Electric Vehicles / Featured Vehicles / SEMA

Hot Rod’s “Project X” 1957 Chevy Bel Air is Reborn (Again) and This Time it’s Fully Electric


Readers of Hot Rod Magazine will undoubtedly be familiar with Project X. For decades, this classic 1957 Chevy Bel Air has been a rolling test mule for a near-endless parade of aftermarket performance parts and drivetrain configurations.

Yet this incarnation may be Project X’s most extreme (to date).

Careful with the spit-takes here, this sucker’s electrical. (Image/Chevy)

MotorTrend and Chevrolet Performance worked together to replace the supercharged LSX V8 that was sitting between the Bel Air’s frame rails with an electric motor. And the EV powerplant is bringing the goods too, with an estimated 340 horsepower and 330 lb.-ft. of torque on tap.

Look ma, no tailpipes. (Image/Chevy)

But the biggest news behind Project X may be its battery setup.

The Bel Air now uses a modular battery design that could potentially mean that, in the future, electric vehicle retrofitters could add as many battery modules as they want, to meet their specific EV’s range and performance goals. For Project X, builders opted for a 400 volt configuration that’s good for 30 kW hours—which Chevy says delivers a perfect amount of range for weekend cruising.

Don’t get confused Pontiac aficionados, the “400” here refers to the voltage propelling Project X. (Image/Chevy)

Along with dropping in the battery setup and electric motor, the Project X team switched to an electric brake booster and electrohydraulic power steering pump.

Removing the exhaust system also allowed Project X to ride about two inches lower than before, and its previous suspension setup (poached from a Corvette C6) got revised spring rates to account for less weight in front and more in the back. Corvette fans will also notice the pushbutton shifter controls inside, courtesy of a 2021 ‘Vette.

While a lot of this EV tech is still in development, it’s no doubt giving Chevy’s eCrate Program a ton of research data. That means we may be one step closer to a complete drop-in electric driveline conversion kit. We’re anxiously waiting to see if EV conversions fuel (pun not intended) the next generation of hot rodding.

An M21 for the 21st century? (Image/Chevy)
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  1. Just because you can doesn’t mean that you should. Here is a case in point. While it appears they did an excellent job with the install, some iconic cars should be left alone. A belly button Camaro or Chevelle would have done just as well as a demonstration platform.

    • Or, if they REALLY wanted to do a tri-five, they could’ve easily built one from the ground up using brand new, aftermarket parts! This should be considered a criminal act!

  2. And just how many hours and miles of “perfect amount of cruising range” do the Chevy experts say this is good for? Seems to be an obvious omission here.


  4. Greta must be in charge of Hot Rod mag now.

  5. Ricky Bobby says:

    When people start to think that this is a good thing – it’s the beginning of the end for our car culture.

  6. SMFH! Ive just lost all respect for hot rod mag, they just had to ruin a good thing, an iconic vehicle that stretches over almost 40 years is completely ruined.
    I guess hot rod mag just had to have the last word over PHR (popular hot rodding) mag who originally ran the first pictures & updates to this legendary vehicle.

  7. John Shick aka "Hollywood" says:

    If there was an 11th Commandment it would read; “THOU SHALL NOT ELECTRIFY PROJECT X”

    Please return your reader’s 57′ !!!!!!! Apparently, there is no fuel running through your veins, the sweet sounds, and vibrations from an engine or the smell of high test fuel.

    Hot Rods and Scooters Forever!

  8. Electric Dan says:

    All you haters are angry, backwards people with hate controlling your thoughts. Must be hard realizing that electric blows compression away on the street!!! Cry yourself a river big boys. To the nut who felt he had to attack Greta, you must need testosterone buddy. Real men are not so insecure.

    • Greta is just one of the Commie useless idiots that will help further the agenda and be thrown to the side when they are done with her…..

  9. Comments are nuts. Love the build. Im a tweener (millennial). I can both build a BBC and tune a Tesla. U want to get kids interested in hot rodding? Show them a SBC swap, it’s like when you were a kid watching a horse & buggy trot down the road. Unless u want all your tri fives to end up in museums and never driven again by the next gens, this is the right move forward.

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