Electric cars are seen as the pinnacle of technology and modern engineering, however the Retro-Electric brigade seem to choose vehicles that are about as far removed from modern machines as possible. We’ve covered early Land Rovers, VW Beetles, Type 2 campers and Morris Minors. None of which could ever have been said to have been cutting edge, even when they were new.
There is something about these cars though, they have a character through their basic roots that others just don’t have. However, Morgan takes traditional build to a different level, after all this car is still built from the same material that they make horse carts from!
The Morgan 4/4 has been in production since 1936, in a largely unchanged style. In fact it was Morgan’s first car with four wheels, the name indicating that the model has four wheels and four cylinders.
Apart from a break during World War Two, the 4/4 has been in continuous production from its debut right up to the present day. The original engine was a 1.1l Coventry climax, increasing in size to the modern 1.8 ford engine currently used, however despite recent headlines about a future vehicle, never has electricity powered a Morgan.
Greg Mittman from Kansas City in Missouri is about to change that.
You would be right to expect a Morgan Retro-EV conversion to take place in the UK, after all it’s the home of the very British marque, however during the 1950’s and 1960’s the US accounted for over 85% of all production and they remained a very popular, if specialist, car in the states.
The Morgan was no stranger to a conversion in the USA either, in 1974 emission regulations threatened to kill off the car, so the company converted all imports to run of propane to pass the US emission regulations, therefore electrifying a Morgan is putting a modern twist to an old story.
Initially Greg had no plans for a Retro-EV, he wanted to restore a vehicle with his father, Sam, who is an experienced home mechanic. With no specific model in mind they started looking through online auctions for something interesting nearby.
Greg came across the ad for the 1969 Morgan 4/4, but was completely unfamiliar with the brand, however he did a little digging and the British charm and unique design convinced him that this was the car to restore.
Sam was convinced, an experienced hobby mechanic, the basic structure and mechanics meant the Morgan should have been a simple restoration.
However, when they got the car home it became obvious that they had taken on more than expected. The engine in the car was not original and missing many parts which would have been very difficult to source in the US.
Half joking Sam suggested, “We could make it electric” and what initially seemed unlikely has become a two year labour of love.
The car has been converted by the pair at weekends and during downtime and is now starting to near completion, despite this being the first experience of E-power for either of them.
Taking advice from enthusiasts and experts has helped them specify the right parts for the conversion.
Greg has chosen a Netgain Warp 9 DC customer motor coupled to the cars original ford gearbox for its powertrain. Th warp 9 is one of the most popular motors used for conversions in the US, its size and performance combination make it a popular choice, delivering 32hp and 70ib ft of torque. The warp 9 is also a cost effective solution at around $2000.
The project will use 40 LiFePO4 3.2v 100ah batteries. As with the motor, they are one of the most popular choices. The Morgan offers plenty of room for fitment of the batteries behind the seats and at the rear, with additional room up front to help balance the load.
A Curtis 1231c controller has been purchased and will be fitted to keep everything performing correctly.
One of the key elements in any build is the charger, many projects can be ruined with the choice of a poorly specified charger. Make sure that you consider your requirements carefully when choosing your charger. Greg chose a TSM2500 unit. This unit has user adjustable settings and has been setup for 110V US power. The units also offer great output in a relatively small size, very useful for Retro conversions.
Greg is still testing the car, but is comfortable that upwards of 50 miles to a charge is comfortably achievable with the specification he has chosen, its also likely to comfortably outperform the original powertrain.
The Dilithum BMS installation is nearing completion and then the pair will move on to the final part of the build, the body.
The handmade windscreen is out for chrome and It still needs body, interior and instrumentation work, but Greg is convinced that this is the easy part and can’t wait to get the car on the road.
The “e-Mog” has some way to go to completion, however the unusual right-hand drive car has already generated a lot of attention in Kansas where the electric conversion will be truly unique in gas loving middle America.
Keep an eye on our site as we continue to cover Gregs conversion.