By on October 30, 2020

Chevrolet plans on showcasing a 1977 K5 Blazer converted over to all-electric propulsion for SEMA360, foreshadowing the Electric Connect and Cruise package General Motors hopes on selling in the latter of 2021. But it would first like to take the public’s temperature on the concept by surveying SEMA attendees interested in building their own electric projects before finalizing its “eCrate” offering.

That makes the modified Chevrolet Blazer-E a proof of concept to help customers realize what kind of projects might be possible and get the creative juices flowing — something which never seems to carry over when it comes to naming EVs.

GM has been doing the electric conversion concepts for a while now and noted that the 2018 Chevrolet eCOPO Camaro and 2019 E-10 pickup helped the manufacturer decide how best to tackle its Blazer project. Chevy decided to keep as much of the SUV stock and attempted to make any swapped components hassle-free, adding that 90 percent of the new parts installed for the eCrate package came directly factory components used on the Chevrolet Bolt.

From GM:

To convert the 1977 K5 Blazer, the team first removed from the Blazer the original 175-horsepower 400 cubic-inch V-8, three-speed automatic, fuel system and exhaust. Then, the team installed a Bolt EV electric motor, delivering 200 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque, paired with a Chevrolet Performance electronically controlled four-speed automatic. The rest of the Blazer drivetrain remains untouched, including the transfer case, driveshaft and axles.

Power is supplied by a 400-volt Bolt EV battery pack with 60 kilowatt-hours of usable energy installed in the cargo area. Using production controllers and wiring harnesses preserves many Bolt EV features, including shock protection, battery heating and cooling, battery-overcharge protection and even regenerative braking.

Excuse the editorializing, but this is exactly the kind of thing that had me geeked about EVs in the first place. Most electrically powered vehicles haven’t spoken to me (with a handful of exceptions). But the possibility of installing an e-powertrain into a vintage and otherwise-normal-looking automobile is genuinely intriguing. Imagine chucking a pair of torque-rich electric motors into a 1992 Mitsubishi Mirage and living in a sleeper’s paradise.

It’s easy to see where Chevy’s going with this and it’s nice to see them keeping things simple, even if it probably had a lot to do with the pandemic keeping everyone away from whatever garage they used to piece the Blazer-E (again, awful name) together.

Additional aftermarket components are said to include an electric power steering kit, electric pump providing vacuum to the stock brake system, and an electronic controller to drive inputs to the vintage Blazer gauges (allowing the original fuel meter to display the SUV’s current state of charge). Understated and slick but it’s all in service of Chevrolet Performance hawking the eCrate.

As of now, the plan involves certifying as many service centers and aftermarket companies to install the system and selling them the necessary tools. Afterward, they’ll be eligible to install the initial eCrate offering — which includes a 60-kWh battery pack, 200-hp electric motor, wiring harnesses, cooling pumps, and the obligatory DC-to-AC power inverter and converter.

Assuming it’s a success, Chevy said it would entertain the possibility of a “wider range of aftermarket applications” that included performance-focused applications and larger battery packs.

SEMA has gone virtual this year to keep people from coughing near each other. But GM said customers could follow all the action on the Chevrolet Performance YouTube page, which currently features a glut of electric conversions and LS swaps.

[Images: General Motors]

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43 Comments on “Sacrilicious: Chevrolet Builds Bolt-powered K5 Blazer for SEMA...”


  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Triggering has commenced.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “Excuse the editorializing, but this is exactly the kind of thing that had me geeked about EVs in the first place.”

    This is a cool idea, but how much does it cost and how hard is it to install? A new “Turn-Key” 350HO is like $5,500 and nearly anyone can manage to fit it into a truck.

    Also SEMA should do a Chevy Bolt with a seat swap.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      ajila:

      “Also SEMA should do a Chevy Bolt with a seat swap.”

      There are aftermarket companies with coil-overs, big brakes, and seats for the Bolt. I’ve thought about going that route.

      GM should do a dual-motor SS version of the Bolt. Maybe add another 200 hp to the back. Add a widebody kit with wider tires.

      https://ev-mods.com/pages/chevy-bolt

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        I’m not sure I’d want Sparcos. Just the seats out of a Malibu would be a big upgrade. Then probably some better tires and maybe that sway bar.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          Yeah, I’m not sure I’d want the sparcos either. I haven’t tried the bolt seats myself. I keep reading about issues with them. It’s hard to say if I’d like them or not.

          I think the bolt has a lot of potential. I hope the next version is more GTI than Fit. They need to give it the looks to match the performance. Maybe turn some of those C8 engineers loose on it. I’d give it a better name too.

  • avatar
    Garrett

    So they basically remove all the cargo space and the rear seat? Don’t see a ton of applications where someone wants to basically have to gut a portion of their classic vehicle.

  • avatar
    FalconRTV

    What a waste of a good truck. A once characterful truck is now soulless.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      soulless? The original was at best 165hp. Now it’s boosted to 200hp. Sounds like an improvement to me.

      • 0 avatar
        Oberkanone

        There is joy to be found driving these as they were when they drove off the assembly line. 100HP to 175HP in 1977 if I remember correctly.

        eCrate is an interesting powertrain. I expect it’s cost will limit it to the wealthy. What would be inspiring to see would be a repower created from salvage EV by new generation of mechanics.

        • 0 avatar
          Steve Biro

          Agreed. Those original low-horsepower figures from the malaise era are somewhat misleading. These engines still had gobs of torque and did their jobs.

          Yes, there us much joy to be had driving them as they came from the factory.

          The e-crate set up is interesting – but now there is one less K5 Blazer survivor in the world. I feel the same way about e-restomods of Jaguar E-Types.

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          People have been repowering stuff with Tesla motors for some time now. There is a Delorean converted that sounds just like the movie car under power.

          These conversions give you some extra flexibility in that you can put the batteries where it makes the most sense but they lack the polish of OEM controllers, though I think the higher end aftermarket stuff has things like regenetive braking now. Haven’t seen any with the fast charging OE stuff offers though, but I haven’t looked lately either.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          “There is joy to be found driving these as they were when they drove off the assembly line. 100HP to 175HP in 1977 if I remember correctly.”

          I’ve got to disagree with you on that. Especially with a 3-speed transmission. There was good torque, but you can get that with a lot of modern power plants. Just a few hours ago, I was taking apart a Ford 390 FE V-8. My experience with these cars is fresh along with EVs and even modern V-12s. Sure, keeping some vintage cars original is a good thing, but not every one of them. For example a 1975 malaise C3 corvette. The original engine, especially with an L-48 and a 3 speed, was horrible. One of the most miserable cars I’ve ever driven.

    • 0 avatar
      jh26036

      You mean, loud, slow, inefficient, polluting?

      This is an awesome conversion.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      Perfect place for a EV motor. A restomod isn’t usually a daily driver and these vehicles were never intended to be muscle cars. A person can cruise to their heart’s content and not burn a drop of fuel. I’d say this is a “win win” for everyone.

  • avatar
    80Cadillac

    Love it. This would be a terrific solution for the 4100 in an early-80s DeVille/Fleetwood.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      That was my thought too, but then people would be reminded both that GM built the HT4100 and that Cadillacs used to look respectable.

    • 0 avatar
      Imagefont

      Mod a V8-6-4 Cadillac?
      Or… follow me on this one….
      just crush it now. Because all the plastic inside and out has already deteriorated and is probably a lot harder to restore, and why would you want to?
      Not worth saving, send it to the crusher – shredder – smelter.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        “Because all the plastic inside and out has already deteriorated and is probably a lot harder to restore”

        Not always. It depends on the type of plastic and it’s location in proximity to UV rays. I do a lot of work with 1960’s Ford interiors and while some of it does deteriorate, much of it is still surprisingly good and still strong. I’ve never worked with vintage Cadillacs, so I can’t speak for those. The metal on the undersides of cars are almost always the biggest problem in my experience.

        Why restore them? I think a full-size Fleetwood would be nice to restore, although I’m not sure those came with the 8-6-4. The bustleback Seville was one with the 8-6-4. The last one I was up close to was on a movie set and it was DeNiro’s character’s car. There was a Citation too. So, restoring for movies is another purpose and an EV restomod makes even more sense in that situation.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “and why would you want to?”

        Because I like them and it’s my money.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    The best truck dash/instrument cluster ever!

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    The best truck dash/instrument cluster ever!

  • avatar

    The best truck dash/instrument cluster ever!

  • avatar

    I do not care about Mirages – they are not real anyway, but 1959 Pontiac Bonneville Tri-Power two door convertible BEV would be super cool.

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      Having owned a Plymouth Colt Turbo hatchback, I can tell you that they are (were) terrific little cars – very dependable, fast, nice handling, good visibility and comfortable seats. The Turbo had the better engine and tire/wheel/suspension setup, of course. It was a great little pocket rocket… until some idiot in an old pickup backed up into it.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    But I read on these very forums that GM never makes their new features available for retrofit into older vehicles. Yet there are a plethora of LS powered 60s cars with modern overdrives running around with electronics packages provided by GM to make it all work.

    And now if that isn’t enough you’ll be able to get a drop in OEM supplied EV package versus the normal cobbled together stuff current EV conversions run.

    Kudos to GM here…giving people the ability to run modern powertrains in classic chassis is something GM does better than anyone and I wish the other makers would follow their lead.

    Incidentally, you may hate this, but this will keep the hobby alive no matter who wins elections and makes policies and that is a good thing.

    Personally, I’d rock it in a Fiero. 200 hp seems about right for that.

    • 0 avatar
      80Cadillac

      Excellent. Not a stretch to picture the Fiero conversion, but a little hard to see a crate package battery replacing the center tunnel fuel tank!
      I’ve seen ’35 Buicks and Oldsmobiles at local car shows made into new cars with crate packages, and they would really be all the better with this electric conversion.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      “Personally, I’d rock it in a Fiero. 200 hp seems about right for that.”

      I like that idea too! I’ve thought about using a malaise-era C3. Maybe swapping in a pre-73 nose and tail too. A Vega would be another good candidate.

      Rich Benoit from RichRebuilds is doing a mini cooper. I know the mechanic, Lee, that’s helping with the conversion. He’s worked on my BMWs in the past.

      youtube.com/channel/UCfV0_wbjG8KJADuZT2ct4SA

      The channel features ICE and EV salvage rebuilds and conversions. It’s also a good source for info on Tesla issues. He owns an independent EV repair shop. You get both the good and the bad.

  • avatar
    redgolf

    What happened to the GM ARIV Ebike, also I can see used SUV prices going up if you can eCrate them for a whole lot cheaper than new!

  • avatar
    Moparmann

    In the futuristic 1997 movie “Gattaca”, there were a number of vintage cars portrayed as having being converted to electric propulsion. They were as follows: 1956 Continental MKII, 1960 Jaguar MKII, 1963 Avanti, 1965 Citroen DS-19 Cabriolet, 1970 Volvo 1800E, 1970 Rover 3500S, 1971 Riviera, and a 1972 Jensen Interceptor MKIII. Just food for thought for a portion of the future that seems destined to happen, whether you are pro or con. :-)

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      There are some classic vehicles where I think doing an EV conversion would be a questionable choice. All original things over a certain age and things that are sought after today because of their engine I would want to keep with an ICE. For some vehicles though the engine is its biggest downfall or brings little to the experience (we already mentioned HT4100 Cadillacs and Deloreans above) and I think those would be the best cases for this kind of thing.

      But in the end it is their money so if someone wants to EV swap a RAM Air III GTO I can’t really stop them.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    But all I really wanted was the glass touchscreen controls – no wait that’s wrong.

    To really combine the best of old and new, drop the roofline, block 60% of the rear visibility and raise the hood – no, that’s wrong too.

    Clearly I’m not very good at this.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    There’s nothing particularly rilicious about a ’70s GM 400/400 or 350/350, sac or otherwise. Most anything modern would be a huge improvement. I’d do a Coyote swap if not a Godzilla if I’m going to go to the trouble.

    But the 400 probably made around 350 lbs/ft of torque originally.

  • avatar
    gasser

    How much does this conversion cost when you’re all in, with the electric steering, electric airconditioning, electric vacuum pump, etc?? It doesn’t seem like the conversion is anywhere near complete with just the motor, battery and controller. You still need to steer and stop, even if you decide you can forgo the A/C and sweat.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      It’s a full custom build so you could spend several times more than the main ingredients. And that’s if you’re doing most of the work/fabricating yourself.

      Except it make way more sense to start with a good used Tesla “donor” .

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    If you could find a Tesla that has been totaled then you would save some money. Eventually the cost of conversion could come down when EVs become more numerous and the battery technology improves. Would be good to see some classics being resurrected from the salvage yard and restored as EVs.

  • avatar
    Windy

    I bought new a 1969 blazer S#00000075 and it was one of my worst new cars I have ever. Owned the fiberglass cap was replaced a total of 4 times in warranty and once more out of my own pocket mostly for cracking around the lift gate hinges but also corners of the rear side windows also first engine had flawed block casting that after first winter caused water in the oil…. so perhaps a later blazer after they ditched the fiberglass cap would have been a better choice for this “tech demonstration “

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    I hope the battery pack comes in different shapes. A Bugeye would be a hoot with this drivetrain, but with that battery pack shape I am sure it wouldn’t fit. Same with a mid-70s Corvette or other old sports car. If they can’t make it modular or the shape of an 18 gallon tank, there are many things this won’t work in.

    • 0 avatar
      Brett Woods

      Battery pack bolt up gas tank replacement? I am liking your idea. Maybe 25 miles range. Might be good for shopping if you’re retired. Take out the widow next door. Johnny your truck is so quiet and creaky. Hail to the king baby.

  • avatar
    285exp

    Seems like an interesting, if fairly useless, conversion. You have a big old truck with a battery the size of a standard Model 3, tires with much greater rolling resistance than the Tesla’s, greater drivetrain losses because it still has a conventional auto transmission, and the aerodynamics of a barn. What a deal.

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