When you stand back and admire that glistening LT2 engine in the middle of your 2020 Corvette Stingray, take a minute and give a shout-out to the guys from Ducati, Ferrari, Bugatti, and even the Pratt and Miller racing team.
Those are some of the places where the design team at General Motors looked for inspiration as they worked on the powerplant and its surroundings for the first mid-engine Corvette.
Naturally, since the new car proudly shows off its engine for the whole world to see, under glass just behind the passengers, senior creative designer Paul Arnone says “engine beautification and under-hood beautification became a priority on this vehicle because it is unique.”
Creative designer Guy Samuels says the designers approached their job by not “covering our sins by putting a big, honking plastic cover over our engine” and instead wanted to show more of the engine and less of the usual plastic. He says they sought an “honest” design with a benchmark of Ducati motorcycles, with an 899 and a 959 brought in for inspiration in the studio. “Motorcycles are as honest as you can possibly get when you talk about mechanicals,” Samuels says.
GM designers also checked out Ferrari and Bugatti engines as reference points, including their under-hood componentry, bolts, paint, and execution of certain finishes on plastic, according to Kirk Bennion, lead exterior designer.
“We wanted to replicate that, or even do it better,” Bennion says, “because Ferrari has a high standard, and if we could at least achieve that level of quality in our fit and finish under-hood-wise, that would just elevate this product so much more.”
The team also referred to photos of Pratt and Miller’s forthcoming C8-R racing car, with the goal of determining how heat, time, and weather affect the various materials under the hood of the race car. “We wanted to make sure that when they (the materials) weather, when they patina, that it’ll look as good as it did rolling off (the production line), just have a little different flavor to it,” Samuels says.
That doesn’t mean there weren’t in-house struggles along the way, with Arnone pointing to battles with platform and powertrain teams to allow harnesses and other plumbing to be hidden so that there weren’t “arbitrary routings just going over a nicely designed under-hood property.”
Fortunately, to help in that area, GM allowed designers early access to the powertrain team, “kind of a trend now,” according to Bennion, saying that such teamwork will “just help us develop better products for our customers.”
If they want to spruce up the engine bay even more, customers will also have the option of checking the box for an Engine Appearance Package that includes carbon fiber louvers over the exhaust manifolds, along with LED light bars to spotlight the motor even more.
One more neat feature about the new LT2 engine is a last-minute decision by GM President Mark Reuss to add a retro-style emblem to the cam cover honoring the Tonawanda, N.Y., plant where the motor will be built.
After all, as Arnone points out, “It’s our first big, mid-engined Corvette coming out, and it was very important to General Motors. We just wanted every part of this vehicle to look designed.”
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