Still love that 8.1 liter big block truck engine for towing your speedboat to the lake — or towing your three-bedroom vacation home to the RV park? Better get ’em while they’re hot. This weekend GM shut down the Tonawanda, NY, production line that makes them. That makes all of ’em.
The engine in question was known as the L18, and was introduced in 2001 as an update to the previous 7.4 liter big block, sharing the same bore centers but incorporating an increased stroke. Depending on top-end equipment it generated between 225 and 340 HP, but cranked out a whopping 455 lb-ft of torque in its full-tow configuration.
GM’s cutback started as far back as 2007 when they pulled the L18 from the Silverado HD, though the engine was still available as an option in the Silverado 3500 and Suburbon/Yukon XL lines. The engine continues to see use in commercial applications — like U-Haul’s 26-foot truck — and in some marine situations. (Need a 500 HP inboard for a speedboat? GM used to have your back.)
As of this morning, GM Performance Parts still had L18s in stock — the photo above is from their catalog, by the way — but we’ve heard reports of regular customers buying up existing stock quickly. So if you’ve been eying one, now’s the time.
Of course, the truly sad part of this story lies with the auto workers. The Tonawanda plant has been assembling big blocks since 1958, and Friday’s L18 line shutdown brought 150 layoffs. One shred of good news: an engine like this doesn’t just disappear. It evolves. Tonawanda still makes other smaller engines, though, and they hope to snag production of the L18’s replacement — whatever it might be.