´┐╝Those who know me well (and are probably tired of hearing about it), know that for years I’ve been collecting parts to do complete rebuild of my 1973 Land Rover Defender, building it back up into an electric vehicle.

Well through luck of timing, my good friend Geno (who worked for years at a place that restored classic Bugatti sports cars), had the chance to take the project up, and is starting in as I type on the first phase – tearing it down.

I’m excited to be doing it as an SPD Exploratory Project, because it’s pretty clear now that Electric Vehicles (and coming up fast, Electric bicycles) are here to stay. I’d really like our company to lean into it, and learn as much as we can about components, performance, and communication protocols between subsystems (CAN bus, and the forthcoming car-area-ethernet).

The first phase entails tearing down the entire body and interior (while documenting it, for re-assembly). Because I’m more concerned with functionality than historical authenticity, we’ll be selling the 1973 chassis, engine, drivetrain, axles, wheels and suspension as a unit. Then in phase 2, we’ll build up a new platform on a built-to-order frame that will mount modern Land Rover axles & suspension, while still being compatible with the 1973 Land Rover body and interior.

Originally, we were planning on making this project a full electric vehicle, but I’ve been consistently impressed with the performance and cleanliness of the VW TDI engines (and their aftermarket availability. I’ve also been horrified by the price of batteries (about $5000 per 25 miles of range). Because the Land Rover’s gear case has a power-take-off, our current plan is to power it via the standard transmission input from a 2.0 TDI Volkswagen Engine, and have a separate electric motor drive into the power take off. That way we’ll have EV capabilities targeting up to 40mph and 25 miles range to cover 90% of our daily use, and the diesel drivetrain for longer trips.

Given it’s not a client project and not top priority, we figure it’ll take about 18 months to have the vehicle torn down, built back up, painted, and operating under it’s new dual drivetrain. We’ll be posting progress to this blog, and also have a project page set up to capture the high-level summary.

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