I already made a post in the new members introduction section
that highlights my previous builds, including an EV classic motorcycle. In that thread I shared that I bought a wrecked 2013 Nissan Leaf.
Wrecked Leafs like this don't come up for sale very often in my area (Kansas, US) so I bought it. The good: it was made in late 2013 so it has the upgrades over the first gen Leafs, and it has the 6kw charger. The bad: it only has the 24kwh battery and it's a 78% health, which means its really a 18kwh battery pack. And the front sub frame is mangled.
I'll buy a Resolve-EV controller as soon as they're in stock again. I've been waiting patiently all month but the website still says "More stock by end of February".
Then I started hunting for a car to put the Leaf parts into. I'm a fan of classic cars, and station wagons in particular. My brain was telling me to use a retro Mercedes 300TD wagon because the chassis and bodies are well contructed, safe, etc. But my heart was telling me to get something more classic, like a wagon version of a Chevy Nova or Plymouth Fury or Ford Fairlane.
Well I couldn't decide, so I bought both!
The yellow wagon is a 1980 Mercedes 300TD. It's running and driving pretty good although needs a little work, but it just completed a drive from Los Angeles to Kansas City so it the engine is strong. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with in the long run, I think I'll keep it for a backup EV conversion candidate.
But here's what I'm really excited about.
This is what I'll be converting. It's a 1962 Mercury Comet. Identical in many ways to a Ford Falcon. It's in great condition, it does have a small, running engine and a three-on-the-tree transmission, but there's no driveshaft currently. I'll need to upgrade the brakes, add seatbelts, give it a paintjob, repair the roof (it's caved in a little), and do a little interior work.
This is a perfect restoration candidate. Ugly but in great condition. All the glass is there and not cracked, including the wrap around rear windows which would be impossible to find I think. All the chrome trim is there and just needs to be polished. The chrome bumpers are perfectly straight. Most of the body is really straight and dent free, only the roof needs repair. And there is not a lot of rust, most of it can be sanded off or treated with POR15.
It was last registered in 1975! Lived in California its entire life.
BTW you might be tempted to think that this is a super heavy American gargantu-wagon. But it is a small car, made to compete against the VW Beetle and the Chevy Corvair. The sedan version only weighs 2,600 pounds! I'll try to get this wagon version weighed but it could be around 2,800 pounds.
I want to get it running as-is (with the ICE engine) just to see how it performs, and get it registered. Maybe dress it up like a mini Ghostbusters ectomobile. And then this summer I can start the EV conversion.
Here's the Comet's ICE engine.
170ci (2.8L) inline-six. New carb, new fuel pump, new starter, new exhaust manifold, new battery, new alternator (generator?). I had to add a manual choke cable and replace the starter solenoid, and now it runs pretty well. But I think the clutch is stuck and I can't really get the transmission out of neutral I don't think. There's no driveshaft because the the previous owner tried to install an OD unit to the output of the transmission, and it's all hodge-podged together.
I need to decide how
I'm going to convert it to EV. At this point, I have a lot of options. [Update, I'm not doing any of these options lol]
- traditional EV conversion: mount the Leaf motor to the old manual transmission via a coupler and adapter plate. Put the batteries behind the rear seat and add a leaf to the leaf spring pack to handle the extra weight.
- I can buy the adapter plate but it would be really expensive, or I can make my own using SendCutSend but there's the possibility of errors
- for the coupler, I really don't understand the concept. Why do some people use carrier bearings?
- If the trans I have now is no good (possible) then I'll need to find another one.
- and I would still need to upgrade the brakes and handling ($1000 to $2000).
- Building/modifying an independent rear suspension (IRS) and mounting the Leaf motor+gearbox to it, with custom CV shafts to the rear wheels. Fill the engine bay with batteries.
- might save a lot of money and weight, and might not be more work then making adapter plates and couplers
- the Comet is pretty small, same size as a Falcon or Mustang, so not a lot will fit. Certainly not a Crown Vic subframe.
- might be able to use a Miata rear subframe, it's the right width, but the Leaf motor may not fit in there, and the Miata suspension will need to be upgraded for the extra weight
- I could also swap in the front Miata subframe while I'm at it, and get brake and steering upgrades.
- might be able to use a Benz w123 rear subframe, but will need to modify it to be 2" more narrow and also will have to run the Leaf motor+gearbox in reverse!
- Someone did this with a w123 subframe and a Tesla motor. I've also seen a tesla subframe get narrowed. So it might be possible.
- This was my plan when I thought I was going to convert the Mercedes 300TD. And I love how the suspension feels on that vehicle.
- Running the Leaf motor+gearbox in reverse is possible but if the bearings are unsealed then not advisable.
- wheel bolt pattern could be an issue
- convert the Comet to FWD. Similar to the previous idea but will need to find a FWD sub frame.
- might be able to use a subframe from a Ford Focus or something, but modified to be a few inches narrower.
- The Leaf's front subframe is too wide, and the one I have is too banged up after the wreck. Could be straightened maybe, IDK.
- This honestly seems like a better idea than putting the motor in the rear, will be easier to fit.
- Mount the Leaf motor+gearbox at 90°, such that one CV shaft attaches the the driveshaft, and fix the other CV shaft so that it can't spin. No, wait, this won't work because the rear axle adds more gear reduction.
My goals are to have a daily driver classic car that is also EV, and big enough for the whole family. After the conversion, I'll probably want to upgrade to a 40kwh battery pack if I can find one. Speed is not something that really excites me like it does some people, but if I can do a burnout then that would be cool I guess.
This project is probably going to take a few years. Wish me luck!