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  What Car Do I Use For The Conversion?

It is best to select a small car as the 'donor' car, preferably a hatch type so that access to the rear for the batteries is easy. Choosing a small car allows you to take advantage of the low weight of the car. This will make the motor and battery choice easier and cheaper as well. The more weight in the car means bigger motor and bigger (higher capacity) batteries.

When choosing the car, select one which has a good body, gearbox (transaxle), suspension and brakes.
The state of the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) is not important of course.
Choosing a good body means that you don't have to spend valuable time fixing rust holes, panel beating and repainting.

It is a good idea to start with a manual gearbox car. It is possible to convert an automatic drive car but there are great power losses in the transmission and the auto transmission is not suited to the high rev range of the electric motor - not recommended.

Some suggested cars are:

  Daihatsu Mira Mitsubishi Colt
  Daihatsu Sirion Mitsubishi Mirage
  Daihatsu Charade example Suzuki Alto
  Daewoo Matiz Suzuki MightyBoy example & videos
  Ford Festiva/Fiesta Suzuki Swift * (This website)
  Fiat X1/9 example (2nd car in video) Subaru Sherpa example
  Holden Barina * (This website) Toyota Corolla
  Honda Civic Toyota Echo
  Hyundai Accent Toyota Starlet
  Hyundai Excel Toyota Yaris
  Hyundai Getz example etc...

* The original Holden Barina was produced by Suzuki (Swift)

Note: For second hand cars, it is good to look at those from the 1980's and early 1990's as these don't normally have power steering. If it has power steering this adds more complexity and another electric pump (more power drain).
It is good if the donor car has power brakes so that it can easily handle the increased weight of the converted car.

The car that I have selected is a Holden Barina MB (rebadged Suzuki Swift) 1985 model with only 155,000Km on the clock. This car has a good body with no rust and good suspension. I had the car checked by GMR Motors and it only required new brake cylinders on the rear wheels and a boot on a CV joint. 

The Holden Barina 1985 has an Kerb Weight of 710Kg (from the specifications) and a Gross Vehicle Mass
 * (GVM) of 1260Kg.
On the weighbridge the front measurement was 450Kg (62.5%) and the rear was 270Kg (37.5%) before I started the project.
Note: I am removing the back seat and as such converting the car into a two-seater. This effectively saves 3 x 81.6Kg (244.8Kg) in the final GVM by removing 3 passengers. The GVM includes all passengers and driver at a rate of 81.6Kg per person including luggage and a petrol tank 75% full !

I will be placing the batteries where the back seat was, hence the weight of the batteries will be divided up between the front and rear axles. I will have no extra weight in front of the front axle or behind the rear axle.

I am predicting that the final curb weight will be under 800Kg.

* It is the GVM that should not be exceeded - keep this in mind if using (very heavy) lead acid batteries (eg. over 30Kg each and for 120V you need 10 ! )

A very good web site for finding out about a car's specifications is:


To print results select "Printable View" button, while at this site.

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