It's "America's Sports Car," an instantly recognizable model that has inspired passion and dedication among its owners for the past half a decade - and now, Corvette owners are being offered the chance to literally build their own vehicles.

General Motors' new Engine Build Experience allows Corvette lovers to do more than get under the hood, giving them the chance to create the engines from scratch inside GM's facilities.

In what is believed to be the first opportunity of its kind, customers who order one of the firm's 2011 Corvette Z06 or ZR1 can pay an extra $5,800 (€4,600) for the experience, which is available in the US only.

That extra cash buys time at GM's Performance Build Center in Wixom, Michigan, where the customer can hand assemble the LS7 or LS9 engines under the watchful eye of GM staff.

The Engine Build Experience should be popular with Corvette fans, who are notoriously passionate about their vehicles.

Last month, the governor of Kentucky signed a state bill that proclaimed the Corvette as Kentucky's Official Sports car, describing the model as "America's favorite sports car."

For grease monkeys that aren't keen to shell out the extra money, or want to build their own choice of engine, there is plenty of help available online.

Car Craft Magazine offers a step-by-step guide, plus photos, on its website: offers its own video tutorials:

And for children, automotive publisher Haynes makes a "Build Your Own Combustion Engine" education kit:

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