The Electric Car

1992 VW Cabriolet – 161,000 miles / 5 speed transmission

This car was purchased in December of 2008 in Long Island New York. I had been looking for several months for a nice cabriolet to convert to 100% electric power. This one was perfect – unmodified and no rust.

After shipping the car to Florida I began by removing the bumpers and all trim plastic which was sent out for painting. Thanks to David at Creative Colors, Davie Florida.

The engine, transmission, exhaust, and fuel tank were removed. I placed the engine out front of my house for ‘bulk pickup’ – it was gone in 15 minutes in the back of a pickup truck.

I then spent *weeks* cleaning the engine bay area of all grime accumulated from years of driving on the New Jersey Turnpike. This car had spent a lot of time following fume and fuel belching trucks, not to mention the grime associated with a 161,000 mile engine…

Anyway, the engine bay was finally spotless and I began the installation of the clutch and flywheel on the motor – Netgain Impulse 9″

Most all components were purchased through Electro Automotive, and I greatly appreciate their help – thanks Bill and Cathy.



Next, I mated the motor to the original 5 speed transmission.

For the lift, I needed to secure the chain hoist to something solid….hmmm, looking up…

Our house roof is a flat concrete tile roof with 6″ wide trusses in the attic. I have to admit, it was not easy explaining to the dear wife why the chain went up through the ceiling of the garage into the attic….I am fortunate I have a understanding wife (and some drywall repair compound).


Motor is installed – I had to see the wheels turn just once with a 12V battery…It is a great feeling to see everything start to come together. This quick test showed that I had the wiring backwards from the plan. also had to fabricate a motor mount for the passenger side. The mount bolts to the electric motor and uses the same mount point as the original rubber mount.


Now that the motor is in place and the mounts are are secure, it was time to install the front battery racks for the 8 batteries… Front Rack and motor installed

Once the rack was in place, it was time to install the front batteries –


All eight batteries are in place now along with the small auxillary battery for the 12v systems.




The rear cargo area was opened up to house the rack for the rear 8 batteries –

The rear seat area house the last 2 batteries making a total of 18 –

Onboard is a Curtis 1231 controller than handles the 108V DC to the motor. The controller is regulated by a 5K potbox connected to the throttle cable and the Curtis controller.

5k Potbox – note throttle cable on right –

Vacuum for the power assisted brakes is normally supplied by the internal combustion motor. Now that it was gone I needed a suitable substitute to generate and store vacuum…

The braking vacuum is now produced by a small vacuum pump and reservoir. About every second or third time you press the brake pedal you can hear the vacuum pump cycle on for about 5 seconds to restore vacuum. This arrangement has worked out very well, although I do have a more quiet pump to install (from Metric Mind).

Speaking of brakes, the rear drum brakes were replaced with disc brakes from a VW Golf…Since there was addtional weight added with the 18 6V batteries, I changed the rear drum brakes to disc and now the stopping distances are acceptable. As long as you are not going too fast…

For the 12V systems, a DC – DC converter steps the 108V down to 12V for keeping the small auxillary 12V battery charged. (The auxillary battery, see above, supplies all original 12v accessories and systems – lighting, radio, power windows etc.) .

Finally the charger. It is mounted in the left rear, and it is a PFC 1500 programmed for 108 volts – plug is in the old fuel filler hole. Shown here at right is during installation. I later added a small fan for cooling the unit while charging.

Front coil springs were custom made by SpringWorks, adding in compensation for the extra 500 pounds up front. Rear springs had some ‘helper’ coils added. Spring on the right is the new custom spring. On the left is stock.


All interior pieces were updated – new carpet from Newton Commercial and seat upholstery from M & T.

Summary – the car has performed flawlessly. Top speed is a blistering 75 mph and range is about 60 miles. I designed the car for daily errands and for that, it is perfect.