The first day was all about the history and pedigree of the Chevy small block. Today, we experienced how the small block is being used nowadays and a firsthand account of cruising on Woodward. We started the day at the birthplace of ZO6, ZR1, and Grandsport Corvette motors. Then, we cruised Woodward in the Chevy parade and ended the day by sampling applications of the small block in both Chevy cars and others.
The GM Performance Center is where traditional craftsmanship and modern attention to detail meet to create some of the highest performing motors on the planet. Here, every 430hp Grand Sport motor, 505hp Z06 motor and 638hp ZR1 motor take shape. Each motor is built completely by hand and signed by the technician that builds it.
To ensure correct specifications, advanced torque wrenches are used to give the builder a guide when each individual fastener is bolted to the motor. In fact, each bolt’s torque is registered in a massive database for each engine to ensure quality even after the engine leaves the factory. No other facilities offer this level of attention to detail, not even many of Mercedes’ AMG engines.
Not only is every motor built by hand, but if you partake in the Build Your Own program, the hands that build your Z06, ZRI or Grandsport motor could be your own. For $5800, you can visit the performance center, and with the help of a qualified GM engine builder, build your own motor. At the end of the process, your own name will appear on your engine’s build plate.
After the Performance center, we partook in the Centennial GM Cruise. There were multiple examples of both GM’s heritage and future presented here. Everything from vintage Camaro’s, a Corvair, the new ZL1, and 50 Chevy Volts whose owners drove from all over the country to attend.
Cruising Woodward in this formation is an experience in and of itself. For starters, it’s one of the few times you can have police lights in your mirror and not be terrified. And then there’s just the visceral experience of it all, especially in a new SS Chevy Camaro Convertible. You don’t go fast, but are just surrounded by thousands of examples of rolling Americana. The smells, sounds and environment all harken back to a time period that we are still waiting to return to.
The Camaro convertible is a perfect car for such a trip, because it’s a car of theater. In normal day-to-day traffic it has low visibility and is too relaxed, but in an event like this, or any day where you really want to enjoy the drive at any speed, and the Camaro shines. The styling stands out from miles away, especially in the Big Bird Yellow my car came in (there’s no other color to get a convertible in). The engine, burbling with anticipation and ready to launch at any moment, rumbles in the background. Plus, the best part of the convertible is that it solves the visibility issues of the coupe, with the top down of course. I could think of no other car to take to an event like this.
We finished the day with a celebration of cars with small blocks of any kind. Present were resto-mods, a rat rod, a modified Camaro, and even a Miata. The best part was that the owners were gracious enough to take us for a ride. I was able to ride along in a modified new Camaro with parts you can buy at a Chevy dealership today, and still keep your warranty. The differences from my stock one were astounding. The attitude is just ramped up with a new exhaust and intake. In addition, the heritage body parts connected the car to its past, but with a modern twist. If you’re interested in these parts, check out the Synergy packages on the Camaro configurator on GM’s site for the wheels and body parts. The performance parts can be had on Chevy’s site as well as GM Performance Part’s site.
Throughout the day we were able to experience the performance and tradition of the small block and Woodward in a way that numbers could never do. To see thousands of people lined up to catch a glimpse of these old cars is truly amazing. It was also to see the dedication and tradition that goes into the best Corvette motors and how the small block can end up in many other packages. The best part was that Day Two was just the beginning; today will be the full Monty with most of the cars making an appearance. Bullz-Eye will also be exploring some traditional Detroit landmarks in the SS Camaro. Make sure to check back tomorrow for our Woodward finale piece.