GM LT engine

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General Motors' Generation II LT small block V8 engine debuted in 1992 on the 1992 Chevrolet Corvette. Few parts from the Generation II engine are interchangeable with the old generation I engine. The LT engine uses a new engine block, cylinder head, timing cover, water pump, intake manifold and accessory brackets. On the other hand, the engine mounts and bell housing bolt pattern remain the same, so the newer engine can readily be swapped into an older vehicle. One visible difference is the new "opti-spark" distributor which is located on the front of the engine behind the gear-driven water pump.

A key technical difference between the original Chevrolet small block V8 and the Generation II engine is the cooling system. The LT engine employs reverse cooling, meaning that the coolant starts at the heads and then flows down through the block. This allows for a higher compression ratio and more spark advance since the heads are kept at a cooler temperature. A secondary benefit of reverse cooling is that cylinder temperatures are higher and more consistent.

The intake manifolds, cylinder head castings, and other basic engine components are capable of supporting much higher power than factory-equipped engines produced. Even more readily than the typical Gen 1 small block, these aspects of the LT1 and LT4 enable their horsepower to be significantly increased by the addition of high-performance air intake ducting and exhaust systems. Further, upgrading the cylinder head porting and camshaft design with appropriate supporting modifications can enable these engines to produce in excess of 400 naturally aspirated horsepower at the rear wheels, or about 500 hp (370 kW) at the flywheel. General assumptions for friction loss through the drivetrain are as follows: 10%-12% friction loss for manual 6-speed transmissions, and 15%-20% for automatic transmissions.


GM LT1 from a 1993 Chevrolet Camaro Z28.

In 1992, GM created a new-generation small-block engine called the LT1, recalling the 1970 LT-1 moniker. It displaced 5.7 L (350 cu in) and was a 2-valve pushrod design. The LT1 used a reverse-flow cooling system which cooled the cylinder heads first, maintaining lower cylinder temperatures and allowing the engine to run at a higher compression than its immediate predecessors.

This engine was used in:

There were a few different versions of the LT1. All feature a cast iron block, with aluminum heads in the Y and F bodies, and cast iron heads in the B and D bodies. Corvette blocks had four-bolt main caps, while most other blocks were two-bolt main caps.

The 92-93 LT1s used speed density fuel management, batch-fire fuel injection and a dedicated engine control module (ECM). In 94 the LT1 switched to a mass airflow sensor and sequential port injection. A new, more capable computer controlled the transmission as well as the engine and got a new name: powertrain control module (PCM). Where the ECM held its calibration information in a replaceable chip, the PCM was reprogrammable through the diagnostic port.

The early Opti-spark distributor had durability problems and a revised version was introduced on the 1994 B-Bodies and in 1995 on the Y and F-Bodies. 1996 saw major revisions for OBD-II - a second catalytic converter on the F-body cars and rear oxygen sensors to monitor catalyst efficiency. Some OBD-II features had been added to the Corvette starting in 1994 for testing purposes. The 1997 model year Camaro and Firebird were the last year for this engine in a GM production car.

The 1992 LT1 in the Y-body was factory rated at 300 hp (220 kW) and 330 lb·ft (447 N·m). 96 LT1 Y-bodies were rated at 300 hp (220 kW) and 340 lb·ft (461 N·m). The 93-95 F-bodies were rated at 275 horsepower (205 kW) and 325 lb·ft (441 N·m), while the 96-97 cars were rated at 285 horsepower (213 kW) and 335 lb·ft (454 N·m). The 96-97 WS6 and SS F-bodies were rated at 305 hp (227 kW). The 94-96 B and D-body version was rated at 260 horsepower (190 kW) and 330 lb·ft (447 N·m).


The LT4 was a special high-performance version of the new-generation LT1. With the addition of a slightly more aggressive camshaft profile, 1.6:1 roller aluminum rocker arms and better-flowing intake manifold (painted red) and cylinder heads, it was rated at 330 horsepower (250 kW) and 340 lb·ft (461 N·m). It was introduced in the 1996 model year, for the last year of the C4 Corvette, and came standard on all manual transmission (ZF 6-speed equipped) C4 Corvettes. The engine was passed down to special versions of the Camaro and Firebird the next model year.

The LT4 was available on the following vehicles:

  • 1996 Chevrolet Corvette when equipped with 6-speed manual transmission (includes all Grand Sports) (Production: 6,359)
  • 1997 Chevrolet Camaro SLP/LT4 SS 6-speed (Production: 100 for the U.S., 6 for Canada. There were 2 prototypes)
  • 1997 Pontiac Firebird SLP/LT4 Firehawk 6-speed (Production: 29)

All 135 production engines for the Firehawks and Camaro SS were completely disassembled, balanced, blueprinted and honed with stress plates. One in 5 engines was tested on a Superflow engine dyno and every car was tested on a chassis dyno in addition to performing a short 6-mile (10 km) road test.


A GM LT5 engine

Immediately prior to the release of the second generation small block, General Motors released a largely unrelated engine which also used the LT name. The LT5 was engineered by a team headed by Terry D. Stinson. It was an all-aluminum 5.7 L (349 cu in) small-block V8, but was entirely different from any of the other Chevrolet 350 engines. The bore and stroke were both different at 3.9 by 3.66 in (99 by 93 mm) instead of the usual 4 by 3.48 in (102 by 88 mm) and it featured Lotus-designed 32-valve DOHC heads. It was hand built by specialty engine builder, Mercury Marine. This engine produced 375 horsepower (280 kW) and 370 lb·ft (502 N·m) for the 1990-1992 Corvette ZR-1 and jumped to 405 horsepower (302 kW) and 385 lb·ft (522 N·m) for 1993 to its final year in 1995, thanks to cam timing changes and improvements to the engine porting. 1993 also added 4-bolt main bearing caps and an exhaust gas recirculation system. The engine was not used in any other vehicle.

L99 (4.3L)

A 4.3L (263in3) version of the LT1, designated the L99, was introduced in 1994 for the Chevrolet Caprice. It was externally identical to the LT1, but the bore was reduced to 3.736 inches (94.9 mm) and the stroke to 3 inches (7.6 cm), giving it a displacement of 263 in3. The pistons used in the L99 were the same as the ones used in the Vortec 5000, and 5.94 inches (151 mm) connecting rods were used.

Like the LT1, it features sequential fuel injection, reverse cooling, and an optical crank position sensor. Output is 200 hp (150 kW) and 245 lb·ft (332 N·m). Due to its smaller displacement, it provides better fuel economy than the 5.7 L LT1.

See also