From the other sideThe rearThe motor and controllerFront battery rack, charger, and accessoBeforeFrom the Front
OwnerJim Beecher
LocationSt. Louis Park, Minnesota United States map
Email email image
Vehicle1964 Volkswagen Bug
I bought the Bugzorz a few years ago. It was in dire need of a body and mechanical restoration. I figured "Why stop there?" and updated it further.
MotorAdvanced DC L91-4003 (high-speed 6.7 inch) Series Wound DC
This motor is small enough to fit in the bug's engine compartment, but will give 38 peak horsepower, which approximates the original gas engine.
DrivetrainStandard VW Bug long-throw 4-speed. I only use 2nd, 3rd, and 4th.
ControllerCurtis 1209b
Rated 80v, 450 amps.
Batteries9, 26.00 Volt, Nickel-Cadmium, Flooded
Two parallel strings. One string of three 26v 40aH batteries, one string of two three-battery 26v 20aH strings. Believe it or not, it all stays pretty balanced.
System Voltage78 Volts
ChargerZivan NG1
Programmed by the fine folks at Elcon to the exact charging curve of the batteries, this little charger is really a champ. I have circuit breakers and separate charge leads to balance the pack if it becomes necessary, but so far it hasn't.
HeaterElectric unit pulled from a wrecked GEM car. Haven't installed it yet, but will soon.
DC/DC ConverterSure Power Industries, Inc 7130i
I got this out of a wrecked GEM Car. It gives out 25amps of 13.5v power and is a small, neat design.
InstrumentationCool combo volt and amp meter in place of the vintage radio, Curtis state of charge meter.
Top Speed60 MPH (96 KPH)
Works fine for occasional freeway use, but too much really eats the range. It works great for what I built it to do, namely cruise around town at 30-45mph
AccelerationKeeps up with traffic well.
Range25 Miles (40 Kilometers)
This is normal city driving, starts and stops averaging 40mph or so. Faster means less range.
Watt Hours/MileDoes great around 45mph in 4th gear. It pulls around 120 amps and will run about 25 miles.
EV Miles
Start:53,000 Miles (85,277 Kilometers)
Current:56,800 Miles (91,391 Kilometers)
Total:3,800 Miles (6,114 Kilometers)
Seating CapacityTwo in front, a third or two kids on the rear bench seat.
Curb Weight2,000 Pounds (909 Kilograms)
The gas version weighed about 1700 pounds with a tank full of gas. I added coil-over shocks to compensate for the slight extra weight. Handles great and rides well.
TiresKuhmo 165/80R-15 Power Star 758. A little bigger than the original tires, but they ride very well and stop quickly in bad weather.
Conversion TimeNearly three years working very part time.

I put *way* more time into restoring the car itself than I put into the conversion. I had it done after two years but a hail storm destroyed much of the exterior and I had to start over.
Conversion CostAbout $1200 for the car, $300 to get it here, $1600 for the flooded Nicads, $400 for the NOS controller. About $3000 to refurbish the bug's body, suspension, brakes, etc. Then another $1500 to redo the exterior again. Probably about $8000 total.
Additional FeaturesOriginal chrome on those vintage bumpers!

No cutting or welding done to the bug, just drilled a few holes in sheet metal.

I spent a lot of time getting the metal sunroof working, but it was worth it.

I learned so much on this project, but it was way more work than other conversions. There were many times I never thought I'd get it done. Fortunately, I have a supportive wife who let me work on the stupid thing for so long. She loves driving it now!

It is a fun car to drive, and nearly silent which surprises people used to the air-cooled rumble.
Air-cooled VWs are awesome platforms for conversion, but they usually require a lot of restoration work. If you can get one in good shape, I'd recommend it.

code by jerry