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1985 VW Cabriolet using Nissan Leaf - Charlottesville, VA, USA

7199 Views 35 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  bostonmacosx
I might as well start a build thread. It seem to be all the rage, right?! :).

I am also shooting video as I do and will try to put a few videos out there as I can.

About me: 47 years old. Engineering background but most of that was in software coding. Limited electronics experience. Limited mechanical experience. First time converting anything.

Why the VW Cab? Wife's favorite car as she was growing up after watching the movie "Can't Buy Me Love". This is her b-day present and she wants it converted.

Why am I doing it? See above but I really want to learn how EV's go together and working on projects while learning is actually a way that I unwind from my "day job".

Now onto to the stuff you all probably actually give a sh*t about. :)


1. Weekend/fun driver
2. Range: 75-100 miles
3. Remove the manual & clutch
4. Heater
5. Don't need AC
6. Preserve the look & feel of the car as original as possible.
7. Retain power steering
8. Finish within 6 months... I will take a moment for you to stop laughing! :)

Moving on.


I am hoping for $35,000 US all in but understand it may go over. I know that if I did the analysis this is absolutely a dumb 'investment' but I don't care. See above, for me it's a way that I relax. Plus it makes my wife happy and that makes me happy. I will do my best to track costs for anyone interested.


1985 VW Cabriolet. I did 'overpay' for it but considering that the market for cars is absolutely nuts (thank you, inflation) and I did not want to do any real body/interior restorations I opted to find one in the best condition possible. AND, I did!

Wheel Tire Car Automotive side-view mirror Vehicle

I am now working on removing all ICE components. Happy to report that the motor is out and SOLD! woot.

Motor vehicle Automotive tire Workwear Vehicle Automotive design

(that's me but you all are smart and figured it out already, i am sure.)

I decided to go the Nissan Leaf route after seeing the number of leafs at the junk yard. Figure for a good price you can get a decent start on all the major components. AND it seems that ResolveEV's VCU is pretty good.

To that, I am bidding on a Leaf right now and did already purchase the VCU. Spent an hour today labeling it. Hope that this helps as I am working.

Circuit component Font Electrical wiring Electronic component Computer hardware

At this point, I am 1% in the conversion. I will continue to remove what is not needed in the car and then clean. Once I secure the doner car I plan to remove the motor and battery pack and wire it up and see if I can get this thing to work out side of the car. Once that is done, I will disassemble the pack and begin the process of figuring out where to place the batteries. Right now, I am trying to:

1. get as close as the original balance of the car
2. try to keep batteries out of the main cabin

Helmet Communication Device Font Gas Office supplies

(original weight)

I am thinking putting a few where the gas tank was and towards the front of the trunk. Also, I will probably have to get a few in the front.

I have lots of questions but here is one that I know you all know. Where is the best place for me to pick up the bits I will need like fuses, wire, momentary switches and the ilk?

Thank you and happy holidays!
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Given the minimalist trunk space of that body style, you might need to reconsider your drive strategy to RWD, or hub motors, and put the modules in the engine bay and under the back seat, as well as in the trunk.

The Leaf does make for a nice propulsion solution in place of the ICE/transaxle, but without batteries it's not a propulsion solution.
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"considering that the market for cars is absolutely nuts (thank you, inflation)"

Used cars are a component of the inflationary index, CPI, so, no, that's not the reason.

It's the new car supply chain that has caused used cars to go nuts.

Some of that supply chain affects our ability to get stuff for conversions, as well, so make sure you can get all the pieces (and everything fits). I'm waiting on a connector...a few pieces are getting stocked in March 2022.
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Let's wait a couple of months and see how he packages the batteries and traction solution before declaring it's a nice platform to convert.

Looks awfully challenging to me.
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Then there's the issue of having to increase the spring and damping rates with all that added mass over the rear wheels.

The car will handle like your 400 pound mother-in-law is in the back seat, along with her dead sister in the trunk, all the time.

Which may be perfectly acceptable to some people.

All depends what you want out of your build. It will be electric, but it may handle like a forklift.
MGB is going to be a fitment nightmare. I'm not sure a Leaf is a good idea in such a tiny RWD car.
Motor fit is the easy part.


Which if you choose the wrong motor....
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