ECOTEC: AMERICA'S IMPORT
Built not bought. The saying that has been soaked up, rung out, thrown down, and picked back up over and over in today’s car scene. But, every once and a while we get a rare little gem from our auto manufacturers, and they design a platform that encompasses a clean slate, ready for mods right out of the box. Any ecotec car you can get your hands on shares this spirit. The spirit of a teenager, getting the keys of their first car, and wanting nothing but the thrill of speed; eking out every bit of performance possible.
These little engines come built fairly stout, and happily make in enough ponies to beat up all of your neighborhood V8’s. With a little bit of wrenching, quality aftermarket parts, and a touch of tuning magic, your little ecotec will surprise anyone on the street or strip while still on a budget.
But what makes these little four cylinder engines from GM so special? Well, who here doesn’t love boost? They’ve got superchargers, turbochargers, the whole gang! Forced induction is all a small displacement engine needs to keep up with it’s V6 and V8 relatives, and even pass them.
From a young age I was always told by wiser people that when it comes to cars, there’s fast, cheap, and reliable, and that I could pick any two of those traits. Well, times have changed. Take a look at some of the cobalts and ions running around making scary times at the strip, and still daily driving with close to 40mpg.
The ecotec engine was and is an economy powerplant, which is great, because that means it’s cheap to buy, and cheap to run and maintain. Thankfully, the build quality is far above cheap, and these little guys can hold themselves together quite well! Not bad for a car you want to modify. But, when things do break, as us enthusiasts know they always will, you can rest easy that everything is dirt cheap and super easy to find replacements (or… upgrades) for. Take what you want from that, but all I hear is: Low consumable track car.
Even the bigger cars are budget versions of their own. Take the Camaro / ATS platforms. They’re cheaper than their V8 competitors, and in our eyes, this is only a good thing that gets better. First you save weight, next you saved a good amount of coin you can use on mods, and in the future, you have less parts to break, cheaper replacements, better mpg, and often better insurance rates. Not a bad gig.
If you haven’t been in a turbocharged cobalt, simply put, you need to. I remember my first experience, coming from Japanese tuner cars, I was surprised to feel right at home. It makes all the right noises, has the nimble flicking body, and even shares a couple styling design cues, as the beloved JDM “hero cars” adored by tuners for years.
Branching out to all the platforms, more than just the Cobalt, you find the snappy responsiveness across the board. Something I’ve always turned away from American cars for. Plus, for the price point and parts availability, an ecotec platform could easily give the tried and true “budget turbo civic build” a run for its money as the perfect budget tuner.
Want a car with limitless track potential? A cobalt may be what you’ve needed all along. Whether you’re building a weekend warrior, or prepping a car for a full circuit like Gridlife, these little cars will never hold you back. A great car to learn both track etiquette and technique with, but also an amazing chassis to outclass and take down much, much more expensive builds in competition. And besides, who doesn’t love to root for an underdog? So expect lots of attention from the stands and pits. If you want big power numbers, impressive drag times, or just being faster than anything else on the street, we can build it. Or, if you’re more interested in turning corners, improving your driving skills, and racing the clock around a circuit, we have loads of suspension upgrades to offer. Luckily, you don’t have to pick one or the other with our budget-friendly parts, so, why not build your car for both?
In 2005 ZZP adopted the Ecotec platform as one of its own. The ZZP team began their research and development on the Ecotec platform with the same vigor and drive as they had brought to the 3800 platform, with the hopes of dominating the market. With some die-hard enthusiasts such as Ryan Derrick, competing and constantly pushing the limits for the chassis, it quickly became hard to find a Cobalt SS without a ZZP part on it. Now, it’s hard for us to not have a soft spot for every Cobalt or Ion we see on the street, or at the track. By now, almost all of the ZZP Team has owned at least one, if not many, Ecotec chassis vehicles. It will always be one of ZZP’s most beloved platforms.