The concept of a flat-plane crank V8 isn’t new. In fact, Ferrari’s been doing it for decades. Ford did it with the Mustang GT350 in 2015 as well. It’s about time Chevrolet adopted the flat plane into its top-performance car, as this design has almost no downsides. Among many attributes, flat-plane crankshafts don’t use counterweights, so they weigh less and climb revs faster and higher than a cross-plane. It also doesn’t require a big crankcase like a cross-plane would with its counterweights.
A flat plane can snuggle cozily inside the block, allowing the engine to be placed lower. At the same time, a flat-plane crank V8 creates more vibration and is less desirable in a road car. If you’re looking to daily-drive a V8, a cross-plane is going to provide a smoother and more pleasurable ride. If you’re looking to go fast, a flat plane is the way to go. This is what the Chevrolet Corvette has been missing, and it’s long overdue.
The most exotic Corvette ever
Where the C8 Corvette looked almost like a Ferrari when it was released, the new Z06 looks like the offspring of the prancing horse and Lamborghini’s raging bull. American cars haven’t traditionally had high-revving engines. Mustangs from the 1990s top out at 5,800. However, the new Z06 doesn’t have that problem. It has bodywork that incorporates large ducting, which will help cool down its 5.5-liter flat-plane V8, which revs all the way up to 8,600 RPM.
A detuned version of the same engine exists in the C8.R. The streetcar will make more power, and because of its high rev range, the C8 Corvette Z06 may use its 625 horsepower more effectively. That power will reach the ground with all the resistance of enormous 345mm tires.
Ferrari did it in 1974
America isn’t a stranger to the flat plane. Peerless and Cadillac both made flat-plane crankshaft V8s in 1915, but Cadillac would later make a cross-plane that every American automaker would adopt. Ferrari roots its history in racing pedigree, so of course, its first V8 car, the 308 GT4, uses a flat-plane crankshaft. It could rev to 7,000 RPM, which was unheard of at the time, according to Hemmings. The flat plane’s lower center of gravity and high rev range catapulted flat-plane Ferraris into a realm untouched by American V8s.
Lotus and Lancia also used flat-plane V8s
Some Lancia Themas used a flat-plane V8 from Ferrari as well. The Thema 8-32 used a 3-liter engine with dual overhead camshafts, making 200 horsepower at 6,750 RPM. Lotus Esprit V8s used flat-plane crankshafts, which produced 350 horsepower at 6,500 RPM in 1996. It’s not uncommon, but to be serious about making a fast car, a flat-plane crankshaft is critical. Hopefully, the Corvette gets more use out of the flat plane than the short-lived Ford Mustang GT350.