Sure, you can pay $5800 to build your own LS9, but you can also study how the masters at General Motors build the heart of the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1. In an interesting move, GM's porting engine technicians, tools, and parts to Las Vegas, where a complete LS9 will be hand-built within GM's display at the 2010 Specialty Equipment Market Assocation show.
Those attending the trade show will be able to watch employees from GM's Performance Build Center in Wixom, Michigan, assemble an LS9 from the ground up. Better yet, they'll be able to ask the experts specific questions about the engine and its assembly process -- crucial information for those building race cars or planning an insane street rod.
The booth is designed to showcase both the Performance Build Center and GM's new Corvette Engine Build Experience program. For a fee, buyers can take part in building their own car, and either manufacture the 7.0-liter, LS7 V-8 for their Corvette Z06, or the supercharged 6.2-liter LS9 for their ZR1. Owners fly to the PBC, build their own engines under the watchful eyes of GM's engine gurus, and sign off on the engine once assembly is complete.
Although LS9s are hand-built, the technicians at the PBC do utilize a number of tools -- like bespoke hoists and automatic bolt drivers -- designed to improve precision. It would certainly be interesting if those machines are ported to Vegas for the show, but given the cost and bulk of the equipment, we wouldn't be surprised if they remain in Wixom. We'll know for sure on November 2, when the doors to SEMA open and construction of the LS9 begins. If all goes according to plan, expect the finished engine to emerge at the close of the show on November 5.