Who's the king of the crate engine now?
When Dodge released the first Challenger Hellcat, the very earth trembled. Since those early days, the engine evolved to the point that you could buy a Demon model with a ridiculous 840 horsepower. Seriously, when is too much power actually too much power? Never, really. The Demon wasn't even the pinnacle of Dodge's engineering ability, and the automaker revealed a crate engine with 1,000 hp.
Called the Hellephant, this seemed to be the V8 to end all V8s, and Ford is still playing catch-up. But what about Chevrolet? The Camaro ZL1 only makes 650 hp and is becoming rather geriatric. Nevertheless, if Chevy can't directly rival Dodge in terms of production-model output, it can aim to produce the most powerful crate engine ever. How does the idea of 1,004 horsepower sound?
Dodge certainly retains the upper hand in the production car market, at least on paper anyway, and it seems that the company hires better creatives too. While Dodge has cool names like Hellcat, Chevrolet's new crate motor gets a very corporate name - ZZ632/1000. As the dull name suggests, this is a 632-cubic-inch V8 producing 1,004 hp and 876 lb-ft of torque, the most powerful crate engine in the brand's history. But while Dodge favors superchargers to reach its ridiculous figures, Chevy has gone the free-breathing route with its 10.4-liter motor.
"This is the biggest, baddest crate engine we've ever built," said Russ O'Blenes, GM's director of the Performance and Racing Propulsion Team. "The ZZ632 sits at the top of our unparalleled crate engine lineup as the king of performance. It delivers incredible power, and it does it on pump gas."
The remarkable big-block V8 achieves its peak power at 6,600 rpm before reaching the redline at 7,000. It features eight port injectors and CNC-machined high-flow aluminum cylinder heads with symmetrical ports. This is unusual for a big block, as these engines traditionally feature variable port shapes from cylinder to cylinder.
This symmetry applies to both the intake and exhaust ports, with each side's ports getting identical length, volume, and layout designs. This means that each cylinder will produce similar power. The heads have been named RS-X Symmetrical Port cylinder heads to honor Ron Sperry. He designed these as one of his swansong projects after more than half a century of working on GM's performance and racing engines.
As you'd expect the block is cast from iron and happens to share a mold with the ZZ572 crate engines, just with machined castings for increased capacity. The bore has been increased by 0.040 of an inch while the stroke is also longer by 0.375 of an inch. Both the block and connecting rods have been modified to accommodate the longer stroke, while four-bolt main caps and a forged rotating assembly ensure that the bottom end is as solid as possible. With such a comprehensive top- and bottom-end redesign, it's no wonder that Chevy says a single engine has endured over 200 simulated drag strip passes on a dynamometer.
If you'd like to get an up-close look at it, the 2021 SEMA Show in Las Vegas will see the engine displayed from November 2-5. Chevrolet Performance dealers will receive deliveries in early 2022.