“The small block is the engine that brought high-performance to the people,” said David Cole, founder and emeritus chairman of Center for Automotive Research – and whose father, the late Ed Cole, was the chief engineer at Chevrolet and oversaw development of the original small block engine. “There is an elegant simplicity in its design that made it instantly great when new and enables it to thrive almost six decades later.”
The first small block was built in 1955 and was 4.3-liters displacement (back in those days the industry used cubic inches and this Chevy V-8 displaced 265 of them) and produced 195hp and offered an optional four-barrel carburetor. The milestone mill completed this week was an LS9, a supercharged 6.2-liter (376 cu. in.) V-8 cranking out 638hp for the Corvette ZR1 application. This is the most powerful production small block GM has built to date.
While heralding the unique milestone in its automotive history, GM announced they are currently developing the fifth-generation small-block engine which will benefit from direct-injection combustion systems to increase efficiency over the current V-8s.
As part of that announcement GM said it is investing more than $1 billion in manufacturing facilities associated with producing the new small blocks and this translates to some 1,711 jobs created or retained.
So just how much is 100 million small-block engines? If they were lined up end-to-end they would wrap around the earth nearly twice.