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1961 Volvo PV 544 to EV 544 - Build Thread

14766 Views 186 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  jclars
Hello All!

I pondered what to do to this car for over 1 year since driving it home. Yes, it was the first project car I had not needed a trailer for! I have travelled as far as Southern Cal. to pickup other projects with a trailer in tow. Never one only 15 miles from home! And so cheap ($2500) for a running vintage car!

Because the starting point was so favorable, it was tempting to simply do a stock restoration. But then I started digging and found the engine and tranny were not original, coming from a newer Volvo. I felt like it opened the door for a restomod. I am soon 72 years old and have always enjoyed a challenge. My last build was a traditional hot rod which included at totally fabricated frame and flat head V8. Parts were either already in my shop or sourced from multiple swap meets and online sales The various parts spanned years 1928 to 1962 in vintage. I also upgraded a 1958 MGA Coupe to a 2000 Miata drive train. I have done a 1956 F100 PU with a 90's era drivetrain from a T-bird SuperCoupe. This past May I drove Rte. 66 in it. 6000 miles round trip. So major technology jumps with previous projects has been accomplished. And I drive the things! But ICE to EV??? Before last year I didn't even know what those acronyms stood for!

I reviewed the topics I was to cover with my first post, and I can see the logic to determine where everyone enters this EV game. So I can fabricate, I can visualize, I can drive. But this EV thing was a bit intimidating. Then I took a ride in a modern EV and got sucked in! With your help, I hope to make this car an almost daily driver. I am planning for 80 - 100 mile range. I also want to approach this incrementally, both for affordability, but also because I like to mock up restomods to present a car look like it could have come from the factory that way. I have become adept at doing this, but it has always been by trial and error with lots of cardboard and wood mock-ups. I have fabricated things multiple times to get it looking right (as well as for structural integrity!).

I hope I can present this EV conversion similar to my other less radical projects. I want the motor with controller to take center stage, so no battery box on top of it, even though there is a lot of room under the bulbous hood. Likewise, I doubled the HP and Torque on that MGA mentioned above, and it suddenly became a fun (not to mention dependable) sports car! While I will only have a marginal HP jump in my chosen EV gear, I am pretty sure the torque value and dependability factors will be satisfying enough!

That all said, I have been working with EVWest to gain a system understanding and with a local Electrical shop that has dabbled in EV development for the last 10 years. EVWest had done a Volvo P1800 several years ago and just this past week we were able to confirm a match to my Volvo bellhousing and flywheel. So I have the adapter/coupler on order with them. I also have a Hyper 9 HV motor system with chill plate and front motor mount on order with the local shop. Saved much on freight by finding a local source for that! I have other components pre-selected from both EVW and locally, but again will use these first major pieces to anchor the mock-up stage. So because the adapter is a long lead item, I will probably be doing more restoration type stuff in the interim, so bear with me.

I attach pix of the car, the voluminous engine bay and similar trunk. I do plan to put at least some battery packs in the rear where the gas tank came from. However only 100-120 lbs or so to help keep within original weight trim. Which I think will be okay, with so much room in front. But again, I want to showcase the motor. Not the battery packs.

Looking forward to hearing comments from this valued knowledge base in the months ahead!

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John Larsen
Lynden, WA
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That's not enough space for a battery. I think you need to get the Hyper9 out of the engine bay.
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This is where the Mitsubishi Highlander motor/drive may work ok.
You want as much of your pack against the firewall, not the front grill, or your car will turn like a cargo ship, not to mention an exaggerated weight and balance cg in the forward direction.

I suggest a small pack on the plane of the motor, then a larger one, that extends to the firewall, above it and the motor.
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Yup - if you want to keep the original "3 point" mount, a frame/tray is an approach. Keep as much mass as you can tight to the firewall.

Also, the largest percentage of collisions, unplanned or otherwise, are at the front, so not using your batteries as front crush space reduces chances of lighting the battery off in a minor front hit.
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Don't understand why you want to experience the equivalent if a 400lb passenger riding with you all the time.

If you're happy carrying that small of a pack, knock that top row off and put it over the motor as one single-level box. It'll lower the c.g. so it doesn't handle like a bread truck.

What you're doing with this latest layout is equivalent to jacking up the original engine on 250mm motor mount spacers, and shifting it to the passenger side of the compartment.

Then pile your other stuff, which you were going to bolt to the firewall, on top of that since it's all low mass components.

Your car spends 99.99% of its time with the hood closed, and an electric motor is as exciting as looking at the alternator on an ICE car. Maybe put Christmas lights on the battery box if you want EV bling when you open the hood 😛

EV's are alll about the driving experience...the kudos from others come from the passenger/driver seat, not when it's parked. Carrying over ICE biases to an EV conversion will cost you and make you miserable.
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I'm enjoying having a second smartass on the got lonely at times 😂
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What's on the firewall that's pushing the lower two boxes forward? I don't see anything in this pic:
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Because the boxes say "priority", you need to get them against the firewall and pull everything else off, if looks maybe like some stuff got snuck onto the firewall after this photo was taken, or I'm missing something.
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Since you're an ICE guy and all, what about an upside down "V"...can you get them 2 across that way, lower the c.g., and make @joekitch jealous with the "V8 look"?

Darned steering columns are always in the way...
Do the battery box right and you can put a set of fake flathead plates on the angled bits, or fake rocker covers.

The V16 lives...
Eight more D-cells wouldn't hurt, I suppose...
You're a slow learner, but seem to be starting to get it now...
My welding teacher (yes, @Functional Artist, I'm not just book learned) told me to keep brake kleen off metal parts that are to be welded - his coworker died after a couple of days in the ICU from the phosphene gas that came off. He said to use acetone.

Not sure about carb and choke cleaner...

Of course, when I asked him for some acetone, he said it's not kept in the welding shop.

At that point I threatened to cut an acetylene cylinder open...I've clearly been watching too much Survivorman, lol.
You can always make the motor shaft a thou or two smaller...
Yes, they are big fans of that 600 degree hotplate shrink fit, but do they really expect the ID to grow that much? OD maybe, but ID?

With the motor spinning, it's a lathe, so yeah...a file will do the job nicely if needed in about 60 sec. if even that long (I'm counting miking it). Emery is more for getting a polish, imo.
I'm thinking a coupler bake at 350F alongside some oatmeal-raisin cookie dough gets two things accomplished.
Almost may be perfectly volumnuous for a Leaf drive unit from the looks of it 🤓
The input shaft is not turning relative to the coupler, so you don't need a bearing there anymore. Just a bushing for alignment.

Brass is easiest to machine, but your choice there.
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