Since 1955, automotive enthusiasts with needs that lie outside of the Corvette’s narrow, two-door, two-seat purview have been able to satisfy their thirst for hopped-up small-block power everywhere from the obvious (buying a Camaro) to the seemingly far-fetched (in a Swedish SUV). All but the most exclusive cars ever adorned with the crossed flags have bucked the selfish norm of their segment, showering attainable horsepower and sweet, sweet torque upon nearly every corner of the showroom.
With deliveries of the eighth-generation Corvette underway, can we expect to see its brand-new, 490-495 horse LS2 V8 show up anywhere else in the GM product portfolio? Or, has the fancy, new engine location, an interior that suddenly finds itself described as “upscale,” and an onslaught of positive attention made the latest member of the crossed flag family more possessive than its forbearers?
Possible Recipients of the LT2 V8
When scrutinizing the General’s current lineup and the available information about their upcoming vehicle pipeline, it isn’t immediately clear if customers who aren’t in the market for a mid-engine sports car will ever experience the pleasure of LT2 ownership. If the Corvette and its newest 6.2L mill do decide to have an open relationship, these engine bays are the most likely recipients of a little LT2 loving.
A final update of the Sixth-Gen Camaro SS
The historically obvious place for the latest Corvette powerplant to take up residence is between the front fenders of the ‘Vette’s big, little brother. The current Camaro’s two V8s, the LT1 and Supercharged LT4, were pilfered from the C7 Corvette’s Stingray and Z06 parts bins.
While the Alpha platform Camaro is widely considered the driver’s choice among the current crop of pony/muscle cars, it has found itself perennially stuck behind the Ford Mustang and the ancient Dodge Challenger in the sales race and in danger of being discontinued. Chevrolet’s attempts to buoy sales have failed to vault the current car into the throne, where its reborn predecessor reigned from 2010 to 2014. The cavalry that could save the nameplate or, at least, send it out on the high note that it deserves, doesn’t involve any (questionable) facelifts or produce-themed special editions, but instead, the street cred and best-in-class power that the C8’s V8 could bestow upon the volume SS model.
The once-proud Camaro has been continually outflanked and out-marketed by a seemingly endless bombardment of Mustang and Challenger variants. At present, Challenger buyers can choose from a 5.7L Hemi V8 with 375 HP or a 6.4L Hemi that (scat) packs 485 horses before stepping into the Corvette’s price range. Blue Oval fans can get 460 or 480 HP flavors of the 5.0 “Coyote” V8 in their ‘Stang at sub-‘vette MSRPs. The lone Camaro powerplant doing battle in the $40-50,000 sweet spot of this market is making less power than its rivals (455), making life miserable for the sales floor soldiers. The current Camaro SS forces sales associates to wield semi-obscure statistics in the battle for cross-shoppers; “No, it isn’t the most powerful, but it IS the lightest of the bunch (3,685 lbs. vs. 3,705 for the Mustang and 4,226+ for the Challenger).” “The Challenger makes 30 more HP, but our horses each only have to pull around 8.09 lbs. (vs. 8.71 lbs.) … brings 35 more torques to the table than the Ford…” By which time the customer has already done an about-face on their way to the Mopar store where a sign out front simply states that, “we have the most power that you can get for $40,000.”
Even with a Z51 Stingray-protecting 490 HP rating, a Camaro SS with LT2 power would completely flip the script on its rivals. This Camaro would stake claim to all of the best descriptors that the segment has to offer; lightest, most powerful, torquiest, to name a few.
As much sense as the notion of an LT2-powered Camaro SS makes, the lack of buzz and test mule sightings makes it seem like GM has largely moved on from the current Camaro. Enthusiasts can cross their fingers for a swansong Z/28 and, perhaps, a surprise seventh-generation, but instead of waiting around, the best way for concerned fans to save the Camaro brand is by investing in one of the nameplate’s current offerings.
To truly compete with the Trackhawks and TRXs of the world, the Silverado, Tahoe, and their platform-mates will need an even bigger gun than the LT2, think LT4, or the upcoming twin-turbo bent-eight. In the mid-sizers, though, an LT2 would create a monster and offer the under-hood differentiation that the special off-road packages desperately need. The Colorado ZR2, and impending GMC Canyon AT4, boast some of the most impressive off-road tech in the industry but often miss their ride on the trophy-truck hype-train because of uninspiring powertrains. If buyers had the option to ditch the WT-spec V6 and 181 HP, MPG-focused diesel for Corvette power, they’d have a permanent, front-row seat on the H-train.
Weight-wise, GM’s midsize trucks are closer to the previously mentioned Dodge Challenger than the Challenger is to the Camaro, at somewhere between 4,600 and 4,704 lbs., depending upon cab configuration (even in the more substantial crew-cab body style, the gap between the Colorado and non-widebody 392 Challengers is 478 lbs. while the Camaro is 541 lbs. easier on the scale than the Mopar coupe). With such a svelte frame, each of a hypothetical LT2 ZR2’s 490 horses would only be saddled with 9.38-9.6 lbs., nearing the 702 HP Ram TRX’s 1/9.05 power to weight ratio, and downright embarrassing the F150 Raptor’s 12.24 lbs. per horsepower rating, all while having the most trail-friendly width in the extreme-off road pick-up category (76.7 inches vs. 86.3 inches for the Raptor and 88.0 inches for the TRX (all without mirrors)).
Likelihood: Never say never
Turning the Colorado ZR2 up to 12 seems like another no-brainer. Still, there doesn’t seem to be much evidence pointing to General Motors getting into the performance truck market beyond the electric GMC Hummer, but after the TRX reveal, it feels like they need to do something.
A Chevelle Revival
This one is tricky, but if properly executed, it has the potential to be a massive success. When looking across the current American automotive landscape, a few cars stand out as having no natural competitors. Our site’s namesake and the four-door Dodge Charger are two such examples. While most sedan news has been doom, gloom, and mass exodus the past few years, the Mopar stalwart has flirted with moving 100,000 units per year since production of the current, LD generation shifted to full capacity in 2012.
General Motors could (and should) take a page out of Dodge’s playbook by, somewhat erroneously, applying some beloved ’60s and ’70s nomenclature to a rear-wheel-drive muscle/sport sedan. The best part is that they could field a serious competitor in this arena with very little overhead. They already have the best chassis in the business with Alpha 2. Next, they just need to apply the Camaro’s 335 HP V6 to the fleet-level car (to keep the factories running at capacity) and create an SS model by inserting the LS2, magnetic ride control, an available 6-speed manual, an eLSD, and other go-fast goodies from off the shelf. This car could be an attainable, yet family-friendly performance sedan that many bow-tie fans are clamoring to add to their garage. It would give Chargers fits on street, strip, and track while also taking a sizeable bite out of Dodge’s bottom line. It would even fill a need by bridging the gap between the now middle-tier, CT5-V, and the hotly anticipated CT5-V Blackwing in the GM performance portfolio.
From there, there would be continual space to grow the Chevelle line. The previously mentioned twin-snail V8 expected to debut in the C8 ZR1 would make an ultra-Chevelle into an interesting alternative or even replacement to the top-tier, supercharged CT5 as the Wreath-less Crest pushes to be the first 100% electric brand at GM. To keep this new Chevelle from falling into obscurity like its outstanding, but misunderstood SS precursor, GM only needs to craft an exterior shell that suggests its sporty intentions, and a marketing department that doesn’t neglect the project. Although, the proper exterior styling coupled with the return of the Chevelle name and LT2 power could render the advertising point moot.
Sadly, it seems like a longshot that the current Wall Street-obsessed rendition of General Motors would throw a bone to people with both car enthusiasm and children on their resume. At least, these folks can still join 100,000 others in becoming Charger owners this year, maybe even to the tune of 797 horses!
So, where does that leave the Corvette’s latest V8? General Motors spokespeople famously “don’t discuss future product,” making any upcoming LT2 applications murky, at best. Still, the lack of hints, rumors, and mysterious test vehicles running around Milford leads one to believe that the days of America’s sports car sharing its small block could, like the C8’s engine, be behind us now.
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