HomeNews and EventsSEMA Seen: Ford, Chevrolet electrify a couple of classics

SEMA Seen: Ford, Chevrolet electrify a couple of classics

And a Shelby version of the Mustang Mach-E is unveiled


Automotive trends tend to emerge at the annual SEMA Show of aftermarket products, and the emerging trend this week was electrification. Show organizers devoted a section of the Las Vegas Convention Center to electric vehicles, and a growing number of companies showcased their own electrification efforts with their own displays.

And it wasn’t just aftermarket companies eagerly electrifying. The OEMs, the original-equipment manufacturers (aka the automakers themselves) are switching on, and one of them — Ford — announced an aftermarket e-crate motor available for $3,900 for those seeking to do their own classic and collector-vehicle electro-mods.

The Ford stand also included the Shelby Mustang Mach-E GT concept vehicle, with Shelby American remind folks that in an interview a decade ago, the late Carroll Shelby said, “We’re getting into so many things that I think are interesting. Electric cars, different types of fuel. They’re calling them the ‘green years.’ And I’d like to be around to see how this works out. I’d like to be a part of it.”

Meanwhile, Chevrolet showed its latest work toward a plug-and-play electrification system by electrifying Project X, the famed 1957 Bel Air 210 model that has been a test bed for various powertrains through the years. 

The Stellantis banner at SEMA is carried by Mopar and its display area included the Jeep Wrangler Magneto concept, a battery-electric 4×4 SUV.

Ford is selling aftermarket-conversion electric motors for $3,900

To create its Eluminator concept vehicle and to showcase its e-crate motor, Ford electrified a 1978 F-100 pickup truck using components from the 2021 Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Edition, equipping the vintage pickup with 480 horsepower, 634 pound-feet of instant-on torque, and all-wheel drive. 

Ford Performance worked with MLe Racecars on the electro-modification, which includes a Roadster Shop custom chassis, special paint, a billet aluminum dash, avocado-tanned leather interior, and 19-inch billet aluminum wheels.

“Ford owners have personalized, customized and enhanced their vehicles since the beginning – from changing looks to bringing the power,” Eric Cin, Ford global director of vehicle personalization, accessories and licensing, is quoted in the announcement. “Our F-100 Eluminator concept is a preview of how we’re supporting customers as they go all-electric and embrace zero-tailpipe emissions performance, even for our heritage vehicles.”

For those interested in doing their own electro-mods, the Eluminator e-crate motor is available as part number M-9000-Mach-E and provides 281 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque and, Ford adds, is street-legal in all 50 US states. However, the motor is just a motor, not a complete system with batteries and power controller unit.

Shelby American displayed its concept for the Mustang Mach-E

Also on the Ford stand at SEMA was the Shelby Mach-E GT concept. The vehicle features a modified electric all-wheel drive system, extended-range battery, and weight-reducing materials including graphene-infused carbon-fiber body parts and composite suspension components and forget monoblock wheels.

The project, noted Shelby American president Gary Patterson, is the result of “leveraged lessons learned while secretly testing many of the leading EVs on the market over the past several years. Our concept Mustang Mach-E is a glimpse into a new generation of extraordinary vehicles planned for 2022, alongside our V8-powered cars and muscle trucks. “

Historic 1957 Chevrolet ‘Project X’ test bed now equipped with electric power

Chevrolet’s Project X was the company’s latest in a series of SEMA showcases for what it plans as a plug-and-play electrical conversion system for gasoline-powered classic and collector cars. Project X has history as a Motor Trend and Hot Rod magazine test vehicle purchased in 1965 for $250, and through the years has been powered by inline-6 and V8 engines with, at various times, carburetors, fuel injection and superchargers. 

“Project X has always served the car community by pushing the envelope with groundbreaking technologies,” said Motor Trend’s Douglas Glad. “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.”

Chevrolet Performance, Motor Trend and Caginazzi Racing worked on the electro-mod conversion project, which provides 340 horsepower and “enough range for weekend cruising,” Chevrolet said.

“The reinvention of Project X is a reminder that our vision for a world with zero emissions includes classics like the Tri-Five Chevys,” said Prashant Ahire, GM’s eCrate regional chief engineer. “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.”

“We are racers and hot rodders, with deep roots in internal-combustion racing engines,” added Vic Cagnazzi, owner of Cagnazzi Racing. “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.” 

Jeep says its Wrangler Magneto concept provides same performance as with 3.6-liter V6 engine

Jeep’s Wrangler Magneto is based on a 2-door, 2020 Wrangler Rubicon with a custom-built electric motor connected to a 6-speed manual transmission. Jeep said performance is comparable to that of the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine.

In addition to electrical components, which includes 4 battery packs, the SUV concept features a 2-inch lift kit, 35-inch mud-terrain tires, a custom roll cage, steel bumpers, Warn winch, and steel belly pan for component protection when off-roading.

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


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