Project X is getting a new heart.
Back in 1957, Chevrolet's Bel Air looked like a futuristic spaceship, but its appeal hasn't diminished much in the years since. Designs of this era have been loved for generations, and while some have kept these cars stock, some have pushed the limits of mechanical engineering to create otherworldly machines that transport you back in time with their styling but propel you towards the future with their technology.
Even Chevrolet likes the latter idea and has collaborated with MotorTrend's Hot Rod brand to rebuild the publication's Project X Bel Air. A car that has served as a testbed for the brand for more than five decades, Project X is now continuing its tradition of technological advancement by receiving an electric power plant, and the build is now on show at SEMA.
The car was originally purchased for just $250 back in 1965 and has been used by the Hot Rod brand to evaluate new products, technologies, and trends for decades, seeing inline-six and V8 engines with carburetors and fuel injection, without forced induction and with superchargers. Due to the car being recreated so many times, it is affectionately referred to as the million-dollar Chevy.
Now it's heading deeper into the money pit thanks to Cagnazzi Racing, who replaced the supercharged LSX V8 with an electric motor that produces an estimated 340 horsepower with 330 lb-ft of torque. Yes, it's lost a load of power, but that's not the point.
The battery that this build uses is being "evaluated for potential use as a next-generation Chevrolet Performance product." This is a modular component, with the concept being that the battery pack capacity can be scaled by customers who require different things in terms of packaging and weight, range, and cost. The 44-volt lithium-ion battery stores 30 kWh of electricity, "providing enough range for weekend cruising." A quick-change differential is also fitted to allow for variable final-drive ratios depending on how the car is being used.
The project is remarkable and is sure to draw attention, while its push-button gear selector borrowed from a C8 Chevrolet Corvette reminds us that eventually, all Chevy's formerly powered by big V8s will become silent speedsters.