In numerous conversations over the years with teams that develop the Chevrolet Corvette, it’s obvious how much work they put into having fun with America’s sports car and the car’s fans. The crew seems to be having special fun with the C8, a model that started its life by going where no Corvette had gone before and only continues to do so. The teasing continued over the summer, perhaps unintentionally, but few realized it until recently. When Corvette Blogger toured the restoration workshop during the 28th Anniversary Celebration at the National Corvette Museum in September, the outlet did a video walkaround of an LT6 engine used in the Z06 sitting on a wood pallet specially constructed to hold the 5.5-liter V8. At the front of the engine, a square black piece of tape covered a portion of the pallet. No one paid attention to it.
Earlier this month, Corvette Forum member Andybump posted a photo he took of the same engine on the same pallet, wondering why the motor was in the garage next to an LT2 V8 in a room full of Corvette projects and concepts. Then user Sicky said they’d been at the museum in July and saw the same engine. In Sicky’s photo (above), there’s no tape covering the stenciled information on the pallet, revealing the words “LT6 Gamma” and “LT7 Beta.” The second stencil has our attention, considering it’s believed to refer to the engine we’ll soon find in back of the new Corvette ZR1, and suggests GM’s already well into testing.
To be clear, this is a Z06 engine. It even had the word “dyno” written on it, every Z06 motor bolted together at the Performance Build Center tested for 20 minutes on the bench to prove itself. But years of rumor claim the LT7 will be a twin-turbo version of the LT6. Instead of the Z06’s 670 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque, the LT7 has been predicted with around 850 hp and anywhere from 720 to 840 lb-ft. In addition to the haziness around output, it’s not clear if GM will reduce the LT7’s displacement compared to the LT6. As mentioned in the forum thread, the naturally aspirated 4.4-liter Ferrari V8 that GM eclipsed with the LT6 in terms of power density shrank in displacement when it gained two turbos. The Ferrari NA 4.4-liter made 562 hp and 398 lb-ft in the 458 Italia; fitted with two snails for the 488 GTB, displacement dropped to 3.9 liters, output climbed to 661 hp and 561 lb-ft. In the Ferrari F8 Tributo, the TT 3.9-liter got cranked up to 710 hp and 568 lb-ft. Hence, some rumors suspect the NA 5.5-liter LT6 could contract to as “little” (relatively) as 4.4 liters as a twin-turbo LT7. Anyone keeping track of the fire-breathing European coupes and sport sedans knows 4.4 liters is a very popular displacement for massive power.
All of this is speculation, mind. Piling on with even more, whatever the LT7 ends up being, it is then expected to serve the top-dog Zora trim with around 1,000 horsepower thanks to hybrid motors cribbed from the E-Ray all-wheel-drive powertrain. The E-Ray won’t go near that, since it’s getting the 6.2-liter LT2 V8 from the basic Stingray and must mind its place in the performance constellation. Corvette watchers are planning for a ZR1 debut sometime next year as a 2024 model, before or after the E-Ray debuts next year. The Zora is anticipated in about a year after that.