As GM notes in its release, hot rodding and efficiency aren't fish-and-chips friends. So a project to create an greener hot rod that can still drop the hammer is an interesting, even admirable idea. Whether GM has actually achieved that with its GM Performance Parts E-ROD 1955 Chevy Bel Air is open for interpretation, however.
Rating 23 mpg on its drive from Florida to Michigan this summer, the E-ROD packs a familiar LS3 6.2-liter V-8 under the hood, good for 430 horsepower. That's certainly hot enough to be considered a hot rod, especially given its 1955 Bel Air housing.
But is it really green? Not precisely. Sure, it meets CARB smog standards (for pre-OBD II/1996 and earlier cars), and sure, it's probably a significant jump over 400-plus-horsepower cars of its day (56 years ago), but it's about 3 mpg less than a base Corvette coupe would get on the open road according to the EPA, and more like 5-6 mpg less than our own observed figures.
Of course, the aerodynamics of the 1955 Bel Air have a lot to do with its highway economy. Its weight certainly doesn't help around town. Which explains why fuel economy and hot rodding don't typically go hand in hand: it's all about the physics.
But leaving the particulars aside, it's at least more efficient than some alternatives, and GMPP is selling the E-ROD LS3 engine with CARB certification for hot rodders everywhere. Likewise, it has a 5.3-liter E-ROD V-8, fitted for demonstration purposes in a 1955 Chevy pickup built by Lingenfelter. Both engines are available through GMPP's order system if you're looking to green up that project car you've been sitting on.
GMPP E-ROD LS3 crate engine