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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

The top 10 Corvette V-8s from the '50s, '60s, and '70s | Hagerty Media

June 30th marks the anniversary of America's Sports Car entering production. On that date in 1953, the first Corvette was built. Although there have been ups and downs, and supposedly a few brushes with cancellation, today the mid-engine Stingray is in high demand and the future of the crossed flags seems bright.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/automotive-history/the-top-10-corvette-v-8s-from-the-50s-60s-and-70s/
71 REPLIES 71
DavidHolzman
Detailer

To be even more precise, the first Corvette rolled off the line on this day--June 30th--1953.
monkee
Pit Crew

Ahhhh ZR1, DOHC LT5??
MadamBlue91
Pit Crew

Between 1990 and 1995, the ZR1 did in fact have a DOHC 5.7L LT5 built by Mercury Marine. 

BigBore
Pit Crew

Took a page from Yamaha building the original Taurus SHO V6.
hyperv6
Gearhead

All this engine did was delay the LS1 engine that replaced it. GM was afraid to bring it out right after charging customer so much more for the LT5 that really was not any better on power than the cheaper LS.

The ZR1 is an interesting foot note in Corvette history but it was quickly overshadowed by the Vettes that followed. Today it is hard to get parts for and expensive when you find them.
If I had a collection of Corvettes I would have one but it would not be my first choice.
Hth70
New Driver

Would be my first choice. First and only dohc , could have went much further with development. Not a simplistic pushrod motor like the Ls1. Try putting the LS1 through 24 hours of TopSpeed and see if it holds up. I doubt it!ZR one broke this record over 30 years ago and it still holds.
Piper
Intermediate Driver

Yes. The 327 fuelie while a great looking engine in my opinion comes second place to the absolute beauty of LT5.
Corkola
Intermediate Driver

"When the SCCA allowed competitors to use a de-stroked version of their road-going engines in order to meet the 5.0-liter displacement limit, that spelled the end of Chevrolet’s high-revving 302 V-8." This sentence does not make sense. The 302 of Z28 fame was created by using a 283 crank in a 327 block. The SCCA rules created the 302, it wasn't the end of it.
Tinkerah
Technician

I read that three time myself to grasp it and couldn't figure out what I was missing. You've given me the confidence to pile on.
Brandan
Hagerty Employee

The 302 existed in production Camaros because of SCCA homologation rules. For 1970, SCCA allowed the 5.0L engines to be destroked versions of production engines. Thus, Chevrolet stopped building production 302s despite racing them in SCCA. The production LT-1 was the homologation engine for those 302 race engines.
JAG
Intermediate Driver

Since the 302 was never in a Vette not sure why it's even mentioned here. LT-1 was the right size for the right time. Was a bit expensive, and the solid lifters made it a maintenance item so not many sold. Still more desirable to me than an BB iy you wanted the car to handle, having a Vette with a big brick between the front wheels didn't help.
stevecobb45
Detailer

I installed that 30/30 Duntov cam on my 61 283 Vette & never had the first problem with it. I shifted at 7K at the track with a 327 intake & Daytina series E AFB carb. C-modified sport running 14.7 with cheater slicks.
Rick2
Detailer

I ordered a new vette for 1973 and wanted the LT1 but it was not offered with A/C so I opted for the A/C. But I also owned a 1969 Z/28 and that 302 with the rock crusher tranny and it was great for having fun!
Boyboat
Pit Crew

LT-1 was not available in 1973. It was replaced by the L82, which was available with AC, as I own one. Still a 4 bolt main block, but only 250 HP. The base 350, L48 was only 190 HP though. 

Oldroad1
Advanced Driver

That tight revving 302 was a great engine and would have been a perfect match for the C3 body for road course competition at the time. The Camaros won the 69 Trans Am championship with that power. Had good low end torque out of the turns and were able to out accelerate the Mustangs out of the corners. The Mustangs would overtake and pass on the straights but the Camaros would kill them out of the turns every time. That made all the difference.
Lightning1
Detailer

If you look at the 70 LT1 and the DZ 302, everything is the same except the stroke (yea I know there is some minutia part number differences). Too bad the 302 was not offered in a Corvette. It would have been a rev monster and the Porsche crowd couldn't use the excuse of it has a big engine for getting beat.
70-Z28-RS-LT-1
Pit Crew

Great list there. Last but not least on the list, the infamous LT-1. The NHRA rated it more like 425 horsepower, instead of the 360/370 on the Camaro/Corvette, so Chevrolet was actually fudging their horsepower numbers on the LT-1, to skirt around the high cost of insurance for the drivers.
Brandan
Hagerty Employee

It's only last chronologically.
camarogirl57
Pit Crew

That '70 LT-1 was an incredible engine. Back in '71, I was planning on installing a 427 into my '64 Chevelle SS Convertible, but ran into a great deal on an almost new '70 LT-1; I bought the over the counter TransAm "track cam" w/ .510 lift and some Hookers and wham! What a rocket ship! That Chevelle was just over 3,000lbs per the registration and nothing could catch it, including big block 'Vettes and numerous 396/375 Novas. So, I truly believe that the original 370hp figure was waaaaay conservative!
hyperv6
Gearhead

All of these were fine choices. But it is amazing how much they are getting our of the more recent engines today. Todays Vette engines will really be treasured as ICE is faded out.
The new DOHC V8 will be interesting. The sound is amazing with the flat crank. I know they did it just for sound but the sound fits the new body style.
MATTMERICA
Instructor

Yet another reminder of how woefully unedumacated I am on vehicles/makes that I don't lust after, but I really enjoyed the info. Thank you!
40Ford
Detailer

I just want the valve covers on the L76 327!
JD
Pit Crew

Hey, the L88 engine photo is the one from the cover of “How to HOTROD Big-block CHEVYS” book. I have that framed and hanging on the wall in my garage.
JD
Pit Crew

I should say the ZL1 photo not the L88.
E63Todd
Pit Crew

You forgot one of the best - the L79 350 horsepower 350 cubic inch motor. A real runner that could turn some high rpm's without the maintenance hassles of solid lifters. General Motors produced the L79 from 1965 to 1968. The engine was available in the Corvette, Chevelle, Malibu, and El Camino. Made for some great sleepers that would give many a big block muscle car a run for the money.
stevecobb45
Detailer

L79 327/350 HP was also available in the Chevy Nova. It had a hydraulic cam & a lot quieter than the 30/30 Duntov cam motor.
Dad_jokes
Pit Crew

L79 was a 327, and it also could be had in the Chevy II. Great mouse motor.
nonobee
New Driver

You mean 1970 L48? I had one, great engine! Stoked it to 383.... bet convertible ever!
Boyboat
Pit Crew

Agreed!  Was certain the L79 would be on here. Would love to have one in a 1965 Malibu. 

SJ
Advanced Driver

I can't believe you left out the best one! Of course its the L 48!
Sajeev
Community Manager

No L-82 upgrades for you, huh? 

Boyboat
Pit Crew

Base motor, nothing special. 

stevecobb45
Detailer

A friend from high school in Shortsville, NY, Victor Reed, bought a new 1965 L78 396/425HP Vette & took it to the drag strip at nearby Canandaigua fair grounds & proceeded to smoke the street tires the full length of the track. I have to admit it was an 1/8th mile track & those skinny tires were basically a joke on that car. Still, pretty impressive.
RH-41
Pit Crew

" In 1956, two flavors of 283 offered dual four barrels, one at 225 hp and another at 240 hp"
Wrong! 1956 was still the 265, the most HP at 240. 1957 saw the first 283, with a max of 283 HP. The first year of 1 HP/1 CI.
Brandan
Hagerty Employee

Yeah, you're correct!
69redstingray
New Driver

Any list without the L46 is wholly incomplete
69redstingray
New Driver

Should be woefully not wholly but voice recognition messed that up
MattK
Detailer

1955 Corvette V-8 engine 195 HP. 1981 Corvette L-81, 190 HP. lol Glad they were able to start the climb back up in the late 80s mid 90s to some better HP.
Bobbyeugene
New Driver

My late Father and his friend both bought new ‘57’s. Dads had the 270 horse, his friends the 283 horse fuelie. He once told me he never had a problem beating the fuelie, it was very temperamental in the N. Illinois weather and they always had trouble keeping it running good. Unfortunately his friend totaled it late one night before it was a year old.
asphaltgambler
Pit Crew

Two things here, One I believe someone touched one. The 396 / 375HP offered in other cars is the exact same configuration as the 396 / 425HP in the Corvette. The engine magically (read marketing) gained an additional 50 HP when install in the 'vette.

The other not-so-famous 427 engine option was the tri-powered OVAL port headed / hydraulic cam 427 rated at 400HP.
BigBore
Pit Crew

390hp, I believe. They magically determined it picked up 10hp if the car had AC….
bobm
Pit Crew

No, it was rated 390 with 4 barrel, 400 with 3-2's. Either could be had with A/C.
zachary
Pit Crew

No doubt the ZL1 and L88 are legendary race engines disguised as street engines and awe inspiring. The LT1 is the real horsepower champ of the small block era, but for me, the L84 Rochester FI 327 in a '65 C2 is my choice.
E63Todd
Pit Crew

I made a mistake in my post. The L79 350 horse motor was actually a 327. The L46 was the 350 horse 350.
1xsnrg
New Driver

I know the story is pretty much a legend and who really knows? I understood that there were 6 ZL-1 engines dropped into 1969 Vettes and snuck past the inspectors disguised as smaller engines. Zora Duntov wanted a particular dealer to get them and race them. Many years ago I took a course on carb rebuilding put on by NCRS at the Tonawanda engine plant and had the pleasure to sit next to a ZL-1. What a beautiful engine. The fellow who got us the space at the Tonawanda plant worked there and was employed at the time of those engine builds in 1969. He is the one who told us there were 6 built but who knows? He also had some great stories on the first ZL-1s off the line and the difficulty shipping the very first one.
monkee
Pit Crew

And the DOHC LT5 is the best looking power plant GM ever sold to the public.
The best way to recognize a 90s ZR1....
It’s hood is open.
br427
Intermediate Driver

There isn't much that can compair with the shreik that comes from an LT1 at 7000 rpm.
BigBore
Pit Crew

An l76 at 7k!
mwmyers91
Detailer

Best engines ever for the shade tree mechanic and the professionals, period. Parts are everywhere and affordable.