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Triumph Spitfire 1500 Conversion

Posted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 5:04 pm
by Sio
Hi all,

I live in North West London (in a flat without a garage)

I have had a Triumph Spitfire 1500 (registered in 1981) for over 10 years now. ... p?see=1453

I am a complete novice but have been thinking of converting it to all electric for a while now (to prolong it’s life).

Currently I am trying to raise funds for the project and would like to know a ballpark figure.

I would like the car to have similar performance after the conversion with the range of 100 miles.

Looking at the numerous Youtube vids; most EV conversions are only as good as the batteries so I am going to steer away from lead acid in favour of Lithium Ion (costs permitting).

Even though I know it is not strictly required I would also like to upgrade the suspension and brakes, unfortunately this will mean a start point of £1,300, which will include some structural repairs.

Would anyone in or around London have the experience and necessary skills to help out?

Kind regard,


P.s. I have posted this on as well.

Spitfire Conversion

Posted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 10:53 pm
by dargles
Hi, Sio.
I notice you haven't had a reply yet, so I'll do my usual trick of talking rubbish and giving those who know what they're talking about something to kick against :wink:

I was chatting earlier this week to a guy in Southampton who bought an electric Gentry a while back, but which needs upgrading as it was put together in the 80s with 80s technology, and which burnt out having stood for far too long. In case you've not come across it, the Gentry is a Triumph-based kit car, so he will be well aware of the sort of issues you are facing with your Spit. He also works on a science park opposite some guys who supply many of the big companies for their electric car conversions.

As far as I'm aware, the issues will be:
1) You're unlikely to be able to afford to match the current performance of your Spit, so upgrading the suspension and brakes, whilst a sound idea, might not be necessary as a first priority.
2) For somewhere between £3-5000, you are likely to manage 50/50 performance - 50mph max with 50 miles range. That's very approximate, but don't forget that speed and range are mortal enemies...
3) Drag increases as the square of the speed, so if you wanted 100mph performance (as on the quoted top speed for a late Spit) you would pay dearly for that. There's a reason why the Tesla and the Lightning cost vast amounts of money!
4) Li-ion batteries are good for power/weight, but need much more complex battery management (I'm told) hence cost much more than lead-acid for the complete kit.
5) Also, lead-acid bats apparently give better high current drain, I believe (i.e. for "pedal to the metal" driving).
6) But lead-acid also tend to not like being fully drained, and quickly lose maximum capacity, so I suspect that you can only count on about 50% of the stated capacity, even from new (you gurus on this forum can now tell me I'm miles off track here :wink:
7) But lead acids are a whole load cheaper both to buy and to manage, since they're less prone to overheating, so don't need such complex battery management. I'm told...
8) It would be good to find out what the expected life of a set of batteries is. If it's about 5 years (another massive approximation with loads of ifs ands and buts), you might want to work through the implications of spending even £1000 a year for performance which could be rather less than you're used to in the Spit. But then if you're avoiding the congestion charge as well as road tax, etc, etc... :D

Hope this helps to get started.
BTW, I didn't mean this to sound discouraging. Are you a member of the Triumph Six Sports Club or anything? I bet they'd be really interested in following your progress. And you might just find you'd have some willing hands nearby from that source as well who could help with thoughts on things like getting the weight distribution right. I know from bitter experience that getting the weight distribution right on the Triumph frame is really important with that quirky rear suspension!

Hope this helps aas a starter. I'll ask the Gentry guy in Southampton if he'd be willing to chat over any issues he's grappling with and that might help.

Regards, David

Posted: Sat Jun 20, 2009 6:59 pm
by Sio
Thank you for replying David,

The project is dead in the water at the moment as the banks will not lend me the money for it (well not at a reasonable interest rate anyway).

I have even put my Golf GTi on the market but this will only raise half of the estimated £8k for the conversion. I have heard nothing that will make me choose Lead acid over Lithium Ion (apart from the price, but I am not willing to compromise on the performance).

It is a shame our government isn’t supporting this wonderful movement rather favouring a scheme that could see a part of British motoring history in a scrap yard rather than being converted to a zero emissions classic.

Kind regards,


Posted: Sat Jun 20, 2009 10:13 pm
by floydster
Hi Sio,

A quick google search produced this video. You've probably seen it already but it may be worth contacting the owner via Youtube for some more details.

The techies here should be able to provide more info but can't you start with a low top speed and range to get everything in place then upgrade as you find more cash?


Posted: Sun Jun 21, 2009 8:51 am
by Sio
floydster wrote:Hi Sio,

A quick google search produced this video. You've probably seen it already but it may be worth contacting the owner via Youtube for some more details.

The techies here should be able to provide more info but can't you start with a low top speed and range to get everything in place then upgrade as you find more cash?


I had not seen that video, it was a very smart Spitfire, the owner will know each time he takes it out of the garage he will have a full charge and will be able to plan his journeys accordingly.

Unfortunately I will not have that luxury as I live in a flat (without a garage) this will mean I will only be able to charge my car at work, this will sometimes mean erratic top-up recharging and the batteries will have to cope with near full discharge.

Kind regards,


spit conversion

Posted: Sun Jan 17, 2010 10:43 pm
by themotorman
I took a 76 spit and have made a 3 wheeler using a motorcycle rear end . 8 Kw of li packs and it runs great. If you can keep the transmission do so and bolt on the motor to it. Electric motors need to run at high speed for efficiency so you need the gear box. Also if you have any hills and for getting away at the traffic lights before the rest.!
I changed the 13" wheels to 15 " rims , very easy to do as the parts are on surplus market in USA. Body and shape will be like a Morgan 1929 style. Ok in California weather!
The battery packs are designed to fit flush with the floor so it keeps the CG down. Not completed yet body to be done and also having Li battery and BMS problems. This is turnign out to be a nightmare with lots of money involved. I can get LiFePO4 batteries for around $1.0USD / Ahr so 8 Kwr 400 volts 20 Ahrs. is around $2500USD. This makes the cost of the batteries per mile about the same as the cost of the electricity/mile.