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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi all, new to the forum and new to electric vehicles. I currently own a 1932 American Austin. The car is a roadster in need of restoration, without a current running engine. As the car is only 1,100 lbs fully loaded, I was thinking that it may make a decent EV. It's a rolling chassis right now.

I'm looking for a top end of 50-60 mph and a range of 50-75 or so.

Is there anything in a pre-war car that would preclude me from looking into this further? Does anyone have any insight on turning cars of that vintage into EVs?
As for the car, it's been in the family since new, owned by my great uncle until he passed in the early 2000's. I'm not looking for a museum resto, because he wasn't that kind of guy. He'd be much happier seeing it get used for fun.

Pic for attention!
 

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Hi
How much do you want to spend and what range do you want?

With an older car like that I would be thinking "old school" EV

Forklift motor where the gearbox used to be driving the diff

Lithium batteries (lead is useless) where the engine should be
 

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Thanks for the reply Duncan!

Price isn't too much of a hurdle. 5-10k??

Range, I would be happy with 50 miles. Just enough to tool around a bit.

I was hoping for something simple like that, are there kits around for this type of conversion, or is this a real DIY cobble it together job?
 

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Thanks for the reply Duncan!

Price isn't too much of a hurdle. 5-10k??

Range, I would be happy with 50 miles. Just enough to tool around a bit.

I was hoping for something simple like that, are there kits around for this type of conversion, or is this a real DIY cobble it together job?
$5-10K - is right at the bottom for a cobble together - buying a kit will be twice that

This is my "Device"
https://www.diyelectriccar.com/foru...dubious-device-44370p15.html?highlight=duncan

I would recommend
9 inch forklift motor (I have an 11 inch motor) - $200
P&S Controller -- $1000 - his $600 one would do or Zeva make some nice controllers you don't have to solder together
https://www.zeva.com.au/index.php?product=120

Battery pack from a crashed EV - I'm using a Volt pack - cost $1800

Then you will need cables, connectors, contactors - and a charger

The most difficult step is finding the forklift motor - find out who repairs forklifts and visit them with some folding money

You can simply buy a Warp9 - but that is the same motor for $3000
 

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I don't know of anything about that vintage of car which would pose a particular problem for conversion, but that varies greatly by your local laws.

I had not heard of this car. For the benefit of others like me... this is a license-built copy of the Austin 7, and was the predecessor to the Bantam. It is 10 feet long overall - like an Austin Mini, but much less efficiently packaged. Here's an auction listing for some detail photos, of the same year and "Roadster" style:
1932 American Austin Roadster

The biggest problem that I see is fitting in enough battery to reach even the modest range target. An entire Chevrolet Volt pack seems unlikely to fit, even broken up into its component modules and stuffed in every available nook an cranny. Some will fit under the hood, but not much. I assume that there isn't a trunk to sacrifice, although there might be big enough fuel tank space to put a bit of battery. Is there some space under the seat?

Fortunately, it won't take much of a motor or very much power from the battery to match the original performance, and removing the hassle of operating an antiquated engine could make the car more enjoyable.
 

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Hi,

just looking at the car, the two main constraints I would see is battery-space and the end-weight of the car.

Just like Brian_ was writing, there's not a lot of space to put stuff. The nose is narrow, the center-line of the engine/transmission is relatively high off the ground, and it's going to be crowded under the hood with the controller etc. You may want to look at making your own battery-pack from separate 18650-cells so you can "shape" the pack to fit the space. None of this is all that hard, it's just work and some careful planning.





The other thing to consider is the end-weight of the project. There is not a lot of weight coming out, especially if you keep the original gearbox etc. If the whole car is 1100, then you're probably shedding ~250? Between the forklift motor + a modest battery pack there will probably be 2x the weight going back in.

That'd put the overall car back together at say 1500, a lot more than the guy who designed it was every thinking about. It means you'll have to make sure
- the front suspension etc is OK handling that (no rusty frame-connections, no play on steering joints, new wheel bearings etc)
- the stiffness of the springs to keep things from constantly bottoming out at even mild speeds/bumps. Consider adding a leaf to the spring pack(s).
- consider adding an anti-sway-bar to keep it from wallowing around corners. After-market kits are available for under $200.
- the condition of the brakes, esp for quick stopping. These cars weren't exactly known for stopping on a dime when they were new, age/time hasn't helped, and the add'l weight just pushes things that little bit further.
Here too there's really nothing major. It's just things to consider when you look at the state of the car, the work needed to restore etc.

All in all, if you're OK modifying some stuff, this conversion should be a pretty straightforward project. I think hitting the range you want is probably going to be the biggest hurdle (in money and space), but Brian & Duncan are better judges of all this than I am.
 

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Excellent illustrations of the chassis, Rob. :)

It looks like the motor could go under the seat, at the joint in the shaft instead of in the original transmission location. That wouldn't help battery packaging (because it would take space under the seat, and a battery module won't fit in the transmission space), but it could allow for a bulkier motor.

With no diagonal suspension links, it might be possible to place battery packs flanking the shaft, ahead of the axle.
 

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Thinking about it

You will get more range than I thought because you will not be driving at 100 kph - that means you will not need a high voltage
I fitted two stacks of 3 off 2kwh modules and 1 off 1kwh modules in my engine bay

I expect you could fit half that - one stack of 3 off 2kwh modules and one off 1kwh module
That would give you 160v and 7 kwh - which would give you about 50 km range at 50 kph

Leaf cells are more compact - you should be able to get more in the space

The weight won't be that bad - probably about the same as the bits you remove
 
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