August '17

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48 THE SHOP AUGUST 2017 business is still going to grow, because of magazines like THE SHOP, and because every television show in the nation that's about cars has filmed a segment on electric cars." That's why "more and more automotive businesses want to get involved. They can see where things are going. Otherwise, it's going to be like owning a VCR repair shop, and not learning to fix DVDs." Bream also reports a surprising demand for electric conversions in the restoration business. "My buddies who deal with clients in Hollywood are starting to get calls, like, 'Hey, I'm interested in that '55 Thunder- bird, but can you make it electric for me?' We're doing a Pinzgauer in our shop right now. We also have the first DeLorean" from the company in Texas that recently re-started production. "We have a BMW 2002 that belongs to a member of the Sauber F1 team. And we have two 912s, a 914, a 911 and a 356." A plus for car collectors is that EV West conversions are 100-percent reversible. "We use a FaroArm to scan the engine compartment and pick up all the original mounting points. Then that information goes into CAD/CAM software to design and machine all our mounting hardware. We bolt the electric motor to the original bellhousing. All of our cars could be con- verted back to gasoline power and would still be concours-correct." Of course, that's the high-dollar end of the hobby. But for the DIYers, Bream believes that electric power can level the playing field. "You can't tinker with a car anymore. You can't do anything to most cars anymore. But the electric car resets that; it turns back the clock to when we could work on our own cars. We have a long list of customers who are involved in father-son and father- daughter projects." And that's when we got it. In the deepest, truest tradition of hot rod- ding, the electric motor pits the innovative individual against the factory performance machine. It's the same spirit that drove the hobby's pioneers to bolt sleek and minimal speedster bodies to second-hand Model T chassis; that spurred the dry lakes racers to transplant fire-breathing Flatheads into their cut-down Model A's. We even hear echoes of the first import drag racers, so proud to pit their front- drive turbocharged four-bangers against the heavy iron from Detroit. "And this stupid electric motor that all of the die-hard gearheads think is going to ruin motorsports," Bream concludes, "at the end of the day, it's going to be what saves motorsports." JOHN F. KATZ is a freelance automotive journalist and his- torian. He is a regular contrib- utor to THE SHOP as well as other automotive industry pub- lications. He lives and works in south-central Pennsylvania. SHOCK THERAPY JEGS JR. ELECTRIC DRAGSTER Much in the spirit advocated by EV West, NHRA has modified its Jr. Dragster rulebook to include electric conversions from JEGS Performance, the race-component super-supplier based in Columbus, Ohio. The $9,000 kit includes a NetGain ImPulse 9 motor, plus a battery, con- troller, and pretty much everything else needed to convert a standard alcohol-fired Jr. Dragster to clean, durable, and easily maintained elec- tric power. "You can install this motor and the kit we've developed and never have to buy another motor for your Jr. Dragster," JEGS product leader David Ruark told in January. "Even as your child gets older and moves on to quicker classes, this motor can move from class to class with a few simple adjustments of voltage and amps. There is no need to get a different motor for each class, and that alone is going to save people a lot of money in the long run. Plus, we've taken away the cost of fuel. To refuel our car, you just have to plug it in between rounds." The lithium battery pack plugs into a 110-volt portable generator. JEGS expects the battery to last three years of normal use, and recommends changing the motor's carbon brushes after 1,000 runs. That's it for main- tenance. Just as importantly, the electric conversion has proven competitive against IC-engined Juniors. Ruark's son Michael won 17 rounds in just his second outing on electric power. 48 THE SHOP AUGUST 2017 TECHNOLOGY & ELECTRONICS The 186 mph "Panic in Detroit" dragster. (Photo courtesy Rhema Motors LLC)

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