liter inline-4 E85 ethanol
(from General Motors
Press Release) FLEXFUEL CHEVY HOT ROD DEMONSTRATES
VINTAGE STYLE AND MODERN ALTERNATIVE-FUEL PERFORMANCE
With a 500-horsepower
engine, a channeled body and a chopped top, GM’s custom street rod
looks right at home on the salt flats of Bonneville. But instead of
a traditional gasoline V-8, this ’34 Chevy replica rod sports a
turbocharged 2.0L Ecotec engine that runs on E85 ethanol.
Appropriately, it has been dubbed the FlexFuel Chevy Hot Rod.
“Since the 1930's, hot rods have embodied American ingenuity,
aesthetic flair and the quest for performance," said Bryan Nesbitt,
vice-president of General Motors North American Design. "The ethanol
Hot Rod is a modern statement that today's hot rodder can address
energy concerns about the consumption of petroleum without
sacrificing performance or style.”
The car’s low-slung stance and stripped-down essence suggests track
cars and speed racers of the late 1940s and early 1950s. Open hood
sides reveal the high-powered Ecotec engine, which has been pumped
up with the help of GM Performance Parts’ Stage III performance kit
and a larger turbo. The higher octane of E85 enabled engineers to
tune the engine for more power. It is backed by a GM Powertrain 5L40
five-speed automatic transmission.
“The engine was built using the basic recipe that is available in
the Ecotec performance book available from GM Performance Parts,”
said Al Oppenheiser, GM Performance Division director of concept and
vehicle integration. “Also, the E85 conversion is based on a kit
that GM is exploring for regular production engines.”
True hot rod aesthetic
Like hot rods built for
the last 60 years, the FlexFuel Hot Rod is built from an assemblage
of factory and aftermarket parts. The frame and body are based on
the 1934 Chevy, but both were fabricated by the craftsmen at the GM
Performance Division (GMPD). The body has been sectioned and
channeled to give the car its true hot rod aesthetic, while the
frame is a one-off piece designed, engineered and built by GMPD. The
slanted grille – with a unique chrome mesh pattern – and hood are
integrated for a smoother look, which includes a sun visor
characteristic of period hot rod racers.
Like any good rod worth its salt, there are no fenders or running
boards; the 10-inch headlamps are mounted to the core support. The
front suspension is all custom-built, complete with period-perfect
lightening holes drilled in it.
A sturdy 8-3/8-inch Winters Quick-change rearend is suspended by a
parallel four-link suspension. It is filled with 5.20 gears, which
are used to generate brisk acceleration with 35-inch-tall,
racing-type Excelsior rear tires and 29-inch-tall front tires. The
tires are mounted on custom 18-inch front and 20-inch rear “kidney
bean”-style wheels from Budnik.
Steering comes from a custom-fabricated linkage that is connected to
a reversed Corvair steering box. The linkage is mounted to the
outside of the frame rail.
Inside, the FlexFuel Hot
Rod maintains its racing-inspired minimalist theme, but with
contemporary feel. Hand-formed sheet metal and earth-friendly
materials were used to trim the cabin, as well as the racing-style
aluminum seats. The dashboard was hand-finished, too, and filled
with traditional-looking Stewart-Warner gauges.
One of the interior’s central points of interest is the racing-style
driveshaft tube, which covers the custom driveshaft. It is a
prominent fixture in the cabin because the body has been lowered
around the chassis to achieve the streamlined appearance that was
characteristic of old-school hot rods.
More than just a
conceptualized vision of an alternative-fuel street rod, the
FlexFuel Hot Rod is a driver that GM Performance Division will press
into service for a number of road events and tests.
“This thing is going to rack up a lot of miles,” said Oppenheiser.
“With the FlexFuel conversion, it can run purely on E85, gasoline or
any combination of the two. That means it can be refueled anywhere
the road takes it.”