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Discussion Starter #1
So its been some time since I was last on here (a whole kid ago actually). I originally had a really ambitious idea, classic old and heavy car... way more planning was needed and turned out to be way too expensive. Life lesson learned.

Fast forward to now, I'm a bit older maybe even a bit wiser. I'm wanting to give it a go again. So my dilemma is what doner car to pick. I've got two 2001 Honda Preludes, neither running due to bad engines. One is auto, one is manual. Love preludes but the damn things are heavy. 3,000lbs (1,360.77kg), the engine weighs about 450-480lbs. I could use what I've got OR go buy a 1963-66 Covair. They are smaller and weight 2,600lb (1179kg), engine is about 300lb. Also considering a Ghia 1,750lb (793kg) but less enthusiastic about it since an ok one us usually pretty pricey, $3,000+. The weight difference might make or break which car is feasible but I don't know.

I've got the Preludes already and buying the Corvair would cost about $2,000 or so (not horrible) but they all need some type of work usually. They are awesome looking cars in my opinion. Just wondering if any of you had the options which route would you go? Any and all opinions are welcomed.

Goals
Range: >50 miles
Top Speed: >65mph
Conversion cost: $15,000-$18,000
Daily Driver
 

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Times likes this I would do a balance of regrets.

Fast forward a year (Ha!, but let's pretend) from now. You have two realities. In one reality you spent the extra money and did the classic conversion. In the other reality you did the Prelude conversion.

Now, make one reality disappear. Do you regret that?

Make the other reality disappear. Do you regret that more?

Go back in time until today. Make the one that you regretted abandoning the least.


I kinda like Preludes. I was looking for one for a while as a donor. They are low and small and have small front area, good handling. Maybe even 4-wheel steering (a bit) depending on model I think.

Goals
Range: >50 miles
Top Speed: >65mph
Conversion cost: $15,000-$18,000
Daily Driver
Very reasonable.

50 miles in a Prelude, with how small and low it is, you might get 250 watt-hours/mile at highway speeds. 12,500 watt-hour pack. That's nothing. It'll be cheap and you can fit it easily I suspect, which is nice, because you don't have a lot of anywhere to put it.

Top speed is easily achievable with really anything you choose to power it. Any decent forklift motor. Any repurposed OEM driveline. Whatever.

Guess high and call it $1000 for a speed controller.

I think you could be all-in for under $5k, incidentals and all.
 

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I doubt the weight difference is highly important to the viability of the end result, but everything else about these vehicles is different, too. In the Prelude vs. Corvair...
  • front-wheel-drive vs. rear-wheel-drive
  • advanced suspension vs... well, not
  • relatively modern aerodynamics vs. "it looks decent for airflow"
  • probably somewhat rusty versus guaranteed major body restoration
  • routine older car parts availability vs. the classic enthusiast parts market
Either can work. Even the Karman Ghia can work, but the VW aircooled enthusiasts have made those expensive, so if you're not one of those enthusiasts it doesn't seem like a sensible choice. Choosing one should depend on an understanding of what is important to the builder. Style? Performance? Comfort? Interior room and cargo functionality? How many seats are needed? Reliability?

In the case of the Prelude, if you use the original transaxle the manual is certainly preferable. If not using the original transaxle, it doesn't matter... and maybe the auto shifter (not the transaxle) would be more useful as a forward-reverse switch or whatever.

Why is the year range of 1963 to 1966 preferred? That range overlaps both generations of Corvair, and they have substantial differences in both styling and the very important (assuming you retain it) rear suspension. Personally I would consider only the second generation (model years 1965–1969), but of course some people prefer the styling of the first generation (model years 1960–1964) and don't mind the inferior swing-axle suspension.

I would assume the original budget, not the very optimistic lower value.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Times likes this I would do a balance of regrets.

Fast forward a year (Ha!, but let's pretend) from now. You have two realities. In one reality you spent the extra money and did the classic conversion. In the other reality you did the Prelude conversion.

Now, make one reality disappear. Do you regret that?

Make the other reality disappear. Do you regret that more?

Go back in time until today. Make the one that you regretted abandoning the least.
I think you make a good point here. Preludes are safe to me since I've owned so many (15+), I know the ins and outs of them, and fixing them or replacing parts isn't too too hard or expensive (usually). I've got two reservations though. 1) I've not seen a conversion done on these so I'd be all by my lonesome figuring out issues, probably not as bad as I'm imagining. 2) I'm so used to Preludes, driving another (even converted) would it just be the same experience? Mind you I've never driven a pure electric car before.

I doubt the weight difference is highly important to the viability of the end result, but everything else about these vehicles is different, too. In the Prelude vs. Corvair...
  • front-wheel-drive vs. rear-wheel-drive
  • advanced suspension vs... well, not
  • relatively modern aerodynamics vs. "it looks decent for airflow"
  • probably somewhat rusty versus guaranteed major body restoration
  • routine older car parts availability vs. the classic enthusiast parts market
If ~500lb difference between the vehicles doesn't play too much of a role in calculating number of battery cells needed or the motor, that's good all be it surprising to me. I'm still trying to figure out the math but I was under the impression that would take a big hit on the range.

Everything on your list is accurate as well (no rust though, its a 2001)

Either can work. Even the Karman Ghia can work, but the VW aircooled enthusiasts have made those expensive, so if you're not one of those enthusiasts it doesn't seem like a sensible choice. Choosing one should depend on an understanding of what is important to the builder. Style? Performance? Comfort? Interior room and cargo functionality? How many seats are needed? Reliability?
I was looking at the Karman Ghia because they kinda look cool but mostly they have been done, kits are even available, and the overall cost is within my budget (maybe, kinda, sorta).

In the case of the Prelude, if you use the original transaxle the manual is certainly preferable. If not using the original transaxle, it doesn't matter... and maybe the auto shifter (not the transaxle) would be more useful as a forward-reverse switch or whatever.
I looked into using an Auto transmission and I'm deciding against it, too many extra variables to worry about when compared to a manual trans. Bolting the motor to the existing transmission would be my preference. Custom mounts would need to be fabricated obviously but it shouldn't be too horrible to get done.

Why is the year range of 1963 to 1966 preferred? That range overlaps both generations of Corvair, and they have substantial differences in both styling and the very important (assuming you retain it) rear suspension. Personally I would consider only the second generation (model years 1965–1969), but of course some people prefer the styling of the first generation (model years 1960–1964) and don't mind the inferior swing-axle suspension.
It just so happens that in my area the only Corvairs for sale are either 63s or 66's, nothing before, in between, or after (that I've come across). I like the styling of both, more so the 63. Suspension wise I'd be ok with the swing axle, as I don't plan on racing my EV. Just a daily to and from work mostly.
 

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If ~500lb difference between the vehicles doesn't play too much of a role in calculating number of battery cells needed or the motor, that's good all be it surprising to me. I'm still trying to figure out the math but I was under the impression that would take a big hit on the range.
The weight difference will matter; I only meant that either could be made to work. Sure, you might use more battery capacity in the heavier car to get the same range, but aerodynamics might make up for the weight - it depends on many details.
 

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(no rust though, its a 2001)
Nice. I would be surprised to see an 18-year-old vehicle here without rust on the bottom (although no significant visible rust on the sides is more common), but that varies by location, mostly due to weather.
 

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It just so happens that in my area the only Corvairs for sale are either 63s or 66's, nothing before, in between, or after (that I've come across). I like the styling of both, more so the 63. Suspension wise I'd be ok with the swing axle, as I don't plan on racing my EV. Just a daily to and from work mostly.
A racer can handle swing axles. It's daily driving amateurs that occasionally get in trouble with them, and are the reason that Ralph Nader got famous by featuring the first-generation Corvair in a chapter of his book. If he wasn't on a vendetta against the U.S. auto industry he could have used the aircooled VWs, Porsches, or my Triumph Spitfire... but the Corvair took the hit. Assuming it would the original Type 14 (probably the only variation ever sold in the North America), the Karmann Ghia would have swing axles, too, up to 1967 or 1968 (as far as I can tell), with semi-trailing arms (the CV-joint axle) after that.

Of course, the vast majority of original Beetles had the swing axles, and most Beetle owners survived driving them. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
A racer can handle swing axles. It's daily driving amateurs that occasionally get in trouble with them, and are the reason that Ralph Nader got famous by featuring the first-generation Corvair in a chapter of his book. If he wasn't on a vendetta against the U.S. auto industry he could have used the aircooled VWs, Porsches, or my Triumph Spitfire... but the Corvair took the hit. Assuming it would the original Type 14 (probably the only variation ever sold in the North America), the Karmann Ghia would have swing axles, too, up to 1967 or 1968 (as far as I can tell), with semi-trailing arms (the CV-joint axle) after that.

Of course, the vast majority of original Beetles had the swing axles, and most Beetle owners survived driving them. ;)
Yeah I watched a documentary on the Corvairs and moral of the story was don't drive like and idiot and you'll be fine. This rule applies to all vehicles.
 

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I think you make a good point here. Preludes are safe to me since I've owned so many (15+), I know the ins and outs of them, and fixing them or replacing parts isn't too too hard or expensive (usually). I've got two reservations though. 1) I've not seen a conversion done on these so I'd be all by my lonesome figuring out issues, probably not as bad as I'm imagining. 2) I'm so used to Preludes, driving another (even converted) would it just be the same experience? Mind you I've never driven a pure electric car before.







If ~500lb difference between the vehicles doesn't play too much of a role in calculating number of battery cells needed or the motor, that's good all be it surprising to me. I'm still trying to figure out the math but I was under the impression that would take a big hit on the range.



Everything on your list is accurate as well (no rust though, its a 2001)







I was looking at the Karman Ghia because they kinda look cool but mostly they have been done, kits are even available, and the overall cost is within my budget (maybe, kinda, sorta).







I looked into using an Auto transmission and I'm deciding against it, too many extra variables to worry about when compared to a manual trans. Bolting the motor to the existing transmission would be my preference. Custom mounts would need to be fabricated obviously but it shouldn't be too horrible to get done.







It just so happens that in my area the only Corvairs for sale are either 63s or 66's, nothing before, in between, or after (that I've come across). I like the styling of both, more so the 63. Suspension wise I'd be ok with the swing axle, as I don't plan on racing my EV. Just a daily to and from work mostly.
If you are interested you can look on the Australian EV forum http://forums.aeva.asn.au

A member is doing a build log for a prelude conversion right now
 

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Discussion Starter #10
If you are interested you can look on the Australian EV forum http://forums.aeva.asn.au

A member is doing a build log for a prelude conversion right now
Thanks for the link. I've looked around for prelude conversions and have seen a couple 3rd gens (1987-1991) but didn't come across this one. No one has converted a 5th gen (1997-2001) yet as far as I can tell.
 

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$15-20k gets you a used M3, M5, Cayman, Boxster...Do you want an electric Prelude more than a Cayman?

$15-20k also gets you into a recent Leaf, i3, Smart, Fiat, etc. Do you want an electric Prelude more than a fully sorted factory electric with better specs?

I would stick with classics...Even if they're slow and heavy, they'll still be fun to drive and less hassle than when new.
 

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I've looked around for prelude conversions and have seen a couple 3rd gens (1987-1991) but didn't come across this one. No one has converted a 5th gen (1997-2001) yet as far as I can tell.
Other than the placement of battery packs, converting a Prelude would be the same as converting other Honda models (presumably the Accord) of about the same vintage, right? It's the same transaxle, same steering and brakes, etc. Of course, the challenges of placing and housing battery packs are not to be minimized.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
$15-20k gets you a used M3, M5, Cayman, Boxster...Do you want an electric Prelude more than a Cayman?

$15-20k also gets you into a recent Leaf, i3, Smart, Fiat, etc. Do you want an electric Prelude more than a fully sorted factory electric with better specs?

I would stick with classics...Even if they're slow and heavy, they'll still be fun to drive and less hassle than when new.
You're right, a person could buy all sorts of great cars with that budget. Even better stuff if you go bargain hunting. But I think its the act of making/building something of my own is what I'm wanting. An electric Prelude or classic car, something that I can say "Hey I made that". I've never been interested in the newer electric cars, but the retrofits and conversions always seemed like they had character if you know what I mean. That being said, I feel like a classic would have more interest (on my end) and I'll probably want to go that route in the end.

While I was writing this someone sent me a link to a 1931 Model A, if I could afford it ($8,500 for a doner) I'd take that in a heartbeat, practicality be damned lol.
 

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... I feel like a classic would have more interest (on my end) and I'll probably want to go that route in the end.

While I was writing this someone sent me a link to a 1931 Model A, if I could afford it ($8,500 for a doner) I'd take that in a heartbeat, practicality be damned lol.
Perhaps the Model A is about two decades too new.

The first electric car era was ended by the invention of the electric starter for gasoline engines, so the peak was early in the 20th century. Since even a Model A doesn't meet any of the expectations of a modern vehicle, why not restore (or more likely reproduce) a car which was electric from the factory, making it much more desirable with modern battery and controller (and of course updates to some of the less-visible mechanical components)?


Above is a 1916 Detroit Electric, but electric cars did continue (with much less market success) well after that, so Detroit Electrics with essentially the same body as the 1916 but more roadworthy mechanicals were in production until 1930, and built to custom order until 1942 (according to The Henry Ford museum, which also says that Clara Ford, wife of Henry Ford, drove a 1914 Detroit Electric into the 1930s). Here's a restored example, complete with interior photos and a view of the straightforward battery upgrade to common modern AGM lead-acid 6-volt "golf cart" batteries: 1931 Model 97. A view of the front pack of original batteries: 1914 Detroit Electric 1 (there's a similar pack in each end); I think a bunch of CALB cells would work and would look about right.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Wow, thanks for the info on that. Pretty interesting stuff. Its crazy that the batteries back then lasted longer than the ones we have nowadays.
 
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