Sunday, July 13, 2008

Bought my donor!

After browsing through web pages and talking about the idea for about a year, I finally purchased my donor car for an electric vehicle conversion.

It is a 1978 Triumph Spitfire...

I bought the car for $1500, and it's actually in pretty good shape. It has the original interior, paint job, and convertible top.

The car does run, but it has a few problems:
1. There is a knocking coming from the front left wheel. I've jacked up the car and removed the wheel to try and figure out the problem. The only thing I noticed was that the thread on one of the four lug nuts was bad, and the wheel was only being held on by three. I don't know if that was causing the sound, but I have a friend that works in a machine shop that is going to re-thread the bolt for me (Checkers Auto Parts does not sell lug nuts that small.)
2. The brakes are terrible. The car stops, but it's slow. I was thinking I would have to buy an electric vacuum pump since I'm getting rid of the engine, but after some investigation (where does this hose go?) I found out that Spitfires don't have power brakes. Maybe non-power brakes are this bad? I've got the same machinist friend coming over to help me bleed the brakes next week to see if that helps.
3. I can't get it into reverse! I can get the reverse lights on, but the car still goes forward. A coworker came by and managed to do it though so I know it can be done!
4. I need to replace some of the rubber housings under the hood that are pretty worn out.
5. Re-varnish the dashboard (yeah, it's real wood).
6. The car has practical no rust, but I need to touch up a few spots where the paint has chipped away.
7. Needs new convertible top! (Not a huge priority though since it's sunshine 364 days out of the year in Phoenix.)
8. CD/Radio will turn on but no sound out of speakers. (Low priority, but I might as well list it.)
9. Pull out engine, carburetor, exhaust, radiator, and alternator. Install electric motor, controller, 10 batteries, and DC-DC converter. Easy!

The car is ridiculously easy to work on. The entire hood / side panels on the front rotate up when you're working on the car. No power steering / brakes / AC will mean the electric conversion will be even simpler. The gas tank is easily accessible (in the trunk), and I think 5 batteries will easily fit in its place. When all is said and done, the completed car should cost me about $10,000.

I told our dog Timber he can drive as soon as his feet can reach the pedals.

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