The engine was unveiled at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas and was also prominently featured at the PRI Trade Show in Indianapolis. We caught up with Will Philippin, one of the Chevrolet Performance engineers who was integral to the project, to learn more about the power plant.
“The idea behind it was to offer somebody a very simple plug-and-play alternative to an LS engine,” Philippin said. “So if a guy wants to stick to that original look and that original feel of the first-gen, Small-Block Chevy engine, they can do that. This will bolt right up to your original transmission, your original engine mounts, your headers. Everything’s going to work and feel like the old engine, but it’s going to give you the performance and reliability that you’d get out of an LS.”
The 5.7L, ZZ6 EFI is a V-8 which features an electronically controlled, fully sequential port fuel-injection system for ideal fuel atomization and distribution. However, the eight port injectors are mounted on an intake manifold that looks like a carbureted intake, while a throttle body mounted in place of a four-barrel carburetor allows for the installation of a traditional air filter. Thus, the ZZ6 EFI retains much of the look of an original Chevrolet Small-Block engine. It makes 420 horsepower and 408 lb-ft of torque.
While it’s certainly not the only EFI option on the market, Philippin and the engineering team worked hard to make this particular crate engine unique and ready-to-run optimally right out of the box.
“We focused a lot on calibration, and focused on making this so it wasn’t like 99 percent of what’s out there today where it self learns,” he said. “We focused on nailing down the perfect calibration for our engine and then giving it a little bit of wiggle room to make corrections. So every one of our engines comes up with optimized fueling and ignition timing the first time you start the engine.”
The 350c.i. engine is the same displacement as one of the most revered Chevrolet small blocks in history, allowing for an easy swap in classic Bowties. It also retains many of the features of Chevrolet Performance’s carbureted ZZ6 option, including aluminum Fast Burn cylinder heads with large intake runners and 2.00/1.55-inch valves. Beehive-style valve springs enable high-rpm performance and durability, while an aggressive hydraulic roller camshaft supports the engine’s high-rpm airflow capability. The result is a high-revving engine which also is drivable.
While the engine isn’t necessarily designed for racing applications, Philippin said the PRI Trade Show was still a great place to show off the engine as the event is always full of not only racers, but performance and automotive enthusiasts in general. He also believes as more racers embrace EFI, some racing opportunities with the power plant might arise in the future.
No matter the application, Philippin think the engine is going to have universal appeal.
“I think people are just going to like the simplicity of it,” he said. “Because it gets the job done without being over-complicated.”
More about the ZZ6 EFI Crate Engine is in this video:
Be sure to also keep watching The BLOCK and @theblockdotcom on Instagram for extensive coverage of the 2018 PRI Trade Show.
*Chevrolet Performance Crate Engines include a 24-month or 50,000-mile/80,000-kilometer limited warranty, whichever comes first. See your GM dealer for details.