Chevrolet first came out with the LT1 engine in the 1970s for use in the Corvette and Camaro and although it was only produced for a few years before they moved on to other designs, it made a name for itself as a lighter and stronger powerplant. Since then Chevy has used some variant or another of the LT1 engine in many of its signature sports and muscle cars from the early 90s to the current day. How do these engines with the same name that look so different compare though? The short answer is they all are light and powerful engines that represent years of innovation but for a more, in-depth look Richard Holdener’s recent YouTube video breaks down the different generations of the LT1 engine.
The first generation LT1 was rated at 370-bhp and had an 11:1 compression ratio. The camshaft had a .459/.485 lift which was a bit small especially by today’s standards. However, it had a lot of duration at 242/254 and a 116-degree LSA. It was equipped with big-valve fuellie heads, a dual-plane intake manifold, and a 780 Holley carburetor. On the engine dyno the original LT1 made 353-horsepower and 391-lb-ft of torque which was close to its original rating.
The second-generation LT1 had a lot in common with the first generation and many of the internal parts could be interchanged. The big differences here were the 10.4:1 compression ratio, smaller valved heads that had a better flow, and the fuel injection induction system. While all of these technological advancements only equated to slightly more power at 361-horsepower and 391-lb-ft of torque, they did improve idle quality, fuel efficiency, and RPM potential.
The LT1 engine with the most striking differences is the fifth-generation LT1, the biggest of which is displacement. Instead of the usual 5.7-liters, the LT1 is now 6.2-liters which is obviously going to make more power. Other notable differences are the high lift camshaft, direct-injection induction system, and an 11.5:1 compression ratio. All of these modern advancements come together in the current day LT1 to make 518-horsepower and 523-lb-ft of torque, which is a lot more than displacement alone can do.
While the gen five, gen two, and gen one LT1 engines are all very different beasts, they all share the same path to power created by decades of research and technological advancements.
Elizabeth is a hardcore horsepower enthusiast with unmatched intensity for making things faster and louder. She wakes up for power and performance and only sleeps to charge up for the next project that’s heading to the track. From autocross to drag racing, Elizabeth is there with you, so stay tuned for her unique perspective on horsepower news, builds, tech info, and installs — with her, it’ll never be boring!