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GM's Northstar V8 Going Out of Production in July

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GM's Northstar V8 Going Out of Production in July

By Ed Hellwig | June 9, 2010

It used to be the brightest point in General Motors Co.'s powertrain firmament, but now the company's once-famous Northstar V8 is ending production after a 17-year run, a GM spokesman confirmed to Inside Line. The last Northstar will be made sometime near the end of July.

The 4.6-liter Northstar was huge news when GM launched the overhead-cam, all-aluminum V8 in 1992 for the '93 Cadillac Allante. It was the company's first overhead-cam V8 and brought to market a number of then-innovative features, including 100,000-mile sparkplugs and a "limp home" mode designed to keep the engine from melting itself even if all the coolant was lost.

For a decade, Cadillac and the Northstar were inextricably linked, as GM kept the "Northstar System" a Cadillac exclusive. In later years, however, the Northstar - if not in name, the engine architecture itself - was pressed into service for other brands, mostly Oldsmobile and Buick. There have been three different Northstar displacements over the years, although the 4.6-liter by far was the most widely used. A short-lived 3.5-liter V6 was derived from the Northstar for Oldsmobile before the brand was discontinued.

What's important now is the hole in GM's powertrain lineup the loss of the Northstar leaves. The company, including Cadillac, will have no overhead-cam V8 architecture, leaving it up to the legendary overhead-valve "small-block" V8 - whose basic design dates back to 1955 - to serve wherever a V8 is needed.

It remains to be seen whether the small-block V8 will be perceived as technically advanced enough to allow GM, and particularly Cadillac, to compete against increasingly sophisticated V8s from Europe and Japan. GM had almost finished engineering a Northstar successor, dubbed the "Ultra V8," or UV8, but shut announced it was shutting down the UV8 program in late 2007 when the company began hemorrhaging money prior to its 2009 bankruptcy.

GM's then vice-president of global powertrain engineering Tom Stephens, told us at the time the UV8 was "as refined as anything in the history of internal-combustion engines. It was the quietest engine we've ever tested." He also said development of the engine was complete and could be pulled off the shelf anytime GM wishes.

Stephens and Cadillac have said new fuel-economy standards, as well as changing consumer preferences, point to power-dense V6s as the new-age alternative to V8s. We'll see. In the meantime, the Northstar engine represents yet another noble portion of the "old" GM soon relegated to history. -- Bill Visnic, senior editor, Edmunds AutoObserver.com

link:

http://blogs.insideline.com/straightline/2010/06/gms-northstar-v8-going-out-of-production-in-july.html

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Not really a fan of discontinuing the Northstar, a perennial Ward's 10 Best, with 1955 technology. If fuel economy is such an issue, then bring back the 3.5L V6, though upgrade the transmission pairing. That engine is awesome, and I don't miss the extra 2 cylinders. But why discontinue Northstar? If it's really about fuel economy, then charge a sufficiently high premium for the option.

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1955 technology:

chevysmallblock.jpg

2010 technology:

chevrolet-2010-camaro-l99-v8_5965.jpg

I don't think I'd refer to the current V-8 as having any linkage to 1955 other than both were built under GM Corp.

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aren't we all just waiting for the 5.5L announcement? maybe it'll come the day after this plant stops the N* line...

the 3.6 DI has replaced the northstar in terms of power.

or turbo the 3.0L (update the 2.8 ) since the 2.0L made ~3.6L+ power...?

Edited by loki

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The current small block uses 1955 architecture much the same way a modern racing tire uses 1955 architecture.... in so much as it is round, mounted to the rim with a bead, is tubeless, and, much like this author, filled with air. The small block has 8 cylinders mounted in a 90 degree V format and maybe even a similar firing order..... that's where the similarity to 1955 ends.

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The current small block uses 1955 architecture much the same way a modern racing tire uses 1955 architecture.... in so much as it is round, mounted to the rim with a bead, is tubeless, and, much like this author, filled with air. The small block has 8 cylinders mounted in a 90 degree V format and maybe even a similar firing order..... that's where the similarity to 1955 ends.

Actually, even the firing order is different.

But yeah, the mention of '55 is absurd.

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The technicians I work with HATE the Northstar, it is difficult to work on, and failure prone. Can anyone confirm it is based on a twinned Quad 4 ?

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The UV8 is ready to go into production at any time. Stephens said so. The question is, there needs to be a demand for that engine. I think consumers are plenty happy with 400+ horsepower from the LS V8s.

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The UV8 is ready to go into production at any time. Stephens said so. The question is, there needs to be a demand for that engine. I think consumers are plenty happy with 400+ horsepower from the LS V8s.

The only reason I can think of to press the UV8 into service would be for transverse mounted duty. It was designed from the start to be used in crossovers as well as performance cars, so it can be oriented either way. I don't think the LS engines are set up for that.

But even still, if you need something with that amount of power and you can't mount an LS in there, why not just twin-turbo the 3.6?

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LS engines were used in the Impala SS. I think a lack of transverse transmissions is the problem.

Speaking of which, why has the LS4 just disappeared? I'm sure it couldn't have been that hard to turn in longitudinally and use it in a couple of RWD vehicles... probably would have had a power bump too.

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I am strongly of the opinion that Cadillac needs their own V-8, not shared elsewhere in the Corp. Regardless of how close a V-6T or LS-V8 gets in output, Cadillac needs it's own V8.

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I am strongly of the opinion that Cadillac needs their own V-8, not shared elsewhere in the Corp. Regardless of how close a V-6T or LS-V8 gets in output, Cadillac needs it's own V8.

no offense, but is there something wrong with the LS?

is there anywhere an exclusive engine would do better?

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Anything wrong- nope.

But Cadillac needs to distance itself (to whatever degree it can) from the rest of GM.

I am beyond sick reading that 'Cadillac is a rebadged Chevy' no matter how ridiculous the statement. Unique engines go a long way toward that.

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northstar was a joke in 2010 with power output that was eclipsed by many v6's.

small block is fine for a cts-v. i don't think i would put it in a cadillac s class competitor / non niche model.

it wouldn't be that tough for GM to commission Lotus or someone like that to build engines for them. or team up with say, BMW.

IMO Opel needs a flagship car for its motherland. I still think there will be enough demand globally for GM to develop some sort of OHC v8 or have it in its portfolio.

It would just need to charge for it.

But even then, maybe if the TT v6 can be pumped up to a like performance, then maybe a small block is all that is needed.

As long as they retuned the noise and character of the small block for say cadillac duty so it wasn't so brash. if they can get premium feel and sounds out of it and not make it feel rednecky then sure maybe do it.

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northstar was a joke in 2010 with power output that was eclipsed by many v6's.

it wouldn't be that tough for GM to commission Lotus or someone like that to build engines for them. or team up with say, BMW.

Lotus doesn't build engines.

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^ Right- Lotus cars use toyoyo engines. :yikes:

>>"So would having its own platforms, not used by Chevrolet."<<

Yes- but to a far lesser degree.

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if the rumors/reports are true, and the GenV small block can support DOHC and OHV variants, then there's no need to pine for a legitimate Northstar replacement.

Still, it's sad to see the Northstar go. It was a landmark engine for GM and single-handedly carried Cadillac through a tough period in its history.

  • Upvote 1

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Speaking of which, why has the LS4 just disappeared? I'm sure it couldn't have been that hard to turn in longitudinally and use it in a couple of RWD vehicles... probably would have had a power bump too.

Apparently it had some major engineering done to it to make it work right in the W Body.

According to Wikipedia:

The LS4 is a 5,328 cc (5.328 L; 325.1 cu in) version of the Generation IV block. Though it has the same displacement as the Vortec 5300 LH6, it differs in that it has an aluminium block rather than an iron one and it uses the same cylinder head as the Generation III LS6 engine. The bellhousing bolt pattern differs from the rear wheel drive blocks.

This engine is adapted for transverse front-wheel drive applications. According to GM, "The crankshaft is shortened 13 mm – 3 mm at the flywheel end and 10 mm at the accessory drive end – to reduce the length of the engine compared to the 6.0L. All accessories are driven by a single serpentine belt to save space. The water pump is mounted remotely with an elongated pump manifold that connects it to the coolant passages. Revised oil pan baffles, or windage trays, are incorporated into the LS4 to ensure that the oil sump stays loaded during high-g cornering."[5] Active Fuel Management is also used. Output of this version is 303 hp (226 kW)/300 hp on LaCrosse Super and 323 lb·ft (438 N·m).

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REPORT: GM TO KILL NORTHSTAR SYSTEM NEXT MONTH

By Drew Johnson

General Motors’ Northstar V8 was once the pinnacle of the automaker’s powertrain know-how, but the versatile Northstar System will be laid to rest next month. The Northstar V8 made its debut in mid-1992 under the hood of the 1993 Cadillac Allante.

Although no longer considered a technically advanced powerplant, the Northstar System was quite high-tech for its day. Using the Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1’s Lotus-designed dual overhead cam V8 as a model, the Northstar V8 became Cadillac’s first over-head cam, all-aluminum V8 engine. In addition to offering 100,000 mile service increments, the Northstar also offered the security of a limp home mode, ensuring engine damage would be kept to a minimum if cooling fluid was lost.

Initially reserved for the Cadillac brand, GM eventually offered variations of the Northstar System in some of its Buick, Oldsmobile and Pontiac models. The Northstar V8 was even converted into a V6 for use in the Oldsmobile division.

Over the course of its life, the 4.6L V8 was the most common form for the Northstar System, producing between 275 and 320 horsepower. However, GM made a few high-performance examples of the Northstar V8, the most powerful of which made 469 horsepower in the form of the Cadillac STS-V.

GM was working on a replacement for the Northstar in the mid-to-late 2000s, but the company’s financial woes put an end to that program. In its stead, GM will continue to rely on its current crop of V6 and V8 engine offerings.

Just three GM vehicles currently use the Northstar V8, the Cadillac DTS, Cadillac STS and Buick Lucerne. However, while the STS and Lucerne are available with V6 engines, the DTS is only fitted with the Northstar System. It remains to be seen if GM will offer will offer the DTS with another powertrain or will send it to the automotive graveyard along with the Northstar.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3eZeJ4KUjJQ&feature=related

The last Northstar comes off the line in July right before they start building 2011 models. You know this is spelling the end for DTS, STS, and Lucerne.

The automotive press has reported that the next Cadillac DTS is expected to merge with the Cadillac STS to create a single flagship sedan for the brand. The original plan was reported to be a rear-drive sedan, powered by the new Ultra V8 engine (replacement for the Northstar), to bow for 2010.GM later stopped development of new North American Zeta-based models and canceled the Ultra V8 engine. A V-12 based on the Ultra V-8 was reported to be considered but cancelled some time ago. Most recent reports have stated Cadillac's new car will instead utilize the new Epsilon II-based Super Epsilon platform. Other reports maintain that Cadillac is still continuing with a rear-drive platform, perhaps an updated version of the GM Sigma platform Chinese Cadillac SLS. Instead of the Northstar or Ultra V-8, LS V8 engines would be used.

link:

http://www.leftlanenews.com/report-gm-to-kill-northstar-system-next-month.html

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It is somewhat of a sad day to see the Northstar die. It lived on well past it's prime, but in the 90s it was quite a good engine. They may be a pain to work on, but they are smooth, sound good, and in the 90s 275-300 hp was pretty good. It is unfortunate that it never really got the upgrades it deserved. I wonder if the DTS will just die off in the fall, or if they'll try to make it a year with a V6. I think I'd rather the DTS just die off with the engine.

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