The Handsome ZZ6 - Evolution of the Small Block Chevy
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The Handsome ZZ6 - Evolution of the Small Block Chevy

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At several events throughout the year, Chevrolet Performance brings out their rig, which includes some of their latest products, as well as classic and popular crate engines, transmissions and more, that they put on display for the public to check out. During the 2017 HOT ROD Power Tour, they had four crate engines, three of which we covered in a previous article. Within that article we discussed Chevrolet Performance’s future classic LS3 crate engine, the next evolution of the LS engine, the LT1, and the top-of-the-line LT engine, the supercharged LT4. Today, we’d like to take a closer look at the fourth engine that was on display, the handsome ZZ6 crate engine.

Two years ago, Chevrolet celebrated 60 years of their timeless small block. In 1955, the first Chevrolet small block V8 was introduced. Since then, the innovative, power-dense engine has gone on to power generations of vehicles, dominate racetracks and change the course of automotive history. And back in the ‘80s, Chevrolet revolutionized the industry with actual “crate engines” - high performance engines shipped to your local dealer for you to pick up and finish off your project. Sixty years after the debut of the small block Chevy, Chevrolet Performance released the ZZ6 Turn-Key crate engine seen here.

The first “ZZ” crate engine was introduced back in 1989 and was dubbed “ZZZ”. The 350ci high-output engine was rated at an impressive 350 horsepower back in the late ‘80s. Now, this new ZZ6 improves upon perfection with Fast Burn heads and LS-based beehive-style valve springs, among other things, to enhance high-rpm capability and now produces 405 horsepower and 406 lb.ft. of torque. Truly, an astonishing feat as that’s more power than any factory-produced 350 engine ever installed in a Chevrolet production vehicle.

The Handsome ZZ6 - Evolution of the Small Block Chevy
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So, how did Chevrolet accomplish this feat of engineering? Well, as stated above, they utilized Fast Burn aluminum heads with large intake runners and LS-based valve springs to enhance RPM capability. 2.00/1.55 valves along with the heads enable the ZZ6 to flow big air. The unique, tapered shape of the valve spring allows for the use of a smaller spring retainer, which reduces the reciprocating mass of the valvetrain resulting in better valve dynamics.

The ZZ6 also uses an aggressive hydraulic roller camshaft with .474/.510-inch lift and 208/221-degrees duration, which supports the engine’s high-rpm airflow capability, while maintaining excellent low-speed drivability. Rounding out the rotating assembly is a forged steel crankshaft and durable, quiet high-silicon aluminum pistons housed in a four-bolt-main cast iron block. A pair of new aluminum valve covers modernize that classic Small Block Chevy look while also presenting a premium and distinctive appearance. Let us tell you, this engine does look really good in person when we saw it on Power Tour.

The Handsome ZZ6 - Evolution of the Small Block Chevy
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ZZ6 on display during the 2017 HOT ROD Power Tour

The ZZ6 is the sixth generation of the ZZ motors. Replacing the ZZ5, the ZZ6’s main changes over the ZZ5 include a larger, 770-cfm Holley carb, 1.5:1 roller rocker arms and a single-plane intake manifold. The ZZ engines have long been a foundation for a great-running street engine.

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The ZZ6 is offered in two versions: a Turn Key and Base. The Base Kit (pn: 19351532) includes a single-plane aluminum intake, distributor, water pump, damper and flexplate, but requires the carburetor and other accessories to be added. The Turn Key Kit (pn: 19351533) is a more comprehensive drop-in for a set-it-and-forget-it solution. This kit includes the carburetor, an air cleaner that matches the unique valve covers, the starter, distributor, alternator and additional accessories such as the air conditioning compressor and front-end accessory drive system.

You can read more about these engines in Chevrolet Performance's 2017 Parts Catalog by clicking right here. As you may already know, you can purchase Chevrolet Performance crate engines through your local Chevrolet Performance dealer. For a list of authorized centers near you, click here. Stay tuned to The BLOCK as we continue to bring you the latest coverage on all things Chevrolet Performance, including crate engines like this one.

ZZ6 Turn-Key Tech Specs:

ZZ6 Crate Engine Specs Info
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The Handsome ZZ6 - Evolution of the Small Block Chevy:
The Handsome ZZ6 - Evolution of the Small Block Chevy:
The Handsome ZZ6 - Evolution of the Small Block Chevy:
The Handsome ZZ6 - Evolution of the Small Block Chevy:
ZZ6 Crate Engine Specs Info:

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