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Can't decide on EV conversion candidates

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  • Can't decide on EV conversion candidates

    So, if you've been on these forums for a while you've probably heard me talk about my plans to convert my BMW to an electric car. My original thinking is that I wanted a car that looks good, has some level of appeal to a wide audience (it'll end up being a demo-car for my EV conversion products, so it has to turn heads), able to be fixed up really nice (cosmetically), and able to be converted to an electric relatively easily.

    The last bit it the tricky one. It basically comes down to requiring a longitudinally mounted (N-S, front-rear, etc) engine. Doesn't really matter if it's FWD, RWD, AWD, as long as the engine is mounted in a way that the axles don't interfere with it.

    The E36 BMW coupe fits all of these requirements, but it's heavy. I was running some numbers and found that losing 200kg of weight (so a 1150-1200kg car) would take nearly 1/2 second off my 0-100 time and gain me an extra 12-15km of range on a charge.

    So I'm turning to you, the MCM community, to pitch some thoughts on cars that meet these criteria. Cost and availability are concerns, and I've already discounted several cars due to these factors:

    Skyline/Silvia/AE86, too expensive/desirable
    MX5, too many conversions already done on these
    S2000, expensive, rare
    300ZX, old ones are ugly, new ones are rare
    Supra/Latest RX7, expensive
    Soarer, HEAVY


    Cars I'm considering:
    The 2nd generation RX7 is very appealing. It's light, there are plenty of them for sale with bad engines, good aerodynamics. But the looks just lack to me. Also, I converted one of these to electric already before moving to Australia
    BMW e36 Compact. These are much lighter than the full-size coupe I have now, but they don't have the looks, and they're pricey

    Or I could keep and convert the car I have now and either deal with the reduced range/performance (still sub 7-sec 0-100), or do all I can to reduce the weight of it for the conversion. There is a lot that can be done:
    Replace seats with light seats from a smaller car (Sirion, Satria, etc).
    Replace spare tyre with can of fix-a-flat
    Light wheels
    Underbody tray/grille block-out (improves aerodynamics, not weight)
    Carbon fibre bonnet/boot lid.
    Remove sound deadening
    etc, etc.

    Help me decide!
    My Facebook page - My YouTube channel - mauswerkz on Twitter
    The mauswerkz 300zx EV build thread.
    My 1992 BMW 318is Coupe, soon to be battery powered. Technical progress in this thread.

  • #2
    Calibra with RWD conversion? It used to come with AWD, so you can re-use the rear diff and propshaft, etc. You might have to get a longtitudonal gearbox tho. Maybe the one from your BMW could fit. Opel/Vauxhall/Holden often used Getrag gearboxes for their RWD models afaik, just like BMW.
    If you get a body from a 2.0i 8v (C20NE engine) it'll be aerodynamic too. Most aerodynamic production car in the world until the hybrids showed up. Smallest openings in the bumper of all Calibra's.

    Just saying it because I own one and love how it looks

    Other options... maybe an older BMW? E30? With an M3 bodykit on it?
    Opel Speedster / Vauxhall VX220? All glued aluminium chassis from the Lotus Elise. Quite lightweight. Or just get an Elise wich is even lighter (but with less creature comforts) drawback is that its a RWD rear engine car. But mabe it's worth to look into doing that instead of front engine RWD.

    Or just F# all and go with the E36. It's a good car, you already own it, and have plans laid out for it.
    Maybe replace windows with Lexan/Polycarbonate, replace panels with lighter materials, remove sound deadening, etc to make it lighter.

    Oh, another idea: again RWD rear engine... Toyota MR2?

    Or get a VW Beetle and make it nice. Has a longtitudonal engine.
    VW T1 Hippie Van could also be good. Paint it white with lightning on the sides to show it's electric.
    An older Porsche also has that kind of layout. But tbh, I'd expect some performance from that too.

    I dont know if you can get older european cars there, but an old (70's and 80's) euro Ford, like a Taunus, Granada or Escort would probably fit the bill.
    Last edited by McKaamos; 05-10-2012, 08:21 PM.
    1994 Opel Calibra 2,0 8v - Loud pipes save lives
    1994 Opel Corsa B 1,6 16v GSi - Even louder pipes save even more lives!


    • #3
      What about a e30 BMW? IIRC they are about 1200kg so around the range you're looking for.


      • #4
        Ke corolla?
        1998 5DR Glanza V Replica
        1990 Mazda MX5 NA6C


        • #5
          One of the many 80s rwd jap sports cars.
          Most of these are light, cheap and will handle alright.

          Mustang back Celica would be awesome, but they are rarish and pull more $$ then the average celica.
          2012 Honda CB400 ABS. VTEC YO
          1994 Honda RVF400
          12 Hyundai IX35. Me and GF daily


          • #6
            You converted an RX7 to Electric? That's more dirty than converting it to a V8!
            British Rotary Tarmac Terrorist since 2007.

            Flames (from exhaust) on Request!

            Originally posted by Marty
            Eat it with a chopstick!


            • #7
              Calibra could be cool, but converting to RWD would make it unfeasible for this project.
              e30 BMW weighs only marginally less than mine, not enough savings to be worth the switch :-(
              Old celicas are RWD and cheap, but the looks just aren't there. They haven't aged well.
              In a 1000kg body, the car will be very quick. I think it'd do a Porsche justice.
              Re: lightening my E36, I don't think plastic windows are legal on the road here.

              Yeah, converted FC RX7 to electric with a DC motor. It's a great platform for the conversion! I haven't seen one fixed up in a way that appeals to me though. I guess that's okay if it appeals to others though.

              Any more suggestions?
              My Facebook page - My YouTube channel - mauswerkz on Twitter
              The mauswerkz 300zx EV build thread.
              My 1992 BMW 318is Coupe, soon to be battery powered. Technical progress in this thread.


              • #8
                How about a first gen rx7? Even cheaper than 2nd gen look better (and I have an fc rx7) and still plenty around and they are pretty light, 1060 kg according to redbook
                Or to be really different you could go for something like a cappuccino, they look cool and have some level of cred especially when modded and they are über light =]
                My Rx7:


                • #9
                  What about MR2's? Both the AW11 and SW20 have good placement areas for the batteries (under bonnet, up the tunnel where the fuel tank is), it will be easy to adapt an electric motor to the existing traverse gearbox. AW11 range from 1000-1150kg in stock trim depending on the package (natro, supercharged, hardtop, sunroof, targa) while SW20's are about 100kg heavier. Both are two seaters so will get more range then a fully loaded 4 seater. AW11's are also cheap to buy as spare parts cars and wrecking cars at the moment and it's easy to shift parts as a lot of the suspension and engine / drivetrain parts are compatible with a range of other Toyotas. This will make it easier to buy a car for conversion, sell the unused parts for profit and invest that back into the conversion. Saves being left with a bunch of parts you can't sell and having to throw them out.

                  And best of all, they handle well. Adding the ability to place the batteries more towards the front and up the middle of the vehicle, you could shift the weight balance closer to 50:50. Plus that awesome (IMO) 80's sports car styling, without the silly hella stance wheels, bit wings and silly body kits that other cars have melded onto them to make them look better.

                  Last edited by knightrous; 06-10-2012, 01:19 AM.
                  TrackDub - 89' AW11 4AGE 20V (83.5RWKW) | SkidDub - 88' AW11 1MZFE V6 | SlushDub - 89' AW11 4AGZE Auto T-Top
         - My AW11 build/blog/rant/motorsport website


                  • #10
                    r32 rolling shells can be picked up pretty cheap


                    • #11
                      considered a dx corolla or something like that? Old datsuns, toyotas, and the like would make for a very cool project and are very light. Could do an rx3 or something too. I don't know about Aus but in NZ there's heaps around, and I'm pretty sure our car markets are very similar.
                      Originally posted by Jenga
                      Then I did the rest of the trip with no boost - it was the most boring thing I've ever experienced.


                      • #12
                        I vote E36 Compact:

                        The old style rear suspension will make for slidewaystastic handling too.

                        e-drift like a boss.

                        Also the ones they sell over there are REALLY underpowered.


                        for under 3k I say have a look at least, it is even red so you get an extra 25kw.
                        Originally posted by MOOG
                        Volvo is turbo and proper mad.
                        Originally posted by Jenga
                        You see, when a piston, block, crankshaft, and some fuel and air all love each other very, very much.....


                        • #13
                          R32 could be cool, but they weight the same as my BMW.
                          Knightrous, you have a PM
                          Fortkid, I haven't found many e36 compacts in that price range. That's the cheapest I've come across I think, and it's all the way up in another state. I really do like the idea of converting one of those though. Light, still have the e36 look (as long as you look at it from the correct angles), and it'd be very fast and fun after the conversion. The challenge with one of those for me though is, 1) price, 2) I'd want a white one. I don't like them in any other colour. I'd probably settle for Silver, like the picture you posted, but yeah, that preference also make them hard to find. I'll keep an eye out for them though, they're really at the top of my list if I don't stick with my e36 coupe.

                          Thanks everyone for the suggestions!
                          My Facebook page - My YouTube channel - mauswerkz on Twitter
                          The mauswerkz 300zx EV build thread.
                          My 1992 BMW 318is Coupe, soon to be battery powered. Technical progress in this thread.


                          • #14
                            I may be too late but what about an early Subaru Impreza? They are light, have a longitudinal engine set up and they also have AWD or FWD...

                            Do it up WRX or STi style and it'll turn heads and they are light and well supported in the aftermarket. Maybe worth a look...


                            • #15
                              80's AWD Civic perhaps?
                              Originally posted by MOOG
                              Volvo is turbo and proper mad.
                              Originally posted by Jenga
                              You see, when a piston, block, crankshaft, and some fuel and air all love each other very, very much.....