Click on a thumbnail to see the full-size image
Rebuilding the Chevrolet LT1 Engine
Thirty-seven years after the birth of the small block Chevy V8, the Generation II engine was introduced in the 1992 Corvette as the LT1. Doug Anderson breaks down the options.
By Doug Anderson
Page 1 of 2
Although it shared many common dimensions, looked much the same and even had a few common parts, it was totally redesigned to provide more power with lower emissions and better fuel economy.
Compared to the 1991 Chevy 350 L98 with TPI, the LT1 made 20% more horsepower, got better fuel mileage, and had a much broader torque band with 90% of it’s peak torque available from just over 1,000 rpm all the way up to nearly 6,000 rpm.
GM Powertrain accomplished all of this by reverse cooling the engine so they could bump the compression ratio up to 10.5 to 1, tweaking the airflow in and out of the engine, and using sophisticated electronic controls for both fuel and ignition. This combination gave the LT1 300 hp in 1992 and ultimately led to the 1996 LT4 that used better heads, more cam timing, roller rockers and sequential fuel injection to make 330 hp .
Although the LT1 was only around for five years, there were two-bolt and four-bolt blocks, aluminum and cast iron heads, regular and H.O. cams that came with long and short dowels, and three different front covers. There was also the "Baby LT1," the 265 cid version that was the standard engine in the Caprice from 1994-‘96. With all that in mind, let’s take a look at this family of engines and see what goes where.
350 - There are two blocks, one with two-bolt mains and one with four-bolt mains. They both have the same 10125327 casting number, so there’s no sure way to know which one you have until you get the pan off. However, if it came out of a Corvette, it should be a four-bolt block, and if it came out of anything else, it was supposed to be a two-bolt. GM used the two-bolt block for everything but the Corvette because it had plenty of strength and it weighed a little bit less.
265 - There was only one block used for the 265 cid version of the LT1. It’s a 10168588 casting that had the numbers "4.3" cast on the side, too. It’s real easy to spot if the heads are off because of the small 3.74" bore.
Getting the right cam in the right engine can be a little bit tricky because there were several variations over the years. There are essentially two different grinds used with two different snouts, depending on which distributor was used on the engine.
350 - The crank for the LT1 looks just like the one in the late 350 and has the same casting number 14088526, but it’s balanced for the lightweight pistons that were installed in the LT1. Be sure to keep these cranks separate so they don’t end up in a regular 350, and don’t ever use a regular 350 crank in a LT1. In fact, if you are short of LT1 cranks and don’t have a balancing machine in your shop, you would be better off using a crank from a 305 instead of a 350 because it’s actually closer to the balance specs for the LT1 crank.
265 - The 265 has it’s own unique crank with a 3.00" stroke. That’s the same stroke the original 265 had back in 1955; it’s funny how things go around and come back full circle. It’s a 10168568 casting.
350 - The original LT1 came with regular forged 350 rods, that were shot peened for localized hardness under the head of the bolt and nut. Powdered metal rods were phased in for the Corvette around 1994 and used in all of the LT1 engines by 1995. GM made the change because the powdered metal rods were cheaper to make and were much stronger than the GM high performance "pink" rods. In fact, they are supposed to be good for up to 450 hp. They are machined at the parting line so they can be reconditioned.
265 - The 265 rods are 0.240" longer than the ones in the 350. Both blocks are the same height, but the stroke for the 265 is 0.480" shorter, so the rods have to be longer to make up for half the difference. These rods can be identified by the single, raised dot on both sides of the shank.
Page 1 of 2