Magazine project cars have pretty much been part of the editorial landscape since hot rod rags have been in existence. I could go on about when and how the very first one came about, but sitting at a computer and doing hours of research isn’t my thing. But what I do know is that one of, if not the most well-known of all project cars is Popular Hot Rodding’s Project X. PHR (RIP) acquired the unassuming Chevy Bel Air 210 post back in 1965 with the idea of using the car as a testbed for multiple engine combinations, suspension setups, and drivetrain upgrades. The car’s high profile and multiple personalities made it a favorite among gearheads all over the country.
The car passed through many big-name shops throughout its historical journey, and it was also featured in the 1980 movie The Hollywood Knights, starring Tony Danza and Michelle Pfeiffer.
Although the car would randomly sit for periods of time, it was common for it to be resurrected with a slightly different attitude as each new editor of PHR came on board.
The car went through countless changes in order to keep up with the latest trends in horsepower upgrades—some were good while others were questionable. At one point the frame was “swiss-cheezed” in order to drop some weight and shave a tenth or so off the car’s quarter-mile times. Unfortunately, that maneuver compromised the integrity of the chassis, and luckily some “level heads” determined the car to be unsafe for the next round of upgrades. Since then those framerails have been replaced (possibly more than once) and the car is now in the able hands of the crew over at Hot Rod. I imagine those folks have some wild ideas on the car’s next incarnation.
So with the template laid out, we set forth on building a project car of our own: a Pro Touring-style 1971 Camaro we call Project Orange Krate. Yes, it’s named after the stylish orange five-speed Schwinn bicycle of the same year. Our second-gen may not be highly recognizable to many of you Chevy High Performance readers due to the fact that the car started its life a few years ago in the now-defunct title Camaro Performers magazine, which I had the privilege of being the editor for about eight years. When I made the move to Chevy High Performance it was an easy decision to bring the car here to cover the remainder of the build.
What has been years of build articles, numerous headaches (shoddy bodywork and rotted sheetmetal revealed itself when the body was mediablasted), and a few minor changes in direction, the car is just about ready to hit the road. Yes, there are a few pesky details to address before we get it to the track for some testing, but the fact that it now runs and drives makes this an exciting time for everyone involved in this project.
There’s no telling if Project Orange Krate will go through the numerous changes that Project X did, but the fact that we aren’t very good at leaving well enough alone, you can pretty much bet this car will go through quite a few upgrades throughout its tenure here at Chevy High Performance.
This is oughta be good.