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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I am interested in going the oem parts route for potential conversion of my 77 corvette.
I have a few options to consider.
- My friend has a 2011 Leaf that he will sell very cheap (under $1k)
- I have access to a similar cheap or free gen 2 prius.
- I have a new in box Orion bms.
- I have enough budget to buy a Tesla motor/ inverter unit but not another $3k vcm products to unlock it.
Im leaning towards using Leaf parts. Lots of leaf based builds on here but they all seem to be using gen 2 leaf parts (2013 and up). Does the paul and or brian board work with gen 1 leaf inverter?
Thank you in advance for input on my build plan.
 

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For what it’s worth you can get Damien’s board for 500 euros, hook it up to a Tesla throttle and brake pedal and I’m sure the small Tesla drive unit would be a great swap, cheaper than most. I would even think the rear clip would be worth trying to fit, then you can get of those pressed steel trailing arms and go to the zo6 wheels maybe. I have a 76 in yellow that I spend far to much time on. I’ll Be interested in what route you take.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
For what it’s worth you can get Damien’s board for 500 euros, hook it up to a Tesla throttle and brake pedal and I’m sure the small Tesla drive unit would be a great swap, cheaper than most. I would even think the rear clip would be worth trying to fit, then you can get of those pressed steel trailing arms and go to the zo6 wheels maybe. I have a 76 in yellow that I spend far to much time on. I’ll Be interested in what route you take.
It does seem like the small Tesla drive unit and maybe complete sub frame is well shaped part for a c3 corvette rear.
Thanks for the tip on the damien board. That seems to tip the scales toward tesla power for this project.


Do you have a build thread for your 76’?
 

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383, LT1 with LE2 Lloyd Elliot top end. I’m too much into it to make that electric, other than I want to do an electric steering rack conversion, I hate that steering.
 

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It does seem like the small Tesla drive unit and maybe complete sub frame is well shaped part for a c3 corvette rear.
A C3 uses the half shafts as suspension arms, putting lateral load through the differential; can the Tesla hardware handle that? There also appears to be a welded-in frame crossmember immediately behind the final drive housing, which would run right through a Tesla motor and inverter, so it would need to be removed.

Of course, one could convert to a later Corvette suspension if the control arms fit around the drive unit, or even use a complete Tesla subframe, but in either case the most practical way to do that would like be to discard the entire rear section of the C3 frame replace it with a custom frame section or complete custom frame. If putting in this much effort and updating within the Corvette suspensions, you might was well go C5 or later since the C4 still uses the half shafts are locating arms (perhaps the last car in the world to use this design feature).

Some of the same considerations would apply to using a complete Leaf drive unit (motor with transaxle) in the back of the C3.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
It does seem like the small Tesla drive unit and maybe complete sub frame is well shaped part for a c3 corvette rear.
A C3 uses the half shafts as suspension arms, putting lateral load through the differential; can the Tesla hardware handle that? There also appears to be a welded-in frame crossmember immediately behind the final drive housing, which would run right through a Tesla motor and inverter, so it would need to be removed.

Of course, one could convert to a later Corvette suspension if the control arms fit around the drive unit, or even use a complete Tesla subframe, but in either case the most practical way to do that would like be to discard the entire rear section of the C3 frame replace it with a custom frame section or complete custom frame. If putting in this much effort and updating within the Corvette suspensions, you might was well go C5 or later since the C4 still uses the half shafts are locating arms (perhaps the last car in the world to use this design feature).

Some of the same considerations would apply to using a complete Leaf drive unit (motor with transaxle) in the back of the C3.
Excellent insight about the loaded half shafts in the old corvettes. I think you are right that tesla or leaf gear box wouldnt hold up. It would seem that driving the prop shaft from a motor in the front might be a better idea in this case.
I wonder if a single toothed belt reduction from the Tesla or leaf motor has been done sucessfully. This would mean seperating the motor from oem gearbox and discarding the gear box.
Maybe a simple assembly as used in the Thunderstruck sailboat reduction tucked into the transmission tunnel.
 

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I think you have to decide what you want from the car, the rear end super heavy and the original engine is probably the slowest corvette motor ever made. If your looking to equal that performance but just turn it Electric then you can do so quite cheaply, i assume your junking or reworking the TH350. The rear trailing arms flex like crazy with any additional torque. It also depends on your fabrication skills and workspace, I would pull the body off again in an instant as the rear is not exactly accessible, even the fuel tank placement is a nightmare. I like the idea of a self contained unit like the Tesla, it’s also a heavy car so it’s already upgraded enough to hold the car. Again your fabrication skills should dictate what’s possible, along with your given purpose for the car. Technology is moving at quite a pace right now with cell configuration, available components to work well with higher voltages. 2 years ago buying a Volt batter and knocking down the modules to 200v was pretty amazing stuff, now not so much. The next generation of 800v will make the 400v creations of tomorrow seem pretty tame. I would build something that fits your time frame referance and suits your needs. Ideas are easy to come by but when it actually comes time to start cutting and spending only you are accountable for what your doing.
 

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I wonder if a single toothed belt reduction from the Tesla or leaf motor has been done sucessfully. This would mean seperating the motor from oem gearbox and discarding the gear box.
Maybe a simple assembly as used in the Thunderstruck sailboat reduction tucked into the transmission tunnel.
Enough power for a Corvette to be enjoyable is a lot of power for a belt drive. There are various single-speed reduction gearboxes which have been used for EV conversions, including the ev-TorqueBox and the reduction gearboxes used in various EV adaptations of commercial trucks. The ev-TorqueBox is planetary and so coaxial; the rest are typically helical spur gear drives so they offset the shaft.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I think you have to decide what you want from the car, the rear end super heavy and the original engine is probably the slowest corvette motor ever made. If your looking to equal that performance but just turn it Electric then you can do so quite cheaply, i assume your junking or reworking the TH350. The rear trailing arms flex like crazy with any additional torque. It also depends on your fabrication skills and workspace, I would pull the body off again in an instant as the rear is not exactly accessible, even the fuel tank placement is a nightmare. I like the idea of a self contained unit like the Tesla, it’s also a heavy car so it’s already upgraded enough to hold the car. Again your fabrication skills should dictate what’s possible, along with your given purpose for the car. Technology is moving at quite a pace right now with cell configuration, available components to work well with higher voltages. 2 years ago buying a Volt batter and knocking down the modules to 200v was pretty amazing stuff, now not so much. The next generation of 800v will make the 400v creations of tomorrow seem pretty tame. I would build something that fits your time frame referance and suits your needs. Ideas are easy to come by but when it actually comes time to start cutting and spending only you are accountable for what your doing.
Essentially I dont care if it is fast after conversion. I am mostly curious if it is possible to convert to EV for a reasonable cost using a donor vehicle. One of the things that made me consider conversion was driving a leaf and realizing it was about 10 times faster than the vette.
 

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I think the way to keep conversion easy and relatively inexpensive is to leave the rear suspension and final drive (differential) alone, placing a motor on a stock manual transmission, or in place of the transmission but hopefully with some sort of reduction gearbox. If the transmission is kept and the motor goes where the engine was, there's not much room for battery up front... and a huge pile of mass up there would be bad for handling, anyway. In the back, potential battery locations are the original fuel tank space, and up in the cargo area.

Swapping in a complete Tesla drive unit, suspension, and subframe makes sense for someone wanting a more extreme project, but the dimensions are problematic:
  • 1977 Corvette: rear track 59.5", overall width (presumably @ rear fenders) 69.2"
  • Tesla Model S: rear track 66.9"
As with the Tesla Powered Nissan r32 skyline, any reasonable tire at the Tesla's track width would stick out of the Corvette's fenders substantially.
 

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Personally I would have a look at putting the whole Leaf motor transmission unit in the back and using a combination of Leaf and Corvette suspension

But then I put a Lancia engine and gearbox in my mini back in the day
 

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Personally I would have a look at putting the whole Leaf motor transmission unit in the back and using a combination of Leaf and Corvette suspension...
Assuming that using the half shafts as locating members is out, the C3 suspension bits are not good for much, so "Corvette" in this case would presumably mean from later generations (C5/6/7), if the drive unit fits between the Corvette controls arms... and that could work well, although it could also easily turn into a substantial project. A Leaf drive unit might even fit in the rear of the C3 frame with just a custom subframe, although if the inverter and charger are left stacked on top of it the package would stick up through the floor.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
All things considered I am going to skip converting my c3 corvette. I will move forward with trying to get the 2011 leaf super cheap, removing the drivetrain and trying to make the drivetrain work without vehicle systems in place.
I will start a new thread when and if I get the leaf.
On another note I will be trying electric power steering conversion on the vette and posting on the corvette forum.
 

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I think it a sensible move, you get the leaf system working and in a very short time and a lot of patience you will find inverters you can use to increase the power and when you are ready you can swap everything over. You could also pick up a graveyard C3 to dummy the components into because you can hack away at it. The steering conversion is somethink I’ve been looking into for a while but have no time when I was loading my cart from EVwest I nearly threw in the used smart rack to investigate more. I know the Toyota is a popular choice, and also the vauxhall astra has a hydraulic colon that I was also waiting to get my hands on as that can be driven from the back of the alternator. I wish you well and I’m sure you will learn loads pulling a leaf apart.
 
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