Firing UP

Source of Power

By Nick Licata

As we continue navigating our way through the muscle car hobby, there seems to be no shortage of changes and innovations. That’s good for us as it keeps things fresh.

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Decades ago, the average day two mods included a few basic engine bolt-ons consisting of performance carburetors, manifolds, headers, exhausts systems, mufflers, and the like. Aftermarket wheels and tires were a must if you wanted your ’60s muscle car to look cooler than what the factory offered. Over time, upgrades became more elaborate and extensive by way of suspension modifications, full chassis installations, and complete engine swaps. Today, seeing an LS or LT between the framerails of a classic muscle car is more common than finding one with an engine reminiscent of what the car originally came with. I can’t remember the last time I saw a classic car at a show with a non-overdrive transmission. Stock gauges? That’s another rarity, as the aftermarket offers a plethora of them loaded with modern technology in a vintage-looking package that performs way better than the factory stuff while maintaining the car’s original spirit.

When it comes to power, there are those who still prefer the looks, sound, and performance of a big-block. And let’s not forget about the small-block crowd, or those who refuse to give in to fuel injection as a means to feed their mills—they just like keepin’ it old school. At the same time, LS and LT swaps are more common today than ever. You see, everyone has their own idea of what’s cool, and doing the same thing as the next guy just ain’t cool.

So, with GM still producing the extremely popular LS and LT engines, and most recently the new L8T block, Lingenfelter Performance recently announced a program dedicated to GM’s new eCrate Connect and Cruise. What!

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Now, this begs the question: “Are muscle car enthusiasts ready to go all in on an electric motor to power their hot rods and muscle cars?” I don’t have the answer to that, but there is no doubt the eCrate will go down as the biggest change/innovation to the hobby since 8-tracks gave way to the cassette—actually bigger, much bigger! This is an absolute game changer on so many levels. But will it be accepted by the muscle car crowd?

That remains to be seen, as we do know that one of the main lures to the hobby is the sound that accompanies a totally badass-looking muscle car or hot rod. The rumble and sound of an engine with a lumpy cam vocalizing through an aggressive exhaust system at idle is intoxicating, and when a high-horsepower V-8 is screaming in the high-rpm range through a pair of open headers, well, that’s music to the ears of just about every enthusiast. One would argue the feel of speed and pulling g’s requires a comparable soundtrack—exactly what a high-horsepower V-8 engine provides.

So, would the whine of an electric motor at full throttle stashed under the hood of a 1969 Camaro fulfill the expectations and awaken the senses the same way a V-8 engine would? Will a vintage muscle car running 8-second quarter-mile laps with an electric motor have a similar impact of a car running the same speed and time with a high-octane-burning LS engine screaming above 7,000 rpm? It wouldn’t seem so. Let’s just say there will be no need to raise the volume on those Instagram Reels.

With that said, I don’t see the extinction of our traditional, fuel-burning muscle cars happening anytime soon. What I do see is the possibility of a new avenue paved with the potential to help keep our hobby thriving from a slightly different angle.

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Obviously, this whole GM eCrate powerplant program is brand new to us all, and its success remains to be seen, so I propose we look at this new source of power not as a threat to our conventional muscle cars, but as an addition to the hot rods we currently drive. It’s uncharted territory, and I, for one, am curious to see where this new technology takes us.

You in?

I want to hear your comments on the eCrate. Email me at nlicata@inthegaragemedia.com

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