For the first time in its near-100-year history, GM has a dedicated plant at which special high-performance engines for low-volume production cars will be built by hand.
The assembly is expected to take about four hours per engine and will be done by one worker who makes one engine at a time from start to finish.
GM wanted to show off the plant, and not in the usual way by walking reporters through for a quick tour. That's how Dale and I ended up building a working production engine that will be installed in a Corvette Z06 this summer.
The engine probably will installed in a test mule, pilot production or press car, where it will be flogged heavily. It won't be sold to a customer.
GM will produce two engines at the center: the Corvette engine and the 440-hp overhead-cam supercharged 4.4-liter V-8 for the Cadillac STS-V.
GM hopes to produce about 15,000 engines a year at the center. Some of the LS7 engines will be sold to enthusiasts for their custom-built hot rods and race cars, for about $10,000.