About The Vehicle:
The donor vehicle is one of the most critical decisions you can make on an EV conversion. Whether it makes sense or not, everyone will at least initially judge the entire build on the appearance of the vehicle. You can have an awesome, elaborate electrical build, but if its a crappy old Honda/Toyota…. well, you’re still going to be driving a crappy old Honda/Toyota.
I wanted to choose a vehicle that would reflect the quality of conversion that I planned on doing, but also meet all of my needs as a conversion vehicle. It needs to be:
- New’ish… This will be a decently expensive vehicle when complete, so I wanted to get a car that could believably reflect my investment costs and I would be proud to drive. (You wouldn’t install granite and marble floors in a double wide trailer)
- Fun to Drive… Rear wheel drive and manual were absolute musts. I used to be complacent that FWD was ok, but after upgrading from a FWD Pontiac G6 to a RWD Dodge Charger, there’s just no going back
- Practicality as a Daily Driver… The cool part of this vehicle is that it will double as both my weekend autocross fun and a daily driver during the week. This means that I would really like to have features like heated seats, premium sound, decent storage, comfortable seats, 4 seats, and ideally 4 doors.
- Reliable… This one is big for me. This vehicle needs to be rock solid reliable, because a vehicle malfunction in traffic at 75mph is something that I never want to deal with. This rule will guide my component selection: banning any Chinese electronics and using only OEM parts in the build.
- Light’ish… Every pound I shed is a benefit for range, acceleration, and overall performance, but I still want to retain all of the standard creature comforts. Mazda is extremely impressive at making light cars and this one even stands out for them. I understand my Charger is much larger than the RX-8 and well above the RX-8 in vehicle segmentation, but technically they are both 4 door passenger cars. My Dodge Charger weighs in at 4,100 lbs and the RX-8 however comes in at 3,050 lbs. Its over 1,000 lbs lighter. I think the RX-8 is the perfect medium between small/light and comfortable/practical.
- Unique… I loved the new Camaro when they first came out in 2010, but soon they lost their appeal as I saw them at every corner. I want this car to stand out as unique, but do so while remaining stock. This is pretty hard to do, but again the RX8 takes this perfectly. It had a pretty short production life and the high maintenance, inefficient, and early death of the Wankel motor kept it from really reaching any significant volumes here in the US, and even then the early motor failures have taken most of them off the road by now. Even on top of this, I was fortunate enough to find a 2006 Shinka edition. The Shinka edition was a very limited model that includes a unique suede/leather interior, suspension performance improvements, and a unique exterior “copper red” paint that was only available in 2006, and only to Shinka editions.