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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
That's Planning Yet Another Fiat Spider Project! :)

Hi all,

I've lurked around here for years (10?) always full of dreams and not a small amount of envy. I owned a 1975 Fiat Spider (5sp manual) up until 2004 and even thought back then about the possibility of converting it. Then life happened, and it had to find a new owner.

Yesterday, it turned up for sale and I'm very likely going to buy it within the next few days and set those conversion plans into motion. However, before I lay out my plans I'd like to ask for a little advice:

As I'm sure you're all aware, Fiat's and rust are like bread and butter. She had some cosmetic rust back in 2004 and inspection of photos indicate that situation has not improved. I'm not a car guy, but I'll be learning as I go in this process with copious help from very knowledgeable family and friends who will be accompanying me on this journey including when we go check out the car but they are new to conversion to electric too so....

My specific question is: What do I need to look out for in terms of body rust/damage for the FIAT 124 to be sure it will be OK to support a conversion.

Is there any specific structure or point (crossmember/bar) for supporting the motor that would not be as big an issue if we were not converting her?

It is a manual 5 speed transmission. I'm leaning toward an AC50/51 kit with enough juice to get me 150km. That's a long distance I know possibly for this car but it's a hard limit as I'm rural and I have a specific goal in mind where there is a stretch of at least 100km without hope of electric charge points. But at the same time, if the answer includes "wait for battery tech to improve" that's OK too as I can and will hold on to the vehicle.

I notice the threads with Fiat Spiders mentioned in them are pretty long in the tooth now so any advice folks could give on what may have changed in the interim would of course be greatly appreciated. I have done a lot of homework and will continue.

Thank you very much for your help. I've attached a (apparently recent) picture of her. :)
 

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Hi
I did a full restoration of a 1977 Lancia Spyder in the late 80's - in the UK which was always BAD because of salt on the roads

There were no worse than any other car of that date which means they were bad - awful by modern standards

Back then the paint used was porous - if there was anywhere where the wet mud got trapped the water would hydraulic the paint from the metal

I did a bare metal respray and fixed all of that

Which left the Italian electrics - the problem was corrosion inside the connectors in the loom

A lot of this was down to the UK environment - maybe you will be ok
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hi
I did a full restoration of a 1977 Lancia Spyder in the late 80's - in the UK which was always BAD because of salt on the roads

There were no worse than any other car of that date which means they were bad - awful by modern standards

Back then the paint used was porous - if there was anywhere where the wet mud got trapped the water would hydraulic the paint from the metal

I did a bare metal respray and fixed all of that

Which left the Italian electrics - the problem was corrosion inside the connectors in the loom

A lot of this was down to the UK environment - maybe you will be ok
Being on the “Wet Coast” of Canada, we are fairly similar, though we do generally have dry summers. (Drier of late)

Thanks for the input Duncan.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Welp... the rust was bad on the drivers side cosmetically... but the undercarriage wasn’t too bad at all. :). So I am once again an owner of a Fiat 124 Spider!

So, here’s the (long term!) plan. I want to gradually gather the bits and pieces I would eventually need.
I live just 30 minutes from CanEV so getting the EV parts new isn’t hard. Alternate Sources on new or lightly used EV components in Canada and the Western US would be great.

From my research before this is what I was thinking for specs. I would appreciate advice if these are still up to date and sensible.

Hopeful Specifications:
Top Speed: 100kph/60mph
Range: 150km/95mi
Transmission: Manual (assuming Direct is still not optimal)
Regenerative Braking

[Existing FIAT Specs:
Engine: 1756cc 86hp 64kW
Weight: 960kg/2116lb]



I am not looking to make this into a speedster. But I do need that 150km range so would appreciate current practice for batteries with the AC50/51 motor and if using the manual transmission is still the best option rather than direct.

Thanks!



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It's a lovely car - and I suspect that there will be more parts available for it than my Lancia

The key is going to be getting all of the rust eliminated and a nice coat of modern paint on it

As far as a motor is concerned the AC50/51 will be OK but a bit wimpy - have you thought about a forklift motor? - lot cheaper! LOT more power

In my car - https://www.diyelectriccar.com/forums/showthread.php/duncans-dubious-device-44370p15.html?highlight=duncan

I put the motor where the gearbox would live so that I had the whole "engine bay" for the batteries

Getting space for the batteries is going to be an issue - a major issue
I have 14 kWh which with the very bad aerodynamics gives me 50 km range - you want three times that - but your aerodynamics will be better

The AC50/51 will be no good at all for direct drive - so you will need to keep the gearbox - which means that the motor will be in the way for getting a decent amount of batteries in the front
 

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Transmission: Manual (assuming Direct is still not optimal)
Directly connecting the motor to the wheels isn't happening. By "direct" you probably mean connecting the motor to the Alfa's final drive unit (differential) without any other gearing - that is practical if you use a motor with high enough torque output to work with the low reduction ratio of the final drive, and if you have enough battery voltage (and controller voltage limit) to sustain near full motor output power over a wide enough range of speeds.

  • The Chevrolet Spark EV motor would have an output and speed range making it suitable to connect to the final drive without any additional gearing.
  • Most production EV motors would need more more reduction gearing to be working over a suitable shaft speed range when covering the car's road speed range; they are designed for 7:1 to 12:1 reduction ratio, not the car's final drive ratio (which appears to be 4.3:1, actually pretty good compared to most).
  • Most aftermarket motors for conversion are intended for relatively low voltage, and so won't maintain power over a broad enough speed range to be really effective without multiple transmission ratios, but with a big enough motor and/or low enough performance expectations it can work with a single ratio, and even with just the car's stock final drive ratio. This works for Duncan's current car, with a large motor and light car.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Hi

It's a lovely car - and I suspect that there will be more parts available for it than my Lancia



The key is going to be getting all of the rust eliminated and a nice coat of modern paint on it



As far as a motor is concerned the AC50/51 will be OK but a bit wimpy - have you thought about a forklift motor? - lot cheaper! LOT more power



In my car - https://www.diyelectriccar.com/forums/showthread.php/duncans-dubious-device-44370p15.html?highlight=duncan



I put the motor where the gearbox would live so that I had the whole "engine bay" for the batteries



Getting space for the batteries is going to be an issue - a major issue

I have 14 kWh which with the very bad aerodynamics gives me 50 km range - you want three times that - but your aerodynamics will be better



The AC50/51 will be no good at all for direct drive - so you will need to keep the gearbox - which means that the motor will be in the way for getting a decent amount of batteries in the front


Lovely Lancia!

I have looked at forklift conversions but I worry that my little town’s prominent hills would be a constant challenge as would the mountain passes that hem me in each side of the Valley I live in! I drive a Prius C over the mountain every day so I have seen first hand the benefit from the regeneration on my brake pads especially but also the potential to recoup a little range as I go could help me achieve my goal.

That said I am open to the forklift motors if I am totally off base here. I am sure I would be able to find one nearby for close to nothing!

I am hearing confirmation from brian_ that direct drive remains not the best option so the stick shift transmission will remain. That is my preference anyway to keep some feel of the original car.

I will investigate the Spark EV motor too.
Edit: oh my. That motor is pretty darn close on the final drive ratio! That could be a real direct drive option!? The manual tranny is my preference but I am certainly drawn to the simplicity and space advantage of direct drive with my range needs. If it can get me off the line on a hill, I’m good.

Battery space will definitely be a challenge. The engine compartment ain’t large! However, I intend to fill the trunk and the back seat as well if need be. The back seat is a death trap anyway as it is seatbelt free. The days of me hiding under a blanket as a 5 year old on a sunny day travelling to the beach are over. Ill stick my kids in the front seat (one at a time haha)


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Personally, the Spark EV motor seems like a very nice solution to me, if the motor will fit in the transmission tunnel (EV mtors tend to have awkward housing protrusions), and if you can deal with the controller/inverter side of using a production EV motor (which is the popular trend in recent projects here). I don't think I'll ever do my planned Triumph Spitfire conversion (not cost justifiable for me, not much space for battery), but the Spark EV motor is the best solution I have thought of for it.
  • Most production EV motors would need more more reduction gearing to be working over a suitable shaft speed range when covering the car's road speed range; they are designed for 7:1 to 12:1 reduction ratio, not the car's final drive ratio (which appears to be 4.3:1, actually pretty good compared to most).
  • Most aftermarket motors for conversion are intended for relatively low voltage, and so won't maintain power over a broad enough speed range to be really effective without multiple transmission ratios, but with a big enough motor and/or low enough performance expectations it can work with a single ratio, and even with just the car's stock final drive ratio. This works for Duncan's current car, with a large motor and light car.
For these options, I should have mentioned that if all a motor needs is more gear reduction than the stock final drive, there are two ways to fix this and still do without the whole multi-speed transmission:
  1. change the ratio of the ring and pinion gears in the final drive
    • availability depends on model of car
    • possibly change the final drive (axle in this case) entirely to one for which a more suitable ratio is available
  2. add a fixed-ratio reduction gearbox.
    • The best-known fixed-ratio gearbox is probably the ev-TorqueBox; it is larger and much stronger than required for the Fiat, but has been used in cars as small as a Miata. Even larger units have been used in commercial truck and bus conversions.
    • Depending on specific motor and gearbox choices, the combination of the two may still fit in the original transmission tunnel.
 
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