Video: Fan Converts 1960 DKW Into DIY EV

Before the Great Depression, there were literally hundreds of automakers building cars in America and other industrialized nations. By the end of World War II, that number had dwindled down to the dozens, and as the Cold War dragged on more and more small automakers fell by the wayside. In their wake are loyal enthusiasts who keep the brand’s memory and vehicles alive.

That doesn’t mean these orphaned classics can’t be upgraded though. Al Swackhammer out of Seattle has been a lifelong Volkswagen and Audi fan, and he’s taken a 1960 Auto Union 1000s (built as a DKW but badged as an Auto Union, the precursor to Audi) and converted it into an EV. According to his page over at EV Album, the converted DKW can go about 78 miles thanks to 60 3.4 volt lithium-polymer batteries. The top speed is a noteworthy 75 MPH, which is due in part to the Azure Dynamics 3-phase electric motor, and in part to 2,364 pound curb weight, which is only about 400 pounds more than stock.

THe project took Swackhammer about four and a half years, and $20,000 to complete (not including the cost of the car’s restoration), and so far he’s logged 1,600 electric miles on his conversion. It has about the same cost and range as the Nissan LEAF, but it’s not a car many people are all that familiar with…and having it be an EV on top of all that?

The car subculture is loaded with these isolated groups of enthusiasts who keep little-known classics alive for future generations. I know a lot about cars, but this took me down some unfamiliar channels of history, and I feel just a wee bit smarter for it.

It’s stuff like this that reminds me why I’m a car enthusiast.

Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.