Michael Bream, CEO of EV West, has built electric hot rods, project cars, and race cars, and uses that experience to develop products for conversions.

A growing group of enthusiasts are transforming their classic hot rods to EVs.
Some pull parts from crashed Teslas to do it.
Conversions aren’t new, but some are getting easier as EV tech advances.

There’s a growing group of enthusiasts transforming their classic hot rods and vintage muscle cars into fast-moving electric vehicles.

“It used to be that it was really just a backyard hobby and guys were taking crashed Teslas and taking the guts out of them and putting them into a conversion hot rod of some sort, whether it’s a ’69 Camaro or whatever it might be,” Mike Spagnola, CEO of the Specialty Equipment Market Association, told Insider. “We’re seeing that more and more, as the next generation of hot rodders come up, that they do want to do an EV conversion. That’s a huge burgeoning market.”

1974 BMW 2002 5-Speed electric conversion

The proof? Spagnola’s organization needed a massive 20,000 square feet at its annual conference this past year to accommodate the companies showing off battery packs, electric motors, harnesses, and other components needed to retrofit vehicles. (See things like Volkswagen’s conversion kit.) Auction platform Bring a Trailer has started to sell classic rides converted to EV, like a 1975 Porsche and 1974 BMW. And two well-known hot rodders who work on these projects told Insider that business is booming.

1975 Porsche 914 EV Conversion

Converting gas-powered vehicles to electric isn’t a new concept, but it has been gaining traction, especially as EV tech has advanced. 

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“The real shift was really, Tesla,” Greg Abbott, who goes by the name Reverend Gadget, and is CEO of conversion shop Left Coast EV, told Insider. 

1984 DeLorean conversion

So how do you convert a gas-car to an EV?

An EV conversion requires removing a car’s engine and adding a battery pack, electric motors, high-voltage cables, and instrumentation, according to the Alternative Fuels Data Center — all while making sure there’s enough space to accommodate these parts, and ensuring the original chassis can support the additional weight. 

Gadget, who was featured in the “Revenge of the Electric Car” documentary, starts by taking batteries out of crashed Teslas. He started with two or three conversions per year; he has since been working up to converting a dozen. 

1972 Brazilian Volkswagen Samba

“If it’s a freshwater flood car, no big deal. Saltwater flood car, probably junk,” Gadget explained. “If it’s been in an accident like a head-on or a rear-ender, it’s fine. If it’s been in a side crash, you might have some battery damage, so you must be taking a risk. But the cars are built so well that I’d say 95% of the time, the battery packs have nothing wrong with it.”

Then, there are plenty of structural, electronics, electrical, and engineering tasks beyond that.

“We can’t just pull …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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