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‘PROJECT X’ 1957 CHEVY DEBUTS NEW ELECTRIC CRATE MOTOR AT 2021 SEMA SHOW

After Being Powered By Gasoline For Decades, Project X Goes Silent. Literally.

Image copyright Manoli Katakis, Muscle Cars & Trucks.

Whether you are ready for it or not, today’s technology is quickly becoming yesterday in the automotive world. If you don’t believe me, there will be plenty of examples of that at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas this week. Probably the biggest example that will be on display will be the “Project X” 1957 Chevrolet.

Often referred to as the Million-Dollar Chevy, it was bought for a mere $250 in 1966. Since then the “Project X” 1957 Chevy has been a host to countless test projects that kept this near 70-year old car modernized to the ever-changing automotive aftermarket industry.

"Project X" Hollywood Knights

The ’57 even got its own spot in a Hollywood movie, “The Hollywood Knights.”

1957 Chevy “Project X” Gets An Electric Pulse

Since “Project X” has always been known as the car that car people looked to as a benchmark of how new technology is performing, Motor Trend and Chevrolet Performance decided that it was time for the “Project X” 1957 Chevy to get an all-electric powertrain, while still keeping its classic look. We’re sure it ruffled a few feathers.

“Johnny’s informercial magazine” and Chevrolet Performance teamed up with Cagnazzi Racing to swap out the existing LSX motor and place in a 340 horsepower, 330 lb-ft of torque eCrate motor setup. The battery pack is managed to be tucked in the trunk, which was closed likely to avoid critique. That said, a crucial detail here is that it’s considered a “next-gen” eCrate propulsion system, from an upcoming electric vehicle using GM Ultium batteries, which we hope to learn more about soon. Seems like saying they’re form a Chevy Bolt EV may have been downvoted.

How does it compare to the Ford Performance Eluminator crate motor in the F-100 that was just at the other end of Central Hall? On one hand, Chevrolet Performance seems intent on offering batteries to go with its electric motor, where Ford leaves you on your own for that. On the other hand, Ford has the crate motor available for purchase, where Chevy has yet to list a price.

1957 Chevy Chevrolet Bel Air Electric EV Project X eCrate e-crate SEMA Show 2021
Image copyright Manoli Katakis, Muscle Cars & Trucks

There are probably a lot of gear heads out there that just don’t understand or don’t want to get on board with the new technology, but for the “Project X” 1957 Chevy, it makes sense. The ’57 Chevy spent most of its life promoting the latest and greatest hot rodding technology, and all though some people may not be ready for it, in the words of Bob Dylan, “The Times They Are a-Changin’.” Although, this is quite the change.

“Project X has always served the car community by pushing the envelope with groundbreaking technologies,” as group content director, Douglas Glad, MotorTrend Group puts it. “As the auto industry shifts rapidly toward electric vehicles, this Project X build is just the latest in its celebrated legacy of adapting hot rodding to the powerful technology of tomorrow.”

1957 Chevrolet Chevy Bel Air Project X 2021 SEMA Show Electric Vehicle
Image copyright Manoli Katakis, Muscle Cars & Trucks.

Changes And Upgrades For The New “Project X” 1957 Chevy Platform 

Well, we obviously know it will no longer need gasoline, but something has to power the eCrate motor from Chevy Performace, and that will be a 400-volt proof-of-concept lithium-ion battery pack that can store up to 30 kWh of electricity. If you’re wondering how much that is, we imagine you should be able to cruise to your local dragstrip, race, cruise back home, and still make it to church on Sunday morning.

As for suspension, the sixth-generation Corvette front suspension that was installed in 2007 still remains, and without the need for an exhaust system, Project X was able to be lowered about 2-inches.

 Now that the new electric platform transfers more weight to the rear wheels, softer springs were placed in the front and harder springs were placed in the back to accommodate the larger load “Project X” will encounter on the account of the battery pack. The updated 1957 Chevy chassis setup will also includes a new electric brake booster and electro-hydraulic steering pump.

Probably the biggest visual change on “Project X” you’ll see without looking at the drivetrain is the shifter control panel, which was re-engineered from a C8 design select-shift panel. But if you look even closer, you’ll also notice things like a gauge cluster that uses a new set of gauges necessary for the electric platform and new Chevy emblems with 400 inside the classic Chevy V to represent 400-volts.

eCrate Motor
Image via Chevrolet.

Who’s Responsible For The 1957 Chevy “Project X” Build?

Cagnazzi Racing, in Mooresville, North Carolina, has just opened up a new branch called E-Crate Solutions. And already with plenty of NHRA accomplishments under their belt using Chevy Performance products, including quite a few Wally’s, Vitor Cagnazzi, owner of Cagnazzi Racing was awarded the task.

“We are racers and hot rodders, with deep roots in internal-combustion racing engines,” says Vic Cagnazzi, “But we see this next leap into EV performance propulsion as a natural evolution for hot rodding. Our goal with this conversion was to maintain the look and integrity of the classic hot rod, while modernizing the propulsion technology.”

Considering GM’s seismic move towards electrification, it’s no surprise to see builds like this at the Chevrolet Performance booth at the SEMA Show. But with this build sharing space with a 1,004 horsepower Camaro Z/28 affixed with a 10.4L Big Block V8, it’s hard for a petrolhead to get upset.

Image via Chevrolet
Image copyright Manoli Katakis, Muscle Cars & Trucks

Written by Brian H.

Brian is a Northern Michigan resident that specializes in covering General Motors products.

2 Comments

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  1. This is a disgrace to the spirit of what the original intentions were for this vehicle. It was in the spirit of building a budget hot rod that anyone could follow and do at their own home following the steps set out for them in the article. In the process it became a part of hot rod history and has now been reduced to something on the evolutionary chart rivaling pond scum and slime mold.

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