• Jul 12th 2010 at 9:00AM
  • 50
Allowing customers to customize colors and materials has become a popular and profitable option for many automakers in the last several years. Most offer customers the opportunity to pick up their new ride at the factory and even watch it being built. For the 2011 model year, Chevrolet is going one step further by giving buyers of the Z06 and ZR1 the option to build the powerplant for their new Corvette.

The LS7 and LS9 V8s used in those two models are both assembled at the Performance Build Center (PBC) in Wixom, MI which we visited last fall. The nature of the PBC production process, where a single technician starts with a bare block, then takes it through the entire assembly process and finally applies a name plaque before delivery, makes it well suited to this new program. The Engine Build Experience is not for those hoping to save a few bucks by taking on some of the labor involved in building their 'Vette. In fact, it will cost an additional $5,800 plus travel to Detroit. Those not familiar with the engine building process will likely come away very impressed with the care and technology that goes into creating these high-performance engines. Check out our chronicle of an LS9 build to see what you'll get for your money. You can see a time-lapse video of the build process after the jump.

Photos Copyright ©2009 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.
[Source: General Motors]

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Build Your Own Engine Option Offered to Corvette Enthusiasts

Exclusive Program Lets Customers Help Create Their Own Corvette

DETROIT – For enthusiasts who want to be personally involved in creating their Corvette, Chevrolet's new Corvette Engine Build Experience allows them to literally build the engine for their new car.

In what is believed to be the world's most hands-on super car program, customers who order a 2011 Corvette Z06 or ZR1 can choose an option to help assemble their cars' LS7 or LS9 engines at General Motors' Performance Build Center (PBC) in Wixom, Mich.

"Corvette owners are some of the most passionate – and most involved – enthusiasts in the industry," said Jim Campbell, U.S. vice president, Chevrolet marketing. "The Corvette Engine Build Experience offers customers an unprecedented opportunity to participate, hands on, in creating the car."

In addition to building their own engines, Corvette buyers can attend driving school in Arizona or Nevada, take delivery of their vehicles at the National Corvette Museum or watch their vehicles being built at the Corvette assembly plant in Bowling Green, Ky.

"In a way, this is a dream program for a Corvette customer. I would have jumped at the chance to build the 427 in my '67 'Vette, and that didn't have half of what goes into one of these modern precision engines," said Tom Stephens, GM vice chairman, Global Product Operations. "Today's LS7 and LS9 Corvette engines are pinnacle achievements in engineering, and to personally involve our customers in their final creation shows the depth of Chevrolet's commitment to make lasting connections with the customer."

The Engine Build Experience is an option with a suggested retail price of $5,800. When a customer selects the PBC option for a 2011 Corvette Z06 or ZR1 and the dealer submits the order to Chevrolet, a special concierge contacts the customer to verify participation and help coordinate arrangements. While travel arrangements to and from Metro Detroit are the customer's responsibility, the Chevrolet concierge helps schedule the engine build; coordinates the customer's activities at the Performance Build Center; assists with booking local lodging and meals, and arranges local transportation.

At the PBC, the customer doesn't merely view the engine's assembly; he or she builds it under the supervision of and support from skilled technicians. When the engine is assembled, a personalized nameplate is added to the engine next to the builder's name. It is then sent to the Corvette assembly plant for installation in the customer's car.

The Corvette Engine Build Experience is possible because of the hand-assembly processes used at the 100,000-square-foot PBC. Technicians hand-build the Corvette Z06's LS7 7.0L engine, the Corvette ZR1's 6.2L supercharged LS9 engine and a variation of the Corvette Grand Sport's LS3 6.2L engine. The PBC incorporates the best practices of low-volume niche manufacturers and the established quality and manufacturing standards at GM to ensure the highest-quality specialized engines.

Like all engines assembled at the PBC, Engine Build Experience engines are covered by Chevrolet's five year / 100,000-mile transferable powertrain warranty.

The Engine Build experience is the latest program Chevrolet offers for Corvette owners. Other programs include:
Corvette plant tour, where customers can follow their vehicle down the Bowling Green assembly line
Corvette Museum delivery, where customers take delivery of their new Corvette at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green
Corvette ZR1 Driving School, which offers complimentary attendance at either Bob Bondurant's Corvette Driving School in Arizona, or Ron Fellows' Corvette Performance Driving School near Las Vegas.

"Simply put, no other sports car manufacturer can match the level of personal customer involvement that Corvette offers," Campbell said. "The Corvette Engine Build Experience takes this personal involvement to an unprecedented level."

For more information, see facebook.com/corvette.

About Chevrolet
Chevrolet is a global automotive brand, with annual sales of about 3.5 million vehicles in more than 130 countries. Chevrolet provides consumers with fuel-efficient, safe and reliable vehicles that deliver high quality, expressive design, spirited performance and value. In the U.S., the Chevrolet portfolio includes: iconic performance cars, such as Corvette and Camaro; dependable, long-lasting pickups and SUVs, such as Silverado and Suburban; and award-winning passenger cars and crossovers, such as Malibu, Equinox and Traverse. Chevrolet also offers "gas-friendly" solutions, such as the upcoming 2011 Chevrolet Cruze Eco model that is expected to deliver up to an estimated 40 mpg highway, and 2011 Chevrolet Volt that will offer up to 40 miles of electric driving and an additional 300 miles of extended range with the onboard generator (based on GM testing). Most new Chevrolet models offer OnStar safety, security, and convenience technologies including OnStar Hands-Free Calling, Automatic Crash Response, and Stolen Vehicle Slowdown. More information regarding Chevrolet models, fuel solutions, and OnStar availability can be found at HYPERLINK "http://www.chevrolet.com/"www.chevrolet.com.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Lighten up, Pnut ...... while Thurston is snugging up a couple of bolts, he probably is getting a couple of "fun facts" he can share with all of his buddies at the bridge game .....
      • 5 Years Ago
      I wish GM would do like the Smartcar people are going to do....pay 1500 for any color you want on your car....I'd have the sweetest grape purple car..or any design...they would get thd younger buyers in
      • 5 Years Ago
      I've assembled an engine once, was an old air cooled engine for a beetle. Even with as simple as the engine was that was a hell of a lot of fun. I would absolutely love to assemble my cars engine at the factory! Especially since with the trained tech guiding me I wouldn't end up with any extra pieces like I did with the VW one. :D
      • 5 Years Ago
      Funny thought- A company that is currently about 80% public owned, will let YOU PAY to work for them. Nice ! We should all do this, because it would be cheaper than the UAW !
      • 5 Years Ago
      Gotta do something to increase sales.
      Vette sales are way, way down.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I can't assemble a TV stand properly I could just imagine what I would do with an engine. "How come I have all these left over parts?"
        • 5 Years Ago
        Good one....LOL!!!!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Is that Michael Schumacher's dad in the front page pic?!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Schumacher's Dad assembles the hand built AMG engines. Although he is consistently slower than Nico Rosbergs's dad.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Maybe Michael has been diagnosed with a nasty case of Rosberger's Syndrome?
      • 5 Years Ago
      This is a great idea. I think there should be more programs out there that helps people better understand their vehicle. I wonder how the warranty is affected...
      • 5 Years Ago
      If I did this, I would forget to put on the plastic cover for the engine.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This is an awesome idea, and no doubt there will be people that will do it. I'd love to drive a car around with an engine I hand-built myself. No more blaming the assembly line workers when a bolt comes loose or something isn't locked down tight enough, that one's on you!
      • 5 Years Ago
      When I glanced at the title, I had visions of being able to specify Carrillo rods, super lightweight short skirt pistons and other alloy pieces of candy. However, this is a pretty awesome opportunity and would give someone an appreciation of how technically advanced the ever present Chevy small block has become.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Awesome idea, but why charge extra to have the customer do something themself?

      If this works I'm going to open a steakhouse that charges 10 bucks extra to grill the steak yourself.
        • 5 Years Ago

        The Palms in Carpinteria, California has already beat you to the idea of buying a steak and letting you grill it however you want. It's definitely a novelty when you're able to do it with a party.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yah what he said, its not like they are having you come to the factory, sticking you on the factory floor alone and saying figure it out yourself.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The same reason why people pay extra to pick up their BMW in Germany than at their local dealership. People pay extra for the experience. And what a great experience this would be for any car enthusiast!

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