- New-generation V8 and V6 engines from General Motors will be built with some of the most quality-enhancing techniques currently available.
- The Gen 5 small-block engine family will be available in nine GM models by 2015.
- The Tonawanda, New York plant assembling today's small-block engines built the storied original small-block V8 in 1955.
TONAWANDA, New York — At an historic engine assembly plant here that plays prominently in the ongoing story of General Motors' single most fabled engine, the company showed the media today a raft of new high-tech manufacturing techniques intended to make its new generation of "small block" V8 and V6 engines some of the highest-quality and most reliable high-volume engines it's ever produced.
The new "Gen 5" small-block engines, comprising 5.3-liter and 6.2-liter V8s and a 4.3-liter V6, already are available in the just-coming-to-showrooms 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray and in GM's redesigned 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and 2014 GM Sierra full-size pickups. By 2015, the Gen 5 small-block family will be found in a total of nine new models — and can be built at the rate of up to 1,000 per day.
The GM Tonawanda Engine plant near Buffalo, New York, builds all variants of GM's new Gen 5 small-block engine family and is the only engine plant to build the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray's LT1 6.2-liter V8.
Maintaining ultra-high manufacturing tolerances is the key to building reliable engines in such quantity and GM has invested $400 million in high-tech innovations and worker training to assure the new small-block engines are assembled with the kind of precision that might not be inappropriate for a hand-built wristwatch.
One machine measures the position of components by checking more than 11,000 data points to a tolerance of 2.5 microns — about 1/40th the width of a hair. Another checks to see the finish of surfaces is consistent to less than a micron.
Cylinder heads for the Gen 5 small-block engines are partially built by a new machine that assembles 48 parts in 40 seconds. And an advanced system to detect potential leaks in the engine's direct-injection fueling hardware uses helium to flag leaks of as little as one part per billion.
Nor is the human element passed by at GM's Tonawanda engine plant. "We have invested 40,000 hours and $1.8 million in training the workforce to build these engines with uncompromising quality, and we've added some of the most flexible equipment ever used in the industry to make sure we can meet market demand," said plant manager Steve Finch.
GM's Tonawanda engine plant built its first engines in 1938 and has made engines ever since. The site is perhaps best known for building the first generation of the revered small-block V8 that began production in 1955 — today's new Gen 5 small-block architecture still retains a functional connection to that hallowed 1955 design — and by the end of this, Tonawanda plant's 75th year, it will have built in excess of 71 million engines.
Edmunds says: High-tech manufacturing means it's a pretty good gamble not much is going to go wrong with one of GM's latest small-block engines.