Chevrolet eCrate Latest in ‘Heritage Vandalism’

Chevrolet is continuing the misguided trend that many view as historic vandalism by revealing a 1977 K5 Blazer converted into a BEV.

The automaker created the conversion as proof of concept for its new electric powertrain to be deployed in the upcoming Electric Connect and Cruise package Chevrolet Performance plans to sell in the second half of 2021. However, while the move echoes one-off stunts by Volkswagen, Aston Martin and Jaguar, it contains the more worrying concept of a eCrate kit for custom shops and DIY-ers to make their own conversions of historic vehicles.

These conversions have already been attacked by the prestigious historic vehicle association, Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens (FIVA), which points out that a piece of automotive history exists in its entirety, chassis, bodywork and powertrain, or does not qualify as historic at all. Watching any number of US car custom shows on TV tells us the sector often plays fast-and-loose with its motoring heritage but the fear for many classic car fans is that the electrification of historic vehicles could destroy important and rare vehicles for all time if the process cannot easily, and invisibly, be reversed.

It’s not the first time Chevrolet has trodden what many would say was a path of heresy having first previewed the eCrate conversion concept with the Chevrolet eCOPO Camaro in 2018, followed by the Chevrolet E-10 in 2019. The K5 Blazer-E was created with 90% of the parts installed being factory components from the Chevrolet Bolt EV.

To convert the car, the original 175-horsepower 400 cubic-inch V-8, three-speed automatic, fuel system and exhaust were removed and replaced by a Bolt EV electric motor, delivering 200 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque, paired with a Chevrolet Performance electronically controlled four-speed automatic. Thankfully, the rest of the Blazer drivetrain remains untouched, including the transfer case, driveshaft and axles.

Power is supplied by a 400-volt Bolt EV battery pack with 60 kilowatt-hours of usable energy installed in the cargo area. Using production controllers and wiring harnesses preserves many Bolt EV features, including shock protection, battery heating and cooling, battery-overcharge protection and even regenerative braking.

The aftermarket components include an electric power steering kit, an electric pump providing vacuum to the stock brake system, and an electronic controller to drive inputs to the vintage Blazer gauges – such as displaying the battery’s state of charge on the original fuel gauge.

Justifying the move, Jim Campbell, General Motors US vice-president of performance and motorsports, said: “Our vision is to offer a comprehensive line of Connect and Cruise systems from Chevrolet Performance – delivering a solution for every customer ranging from LSX V-8s to eCrate conversions.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_


2 comments

  1. Avatar John 2nd November 2020 @ 7:44 pm

    Not all owners of older vehicles care if the vehicle is kept as ‘authentic’ by someone else’s definition. There is no societal harm in allowing them to freedom to convert as they have the resources to do so. Just another example of liberty-grabbing by the ‘we know what’s better for you than you do’ elites.

    • TU-Editor TU-Editor 3rd November 2020 @ 7:21 am

      Of course, my views on customizing are fairly easy as long as the vehicle can be returned to its original historic condition in line with the comments made by the Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens (FIVA). I have radically improved/changed my 1972 Norton Commando Combat but have kept a complete ‘heritage box’ in case any future owner should want to return it to how it rolled out of the factory. This is about the preservation of a dwindling stock of our automotive history.

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