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Northstar Engine Information

by Rob Wagner

General Motors' Northstar engine is the automaker's technologically advanced powerplant originating from the Corvette LT5 all-aluminum V-8. Designed by the performance-oriented Lotus, the Northstar is primarily used in Cadillac automobiles and SUVs.


The Northstar debuted in the two-seater Cadillac Allanté in 1992, and although that car ceased production in 1993 the Northstar V-8 continued in other Cadillac, Buick and Oldsmobile models.


The Northstar originally generated 295 horsepower, then got a boost to 300 from 1996-2004. Its present output is 320 hp.

Early Problems

Early Northstar engines were notorious for burning oil and head gasket failure, while 2000-2001 models experienced heavy carbon deposits in the combustion chamber.


GM pioneered fail-safe mechanisms in its Northstar V-8s that included allowing the engine to run if the ignition timing is failing, or run for a short time if there is no coolant in the system.


GM's Nylon 66 thermoplastic intake manifold provides cooler air intake, along with a sequential fuel-injection system to increase fuel efficiency.


The 2006-2008 Cadillac XLR-V and STS-V models were equipped with a supercharged 4.4-liter version of the Northstar engine that generated 443 hp for the XLR-V and 469 hp for the STS-V.

About the Author

Rob Wagner is a journalist with over 35 years experience reporting and editing for newspapers and magazines. His experience ranges from legal affairs reporting to covering the Middle East. He served stints as a newspaper and magazine editor in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Wagner attended California State University, Los Angeles, and has a degree in journalism.

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Photo Credits

  • General Motors