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CATEGORIES (articles) > Engines > General Motors > List of GM engines

List of GM engines


This page chronicles the many automobile engines that General Motors has used in its various marques.

GM currently uses certain terminology to refer to groups of engines, but this terminology does not necessarily isolate families. In other words, not all of the Vortec engines share common ancestry.

In North America, GM uses universal three-character alphanumeric RPO codes to refer to a specific car option, including engine model. Even with 55 thousand distinct codes possible, many of these have been reused over the years, and new RPO codes are sometimes used for very similar engines, however.

GM LAAM (Latin America, Africa and Mid-East) and GM Europe uses four- to six-character SKU codes, such as CN22E, to represent family, displacement and engine features.

Unlike Chrysler and Ford, each GM division had its own line of engines until the 1970s. For this reason, making sense of GM engines can be difficult. For example, Buick, Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac each had a different 350 in³ V8 design.


Diesel

The history of Diesel engines at General Motors has not been positive. In the 1970s, the company was unable to power its large cars and trucks with their emissions-strangled engines. Like many other companies, GM turned to Diesel power, directing the Oldsmobile division to develop a V6 and two V8 engines, to be shared with all divisions.

These Diesel engines were designed to fit into the engine bays of gasoline powered automobiles, but despite popular belief, they were not "converted" gasoline engines, Oldsmobile's diesel engines, the 5.7 L LF9 and 4.3 L LF7 V8s and 4.3 L LT6/LT7/LS2 V6, were notoriously unreliable, particularly in the earliest versions, though reliability had improved by the early 1980s with the advent of the DX block, along with better fuel filtering and water separators. Many of the reliability issues these engines developed were a combination of faults not just related to poor design. From poor quality fuel, to mechanics not properly trained in diesel repair, to even improper owner service and maintenance, many of these engines suffered major malfunctions. Although over one million were sold between 1978 and 1985, the failure rate of GM's engines ruined the reputation of Diesel engines not just built by GM, but overall in the United States market. Eventually, a class action lawsuit resulted in an arbitration system under the supervision of the Federal Trade Commission where consumers could claim 80% of the original cost of the engine in the event of a failure.

The Oldsmobile 5.7 liter engines experienced a wide gamut of malfunctions. One of the common failures was with crankshaft bearings. This was frequently attributed to owners and maintainers running the engines on SG rated oil, that is intended for gasoline engines, versus CD oil, which is intended for Diesel engines. This prompted GM to introduce the DX block that had larger oil passages and a higher volume oil pump, so that the engines could tolerate low-grade oils. These engines also suffered from blown head gaskets, warped heads, and bad injector pumps, and injectors. The beginnings of these problems can be attributed to poor quality diesel fuel which may have contained water or other contaminants. These materials would damage the inside of the injector pump, and when eventually clog injectors. If water was injected into the engine, it could cause a "hydrolock" which would blow head gaskets, and bend valves, because water cannot be compressed. This was the reason GM equipped later cars with water detectors, and double filtration systems on their vehicles.

When a hapless owner took the vehicle in for repair, the mechanic would resurface the head, making it thinner, install a new head gasket, and then re-use the old, stretched out fasteners. It would not be but a few thousand miles, and the vehicle was in the shop again for head gasket failure, or a warped head. The frustrated owner would frequently just get the shop to convert the engine to gasoline after a few repeated failures like this. As a side note, these diesel engine blocks were frequently sought after by hot-rodders to build high-performance gasoline engines out of because of their extra heavy duty components would withstand extreme horsepower.

In the 1980 and 1990s GM produced the 6.2 L and 6.5 liter V8 Diesels for use in light trucks and in the HMMWV.

Today, GM uses Diesel engines from Duramax (for trucks) but offers no domestic Diesel passenger cars. General Motors' Opel division is one of the leading proponents of Diesel cars in Europe, however.In the 1970s, Opel developed the first Opel Diesel engine ever. This 2.1-litre engine made some records in a specially for this purpose built car.The commercial use was in the Opel Rekord D (2100 ccm, 60 hp) and later version were put in the Rekord E and the Ascona B.Characteristic of these engines was the front of the car, because there was a little "hill" to see, because otherwise the space for the engine would have been too small.In Kadett D, E and Ascona B and C was still an Opel engine (1600 ccm, 54 hp).Later Isuzu engines were installed, namely for the Corsa A (1500 ccm, 50 hp and 1500, turbo, 67 hp) as well as for Kadett E and Vectra A (Vectra A TD: 82 hp).

Opel today uses common rail direct injection engines designed and produced by Fiat S.p.A and Isuzu. Ownership of both designs was acquired by GM in 2005, and a new GM Powertrain division in Turin, Italy (home of Fiat) was founded to manage these assets. The Fiat Diesel engine has 1900 ccm, but before this cooperation, Opel had already developed two own engines, namely 2-litre Diesels with 82 and 100 hp; which were installed mostly in the Vectra B.GM Daewoo recently licensed two common rail designs from VM Motori.

Many of the failures and complaints GM endured has shaped the design of Diesel engines today to be quite reliable and good performing engines. Today's diesels have excellent fuel filtration systems to minimize failures of injection systems. Many manufacturers require owners to use specific types of oils in their diesel engines, and the use of these oils must be proven for warranty claims (Volkswagen TDI). Lack of power, dirty, smelly exhaust, and noise were other complaints drivers had with the early GM diesels. Today's diesels with common-rail injection tackle all these shortcomings. They are extremely efficient, yet provide significantly more power than older diesels, and they do so with significantly less pollution and noise. Today's dealer mechanics have also undergone the proper training to service the engines properly.


Straight-3

  • 1985-1986 GM/Suzuki LY9
  • 1996 Ecotec Family 0 - 1.0 L DOHC
  • Non-GM engines:
    • 1990s S-TEC - 0.8 L SOHC

Straight-4

  • 1913-1928 Chevrolet 171
  • 1962-1984 Chevrolet 153 - 153 in³/2.5 L from the Chevy II
  • 1961-1963 Pontiac 195 - pushrod I4
  • 1965-1984 Opel OHV - pushrod I4
  • 1971-1977 2300 - SOHC I4
  • 1977-1993 Iron Duke - 151 in³/2.5 L pushrod I4, AKA Tech IV/Crossflow/2500/Pontiac 2.5
  • 1980s OHV - 1.8/2.0/2.2 L OHV I4
  • Family II - OHC engines for compact cars
    • 1979 - 1.4/1.6 L SOHC made by Opel
      • 1990s - 1.6/1.8/2.0 L DOHC
    • 1980s - 1.8/2.0 L SOHC made by Holden
      • 1990s D-TEC - 2.0 L DOHC
      • 2003 E-TEC II - 1.8 L DOHC
    • 1990s Brazilian - 1.8/2.0 L
  • 1988-1995 Quad-4 - 2.3 L DOHC I4
    • 1996-2001 Twin Cam - 2.4 L DOHC I4
  • Family 1 - OHC engines for compact cars
    • 1993 - 1.4/1.6/1.8 L SOHC made by Opel
      • 1990s - 1.8 L DOHC
      • 2001 Ecotec TwinPort 1.4/1.6 L DOHC
        • 2005 Ecotec DCVCP - 1.8 L VVT
    • 1990s D-TEC - 1.3/1.5/1.6 L
    • 2000s E-TEC II - 1.4/1.5/1.6 L
        • 2002 L91 - 1.6 L DOHC
    • 1990s Brazilian - 1.0/1.4/1.6/1.8 L SOHC
  • 1990-2000 Saturn L24/LL0 - 1.9 L SOHC/DOHC
  • 1996 Family 0 Ecotec - 1.2 L DOHC engine for Opel/Vauxhall cars
  • Family II Ecotec - 2.0/2.2/2.4 L DOHC engines
    • 2003 Turbo - 2.0 L turbocharged (Opel)
    • 2001 L61 - 2.2 L
    • 2005 DI - 2.2 L Direct injection (Opel)
    • 2000s L42 - 2.2 L CNG
    • 2004 LSJ - 2.0 L supercharged for Saturn ION Red Line and Chevrolet Cobalt SS.
    • 2005 LE5 - 2.4 L VVT
  • Vortec - longitudinal I4 for trucks
    • 2000s L43/LN2 2200 - 2.2 L
  • Atlas - longitudinal I4 for trucks
    • 2004-present LK5 Vortec 2800 - 2.8 L
  • Non-GM engines:
    • 1960-1973Triumph/Saab Slant-4 - 1.7/1.85/2.0/2.3 L Saab engine
    • 1973-1981 Saab B engine
    • 1981-present Saab H engine
    • Late 1980s to early 1990s 4A-GE 1.6 L Toyota I4 for the Chevrolet Nova and Geo Prizm GSi
    • 2000s LV6/LNK - 1.8 L Toyota I4 for the Pontiac Vibe
    • 2002 S-TEC - 1.0/1.2 L SOHC designed by Daewoo Motors
    • Circle L - 1.7 L Diesel designed by Isuzu
    • JTD - 1.9 L Diesel designed by Fiat

Straight-5

  • Atlas - longitudinal I5 for trucks
    • 2004-present L52 Vortec 3500 - 3.5 L

Straight-6

GM has produced a few families of straight-6 engines. The first was introduced 1929 to replace the straight-4 previously used in Chevrolet cars. It lasted until the 1970s in GM cars, and all the way until 1985 in Chevrolet and GMC trucks. A new straight-6 was introduced in 2002 as part of GM's Atlas truck engine program.

  • 1929–1936 Chevrolet Generation 1 — 181/194/207 in³
  • 1935–1936 Pontiac 208 — 208 in³
  • 1937–1950 Oldsmobile/GMC — 215/230/238/257 in³
  • 1937–1962 Chevrolet Generation 2 — 216/235/261 in³
  • 1937–1954 Pontiac/GMC — 222/223/239 in³
  • 1939–1953 GMC — 228/236/248/256/270 in³
  • 1962–1984 Chevrolet Generation 3/Post-Stovebolt/L22 — 194/230/250/292 in³
  • 1964–1965 Pontiac 215 — 215 in³
  • 1968–1993 Opel — 2.5, 3.0, 3.6 L
  • 2002– Atlas LL8 Vortec 4200 — 4.2 L
Holden in Australia also used straight-6 engines for a number of years in their family sedan models, with local engines ranging in size from 2.15L (132ci) in the original Holden 48-215 of 1948, to the 3.3L (202ci) six used in the 1970's and 80's, up until 1985 with the VK Commodore model. These engines were colour coded and often referred to by the colour of their engine block (grey, red, blue, black). This was replaced in the 1986 VL Commodore model to coincide with unleaded fuel being required in Australia. Since the old engine was considered unsuitable, and a new engine hadn't been developed, the VL Commodore sported the 3.0L Nissan RB30 engine, the last straight six used in a Commodore.


Flat-6

General Motors produced just one flat-6 engine, the 1960s Chevrolet Corvair engine. This air-cooled aluminum engine was notable for many things, including being one of the first turbocharged engines in history.


V6

General Motors was the pioneer of the V6 engine in the United States, putting the first American V6 car, the Buick Special's 198 in³ V6, on the road in 1962. GMC beat Buick to the punch, however, with their 1960 truck V6, which eventually grew to a massive 478 in³ (7.8 L). But the company quickly lost interest in the V6 concept, and sold the Buick design to Kaiser-Jeep in 1967. In the midst of the fuel crisis of the 1970s, GM realized that a V6 engine would be an excellent alternative to bulky straight-6 and large V8 engines, so the company bought the design back and launched what would eventually become the familiar 3800 line.

At that same time, the company began designing a 60° V6 for their new compact cars. This line started slowly, powering only the smallest cars. One notable version was the DOHC LQ1, designed with Lotus. The smooth and compact 60° engine has become GM's platform of the future, spawning the new global High Value family.

Other V6es came and went in recent decades, including the V8-derived Olds Diesel 4.3 and Vortec 4300 and Premium V-based LX5. The European Opel/Cadillac/Saturn 54° V6 has spawned the company's other future V6, the global High Feature DOHC engine.

  • 1960-1978 GMC V6 - 60° pushrod V6 available in 305, 351, 401, 432, and 478 in³ (5.0, 5.8, 6.6, 7.1, and 7.8 L) sizes
  • 90° Buick V6 family - 90° pushrod V6
    • Series I:
      • 1962 198 - 198 in³ (3.2 L) Buick
      • 1963-1971 225 - 225 in³ (3.7 L) Buick/Jeep
      • 1975-1977 231 - 231 in³ (3.8 L)
      • 1978-1979 3.2 - 196 in³ (3.2 L)
      • 1978-1988 3.8 - 3.8 L
      • 1980-1984 4.1 - 4.1 L
      • 1988-1994 3800 - 3.8 L
      • 1989-1993 3300 - 3.3 L
    • Series II:
      • 1995-2005 L36 3800 - 3.8 L
      • 1996-2005 L67 3800 SC - 3.8 L supercharged
    • Series III:
      • 2004-present L26 3800 - 3.8 L
      • 2004-present L32 3800 SC - 3.8 L supercharged
  • 60° V6 family - Pushrod V6
    • 1985-1988 L44 - 2.8 L OHV
    • 1991-1997 LQ1 - 3.4 L DOHC
    • 1996-2004 LA1 - 3.4 L OHV
    • 2000s LB8 - 2.5 L (China)
    • 2000s LW9 - 3.0 L (China)
    • 2000s LG8 - 3.1 L
  • 1980s Olds Diesel 4.3 - 90° 4.3 L Oldsmobile Diesel
  • 1985-present Vortec 4300 - 90° 4.3 L V6 developed from the Chevrolet 350 in³ V8
    • 1985-2002 L35/LF6 - 4.3 L central-port injected
    • 1985-1998 LB4 - 4.3 L TBI
    • 2002-present LU3/LG3 - 4.3 L Multi-port injected
  • Opel/Cadillac/Saturn 54° DOHC V6
    • 1994-2005 L81 3000 - 3.0 L
    • 2003-2004 LA3 - 3.2 L
  • 1990s LX5 3500 - 90° 3.5 L DOHC Oldsmobile V6 based on the Premium V
  • High Value 60° V6 family - Descended from the 60° V6
    • LX9 3500 - 3.5 L
    • LZ8 3900 - 3.9 L
  • High Feature - DOHC V6
    • 2004 LY7 3600 - 3.6 L
    • 2005 LP1 2800 - 2.8 L
  • Non-GM engines:
    • 2000s LE8 - 2.5 L V6 for the Chevrolet Tracker
    • 2000s L66 - 3.5 L DOHC V6 from Honda
    • DMAX V6 - 3.0 L Diesel V6 designed by Isuzu

Straight-8

  • 1934-1936 La Salle
  • 1934-1953 Buick Series 40-90 (233/248/263/320)
  • 1937-1949 Oldsmobile 257
  • 1940s GM Straight-8 engine

V8

From the 1950s through the 1970s, each GM division had its own V8 engine family. Many were shared among other divisions, but each design is most-closely associated with its own division. Chevrolet had two different V8s, the big-block and small-block. Today, there are only three V8 engines produced by GM: Chevrolet's Generation IV small-block and big-block, and Cadillac's advanced DOHC V8, the Northstar.

  • 1914-1992 Cadillac V8
    • 1914 Type 51 314 in³ (5.1 L)
    • 1928 341/346/322 341 in³ (5.6 L), 346 in³ (5.7 L), 322 in³ (5.3 L)
    • 1949 331 331 in³ (5.4 L), 365 in³ (6.0 L), 390 in³ (6.4 L)
    • 1963 429 429 in³ (7.0 L), 472 in³ (7.7 L), 500 in³ (8.2 L)
    • 1977 L33/L35/L61/L62 425 in³ (7.0 L), 368 in³ (6.0 L) V8-6-4
    • 1982 LC7/LT8/LQ6/LR6/LW2/L26 4.1 L, 4.5 L, 4.9 L
  • 1949-1990 Oldsmobile Rocket V8
    • 1949-1964 Generation 1 (303/324/371/394/215)
    • 1964-1990 Generation 2 (330/400/425/455/350/403/260/307)
  • 1953-1980 Buick V8
    • 1953-1959 Buick/Chevrolet Truck (264/322)
    • 1957-1966 Nailhead (364/400/401/425)
    • 1961-1980 Buick "Small-Block" (215/300/340/350)
    • 1967-1976 Buick "Big-Block" (400/430/455)
  • 1954-1980 Pontiac V8
    • 1955-1958 Pontiac/GMC V8 (287/288/316/336/347/370)
    • 1959-1980 Pontiac V8 (326/350/389/400/421/428/455)
    • 1977-1981 Pontiac "Low Deck" (265/301)
  • 1958-1983 GMC
    • 1958-1959 GMC 336 336 in³ (5.5 L) 90°
    • 1960s GMC 637 637 in³ (10.4 L) 60°
    • 1969-1983 GMC 366 366 in³ (6.0 L) 90°
  • 1961-1964 Buick/Oldsmobile/Pontiac 215 aluminum V8 (now Rover V8 engine)
  • 1954-1968 Chevrolet small-block V8
    • 1954-1956 265 in³ Corvette V8
    • 1957-1962 283 in³ Corvette V8
    • 1967-1969 302 in³ Camaro Z28/Trans-Am V8
    • 1963-1968 327 in³ Corvette V8
    • 1975-1976 4.3 L Monza V8
    • 1976-1979 5.0 L Monza V8
  • 1969-1991 Chevrolet Small-Block
    • 1969-1975 ZQ3
    • 1969-1972 L46 - High-compression
    • 1970-1972 LT-1 - High-performance
    • 1971-1979 L48
    • 1973-1980 L82 - Modified 350
    • 1974-1981 LM1 - 350
    • 1980-1987 LG4 - California L48
    • 1981 L81
    • 1982-1984 L83
    • 1985-1992 L05
    • 1985-1991 L98
  • 1958-present Chevrolet Big-Block engine
    • 1958-1965 Generation 1 (348/409)
    • 1965 Generation 2 (396/427/454)
    • L18 Vortec 8100 - 8.1 L V8
GM later standardized on the later generations of the Chevrolet design:
  • 1990-1994 LT5 - Corvette ZR-1 V8
  • 1993-1997 Generation 2 small-block pushrod V8 family:
    • 1993-1997 LT1 - 5.7 L V8
    • 1996-1997 LT4 - High-output LT1
  • 1998-present Generation 3 small-block pushrod V8 family:
    • 1997-2004 LS1 - 5.7 L V8
    • 2001-2004 LS6 - High-output LS1
    • LR4 Vortec 4800 - 4.8 L
    • L33 Vortec 5300 - 5.3 L
    • LM4 Vortec 5300 - 5.3 L
    • LM7 Vortec 5300 - 5.3 L
    • LQ4 Vortec 6000 - 6.0 L
    • LQ9 Vortec HO 6000 - High-output 6.0 L
  • 2005-present Generation 4 small-block pushrod V8 family:
    • 2005-present LS2 - 6.0 L
    • LS4 - 5.3 L Pontiac
    • 2005-present LS7 7.0 L High-performance Gen IV engine
    • LH6 Vortec 5300 - 5.3 L Vortec
    • Vortec 6200 - 6.2 L Vortec
Other GM V8 engines include the following:
  • 1982-2000 Detroit Diesel V8 - 6.2/6.5 L Diesel
  • Duramax Diesel V8 family:
    • LG4 - 5.2 L Diesel
    • LLY - 6.6 L turbocharged Diesel
  • 1992-present Premium V DOHC
    • LD8/L37/LH2 Northstar - 4.6 L V8
    • L47 Aurora - 4.0 L V8

V12

Cadillac has produced just one V12 engine, in the 1930s. Since then, the company has twice prepared a new V12, but has not yet brought one into production.

  • 1930-1937 Cadillac V12
  • 1960s GMC "Twin Six" - 60° V12 for commercial trucks
  • 1980s Cadillac Aluminum V12 - Never produced
  • 2000s Cadillac Northstar V12 - Upcoming V12 variant

V16

Cadillac is a rarity in having produced two of only three production V16 engines in history:

  • 1930-1937 Series 452
  • 1938-1940 Series 90



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