The History of the GM LT1 Engine

1When talking about the GM LT1 engine there is little doubt that most will associate the small block powerhouse with the Chevy Corvette. But the engine made its way into several GM models and though most notable for then power it delivered to the Corvette, it also powered other GM sports cars like the Camaro.

The more known GM LT1 engine is the one that came out in 1992 and ran in GM cars until 1997. Though the engine was not the same, it was actually GM’s second go around with the name as in 1970 there was in fact an “LT-1” engine that was produced by GM. Understandably because more time had passed since 1970 there was a huge evolution in the new generation LT1 engine.

The most notable change would have to have been the second generation LT1’s reverse cooling system. This allowed the engine to stay cooler by having coolant start at the heads of the engine and then flow down through the rest of the engine. This process allowed for a maintained cylinder temperature and also kept the heads cooler making way for greater power through a higher spark advance and compression ratio.

While there were some interchangeable parts that could go from the second generation to the first and vice versa for the most part the two engines were very dissimilar. One thing that did remain the same though was the engine mounts and bell housing. This made it nice and easy for someone who wanted to put the newer style engine into an older style car.

The first version of the second generation LT1 engine made its way into the C4 Corvette and was a 5.7 liter, 350 ci V-8 that produced 300 bhp. As the years pressed on there were different versions f the LT1 that came out to accommodate other cars in the GM line besides the Corvette. While the Corvette LT1 maintained the four-bolt main, most other versions of the LT1 featured the two-bolt main. Here are the different GM cars that featured the LT1 engine:

  • 1992-1996 in the C4 Chevy Corvette Y-Body
  • 1993-1997 in the Chevy Camaro Z28 and SS F-Body
  • 1993-1997 in the Pontiac Firebird Formula and Trans Am F-Body
  • 1994-1996 in the Buick Roadmaster B-Body
  • 1994-1996 in the Chevy Caprice B-Body
  • 1994-1996 in the Chevy Caprice Police Package B-Body
  • 1994-1996 in the Chevy Impala SS B-Body
  • 1994-1996 in the Buick Roadmaster Wagon B-Body
  • 1994-1996 in the Chevy Caprice Wagon B-Body
  • 1994-1996 in the Cadillac Fleetwood D-Body

All of the LT1 engines produced featured a cast iron block but only the Y and F bodies received aluminum heads as the B and D bodies had cast iron heads instead.

For the first two years of the LT1 second generation production the engine featured speed density fuel management, a dedicated ECM (engine control module), and fuel injection that was batch fire. However, in 1994 the LT1 made the switch to sequential port injection, a mass airflow sensor, and also saw a more advanced computer control the transmission and the engine alike. This lead to an all new name dubbed the PCM (powertrain control module).

There were minor modifications made for the next couple of years with 1996 seeing the most dramatic of changes. Then in 1997 the LT1 would see its last days in production as they were installed in the 1997 model year Camaro and Firebird.

While the newer engines that would come out would prove to be all the better for the Corvette and other GM models as well, there will always be a great deal of admiration for the LT1 engine. Still considered one of the more popular GM engines today, it has etched its place in GM history and paved the way for what speed enthusiasts enjoy today.

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