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Hi folks,

I'm new to this, and trying to get started on an EV conversion. I'm looking around for a donor car, and I'm having trouble finding cars on craigslist that fit what I'm looking for- so I was hoping for some wisdom on locating a donor.

I don't have a specific car in mind; I was thinking about a small, front engine/rear wheel drive sports car, like a miata, porsche (924,944,928...), datsun ***Z, etc. I didn't want to pay more than around $2000-$2500, so I was hoping for advice on finding cars with blown engines- but otherwise great shape.

On the other hand, if you started with a fully operating car, did you sell the ICE? how much trouble was it to find a buyer, and roughly how much did you recoup?

I'm in Tucson, AZ if that affects anything.
 

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1) Figure out a list of cars you would be willing to work with, considering everything from efficiency to battery carrying capacity to number of passengers and luggage space and what you are willing to be seen driving in.

2) Just be patient and watch craigslist and ebay for all nearby areas you are willing to travel to, and use good search terms (may take some expirementation) to weed out what you aren't interested in. Make sure to look in the auto parts section as well as the cars for sale. If you are in AZ you probably have your pick of good rust free bodies to work with.

3) Ask around at a few second string dealers to see if anybody took in a high mileage trade of a car you are interested in, before they wholesale it to russia or south america or wherever.

4) Ask your local wrecking yard/recycler if they have anything. A good chassis with a worn out drivetrain can end up in a wrecking yard if they bid on a lot of cars as sometimes happens and get one. Depending on the laws they may or may not be able to sell it whole, but you don't need the engine anyway right?

5) Try posting a WANTED ad on craigslist. Depending on how foaming-at-the-mouth the CL flagging community is in AZ you may get your post knocked down a few times but if you are clear what you want and don't make it sound like a scam you might find something. While I didn't get my MR2 that way I did look at a couple others who responded to a wanted ad though they turned out to be not-as-described (rust buckets, basically) Note depending on your target seller it may or may not be a good idea to say you want it for an EV conversion.

Don't plan on getting much of anything for the take-off parts unless it is a rare and/or popular model car. I think I got $120 in total for my (blown) MR2 engine and all the removed ancillaries that were worth reselling. You might get a few hundred for the engine/tranny from a later model car, especially if you can prove it is in good running condition (take videos, etc of it running that show serial numbers and whatever, before removing it)

Cheers
 

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I've been doing the same looking around and what I've found very useful is to setup a search on Kijiji, they have an RSS link that will give you any new posts based on your selections.

Then install Google Reader Notifier in Chrome and add the Kijiji RSS feed to Google Reader, now any time any post hits Kijiji you'll have it pop up in your browser when it's open.

In my case, 8 hours a day at work.
I never miss a new car getting posted!

Here is what I've got set for my RSS feed.

Coupe, Hatchback, Sedan, wagon
bmw, datsun, ferrari, fiat, mazda, mini, nissan, porsche, volkswagon
240sx, 350z, 3series, C500, 914, beetle, mini, clubman, golf, gti, m3, mgb, mini, Crx7,rx8, zseries
max year 2001
min year 1900
for sale by owner
max price $800
min price $1

I've been getting a lot of great hits on mid-late 90's VW's and late 80's-mid 90's BMW's plus a few nice nissan's and two datsuns!
All of them have good bodies and engine problems, exactly what I'm looking for.

Kijiji is pretty popular here, not sure about your area but hopefully it helps.
Here is the massive feed link if you are curious to look at mine.(hopefully the forum doesn't cut it off. If it does PM me and I'll send you it)
It's set for a 250KM radius of Hamilton, ON.


Feed URL: http://ontario.kijiji.ca/f-SearchAd...eBackend=80000&minPrice=1&minPriceBackend=100

-colin
 

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Craigs List. Get one that runs and is in decent shape. No rust buckets unless you don't mind restorations before conversions. You can sell off your engine. I got $900 for a turnkey 1600 VW engine that ran great. Spent $2800 on the car. Brings it to $1900 after selling the engine. Not bad. Still needed lots of stuff. Should be getting motor installed this weekend. Brakes are done. New from front to back. New transmission too. Going to sell the one that was in the vehicle. It is a working early freeway flyer. Might get $300. It is dirty and needs a good cleaning but it will be a good transmission. I get to sell the fuel tank too. Might get $50 for that. A good clean early Bug fuel tank is in demand. Might even get $100.

Pete :)
 

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I got my Civic running off Craigslist, drove it for nearly a year before converting it. I had 180,000 miles on when I pulled the running engine and sold it for $450 along with the muffler and catalytic.

I do recommend paying for a car with a great body. I spent $3500 for my donor, a 2001 Civic EX with a nearly perfect body, then $525 to get all the rust removed and replaced with new steel and paint.
 

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If you want the best range/performance for your dollar, you need to think about efficiency.

You should consider a lightweight British car with a good body. A Triumph Spitfire/GT6 or an MG Midget will not take a lot of money for batteries to go fast or far. Their mechanicals are weak though, so design accordingly(No more than 120 lb-ft of torque). The low frontal area makes it much easier to tweak the car for a low Cd*A, and there are examples that can do highway speeds with well under 200 Wh/mile. Reverend Gadget's GT6-bodied Spitfire needed about 100-120 Wh/mile with an 6.7" ADC motor!

An Opel GT, Fiat Spyder, Fiat 500, Porsche 914 or VW Beetle would also be a good choice, and can also be found in your price range if you are patient and willing to do a bit of restoration. The VW Beetle and Porsche 914 have stout mechanicals and chassis, making them more adaptable to a torquey EV powertrain. VW Beetles can also be readily adapted to kit car bodies or even custom jobs, so that's something to think about.

A Miata would be an excellent choice(very reliable/stout mechanicals that can take repeated abuse without fail, suspension to DIE for), but its relatively large frontal area hinders it. 250-300 Wh/mile is the norm for them, although with aerodynamic work, that would be gotten down into the sub 200 Wh/mile range if you know what you're doing.
 

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I found an abandoned ev conversion beetle locally. I don't have too much trouble finding them and I think you can get a better deal buying someone's used project than starting from scratch. For example: http://denver.craigslist.org/cto/3263578946.html
That's always a great suggestion. The only caveat is that you still need to do your reading to know what you're doing. Few of us build cars that are hands-free for life and some who grab a second-hand project never do the homework to understand how to make it run, let alone how to fix anything should an issue arise.
 

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I found mine right here in the classifieds, it was already converted but had suffered major damage due to a broken motor mount. Pennies on the dollar for the components, but no guarantees that they would work...

It only took a month or so to get it fixed and back on the road, but a year later now I've replaced a lot of the EV related stuff and rewired much of the car. It was a great way to jump start into an EV project though, since the battery racks and adapter stuff was already built.
 

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I'm partial to the older British sports car. I converted a MG Midget with the expectation that it's light weight and small size would give me great range. wasn't disappointed. I have over 100 mile range on 20 Kwh of batteries. These older cars don't need power steering or power brakes, or AC if your dealing with the convertibles. They are also fun to drive, and quite capable of all season use. I think they make a great personal commuter car. They aren't that expensive, and easy to work on. Parts are readily available because of their popularity. Anybody considering am EV conversion should consider this type of car. I have details on my conversion on my site, and would be happy to help anybody considering such a conversion.
 

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I'm working on my second conversion, a 1990 Miata that I found on CL with a blown engine for $950. I offered the seller $975 if he would pull the engine and he did!

It took me several months to locate the car, so hang in there.

I will either sell the EV am I currently driving or part it out with battery boxes, mounts, adapter plate, coupler, etc., included. Send me a PM if you are interested.

Ralph
 

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Always found good vehicles on craigslist but be patient. I had to look for several months every time before finding the right one at the right price. That goes for donor hunting or otherwise.

kijiji is also decent and there's also Used[city name].com (usedvictoria.com, usedvancouver,com, etc), but thats generally in canada from what I can tell.

And for goodness sake look under the car as much as in the car if you are anywhere near rain or salt! Proper repair of rust damge can take longer than the conversion itself. Especially if its structural or visible (or both).
 
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