General Motors’ Wixom Performance Build Center has been responsible for building the company’s highest performance engines by hand since it was opened back in 2005 with the most recent efforts being focused on the Corvette Z06, the Corvette ZR-1 and a variety of high performance crate motors sold to consumers for custom car builds. However, with a decrease in demand for the LS7 and LS9 engines caused by the launch of the C7 Corvette, GM will shutter the tiny high performance engine facility. Even though the new Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 will pack the LS7 engine formerly reserved for the C6 Corvette Z06, GM doesn’t see the need to have a facility dedicated to the least-used engines in their vehicle lineup. The few highly specialized workers at the Wixom facility will work through this fall as they build the engines for the new Z/28 but after that, they will be offered positions in other Detroit area powertrain facilities and the Performance Build Center will close – seemingly for good.
General Motors hasn’t offered much detail as to where the highest performance engines will be built but to the consumer world, the biggest piece of bad news around the closing of the Wixom Performance Build Center is the end of the Build-Your-Own-Engine program. For the past couple years, GM has offered buyers of new performance cars that chance to travel to Wixom to build their own high performance V8 for “just” $5,000 but with the closing of the Wixom facility – GM is temporarily ended the Build-Your-Own-Engine program.
The good news is that the Build-Your-Own-Engine program will be reborn with an enhanced form at the Corvette’s Bowling Green Assembly Plant and while no details have been offered – we can speculate what else the program could entail. The hand building area at Wixom was a relatively small portion of the facility so GM could easily set up a small area in the Bowling Green facility where buyers could come build their own engine and since the Corvette which will rely on that engine is built in the same facility, buyers could be able to build their own engine and then either be involved with the installation process or they could just watch the engine that they built go into their new Corvette.
General Motors hasn’t offered any idea as to when the Build-Your-Own-Engine program will be started back up so those looking to build the engine in their new high performance GM sports car may have to wait patiently for more news but with the company promising an enhanced version of the program – those who wait for the program to kick off in the Bowling Green facility may get an even more exciting experience than those who built their own engines in Wixom.
I was fortunate enough to be invited to the Wixom Performance Build Center to watch the very first buyer-built engine take his LS9 V8 from a bare block to a fully assembled, supercharged monster and having seen how the program goes – it is definitely something that I would recommend to those buyers who have the extra $5,000 laying around as this is a rare experience for hardcore car lovers...even those who dont have a world of mechanical experience as the process is supervised by one of the normal build team members.
Source: Automotive News