cancel
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Did GM misname its LT engines?

The launch of the Cadillac Escalade-V has revealed a small, totally inconsequential, yet obvious flaw with GM's LT family of engines: their names. Under the hood of each 2023 Escalade-V is a hand-built, supercharged, 6.2-liter LT4 V-8 that produces 682 hp, making it the most powerful Cadillac production vehicle ever.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/opinion/did-gm-misname-its-lt-engines/
56 REPLIES 56
hyperv6
Racer

It basically the same engine adapted to the vehicle it is in.

No need to get crazy over a letter designation. Past GM engines with the same name would vary a slight bit.
relton
Advanced Driver

It's a little confusing for GM to revive the LT designations. Some of us are still playing with the LT-1 and LT-4 engines from the 90s, which are a completely different engine. There is also an L99 , which is an LT-1 with a smaller bore.
There were also LT engines much earlier.
There's a whole alphabet. Couldn't GM use a few new letters?
MAXTHEAX
Detailer

Being as old as dirt, the LT-1 I remember came in 1970 in the Corvette. It was also used in the Z-28 but not named as such.
That designation was also used on the lower compression version that came in 1971.
Edwardsg
Intermediate Driver

No LT-1 badging, but I always have seen the 70/71 motors referred to as LT-1.
Same motor, with just a slightly lower horsepower number, and a slightly higher intake. Politics and hood clearance came into play.
Pegleg01
Detailer

It was named LT-1 in the '93-'98 Z28.
buellerdan
Instructor

And also being old as dirt, to me the LS designation means 454 big block.
LS5
LS6
LS7
Pegleg01
Detailer

Had a sweet original small block based 'LT-1' in my '95 Z28.
iamwho2k
Intermediate Driver

Just be glad it's not some alphabet soup-like concoction that Toyota would spew forth.
Alico87
Intermediate Driver

Those concoctions usually make it easy to narrow down engines very specifically though which is difficult to do with a GM engine using just the engine code.
Pegleg01
Detailer

They are not good with words either... What the hell is Gazoo Racing?
Snailish
Engineer

Wasn't Gazoo Racing when Fred Flinstone became Goggles Paisano?

 

hyperv6
Racer

I think what gets missed here is these names are and we’re order option codes for engines. These letters and numbers designate an engine type and which version for a particular model. 

Marketing has at times used these numbers to try to sell the vehicles. 

Z/28 is the same thing just an order code that became an emblem. 

The original LT was in 1970 and has come and gone in variations over the years. 

To be honest there is nothing that the public needs to read into these numbers but they do help to show what style block the engine is based on. We just need the year or what it was out of at work to find parts. 

I had a LNF turbo 4. Mine stock was 260 HP but in a Solstice it had more torque than in my car or the others it was used. Yet it carried the same name. The designation  just identified the basic engine being used. 

61Rampy
Instructor

I came here to say the same thing, except I'm over a month late.
Camarojoe
Detailer

GM was just not forward thinking enough to put gaps in the naming convention, and the fact that they reuse RPO codes. There are three distinct LT-1's from 1970 to today. The best example of genius in naming is the periodic table of elements. It was developed by Dmitri Mendeleev in 1869 when all that was around was a manual scale to measure elements. He was brilliant and recognized that there would be more elements found and left spaces. Don't see any Mendeleev's at GM. What does it matter, when they go EV this won't matter.
SJ
Technician

Who cares, its a Chevy engine in a Cadillac, lost my respect for Caddies when they stopped doing their own engines.
Snailish
Engineer

From a marketing standpoint you would think someone would have realized putting the corporate names on the engines and matching that with the price points would actually be a selling feature.

 

Best part is, the masses wouldn't care so you'd just put the Chevy 6 banger in those crossovers whatever badge.

 

But the rest of us might enjoy a menu like this:

 

Biggest V8 for displacement is a Cadillac engine, supercharged. Could be a rare crazy money thing like the Blackwing (you know someone would pay to put that in a Vette or Camaro...)

 

Biggest V6 is a Buick engine, turbo.

 

I'd even do an Oldsmobile rocket. Or riff on the Quad 4... would have to think about that.

 

If you're being cheeky to an exotic inline 6 as the Pontiac engine.

 

And offer the Chevy versions as the reliable baseline. We know people love the idea of a Corvette version of an engine in their not-Vette.

 

I'm not proposing 7 different V8 architectures here... lots of shared components. But when you go to the speed shop and they say "Which GM V8 you have" and you say it's a 2024 Olds Rocket that means something more than just the sticker on the top of it.

 

mpzz
Advanced Driver

Makes me recall that an Oldsmobile buyer back when they first started using Chevy engines sued Oldsmobile because he was an Olds Rocket V8 fan and assumed that's what he was getting. He won, too, because nowhere in the literature did it say GM had gone to a corporate engine for all their car brands.
Pegleg01
Detailer

Did you ever have any respect for Buicks, Olds or Pontiacs when GM did the corporate thing so many years ago?
SJ
Technician

I lost interest after GM put Chevy Engines in everything. I do understand why they did it though, and a Toyota Engine in a Lotus etc etc is a sign of the times, just not my time. Things change but I hold on to my time when appropriate,I got to live in the golden age of the combustion engine era, I am happy.
Oldroad1
Gearhead

GM in the early days (50s 60s 70s) allowed each brand to be their own company even though they were grouped inside a corporate conglomerate. The early idea was for them to compete against one another while also competing with the other big two. Back in those days the corporate executive branch of GM believed each brand would do it's level best to produce a higher level of performance and quality which would in turn benefit GM as a whole. Those days are gone and GM has been slipping away ever since.
DaveH
Detailer

Implying that GM f'd it up is just simple minded.
Increasing governmental regulations for crash safety, then increasingly difficult emissions standards combined with a highly increased CAFE- exponentially increased the cost of development. And also put a stop to changing complete body styles and interiors every year or two.
So for GM it became financially unfeasible to develop dozens of different engines amongst 4 car brands and 2 truck brands every couple years.
Ford and Chrysler had to do the same thing to decrease costs.
Snailish
Engineer

Several of the branches of GM on their own (paying their own way, not sharing development and platforms) would have been in the same boat as the independents.

 

That is to say gone decades ago. Good chance that only Chevrolet would have made it to the 2000s if 1960s GM leadership hadn't been paying attention.

SGL
Intermediate Driver

Well.... the Gen I and Gen II smallblocks were "chevy" junk, but the LSx (Gen III and Gen IV) are more of a GM corporate design. There's a bit of obvious Buick DNA in that engine, plus some Chevy (displacements and bore centers are clearly SBC-derived). Its more of a true "corporate" engine, an idea on which GM was about 40 years late to the party, having spent the 1970s building 3 completely un-related 455 CID engines, 4 unrelated 350's, and a whole bunch of other wasted duplication.

But back to Cadillac... I'd much rather have an LSx in a Cadillac than a Northstar, 4.1/4.5/4.9 "High Technology" engine, or a V-8-6-4. 😛 The last truly good in-house Cadillac engine was not only good, but great: the 472/500.
Rushmore
Intermediate Driver

Once you realize all of those designations, like LT4, are in fact RPO codes it all makes sense since the RPO codes will never much sense anyway.  The RPO is tied to a model and year with the first letter denoting the category (L = engine).  Beyond that it's just marketing not thinking things through.

uweschmidt
Instructor

So What?
SGL
Intermediate Driver

Good grief, it’s just an option code. Does anyone really care? Nobody seems to mind calling the most commonly swapped-in “LS” engine for custom cars an LS, even though it’s really an LM option code.
mpzz
Advanced Driver

Obviously, you care, or you wouldn't know that.
CLS180MPH
New Driver

Detroit Diesel had the best naming system.
3-53 = 3 cylinders in line, 53 cubic inches per cylinder.
8V72 = 8 cylinders in a V configuration, 72 cubic inches per cylinder.
8V92TTA = 8 cylinders in a V configuration, 92 cubic inches per cylinder, twin turbocharged with an aftercooler.
Could be metricized if you insist.
Of course, it was so beautiful, simple, and informative they switched to a more cute system.
Tinkerah
Engineer

Carried it over to superchargers as well: 6-71, 8-71 etc.
TG
Gearhead

Then they came out with the 60 Series which wrecked the whole scheme
SGL
Intermediate Driver

And don't forget EMD used the same for their 567, 645, and 710-series locomotive engines. The biggest I've personally seen is the 20-V-710 in an ocean-going tugboat (it had two). The 16-V-710 is still in locomotive production, since the 4-stroke "H" engine was a complete disaster.

DaveH
Detailer

There never was a 72 series, but a 71. perhaps ur thinking of the 92
okfoz
Advanced Driver

For years and years GM has used the same RPO (yes that little 3 digit code is a Regular Production Option) The L98 from the 80's was used in the Camaro, Firebird and Corvette, but the Corvette got Aluminum heads, the Camaro and Firebird got Cast Iron. The LT1 in the 90's was different for the Big Roadmaster Buick, Impala SS (Cast Iron Heads), and was different than the Firebird, Camaro (Aluminum Heads) and the Corvette (4 bolt Mains) was again different. I have seen as many as 4 or 5 different specs for the same named engine so this is nothing new.
okfoz
Advanced Driver

One thing that frustrates me about GM is most of their cars are very performance boring. Ford and Chrysler offer performance models of the Edge ST, Expolorer ST, Durango, Jeep Trackhawk, GM is stuck on the masses and no appeal for performance. I would love to see a Buick Enclave, or Chevrolet Traverse with 400hp Twin Turbo V6 to compete with the Explorer ST or Explorer Platinum.
DaveH
Detailer

I see the point and agree, but automakes often lose money on the special editions.
In the Trackhawk's case the first year 2018 sales was the best- but sales dropped like ~85% after that. I have a 2020 Trackhawk, IIRC they sold 1000 world wide that year the last time I checked, 2021 sales were only a couple hundred I heard.
Gary_Bechtold
Specialist

Given how small changes have resulted in different engine codes I am surprised they didn't call it something besides LT4. LT4S, L23, who knows they should have done something different. It's a cool motor regardless.
BrokeKen68
New Driver

Still can’t get a grip on the LT fiasco. Completely baffles all but the GM followers. The only company that has to have someone explain, explain, explain…..etc blahblahblah. One of the few things I like the “good ol’ days” is call ‘em what they are without the drivel.
dan5
Intermediate Driver

There isn't anything wrong or "misnamed". These 3 letter designations are simply the RPO (regular production option) code for a component to go into a GM vehicle. They are part of a system with certain rules. It is certainly true that marketing and engineering teams do try to protect certain RPOs that have grown to become famous. But, recognize that the primary reason for an RPO is so that the right option is ordered for the right car and the assembly plant knows what to install on the line, usually defined by RPO. Understand that for engines, everything gets an "L" code because that means "engine". After that, every engine in the GM global system must live within the next two digits. There are only so many two digit codes, so not every variant gets its own code and when they go dormant for a period, they are reused. As long as the RPO uniquely defines the right engine to the right vehicle, everything is good.
Oldroad1
Gearhead

What I used to hate was emptying peoples glove boxes to get to the RPO lists. Could have been worse though, like in the trunk under the spare.
dan5
Intermediate Driver

Yes, so now they have moved to a QR code on the door pillar. Easier to find, but if you don't have a smartphone on you, it's hard to read.

Snailish
Engineer

Valid point dan5

 

I'm laughing thinking of the genius-savant that could just manually read QR codes with no device.

 

Most mechanics have a laptop in the shop and a smartphone handy at all times now, unless choosing not to work that way (which is probably only a choice for those working on older stuff exclusively).

Inline8OD
Technician

Farm out, another press release served as article missing the bigger point: What kind of dweeb needs a "raucous, supercharged" V-8 to drive to Starbucks, the mall, or their cubicle?
Snailish
Engineer

I'd say yes to a raucous, supercharged V8 before I'd say yes to Starbucks. 😃

TG
Gearhead

Hey I don't even drive to my cubicle anymore and I still want one
Brandan
Hagerty Employee

Exactly, all this talk about engines almost has me forgetting that we're on a bicycle enthusiast website.
DanC
Intermediate Driver

I am still befuddled from when late '70s Trans Ams has a T.A. 6.6 (Pontiac motor) or a 6.6 Litre (Olds motor). Choices Choices. Wonder which one has stood the test of time in durability and resale? I just gave my grandson my '99 Tahoe with 300,000 miles on it, still going strong. Lets get back together in 30 years and see how many of these fire breathing small blocks last...
Oldroad1
Gearhead

I believe the best T.A was the Buick 455 with the Stage 2 package.
Skipe
Pit Crew

It's GM, don't try to have a logical explanation!
Pegleg01
Detailer

I think the LT for the Escalade should have been named for either the Soccer Moms or Captains of Industry that pilot those behemoths.... "Trophy Wife -1" or "Fat Cat-1"...