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Chevy's Corvette may get a more modern engine, dubbed 'LT5'

While it addresses a lot of the issues with previous versions, the current-generation Chevrolet Corvette, known as the C7, sticks to the traditional Corvette formula. But big changes may be in store for Chevy’s sports car.

A new engine will appear in the Corvette in 2018, according to leaked General Motors service documents spotted by The Drive. Code-named LT5, it will be a 6.2-liter V8 like the engines used in current Corvettes, but it will drop the pushrod valve actuation used since the Corvette’s birth over 60 years go for a dual-overhead camshaft, or DOHC, layout.

Most automakers abandoned pushrods long ago, but GM has stuck with them, and has managed to do some pretty impressive things with the current generation of V8 engines used in the Corvette. But DOHC allows engines to rev more freely, giving engineers a wider power band to work with when trying to extract horsepower from an engine. DOHC setups also work better with various variable valve timing systems, which can improve both power and efficiency.

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The LT5 will likely have a different character from other Corvette engines, including a greater eagerness to rev and less low-end grunt. If the rumors prove true, the LT5 will be only the second production Corvette engine without pushrods. The first one, also called LT5, was built by Mercury Marine for use in the 1990 to 1995 ZR-1, a low-volume, high-performance version of the fourth-generation C4 Corvette.

The car the new LT5 engine is slated to power may represent just as radical a departure from tradition as the engine itself. Chevy is widely believed to be working on a mid-engined Corvette, because it will overcome perceived performance limitations of the existing front-engined design. This could turn the Corvette into a completely different kind of car, but could also help it strike at the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini.

The mid-engined Corvette is expected to debut in 2018, around the same time the GM documents indicate the LT5 engine will appear. We’ll keep our ears open over the next 12 months for more information.