Although the three-stage system is referred to as an assembly line, there are only three or four technicians involved in getting the engines ready for the crates. And while air tools help to quickly cinch certain components, all final fastening is completed with torque wrenches.
"We call it an assembly line, but the engines really are built by hand," says Zucker. "There are very exact standards and tolerances for building these engines, and we follow them to the letter."
Because the engines aren't fully assembled or timed at PAS, they aren't fired up at the end of the line.
"We certainly turn over the engines to ensure the clearance and fit of everything," says Zucker. "However, the manner in which we ship the engines prevents us from starting them up."
From the time the ZL1 block is lifted from its crate to the time the completed engine is ready for placement in its final shipping crate, approximately 8 hours is spent assembling and inspecting it. The steady movement of the line, however, permits five or six engines to be produced in a day.
Once completed, the engines and their ancillary hardware are placed in wood shipping crates for distribution.
"Everybody at PAS is really proud to be involved with the ZL1 project," says Zucker. "There's just so much history with the engine, and everyone is cognizant of that when they're working on these new versions."
And for 200 lucky enthusiasts, their cars will carry on the ZL1 legend-with a modern twist.
Where Do I Get One?Good question. Since only 200 Ram Jet ZL1 engines were built, you'd think they'd have all been snapped up by now, right?Probably.
Based on the time it takes us to write a story and for you to see it in print, there's a good chance the limited production engines will all have been purchased by the time you read this.
But this is America, after all, and we're certain many enterprising enthusiasts and dealers have held on to their ZL1s in order to make a buck or two. As we finished our story, a quick check on the Web found plenty of ZL1 engines available through sources like Scoggin-Dickey, GMPartsDirect.com, and Oregon's Sallee Chevrolet (they had five of the engines in stock).
Be warned, though, the Ram Jet ZL1 isn't cheap...far from it. The lowest price for an engine we saw was $21,500. GMPartsDirect had engine #1 and simply said they were "taking bids" on it. Uh-huh.
If you're bound and determined to put a ZL1 in your Bow-Tie, shop around and compare prices. Start with the Internet and see what's out there. We're sure you'll find several to pick from.
Use the prices of different vendors as leverage to get your best deal. Good luck!