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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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Would it be viable to build a frame from front mounts to tail mound to replicate what the original distribution might have been?
It is a good idea structurally to use original mount locations, but the mount locations don't determine the weight distribution.
I got back to basics that I can understand. Building blocks!

And I answered my above question directed at Lars. With each block duplicating a single CALB 230Ah battery cell, I was able to try different orientations in situ. Very helpful for my mind.

The blocks are supported off the frame rail and none extend beyond the sub frame with motor mount.

In this layout I can get 15 cells, leaving 9 on the drivers where the steering column interferes. I could also consider a shelf off the firewall if the driver side row interferes with my desired motor view.

Have at it!

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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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Well stated! However, it is only 150 lb on that side. Not a 400 lb fat lady. Is that PC? Or bias? Sorry.

So no improvement as far as you're concerned, Remy?

There will be 90 lb of cells on the LH side, plus steering box and MC.

I like the Christmas light idea though...:)
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With my bias toward ICE, I will call this configuration my V18 solution.
Row of 9 each side. Leaves 6 more to fit in somewhere.

If Tesla Type S were 2" shorter, I could do 4 in front and 2-3 in rear at gas tank hole.

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I'm enjoying having a second smartass on the got lonely at times 😂
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I asked my daughter once how she had managed to get so many smart asses in her coffee shop.

Well, Dad...
Well, the Post Office helped sort this out. And maybe some comments about weight distribution from you guys...

I relooked at the Tesla Type S packs and had a PO flat rate box laying around that closely duplicated it dimensionally. So once I determined that I could get 4 centered in the front, and still be able to view the motor, I went to the PO and got more boxes. This arrangement still puts the batteries in a potential crash zone, so I may look at some additional protection up front. The bottom pack currently sits 2" off the motor (white bucket), so I am hoping to lower the lower battery to within 1" of the motor.

The rear packs can still fit in the old gas tank hole. Except now I will use 2 ea for a total of 110# which more closely resembles what weight I am displacing.
The four (4) front packs at 220# plus motor weight of 120# will also come close to the same ICE displaced equipment. Total resulting voltage is 136.8V.

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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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Good catch!. The PO boxes are actually 2" short of what the Tesla pack is. I pushed them forward to get the true feel at the front, rather than the back. I am contemplating staggering them up the slope of the firewall, but the top two are held back from the stock 12V battery box. However, I will probably get a narrow AGM batttery to gain that back.
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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...
You are correct. One of the reasons I abandoned the V18 idea was the steering column takes up the LH side. Well, that and good advise from the Post Office.

Maybe a flathead 12 look?
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Lars (oudevolvo),

I went to your website where a Volvo 120 series is pictured: Enabling your electric car conversion project - EVcreate

It appears to have a front battery box tucked up to the firewall on the passenger side. Is this the combi project? I thought the combi/station wagon used primarily a rear battery box. Can you provide details and why only one on the passenger side?

Yes, that is an Amazon wagon.
The unit at the passenger side is the inverter.
In the center as close to the firewall as possible (deleted the heater) were 3 Tesla modules in a box. Five more in the rear.
That is needed for a proper weight distribution.
You can find my build blog here
At some point I stopped blogging and you can find updates here OudeVolvo and here
Beware! No happy ending.
See Electric Volvo Amazon wagon from 1967 and converted to 100% electric for overall specs and rebuild process.
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Thanks Lars - I already read the ending, which was certainly not happy!! I will look at your other build threads to see your layouts. I am prone to not totally delete the heater box, but I think it is more off to the side on my PV, over the steering column being discussed above. Hoping to get the canEV electric heater core to work.

Wondering why weight was more distributed rearward. The wagon was obviously meant to haul cargo, so perhaps that made the space more available?

Yes, wagons have a lot of space in de back, but it’s all behind the rear axle.
Optimum for handling is a 50:50 distribution.
Some details here

Nowadays I use racing weigh scales, but in 2017 the regular scales approach worked out fine.
Optimum for handling is a 50:50 distribution.
50:50 is not universally the most desirable weight distribution, but it's a reasonable place to be. Did you mean optimum for this specific model of Volvo? Many vehicles routinely carry more weight on the rear axle when fully loaded, even with identical tires front and rear.
I am simply trying to emulate the original weight I have removed. Per previous posts, my problem has been getting it lower to the original center of gravity. Weight distribution has not been at issue. I think I am getting closer though!
A thought occurred to me that the original ICE was weighted to the LH side. I mounted the exhaust manifold, intake with carb and the generator on the ICE as it sat on the floor:

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The RH side had the somewhat lighter plastic heater blower with fresh air intake. It sits above the steering column and I have been trying to keep it in mind for reuse.

The offset to the passengers side gives me an opportunity to perhaps lower the CG, but I kiss all motor show casing goodbye.

You guys knew that I'd come around, didn't you...
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This preliminary layout might be one result of shifting to the left. It puts one pack on its side to lower it by 3" overall.
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