Photos courtesy General Motors.
In March 2015, Chevrolet’s Performance Build Center in Bowling Green, Kentucky, reintroduced the Engine Build Experience for buyers of the seventh-generation Corvette’s Z06 model. Since last May, improvements and remodeling at GM’s Bowling Green Assembly Plant have put the program on hold, but in January 2018 the Engine Build Experience returns for 2019 Corvette Z06 buyers, adding the option for buyers of the 2019 Corvette ZR1 in February.
Priced at $5,000, the Engine Build Experience gives those ordering the specified Corvette models the ability to assemble the car’s supercharged V-8 – a 650-horsepower LT4 for the Z06 or a 750-horsepower LT5 for the ZR1 – under the supervision and guidance of an experienced Chevrolet engine assembly technician. Coordinated through the National Corvette Museum, which acts as a concierge and coordinator for the program, the Engine Build Experience begins early in the morning, with introductions and a Continental breakfast at 5:45 a.m.
The Corvette Z06’s 650-horsepower, supercharged LT4 V-8.
Following a safety briefing and photo session, the actual build process runs from 6:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., interrupted by a 45-minute lunch beginning at 11:00. At the end of the assembly process, the engine is “cold tested” with the customer present before being sent to vehicle assembly to be mated with the buyer’s Corvette chassis. The Performance Build Center also holds a completion ceremony for the Engine Build Experience participant, and takeaways include a poster of the buyer assembling the engine, images of the build shot by a professional photographer, a piston trophy with the customer’s name and the date of the build, and a model-specific polo shirt and ball cap. The completed engine also receives a personalized plaque identifying the engine builder.
Ordering for 2019 Corvette Z06 models, including the Engine Build Experience option, began on November 30, while ordering for 2019 Corvette ZR1 models is expected to begin on January 25, 2018. Plant delivery of new Corvette models is still unavailable, but Museum Delivery (option R8C) can be combined with the Engine Build Experience for either of the highest-output Corvettes. Museum Delivery remains available for Corvette Stingray and Grand Sport models as well.
The Engine Build Experience was launched in 2010 at GM’s former Performance Build Center in Wixom, Michigan. Originally available only to buyers of new (sixth-generation) Corvette Z06 and ZR1 models, the program was later expanded to include buyers of LS7 and LS9 crate engines as well, an option that ended with Wixom’s closure. The current Performance Build Center, within the Corvette’s Bowling Green Assembly plant, was opened in 2014.
For additional details on the Engine Build Experience, visit CorvetteMuseum.org.