In 1965, Popular Hot Rodding magazine embarked upon a long-term project car to experiment with various engines and performance parts.
Starting from a basic 1957 Chevrolet 210 that cost $250, the project went on to become a testbed for more than five decades, always evolving and keeping up with the times—and earning the Project X name in the process.
Over the years, it had inline-six and V8 engines, at times using carburetors, fuel injection and even supercharging. Now, the famous 1957 Chevy has gone all-electric without losing its hot rod identity.
The result of a collaboration between Chevrolet Performance, MotorTrend, and Cagnazzi Racing, the latest reinvention of the iconic project car is making its debut at the 2021 SEMA show. Builder Cagnazzi Racing replaced Project X’s supercharged LSX V8 with an electric motor that delivers an estimated 255 kW (340 hp) and 330 lb-ft (447 Nm) of torque.
The 400-volt lithium-ion battery has been developed around a modular concept called Connect & Cruise eCrate Propulsion System Concept. Located in the trunk, it stores 30 kWh in this application, which Chevrolet says is “enough range for weekend cruising.”
Gallery: 1957 Chevrolet Project X Electric Conversion
Interestingly, the battery is being evaluated for potential use as a next-generation Chevrolet Performance product that could allow customers "to scale the pack capacity based on range, cost, packaging and weight considerations." According to MotorTrend, the electric drive unit is derived from an upcoming GM production EV with next-generation motor.
The Project X is also fitted with a quick-change differential allowing the final-drive ratio to be adjusted based on how the car is being used. For example, a shorter final-drive ratio fitted to the diff provides quicker acceleration while a taller gear relaxes performance and extends the range.
The EV conversion also required a switch to an electric brake booster and electrohydraulic power steering pump. Project X still rides on the sixth-generation Corvette front suspension installed in 2007, albeit with some changes. It has got softer front springs and stiffer rear springs as there is now less weight under the hood and more weight over the rear axle compared with the previous build.
Finally, the removal of the exhaust system allowed the team to lower the car by roughly 2 inches (51 mm). As the photos can attest, Project X retains its classic look on the outside, with the biggest change found inside, where it uses the same push-button gear selector as the 2021 Chevrolet Corvette.
“The reinvention of Project X is a reminder that our vision for a world with zero emissions includes classics like the Tri-Five Chevys. As General Motors rolls out its trailblazing EV technology, Chevrolet Performance plans to offer EV propulsion solutions for enthusiasts looking to modernize their project cars.”
Prashant Ahire, eCrate regional chief engineer, Chevrolet Performance