According to Wardsauto.com, General Motors showed off some interesting future variations of the venerable old small-block. Though many consider pushrod engines to be hopelessly out-of-date, and destined for the scrapheap of history, there are still some compelling advantages for the old soldier, and GM seems determined to make the most of every one.
Aside from the most obvious, packaging, with pushrod engines generally being several inches shorter than equivalent overhead-cam engines, pushrod engines have traditionally had strong low-end torque, and thanks to advances such as the concentric independently-variable in-block camshaft (pioneered in the '08 Dodge Viper), it looks like this icon of Americana has a quite a few more years left in it.
In an interesting twist, it appears GM is about to apply a contemporary technology to this design - direct injection. GM showcased, and is working on direct-injection variants of the small-block V-8. It's expected that the fifth-generation small-block engines will be optimized and designed for direct-injection from the ground up. The LS3 6.2-liter V-8 has been publicly acknowledged by GM as probably being the last of the fourth-generation small-blocks.
To give an example of how much power this engine configuration could potentially produce, a GM engineer is quoted as saying "well North of 450 horsepower" for a 6.2 liter version. If that's not enough, running on E85 (with an octane rating of 106) promises potentially even higher output levels. To add icing to the cake, direct-injection is also proven to lower emissions, increase fuel economy, sharpen throttle response, and increase low-end torque. Our only question now is, "When can we buy one?"