1978 Chevrolet Performance Classic Truck Concept

Among the Stingrays, Camaros and various concept vehicles Chevrolet has setup at its massive SEMA display, the one vehicle tugging at our heart strings the most might be the fully restored 1978 Chevy Performance Classic Truck Concept. While this truck's beauty is merit enough, Chevy also tucked its E-Rod powertrain under the hood of this machine giving it the classic styling of a '70s pickup with the 50-state-legal exhaust emissions of a modern vehicle.

This E-Rod package consists of a 5.3-liter V8 putting out 326 horsepower (about 80 hp more than the big-block, 454-cubic-inch originally offered in the '78 C/K trucks), and it's mated to a 4L70-E four-speed automatic transmission with overdrive. To meet emissions regulations, it also includes catalytic converters, a fuel tank evap canister and a full two-year warranty. A Chevy rep said that the whole E-Rod system used on this truck costs around $10,000.

Even though this isn't Chevy's first E-Rod pickup, there's just something a little extra special of seeing a 1973-1987 C/K truck in this condition. Chevy acquired the truck from a private owner in Wisconsin, and did a full frame-off restoration at the General Motors Milford Proving Grounds. The Chevy rep we spoke with said that the truck had very little rust damage that needed to be repaired before the two-tone paint job was applied, and that it was already in decent shape when the project was started back in July. The end result is a truck that looks like it just rolled off the assembly line – right down to the side-saddled gas tanks.

Chevy issued a press release (posted below) for the 1978 Chevrolet Performance Classic Truck Concept, but we're guessing you'll want to spend more time checking out our full live gallery, above.
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E-ROD-Powered 1978 Chevy 4X4 Combines Classic Style with Modern Performance – And Emissions Compliance

2013-11-05

LAS VEGAS – Blending classic styling with modern performance, the 1978 Chevrolet Performance 4x4 pickup concept demonstrates the limitless possibilities for Chevrolet Performance's Connect & Cruise crate powertrain systems.

Chevrolet introduced the truck today at the SEMA Show, the annual convention of automotive performance parts and styling accessories. It's powered by an E-ROD 5.3L system – an emissions-compliant powertrain package that includes an automatic-overdrive transmission, control modules, wiring harnesses and other key components all under one part number.

"Chevrolet Performance continues to make it easier for enthusiasts to build the project vehicle of their dreams and this concept vehicle exemplifies only one of the countless ways enthusiasts can put the comprehensive Connect & Cruise systems to use," said Jim Campbell, GM U.S. vice president of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. "The innovative E-ROD crate engine also matches high-performance with environmental responsibility."

The specially calibrated controllers of the Connect & Cruise powertrain systems are designed for retrofit installations in older vehicles, for easier and quicker installation and operation without the need for third-party tuning – and the E-ROD versions include additional equipment that makes them eligible for installation in approximately 20 million 1995-and-earlier cars and trucks in California that predate OBD II on-board emissions diagnostics.

The 327-cubic-inch E-ROD 5.3L engine is rated at 326 horsepower – approximately 80 horses more than the available 454-cubic-inch big-block engine in 1978 – and it's matched with a 4L70-E automatic transmission. The overdrive transmission enhances the drivability and efficiency of the classic truck, with reduced engine rpm while cruising on the highway.

Chevrolet Performance also offers LS3 and supercharged LSA Connect & Cruise package that are available in E-ROD configurations. All E-ROD systems include complete emissions equipment, such as catalytic converters and a fuel tank evaporative emissions canister.

For builders outside of California, LS376-480, LS376-525 and LS7 Connect & Cruise systems are offered, in addition to the 5.3L, LS3 and LSA packages. Each package – including E-ROD systems – carries a 24-month/50,000-mile limited warranty.

Chevrolet Performance offers a guide for installing an LS-family engine in a vehicle not originally equipped with it. It is available under part number 88959384 and can be purchased through Chevrolet dealerships.

Restored and updated
The classic 1978 Chevy truck's regular-cab/short-box body features a contemporary black-and-red two-tone paint scheme, along with reconditioning bright exterior trim. New 16x8-inch silver powder-coated wheels wrapped with LT305/70R16 all-terrain tires also contribute to a more contemporary stance.

The restored body is mounted on a refurbished frame that was media-blasted and powder-coated matte black. The front and rear suspensions were restored with rebuilt springs and axles, and all-new bushings. The power steering system was rebuilt, along with the original transfer case.

On the inside, the blend of vintage and new continues with re-trimmed seat weather red leatherette surrounding red-and-black houndstooth cloth inserts. The original instrument panel is updated, too, with modern gauges.

"We couldn't improve on the vintage styling of this Chevy truck, but with its greater horsepower and comparable torque, the E-ROD 5.3L enhances its capability," said Campbell. "That's the essence of Chevrolet Performance's Connect & Cruise powertrains – giving customers the best modern technology to complement their classic cruiser."