Hooniverse Asks – Would You be Okay With a Six-Pot Corvette?

When it was first introduced, back in 1953, the Corvette was powered by the 235.5 c.i.d. Blue Flame high-compression engine, which was a six cylinder. Two years later, Ford, with the release of their Thunderbird two-seater, gave Chevy 312 reasons which the Corvette needed a V8, and that same year t he Bow Tie Brigade responded with a 265 eight of their own. In the 55 years hence, with the exception of some wankel-powered show cars, and marine engine V12 one-offs, a V8 under the hood of a Vette has been as much a constant as that hood being made of plastic. But does that need to be the case?

There’s a horsepower war going on right now. And it’s not just fire-breathing V8s waging the battle, as both GM and Ford are firing salvos across each other’s bows using their six-shooters. GM opened with a 300-bhp six in the reborn Camaro, and Ford countered with a 311-pony  entry in the 2011 Mustang. Stop by your Chevy dealer in the fall and you could drive out in one of their pony cars with a 312-bhp motor under the hood.

Not only are these six pot motors putting out horsepower ratings that would have been jaw-dropping in an eight just a decade or so ago, but they do so with all kinds of fancy technology that makes them efficient as well. Both Ford and Chevy claim 30-Plus MPG on the highway with these compact converters of potential into kinetic energy.

So that brings us back to the Corvette, and why one of these motors might be a good choice (perhaps not the only choice) under the hood of the plastic fantastic. Half-way through the C5’s life a plan was afoot to construct a lightweight version of the car, stripping it of its heavy glass hatch, and some of the bells and whistles, as well as the v8 under the hood. In place of the LS1 would go a lighter, and more fuel-efficient V6. Performance with the six proved unremarkable and the focus of the lightweight Vette effort was changed to the creation of an even more potent V8 car- resulting in the Z06 FRC.

But what if, today, you could start with a clean sheet and design a smaller, lighter Vette around that 312-bhp LY7? maybe instead of being the Corvette, it could be an adjunct model. Maybe it could be that mid-engine Vette that has been rumored all these years.  Would that be a good thing, or is the idea of what a Vette is so deeply entrenched in the public’s psyche that any derivation – and especially one that lops a pair of cylinders off the engine – would be seen as blasphemy?

Would you be cool with, or cool to,  the idea of a V6 Vette, if it were handled right – think 308GTB vs V12 Ferrari? We don’t know what Chevy’s got up their sleeves, but maybe we can give them a push in the right direction.

Image sources: [camaro5.comforums, modernracer.com, glocktalk.com, dragtimes.com]

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44 responses to “Hooniverse Asks – Would You be Okay With a Six-Pot Corvette?”

  1. GwarGwar Avatar

    I'm holding out for the hybrid model.

  2. Dr_Dangerously Avatar

    First impression is *Yuck! V6 Vette? That is like dating a girl with only one boob. I mean, It will still be great but in the back of your head you still wish you had that little extra to play around with. (driving is directly related to sex, so I had to go with the chauvinistic analogy)
    But then if you think, A smaller mid-engine 300+HP vette would make a hot little track car.
    so, maybe

  3. CaptainZeroCool Avatar

    Back in 1953 that 235 I-6 was about as powerful as the Jaguar I-6 engines. So it wasn't a bad choice for a GT car….

  4. bzr Avatar

    Depends. Will Porsche bring back the 912?

    1. Tomsk Avatar

      They might have to…

  5. engineerd Avatar

    Interesting conundrum.
    The new V6 Mustang and Camaro are putting up horspower figures in line with previous V8 models. The outgoing 4.6L mill in the 'Stang, for instance, is rated at 320 hp. The current Corvette line-up includes the base 430 hp LS3 in the Coupe, Convertible and Gran Sport variants. For a mere $15k more, you can upgrade to an LS7 putting 505 horses to the flywheel, or, if you have more cash you don't know what to do with, the ZR1 uber-Vette with a supercar-esque 635 hp.
    However, all this power comes at a price…fuel economy. Granted, GM's V8s are incredibly fuel efficient for the power levels they deliver, they aren't up to snuff compared to new CAFE standards. So, GM may need to offer a version that gets into the mid-30s with fuel economy. That can easily be done with a turbocharged V6 a la Ford's Ecoboost V6. The Ford powerplant gets 365 hp. Not quite the 430 hp in the base 'Vette, but maybe that would differentiate the Gran Sport model a little more.
    There is a huge risk in doing this, though. The 'Vette is GM's halo car. It is traditionally a V8 sports car. People expect to pop the hood and see 8 intake runners and 8 exhaust tubes in the manifold. It is meant to perform. It makes little compromise to practicality. By offering a V6 for fuel efficiency's sake GM may be making an unacceptable compromise in the eyes of consumers. This car could be derided as a non-'Vette in the same way a V6 Mustang is derided as a non-Mustang.

    1. Texan_Idiot25 Avatar

      I find fuel economy should be little worry at this point when buying a sports car. That's like dating a blonde for her personality.

  6. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    I'd be okay with 6 cylinders in a Corvette, but they have to do it right; and line those pistons up in a row, front to back.

    1. Tomsk Avatar

      I'm guessing they still have the tooling for the 4.2L Atlas. Add direct injection for about 340hp, cylinder deactivation for 35 mpg highway and price it at just over $40k and they'd really have something. However, make it the base motor, and keep offering at least one V8 version.

    2. bill Avatar

      I agree.
      The engine Tomsk metions may not work if it is too beeg, but they can, y'know, design one.

  7. Deartháir Avatar

    Blech. I'm not okay with a Corvette in any way, shape, or form. Fine, give me a ZR1 for free, I'll yank that beautiful engine and put it in something that deserves it, rather than a mid-life crisis car for dentists to cruise slowly past the girls' dorm at the local community college. Mind you, since that is all any Corvette is ever used for, a V6 would probably be ideal.

    1. Smells_Homeless Avatar

      Ha! Did you just troll your own website? 🙂

      1. Deartháir Avatar

        Hahaha no, I'm not trolling. I see so many Corvettes around here, and the more I see them, the less I like them. They just do nothing for me at all. They look great brand new, but 8 months later they look cheap and tacky.

        1. Smells_Homeless Avatar

          You know, it's weird. I shouldn't dig them either, with the exception of the giant tires and drivetrain. But the older I get and the more possible it becomes to buy one, the less I'm able to resist that Vette song. I suspect when I've finally driven my GTO into the ground, I'll be replacing it with a Vette (unless it's V6-powered – odd numbered engine banks sound too harsh for me.) Either that or an S5, but the Vette has a chance of remaining mobile under its own power until I get the note payed off.

        2. ptmeyer84 Avatar

          I back your position on Corvettes completely, It's hard for me to like them because most owners are so damn douchey. Although, I am a sucker for a well sorted C3 (I know, weird.)

        3. dculberson Avatar

          I could give a crap what they look like, to me it's all about the driving experience, and they offer one hell of a driving experience, especially for the money. Not that I have one – I'm too cheap even for a used 'vette, but I'll probably get one eventually.

    2. Texan_Idiot25 Avatar

      /Stereotypical anti-vette comment

  8. Tripl3fast Avatar

    V-6? I-6? W-6? Has there ever been a turbo Corvette? I'm ok with a mid mounted lump if it is a turbo 6 and call it a Stingray with 300+ hp and a split window. Do not replace the V-8 front mounted model. Economy should be the by product of high performance with this car. Make it fast then make it efficient.

    1. Tripl3fast Avatar

      Forgot… Flat 6… or would that be too much like the ass engined slot cars Corvette owners hate so much?

      1. engineerd Avatar

        I think it should be an R-6 with a big ass powerbulge up front. Make it a front mid configuration and hope it doesn't twist itself into oblivion.

  9. Tim Odell Avatar
    Tim Odell

    Maybe if it were flat and mounted behind the rear axle.
    In all seriousness, probably not. I would love a serious-business V6 powered sports car from GM (current 'Maro doesn't count), but a Corvette is a V8 car (now)…that's part of it's identity.

  10. lilwillie Avatar

    No, never. No Corvette should ever have anything less than 8 cylinders now that it has those 8 cylinders.

  11. scroggzilla Avatar

    A leaner, meaner Corvette with a turbo-charged, twin-cam I-6 sounds awesome…..but I don't think it would fly with the Vette's target market.

    1. ptmeyer84 Avatar

      Anything with a twin-cam I-6 is awesome in my book.

      1. Tomsk Avatar

        <img src="http://www.carpictures1.com/var/resizes/Buick-Rainier_CXL_2006_1024x768.jpg&quot; width="800" height="600" />
        Always nice to meet a fan. Yes, there are others, dammit! Don't try to tell me otherwise!

  12. nofrillls Avatar

    I'm typically the last person to support the endless reign of the often silly V8 as the continued embodiment of the American car, but in the case of the Corvette, it may just be essential.
    The fact that the Vette launched with a straight six is historically acceptable because it was the car's first production poweplant–before the Vette developed its reputation as the supreme domestic V8 sports car. However, I strongly believe that if the Corvette had gone from 6 to 8, back to 6 (or forced induction 4, rotary, etc.), the image and legacy of the Corvette would not be what it is today. Therefore, unlike very few others that have an on-off history with fewer pots (i.e., Camaro and Mustang), often with mixed results, the Corvette must maintain its purity as a V8 sports car to secure its legacy going forward. As long as it has a V8, people will continue to lust after the Corvette as an icon.

  13. muthalovin Avatar

    It would be okay if it was mid-mounted and revved to the sky. A 'Merican NSX? Nah, you are right, that's dumb.

  14. P161911 Avatar

    Why not just a smaller displacement V-8? Especially if you add the fuel shut-off feature to run it as a V-6. Is there an inherent fuel advantage to a V-6? Will a similar design 4.0L V-6 get better gas mileage than a 4.0L V-8? I thought it had more to do with displacement than just the number of cylinders. I do understand that there are 3/4 the moving parts in a V-6 compared to a V-8 and probably 3/4 the rotating mass.

  15. W. Kiernan Avatar
    W. Kiernan

    Here’s the problem. V-6 in a Vette? NO. Just NO. But GM could make a different lighter, cheaper sports car with a V-6, right? But then what GM would be doing is creating a brand new car, at great expense, which would steal sports car buyers from… GM. In a broader sense, this is why GM has never made a small car that’s worth a damn, and why they probably never will, becuase to do so would be cannibalizing their own sales of bigger cars with larger profit margins.
    Ford is busy building every other kind of car imaginable, and ta Hell with those &^%$# foreigners with their weird and unnatural “Euros” and “Yen,”, so my idea is that Chrysler should make the American V-6 powered front-engine rear-drive roadster. Note that I said “roadster,” not “hardtop coupe” or “four-seat GT” or, God forbid, “crossover.” This thing should be aimed directly at Corvette buyers; the base model should be as fast as and $10,000 cheaper than the base Corvette, while the higher models should have big honking turbos and go faster than Corvettes in their price range. And they should name it the Coral Snake, and advertise it as “smaller, faster, deadlier.”

    1. Black Steelies Avatar

      So Chrysler should redo a Prowler/Crossfire and name it after a snake that is decidedly less cool than a cobra or viper? Sounds like the formula for Chrysler's suicide. All the good snake names are taken- why don't we just choose another animal class

      1. Smells_Homeless Avatar

        I bet he was thinking something along the lines of the Dodge Copperhead concept.

      2. dculberson Avatar

        Black Mamba is a very cool snake name, but I'm not sure it would work applied to a car. Especially if the car was not black.
        Tommygoff definitely wouldn't fly.

    2. engineerd Avatar

      GM did have a lighter, cheaper sports car with a turbo 4. Before that they had a lighter, cheaper sporty car with a V6. Both were decent vehicle and decent sellers, but I think the 'Vette team feared the potential impact of a Sky/Solstice and Fiero competing with their halo model.

  16. BPR Avatar

    Bolting in a 6 for fuel economy is the wrong thing to do. Now, if you could make a 6 that outperformed the 8, that might be acceptable. Cadillac found that their early v12’s were every bit as good as the v16’s. If technology has gotten us to that point with the 6 and the 8, bring it on.
    But the way to do it is to keep a damn good 8 as the base motor. Then make people pay more for the better 6. If the 6 isn’t enough better to justify the premium, don’t do it.
    If they offered a nice driveable 1000 hp motor, I wouldn’t care if it was a 2 cylinder. Make the 6 better than the 8 and they will come. Make it worse, and you dilute the brand.

  17. SSurfer321 Avatar

    No. The Vette is a halo car. That's like putting (plug your ears Skaycog/Engineerd) the EcoBoost in the Ford GT.

    1. engineerd Avatar

      Oh, and you've proven my point.

    2. muthalovin Avatar

      The halo car is supposed to be a hotbed for innovation; what all the other models in the lineup are derived from. It needs to be the baddest mutha on the block, so your Cobalt can be supercharged.

  18. highmileage_v1 Avatar

    I'm OK with a six and I don't think it would turn the Corvette into a Fiero. Just double turbo the six, add direct injection, maybe AWD and market the vehicle as the "other" Corvette. With the engineers and "know how" GM has, they could produce something with ~400-500 Hp and the weight of an Elise. Come on guys, do something original! Otherwise I'm going to look for a Caterham.

  19. Black Steelies Avatar

    Sure what the hay. Corvette engines have changed through the years, I don't see it as a huge problem. Besides, the GT-R does just fine with a 6 albeit dual turbocharged. Why American automakers are so reluctant to turbocharge anymore is beyond me.

  20. smokyburnout Avatar

    V6? No.
    I've wondered if GM could build an inline six with the Ecotec architecture. Share the pistons and rods, bore spacing, and the turbo and direct injection with the 2.0 LNF engine, only in a 3 liter inline six. The 2.0 can make 300 HP with a bit of computer work, so a six should have enough power to replace the LS3 as the base motor.

  21. tonyola Avatar

    I think Chevy could get away with a Corvette Six if they offered a truly special superlight Club Sport edition with a supercharged or turbo'd engine. Something to convince people that a SixVette isn't just for greenies or the (relatively) poverty-stricken.

  22. Texan_Idiot25 Avatar

    Part of the Vette's persona is it's pushrod V8. It's everything it shouldn't be. It pisses the world off that their prestigious hand crafted Euro bombers are beaten by what is, essentially, a beefed up truck motor.

  23. Feds_II Avatar

    As c-4's are really starting to bottoming in price (running examples are hitting the $5k mark in Onterrible), a plan is percolating in my head (somewhere behind the RB26 Jaguar, but ahead of the Iveco-powered jeep) to drop a 2jz into an '84, since those had the spleen-crusher suspension. So yeah, 6-cylinder vettes are o.k. in my book.

  24. antilagsystem Avatar

    A six in a 'vette. Sure no problem but on the condition that it is the only engine choice and the engine represents a new engine family in a platform designed around the particular engine and that the new platform out-performs every previous 'vette in all ways and is significantly cheaper than the outgoing 'vettes. I mean, that's great GM, your small-block V8 was a damn fine design and you have cranked out a ton of bulletproof engines but that trick is getting kind of old, don't you think?
    A really different 'vette would make me sit up and pay attention to the Corvette as a car instead of some sort of marketing-droid creation–I mean, I see the current 'vettes tooling around and I just think "blow-up-doll" in my head. What the hell? Give it some character–make it fastest thing with 6 cylinders. Make it the just a little quirky. Give me something to hate about it so I can come to terms with it and fall in love with the car.
    Give it a soul.