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GM's E-Rod 1955 Chevy - Road Test E-Rod

We Go To GM's Historic Milford Proving Grounds To Drive The E-Rod '55 Chevy, The Car That May Be The Future Of Hot Rodding.

By , Photography by John Moore

"E-Rod represents a revolution in hot rodding by offering an unprecedented, emissions-legal engine and emissions system that carries approval from the influential California Air Resources Board (CARB)," said Dr. Jamie Meyer, product marketing manager for GM Performance Parts. "We developed this system because it's the right thing to do, but our engineers did not sacrifice the performance that stirs hot rodders in the first place. It is a compromise-free package that delivers great power and efficiency, with the cleaner emissions of a modern vehicle."

The core of the E-Rod package is the LS3 6.2L V-8, rated at 430 hp. Emissions equipment included with the package are the catalytic converters, a fuel tank evaporative emissions canister, and more. GMPP worked closely with CARB and SEMA officials to develop the kit, and secured approval that makes E-Rod-equipped vehicles legal in California and other areas that mirror CARB's recommendations and emissions standards. No other O.E.M. or aftermarket manufacturer offers a comparable, CARB-approved system.

Ultimately, no one knows where all these regulations are headed (but you know it's going to get worse) and E-Rod puts GM Performance Parts way out there ahead of the curve (and its aftermarket competitors). Those who live in non-emissions states, like Florida, may think this is all a big waste of time, but there are millions of hot rodders who will benefit from the E-Rod package and its successors.

So, How's It Drive?
Without Debralee Scott or Cindy Williams by my side, I opened the big white door and slid behind the smaller-than-stock steering wheel. It'd been a long time since I drove a car with a bench seat and column shift, but everything about the E-Rod '55 will seem familiar to the Tri-Five enthusiast. The key is in the stock position; just turn it and the LS3 instantly fires up and settles into an idle. No muss, no fuss, no pumping the gas to set the choke. The LS3 behaves like the stock Corvette engine it is.

The LS3 is backed in this vehicle by a 4L65E automatic transmission and a rear out of an S-10 with 4.10 gears. (A manual trans E-Rod package is in the works, and no transmission is included in the price. After the manual E-Rod package is introduced, it will be followed by LS7 and LSA based E-Rod combos.)

Underhood, you see things you'd never expect to see in a shoebox Chevy-a charcoal canister for fuel emissions, a fuse box, etc. But it all looks so natural. The installation was clean and relatively easy. Nothing a good do-it-yourselfer couldn't accomplish at home.

Pulling the shifter into reverse, I back E-Rod out of the GM Performance Division building at Milford and follow the security truck down to our designated area at the MPG. Along the way, I'm distracted by future GM cars running around in camouflage, and we pass a lot full of Corvettes and Camaros of every stripe-ZR1s, ZO6s, SS F-body, a few '11 Camaro convertibles (all with different back window treatments). The words of GMPD's Mike Copeland ring in my ears: "Just remember: Nothing at the Milford Proving Grounds is ever what it seems." You never know what engine, suspension, transmission, etc., is lurking under a stock-appearing production car.

I'm like a kid in a candy store. The steering feel is terrific-the car has GM's 605-series box. The smaller wood-rim wheel feels a million times better than stock, but I think the center hub and spokes are too reflective. It also seems a little out of character in the 210, maybe because of the bench seat, but it has a nice tactile feel.

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