A DeLorean With An Electrifying Secret

A DeLorean sitting on patchy snow next to a driveway. It's angled away from the viewer to the left showing off the open engine compartment with bright orange high voltage lines coming out of a square metallic charger box.

There are few production cars with as much geek cred as the DMC DeLorean. If you want to kick the nerdiness up a notch without doing a full Back to the Future prop-mod, then the next best thing is to make it an EV.

[Bill Carlson] took a 1981 DeLorean and transplanted the drivetrain from a Chevy Bolt to electrify this ride. With the DeLorean being a rear wheel drive vehicle and the Bolt front wheel, there was some amount of component reshuffling to do. The motor is now in the rear of the car along with the main contactor, charger, and motor controller while the batteries are split between a pack in the original engine compartment and another up front under the hood.

The electric power steering and brake booster from the Bolt now also live under the hood, and the accelerator and steering column from the EV were transplanted into the cockpit. [Carlson] still needs to tidy up the interior of the car which is currently a nest of low voltage cables as well as add the cooling system which will bring this stainless monster up to a hefty 3200 lbs (~1450 kg) versus the original 2850 lbs (~1300 kg). We suspect the total bill came in a bit lower than getting an electric DeLorean Alpha5.

This isn’t the first electric DeLorean we’ve covered here, and if that isn’t cool enough, how about this DeLorean-inspired hovercraft?

47 thoughts on “A DeLorean With An Electrifying Secret

  1. Who decides ‘geek cred’?

    Because a DeLorian is not a car that carries much cred with anybody except ‘Back to the Future’ fans. There might be some ‘geeks’ in that group, but no many.

    It was a very mediocre car for the time. Just lame by modern standards.
    The entrapment was cool, rarely happens to the rich.

    If he had done it to a Bricklin…or a real Fiat 600…or an ugly as Marge Schott/Hillary Clinton Multipla.

    1. Dunno what nerd circles you frequent, but as a car, sci-fi, and electronics nerd, a DeLorian has major nerd cred.

      It’s not a “holy grail” like a Lancia Delta might be for an (old) rally nerd.
      Nor is it like an ’86 to a drift boy.

      But it is certainly rare and quirky, yet well known enough to have nerd cred.

    2. “Who decides ‘geek cred’?”

      Obviously not you. If you think those cars would be a great conversion then let us know when you do it. I’ll gladly watch the video and I might even leave a comment.

        1. The Trabi.. That plastic/paper car from ex-GDR. It doesn’t rust, it justs melts (on a hot summer’s day). ;)

          That’s why it was nicknamed “Asphaltblase” (asphalt bubble) or “Rennpappe” (racing-cardboard). :D

          Btw, there was a documentary about a Trabant owner who converted it to electro motor.

          The trunk was filled with batteries. Not lithium ion, but traditional car batteries or gel-lead batteries.

  2. I did an image search on the DeLorean Alpha 5 – it’s a nice standalone design but they totally missed the retro homage aspect of the thing. That was one thing Ford did so well with the 2005 Mustang redesign.

    Also, this is great work. If I were still a car guy I’d totally be in the business of e-retrofitting classic cars.

    1. Well, I think there are two ways of re-booting an iconic or classic car: either try to use and “modernise” the style of the old one, using certain design elements that made that car iconic and trying to re-adapt them to modern times (which has been tried over and over again) , or the second way, just use the name of the old car and pay homage to it in a much more subtle way, like how for example the old DeLorean was intended to be innovative, fast (that failed in a spectacular way, though) and be like nothing else on the street, make the new one achieve the same results but without copying the old one. And to be frank, most iconic car re-boots based on appearence only are hit and miss affairs, so maybe honoring the DeLorean without copying it is a smart idea.

      1. Yeah, that was my first reaction: this is a good build, but only adding 150kg for the conversion is spectacular. This is likely to utterly outperform the original with only minimal effort needed for suspension and handling changes. What a great build!

      2. Much of the extra weight in a Tesla comes from the extra armoring, fireproofing, and cooling systems on the batteries. I didn’t look very thoroughly, but seems like this guy just has them in a fiberglass box.

        1. It’s kind of a rocket equation deal, because when you add 450 kg of batteries, you also have to add +30% of that in steel to reinforce the chassis to hold that weight in a crash… when you’re doing a DIY conversion you can make any sort of death trap you like because there’s no requirement to crash test it.

          1. Yep, the exponential rocket equation is exactly what’s happening there.
            Chassis needs to be stronger, the suspension has to be heavier to accommodate the extra mass, the tires need to be rated for heavier load, etc.

            With such an enormous fraction of the car mass devoted to its energy storage and associated support structure, either you need to double the mass of the car to get the same payload, or you need to use stronger, more expensive materials to make it.

            Either way, it weighs more, costs more, and has greater environmental impact (in both manufacture and operation) than a vehicle that uses a more compact means of energy storage.

        2. The battery boxes are made out of a 3/16″ steel skeleton, with sheet metal panels on the sides. This is “version 1″ to get the car up and running, and will probably be replaced with an aluminum version in the future (to reduce weight). Turns out 3/16” steel is overkill.

      3. Thanks! Yes, the reason the Bolt is heavy is because it’s a MUCH larger vehicle – 4 door hatchback – compared to the DeLorean. Lots of things like the hatch back, rear seats, and interior were removed. Plus the shell of the Bolt is a modern unibody made of various layers of steel, so it’s just super heavy compared to the fiberglass shell of the DeLorean which sits on a stainless steel frame that is literally light enough for me to pick up and move on my own. I also removed like 150 pounds (75kg) from the battery box by reshaping it into two cubes rather than a flat, wide, short rectangle.

        The DeLorean’s engine, transmission, gas tank, and other components came out to almost 1000 pounds (450kg) which was very similar to the weight of the batteries and boxes that went back in. The other components like the electric motor, inverter, dc-dc converter, and charger, make up the rest of the difference.

      1. Oh, heck, yes. I used to have a hoot driving an ’06 Miata in the Santa Cruz mountains when I was there. Got routinely smoked by even crazier Porsche pilots, and positively suicidal bikers, but had a lot of fun. I wonder if it’s Tesla drivers doing that ‘performance testing’ there now. Anybody local have a report?

        1. I don’t use HW17 often, but, yeah, it’s still a racetrack. Porsche, BMW, the Camaro/Mustang kids, Vettes, the occasional Maserati/Ferrari, and, yeah, Tesla drivers all evidently think of it as their own personal Daytona. I understand bikers prefer HW9 now-a-days.

  3. Hello!

    I’m Bill Carlson, and this is my EV DeLorean that I call “Project Lightning”. I’m happy to answer any questions you might have, either here or in the YouTube comment section. There is a long playlist of videos of my efforts to do the EV conversion. I’ve replaced the original rusted out frame with a stronger stainless steel reproduction, upgraded the suspension, refurbished the brakes and steering and replaced every bearing and bushing. The videos then go over the design and fabrication of the battery boxes (made of steel), motor mounts, battery mounts, etc. It’s been a long process that started in April of 2020, just at the start of the pandemic, and the first drive is in this video that was shot in mid January 2023.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Bill! Epic build; and one of my favorite classics.

      Hoping to do something similiar for my ’50 Ford someday but probably with an Eluminator instead of those heretical Chevy bits. LOL

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