Many aftermarket companies are offering electric conversions of classic cars, but it’s also something that, given enough time and money, you can do in your own garage. A great example of that is “Electrollite,” a 1970 Plymouth Satellite with a Tesla powertrain.
Electrollite and its builder, Kevin Erickson, were recently profiled by famed Tesla tinkerer Rich Benoist on his Rich Rebuilds YouTube channel. If you’re not familiar, Benoist has undertaken quite a few EV projects himself, including rebuilds of salvaged Teslas and other EVs. He also dropped a V-8 in a Tesla Model S, but we digress.
In the video, Erickson explained that he build the electric Plymouth to learn something new. He already had plenty of experience with internal-combustion engines, and wanted to try something that he hadn’t done before. The project took him about a year and a half to complete.
Electrollite has a 100-kwh Tesla battery pack, divided up into 16 modules distributed throughout the car, including under the hood and in the trunk, with an aftermarket battery management system. As detailed in a separate video on Erickson’s own channel, the car uses a Tesla-style dual-loop cooling system, with custom hardware to fit the boxes that house the battery modules. He typically charges to 80%, allowing for 200-250 miles of range, but believes 300 miles might be possible on a full charge and careful driving, and noted that an overnight charge provides more than enough range for his daily needs.
Erickson also added a modern electric power steering system and used Model S subframes, which in turn required a switch to pushrod suspension because the installation left no room for springs, he said. In another video, he said fitting Model S subframes into another car can be challenging because the Tesla is very wide, and noted that it’s possible to swap in just the motor and adapt it to an existing chassis and suspension.
He sourced parts from Stealth EV, which will supply either the motor or complete subframe, as well as numerous other parts like battery modules and cooling-system components. Stealth EV also sells its own cell tap boards and jumper bars, which allowed Erickson to rearrange the battery modules it fit in the Plymouth while still being able to wire them together. Some of the smaller parts, including clamps for coolant hoses, were custom 3D printed. He also used a Smart Fortwo Electric Drive heater core because it happened to fit perfectly.
The interior was kept fairly close to stock, but with some updates like a new steering wheel and a digital instrument cluster (made from two Android tablets), which allows the driver to see data from the battery management system.
Erickson estimates that the 4,358-pound Satellite weighs about 600 pounds less than a Model S. The trunk-mounted battery modules also give it a slight rearward weight bias, helping with traction, he noted. That comes in handy for Erickson’s frequent trips to the dragstrip, as does the line-lock system he installed. While the car turns 12.4-second quarter-mile runs at the track, it was also built to be comfortable daily driver, with a modern HVAC system and heated seats. It’s also started making the car show rounds, including an appearance at SEMA.
Watch the full video for details on this well-executed build. Erickson also put together a Google spreadsheet of the parts he used. Check it out and get some inspiration for your own build.