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The First Chevrolet V8 Engine: The 1917 Series D

Updated on March 3, 2012

World War One was still going on, in fact, America finally had decided to enter into it after much foot dragging. While the Yanks were fighting, a newly formed-never made a car before company from the GM division debuted its design: The 1917 Chevrolet Series D car, which sold for around $1600. The Chevy people ha decided to enter the car market in a very big way- a V8 engine (the first V8's appeared in 1914 in Cadillacs. Up to this point, all cars had a flat head four or six cylinder. The Chevy engine was a 288 cu. in. overhead valve that produced 55 hp @ 2700 rpm, which was way above all other engines at that time. Its push rods and lifters were fully exposed while under the valve covers the rocker arms and valve springs were. The carburetor was a dual Zenith and had an electric Kettering Starter with Bendix drive. Both new to cars, as was its three-speed clutch (most cars then had two speeds). The car had a 120-inch wheelbase and weighed 3,200 pounds.

In 1917, not more than 600 were made and in production would stop in 1918 with about 3500 built. Because of its expense ($1400 was a HUGE amount of money then), few were actually sold. The next V8 engine would not appear until the Ford 1932 model. For Chevy, it would not return until 1955!

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