FAQ : What is the ZC Engine?

FAQ : What is the ZC Engine?


Easily one of the most commonly mistaken and misrepresented of all Honda engines, there isn’t that much information about the ZC engine. One of the most frequent questions we receive is “What is the ZC Engine?” and “How can I identify a ZC Engine?”. We’ll be walking you through all the different answers to these questions today in our ZC engine primer.

What is the ZC Engine?


This little known Honda engine is found in a variety of vehicles that are mostly JDM, that never found their way here to the States. Available in SOHC and DOHC flavors the ZC engine has a VTEC trim that’s found in

  • 1991–1993 Honda Civic Ferio EJ3 (JDM)
  • 1992–1995 Honda Civic EJ1 (JDM)
  • 1992–1995 Honda Domani MA4 (JDM)

With displacement (1,590 cc) that’s very similar to the USDM and JDM B16, this engine is very desirable for those with access to these motors. As is the case with the B18 engine from Honda, the ZC also comes in non VTEC varieties as well. The non VTEC version of the ZC was found in

  • 1984–1987 Honda Ballade CRX
  • 1984–1987 Honda Civic AT
  • 1985–1987 Honda Integra AV/DA1 (Lower trim packages equipped with Single Carburetor)
  • 1986–1991 Honda CRX EF7
  • 1992–1995 Honda Civic EH1

There’s also a European version of the ZC from 1985 to 1987 found in the MK1. This engine carried the moniker of ZC1 which was an upgraded engine with 125 PS of the D16A1.

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How can I tell which ZC I have?


The different generations of ZC engine can be easily identified by a few features that are distinguishable by Honda fans. One of the more rare versions is the first generation ZC. This engine found in the JDM Integra SI and JDM E-AT Civic or CRX Si had a variety of ways you could identify it. Dual butterfly throttle bodies, a brown/gold cam cover and external coil are just a few of the differences that set it apart.


How to Convert from OBDO to OBDI

]The D series version of this engine is known as the D16A1, found in vehicles from 1986 to 1987.

The second generation of ZC engine was found in the AV Integra Si and was only produced for a year, making it one of the more rare Honda motors. Gone are the dual butterfly throttle bodies and replaced with a single throttle body mounted facing forward. Other changes include a black cam cover, +7cc PM7 pistons and a enlarged combustion chamber for increased performance.

The D series version of this engine is known as the D16A1, in the 1988 and 1989 year range of Hondas. This engine featured similar upgraded pistons in the P29 pistons that provided +7 cc.

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The third generation of ZC made it’s way into many different Hondas, from the JDM EF3 Civic and EF7 CR-X, and also in the JDM Honda Quint Integra GSi (DA1 chassis). Easily the most common of the ZC engines, the 3G ZC was manufactured in Japan from the end of 1987 till early 91.

Internal coil, the same single butterfly throttle body design as the second generation, a black cam cover and small cam pulleys are just a few of the indicators to help you identify the ZC.

How to Convert from OBDII to OBDI

The last generation of ZC engine found it’s way into the EG5 Civics but sadly didn’t make the cut into any other Honda chassis, including the CRX and Integra. Because it was only found in the EG5, this engine can be a little more difficult to track down, but it can be well worth the wait for many Honda enthusiats.

The first ZC to utilize the OBD1 EFI system, the cam angle sensor on this generation ZC has been removed and put into the distributor where it belongs. There’s no PGM-EFI identifying plate on the intake manifold, and there’s a P29 stamp to replace it. PM7 pistons up the displacement and the same combustion chamber improvements from the second generation are present.

Commonly produced from 1992 to 1994, the D-series version is a D16A8 or D16A9 that’s found in the EDM Civic Si.

What do you need to swap the ZC?


To get the ZC to bolt into the chassis of your choice, you will need the following mounts.

  • passenger side mount – Integra / ZC
  • rear T mount – Integra / ZC
  • driver side mount -bracket – CRX

You can opt to use a ZC ECU or a normal Si ECU along with the wiring harness. If you are swapping the ZC into an older Integra, you may need a Integra intake manifold and throttle body to clear the firewall. Retain the ZC engine wiring harness here to eliminate problems with the Honda swap wiring.

Need more info? Check our Honda Swap Guide – What fits What

What does the Second Generation of the ZC Fit?

The ZC engine mounts found in the 1988-1989 Integra are the very same as the ones from the 1986-1989 USDM Integra, it will bolt into any 1986-1989 Integra, as well as the 1984-1987 Civic or CRX. The only problem becomes the method in which this ZC engine utilizes the vehicle speed sensor (VSS) and Electronic Load Detector (ELD). This conversion is not simple and can not be accomplished by just a wiring diagram and pinout.

A better example of this swap would be the 1988-1991 Civic style ZC being swapped into a 1988-1991 Civic or CRX of the same generation. The ZC engine will bolt right up to the stock transmission but will require a different flywheel for your starter. Wiring is very straightforward with just a few changes needed to the distributor wiring.

How To Convert from OBD2 to OBD1 Distributor Guide

VTEC ZC Specifications


  • Bore and Stroke : 75 mm × 90 mm (3.0 in × 3.5 in)
  • Rod Length : 137MM
  • Rod/Stroke : 1.52
  • Compression : 9.2:1
  • Power : 128 hp (95.6 kW, 130 ps) at 6,600 rpm
  • Torque : 107 lb·ft (14.8 kg/m, 145 Nm) at 5,200 rpm
  • Redline : 7,200 rpm
  • Fuel Cut : 7,300 rpm
  • VTEC Switchover : 5,500 rpm
  • Fuel Control : OBD-1 MPFI
  • ECU Code : P70 (Domani), P91 (Civic Coupé), P29

Non VTEC ZC Specifications


  • Bore and Stroke : 75 mm X 90 mm
  • 1984–1987 Compression : 9.3:1 1988–1989 Compression : 9.5: 1
  • Single Carburetor : 100 PS (73.5 kW) at 6,800 rpm; Torque : 92 lb·ft (12.8 kg/m, 126 Nm) at 5,500 rpm
  • 1984–1987 Power : 115 PS (85 kW) at 6,250 rpm; Torque : 99 lb·ft (13.7 kg/m, 134 Nm) at 5,500 rpm
  • 1988–1989 Power : 120 PS (88 kW) at 6,500 rpm; Torque : 103 lb·ft (14.0 kg/m, 137 Nm) at 5,500 rpm
  • 1988–1991 Power : 130 PS (96 kW) at 6,800 rpm; Torque : 106 lb·ft (14.7 kg/m, 144 Nm) at 5,700 rpm
  • Valvetrain : DOHC
  • Piston Code 1986-’87 : PG6
  • Piston Code 1988-’89 : PM7
  • Fuel Control : OBD-0 MPFI

That does it for our What is the ZC Engine article, please let us know if you have any questions about the ZC engine or Honda swaps in general, and please feel free to leave comments below.

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