General Motors had its first customer go through its Crate Engine Build Experience. Jeff Kasper ultimately decided on building his own 505-horsepower Chevrolet LS7 crate engine at the General Motors Performance Build Center in Wixom, Michigan.
“The build program was the thrill of a lifetime,” said Kasper. “Going inside the assembly facility and actually participating in building my very own engine greatly exceeded my expectations – and I’d absolutely recommend it to every enthusiast.” However, as you will see below, not "every enthusiast" has the budget for the five-figure engine building experience.
The GM Crate Engine Build Experience is similar to Corvette Engine Build Experience which offers customers who intend to buy a Corvette Z06 or ZR1 the opportunity to build their own LS7 or LS9 V-8 engine.
“I inquired about building an engine, even though I wasn’t purchasing a Corvette,” said Kasper. “A few months later, I learned about the crate engine build program and made arrangements immediately. I was pretty much on the next plane to Detroit, as soon as I put in my order.”
Under the guidance of a “specially trained engine builder” Kasper did everything from installing the crankshaft to tightening down the intake. The Crate Engine Build Experience can be good for those who want to build their own performance engine, but don’t have access to all the proper tools.
“I don’t have a garage full of tools or the resources to build an engine myself,” said Kasper. “The builders there were great to work with and the whole experience was a lot of fun. It was fascinating to learn how these engines are built with a combination of hand-assembly techniques and some computer-assisted high-tech tools.”
The customer’s final step in the build to affix the “assembled by” plaque on the engine inscribed with their name. After the build the engine is completed and put through a series of tests to verify the engine is ready for its new home in the customer’s project vehicle.
“I got the most satisfaction and pride when I heard my engine fire up for the first time,” said Kasper. “When the engine came to life, it was the payoff for a day’s work and it was a satisfying success.”
Participants are responsible for their own way to and from Detroit, but a concierge helps them coordinate the build and their stay, as well as transportation while in the city. MSRP for Kasper’s LS7 crate engine came to $22,756.10. The LS9 through the Crate Engine Build Experience lists for an eye-watering $32,050. Still that price includes Chevrolet Performance’s 24-month/50,000-mile limited warranty.
In comparison, GM’s E-Rod crate engine line can be had for significantly less. The 315-horsepower/355 lb-ft of torque 5.3-liter version of the E-Rod can be had for around $7200 and the 430-horsepower/424 lb-ft of torque 6.2-liter LS3 can be found for around $9500. Both E-Rod engines are complete from Mass Air Flow Sensor to catalytic converters and come with all necessary emissions equipment.
Do you think the Crate Engine Build Experience is worth more than $13,000 for 70 horsepower and 46 lb-ft of torque (or more than $22,500 for 208 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque), warranty, and the experience of building it yourself? Would finding a junkyard LS1, LS2, or LS6 and rebuilding it yourself be a better route?
Source: General Motors