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Wilson's Auto Restoration Blog

Converting Classic Cars from Gas Powered to an All-Electric Drivetrain

If you haven’t noticed already, the future of automobiles is already here.  Hybrids and electric cars are everywhere with Tesla setting the standard for all-electric performance.  Charging stations are frequently popping up in cities and along our highways to keep them charged up and running.

Believe it or not, there are also a good number of companies that are converting classic cars from gas guzzlers to more efficient electric cruisers.    That’s right… there are now classic cars cruising our streets that are 100% electric vehicles (EV).

Around the world, companies like EV West,  ElectricGT, and Zelectric Motors are taking classic bueatys and marrying them with modern-day electric drivetrain technology.  They all have managed to replace gasoline powered drivetrains with electric ones that still deliver the exhilarating driving experience of a vintage vehicle.

Turning classic cars into eco-friendly vehicles is actually an older concept and people have been working on it for years.  Take for example the White Zombie.  It is a 1972 Datsun that was converted into an electric street-legal dragster back in 1994!  Like the White Zombie, most electric cars are DIY home conversions.  Someone usually gets an idea or is inspired by someone else and decide to build their own version of an all-electric car.

There are a number of websites and YouTube videos on the web that show you the different methods of converting fuel powered cars into electric ones.  A common conversion method uses a DC controller and a DC motor. These systems will typically run between 96 and 190 volts.  The more volts you want, the more batteries you will need.  It will also determine what electric motor and what controller you will need to use.

Total weight of the system and battery space are the two major limitations we face when converting a classic into an electric powered vehicle.  The electric motors are smaller than a traditional combustion engine so that does save on weight and space.  However, if you want to be able to drive your car far and have the juice to get you there quickly you will need the hi-tech batteries (like in the Tesla) or use supercapacitors.  Either that or find a place to store a lot of heavy batteries.

If you are really serious about converting your classic into an all-electric dream machine keep in mind that the technology is still evolving and, in some cases, still being invented.  There are advantages however in being a pioneer.  Being first on the block means that you will have an advantage of experience under your belt. As technologies advance you will have the upper hand in know-how over your neighbor next door who still has that loud, polluting, gas-hog parked in his garage.

Check out this great video from EV West, a garage outside San Diego, that is dedicated to turning classic cars into electric vehicles.  What they are doing is really remarkable.

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