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1961 Volvo PV 544 to EV 544 - Build Thread

14775 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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I attach pix of the car, the voluminous engine bay and similar trunk.
Hi John,
As a 38-year Volvo mechanic, I almost spit out my coffee when I read "...voluminous engine bay and similar trunk."!馃槀 I guess compared to an MGA, it is!

Looks like it had a B18D with a Webber-Redline 2bbl down-draft carb (86-115 HP) in place of the 70HP B16A and single Zenith side-draft carb. The 88 kW(~118HP) HyPer9 HV should do well and give you much more torque. The original engine had 87 lb-ft / 119.0 Nm @ 5500 rpm.

You might want to get those batteries closer to the center of yaw, to improve handling and get them out of the crumple zones. Maybe place the controls where the front battery box is now and place the batteries off to the sides of the motor?
This is where the Mitsubishi Highlander motor/drive may work ok.
Did you mean the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV with the Meiden Y61/S61?
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Hey GreyRace! Yes - compared to MGs which is what I also have! But still more than most modern cars afford as well. I mean, you could at least reach spark plugs without burning your hands!

Good calls on all the mechanics although I had determined the engine to be from a B-18B Amazon Automatic. The M40 may be similar vintage, but not original as the speedo cable came off the side and headed straight into the tunnel sidewall.

You need to tell me where the center of "yaw" is. I was a journeyman shipwright in my first career, but yaw was not defined for me!

The B18D was just a guess on my part, given the original carbs are gone.

The M40 had a long run from 1961 to 1975, so there's no telling what it's from. As for the speedo cable, it may need an angle-drive in this application.
<edit:> This angle-drive may be too long, there was a shorter version on the early M40-equipped 544s.

With the drive shafts' small diameter and u-joint size, you might need to limit torque in the controller software. (172 lb-ft of torque vs. the original 87 lb-ft)

I see you already found yaw! CG is close enough and will work in this case. You'll want to get the battery(s) mass behind the front cross member, ahead of the rear axle, and as low as possible. This will reduce roll, improve braking, and make turning easier (since you won't be fighting a considerable weight far from the CG). Given the available space and the volume of battery needed, I don't know if you will be able to display the motor as you intended and maintain the handling the 544 is known for. I've put some thought into converting my 1964 Volvo 122 4dr Automatic to electric and decided that the space in the trunk above the axle would do for some battery storage and have the added benefit of placing some weight over the rear tires. You could also delete the transmission, go direct drive and tuck the HyPer9 HV partway in the drive tunnel, leaving room for the motor frame/battery tray you mentioned.
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