Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The 1971 Plymouth Duster is a somewhat unusual candidate for an electric motor conversion. In fact, other than an '83 Delorian, I have not encountered what I consider to be a cool street car converted to electric power. Most people seem to be converting the lightest, ugliest and cheapest vehicles they can obtain. In fact, I sense that the choice of that type of vehicle is even part of the sub-culture of "conversionists". I have felt an attitude of slight disapproval when discussing this project on a couple of EV forums. It doesn't meet the sub-culture's idea of a practical conversion.

I guess if cheap practically were my only consideration I'd have to go with the usual beat-up silver or white 4 door foreign piece of crap that is popular with the people that have already done conversions. But, I'm just not that kind of guy. I'd almost rather keep buying gasoline - or walk - than to have to drive something like that to go electric.

I believe that the Duster possesses several advantages for conversion. First, it is a solid, road-worthy, working automobile that needs nothing. Stripped of its engine, exhaust, radiator and other no longer relevant parts, it is actually a fairly light roller. Oh yeah, the sub-culture calls them "gliders". My glider is quite large compared to most. That means plenty room for batteries, controllers and chargers, etc. It does not contain a computer or sensitive electronics to contend with as newer vehicles do. It was built without power "anything", which is good. The non power brakes were built to stop much heavier cars than a Duster. Also, the previous owner of my car installed super stock leaf springs in the rear. As far as I can tell, that car could easily support 10 head of cattle in the trunk - and there is room for them! Lastly, an advantage to me is that I have worked on several of these cars. I know every square inch of it. There is no learning curve with the car itself. Yes, there will be challenges and required modifications, but I expect the results will be quite satisfactory.

Build log ongoing at...

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