Published on May 7th, 2012 | by Christopher DeMorro
Roanoke College Students Convert Classic Pontiac To Battery Power
If you’re like me, you think the pinnacle of American car design reached its zenith just prior to World War II. There is a reason most hot rods remain firmly planted in the 1920’s and 30’s, as this was an era when aesthetics, rather than aerodynamics, safety, or pure horsepower took precedence.
That is why this story about a group of Roanoke College students converting a ‘39 Pontiac Silver Streak to a battery-electric vehicle really resonates with me. Classic American looks with a modern electric drive train? Yes please!
The students are enrolled in a class on alternative fuels, and what better way to put what they are learning to use than converting a classic car to electricity? Some of you might argue that modifying any car made prior to 1970 is sacrilege. To you people, I say shut up. Hot rodders have been mixing and matching drive trains for nearly 100 years. Here is a unique project that can get young people excited about old cars again, though it isn’t the first hot rod with electric ambitions.
As far as the conversion goes, the students have a lot of work ahead of them. The Pontiac body (which they bought for just $1,500) has been sandblasted and painted, though the actual electric motor has yet to be installed. I know that if you showed up at many classic car shows with a ‘39 Pontiac EV, heads would spin and insults would be hurled. But for every angry comment, I’d be willing to bet these students will get twice as many pats on the back.
It’s no secret that Generation Y is not very interested in cars, and the classic car community is doing nothing to reach out and pass on their passion. Projects like this electric Pontiac can bridge that gap, and I hope to see more projects like this in the future.
Personally, if I had the money, I’d want to convert an old Cord into an EV. Cord’s are amongst the most beautiful cars ever conceived (if you ask me) and that big, sleek body is just beginning for the instant torque of an electric motor, but that’s just me. What antique cars would you want to convert to an electric vehicle?