At first glance, this 1978 Chevy Silverado looks like a nicely restored project truck and nothing more. First glances can often be wrong. With a second glance — and third and forth... — this Silverado is sporting something special beneath that beautiful bodywork.
Lurking under the hood is a brand-new, fourth-generation 5.3-liter, V-8 crate engine straight from General Motors. However, the new small block is only part of an entire package GM is showcasing this year at SEMA : the E-ROD engine with the Connect and Cruise package.
The Connect and Cruise package includes many of the necessary bits to make an engine run, including all the emissions-friendly equipment to make it 50-state legal. The new 4L70-E transmission, control modules, wiring harnesses, fuel tank evaporative emissions canister and catalytic converters within the truck were all ordered with one part number.
GM currently has three E-ROD packages available: the 5.3-liter LC9 found in GM trucks and SUVs, the 6.2-liter LS3 V-8 normally found in the Camaro SS, and the supercharged 6.2-liter LSA V-8 straight from the Cadillac CTS-V.
The E-ROD engines are designed for such restoration projects as the ’78 K1500 Silverado. GM says they wanted to streamline the restoration process, making it easier for customers to build their dream vehicle without having to use third-party tuning.
The advantages for installing an E-ROD engine with the Connect and Cruise package in a project are evident. Even more so considering the 5.3-liter (327-cubic-inch) V-8 makes 320 horsepower, or roughly 80 more than the truck’s original 454 big block produced in 1978.
Cost is always a factor in restoration projects, but $7,750 seems like a sweet deal for such a reliable V-8 while the whole Connect and Cruise package starts at $12,017.
Click past the jump to read more on the 1978 Chevy Silverado E-ROD
1978 Chevrolet Silverado K1500 E-Rod
The fourth-generation 5.3-liter, V-8 makes 320 horsepower and 335 pound-feet of torque. It is important to note the E-ROD systems don’t belong to the new-for-2014 EcoTec3 engine family.
The naturally-aspirated 6.2-liter, LS3 V-8 from the Camaro SS produces a respectable 430 horsepower and 424 pound-feet of torque. Cost increases slightly for the 6.2-liter to $9,706 for just the E-ROD engine. The complete Connect and Cruise package starts at $13,565.
The beastly LSA supercharged 6.2-liter, V-8 engine is what’s found in the Cadillac CTS-V. It produces 556 horsepower and 551 pound-feet of torque. With added power comes an added price tag, and the asking price for the LSA jumps to $15,938 for the engine or $21,696 for the Connect and Cruise package.
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.”