Rather than tearing apart a perfectly good Italian sports car, Eric Hutchison of San Diego-based Electric GT found the Magnum PI-spec Prancing Horse for salvage after it had burned out from an unfortunate fuel leak. One man's loss being another's gain, he bought it for $10,000 and, together with his friend Michael Bream at EV West, set about converting it to electric power.
With three AC51 HPEVS electric motors and 48 batteries installed, the cavallo elettrico produces an impressive 465 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque. That's a heck of a lot more than the 2.9-liter V8 in the original 308 ever produced: before later versions introduced fuel injection and four-valve cylinder heads, the 308 packed about 200 horsepower and 181 lb-ft. Not one of the most powerful models ever to leave the factory in Maranello, in other words.
The cavallo elettrico produces an impressive 465 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque.
To handle the extra muscle, Hutchison, Bream, and company fitted a new clutch, flywheel, pressure plate, and (perhaps the oddest part) a Porsche transaxle, mounted upside down. Though most EVs do away with a conventional transmission, Hutchison points to the original (though ultimately unfulfilled) Tesla Roadster plans and the Formula E setup as evidence of the combo's ideal blend of efficiency and performance. "The massive torque transferring through the transmission engages the driver in a clutch-dropping, gear-pounding Ferrari experience," he said.
To offset the added weight of the four dozen 3.3-volt lithium-ion batteries, they stripped out anything they could, and found new homes for many of the jettisoned components through fora like Ferrari Chat, whose members enthusiastically followed the conversion process. The result is a vehicle just 150 pounds heavier than stock that can travel 100 miles on a single charge. That's more than most OEM EVs can go these days, and (arguably) in better style, too. We've been following the project's development for nearly two years now, and took it for a spin on Translogic. But now that it's complete, the hybrid powertrains in Ferrari's own F1 racers and LaFerrari supercar suddenly seem decidedly old-school, despite their newer forms.
San Diego, CA - May 3, 2016 : Ferrari's CEO Sergio Marchionne announced that Ferrari will never build an electric car. He drove a Tesla and afterwards said that the idea of a Ferrari without an internal combustion engine would be "an obscene concept" and that it's something Ferrari will never do. Unfortunately for Sergio, the world's first 100% electric Ferrari was recently completed by Electric GT , a San Diego based electric car conversion company.
Electric GT rescued a salvage titled 1978 Ferrari 308 GTS from certain death. Fires are nothing new to Ferrari and this car was no exception. Leaking fuel burned the motor and electrical systems of this former beauty beyond repair. Out of the ashes rose the perfect conversion opportunity. Restoration, design, engineering and recycling efforts beckoned a major undertaking for the formerly iconic 308 GTS.
The burned out Ferrari was stripped down to the bare chassis, and every original part that wasn't used was returned back to the Ferrari community and quickly found homes in other 308 projects around the globe. "The Ferrari Chat community really contributed to this project" says Hutchison, "several guys from the forum came to see the project and some even flew across the country. The support was awesome."
Hutchison worked with friend and EV specialist Michael Bream at EV West to engineer and design an electric powerplant that would preserve the integrity of the Ferrari. "We have to be careful with iconic cars, as we want to preserve their history, but still make them impressive to drive" states Bream. "Technology changes, and we are now in a time when an electric SUV is faster than a Ferrari sports car."
The V8 was replaced with a firstever triple electric HPEVS AC51 motor assembly providing 330 ft lbs of torque with a range of 100 miles. The current battery of 30 kWh delivers excellent performance, and Electric GT will a soon offer a pack with twice that capacity. "We can make it even faster and give it more range, but instead chose to keep it light and maintain the original feel of a Ferrari" said Hutchison. With nearly double the torque of the original engine, the electric motors are no contest for even the finest tuned Weber carburetors.
To capture the true driving experience, Electric GT used a Porsche G50 5 speed gearbox in a flipped midengine orientation to reliably deliver the electric Ferrari's increased torque. Manual gearboxes in EVs improve efficiency and performance, as evidenced in Tesla's planned inclusion of a transmission in the original Roadster, and Formula E's use of gearboxes in their racecars. "The massive torque transferring through the transmission engages the driver in a clutch dropping gear pounding Ferrari experience." states Hutchison.
Electric car numbers have grown significantly in the past year with over 1 million EV's on the road. The problem is the typical car enthusiast doesn't want a Nissan Leaf, and the only performance option is a Tesla sedan. Gone is the expensive maintenance associated with daily driving a Ferrari, and the annual passing of a smog check.
Justin Herrmann of Strategic Racing Designs who assisted on the Electric Ferrari project states "The Ferrari tube frame chassis makes it the perfect candidate for an EV conversion." Herrmann continues "the aerodynamics, race inspired suspension and light weight design is ideal."
Instead of ending up in the car crusher, Hutchison has brought this Ferrari back to life. "It will continue to be as iconic as ever with a new power plant that is always ready for some tire smoking, clutch banging driving." Hutchison said "I love that I can drive a high performance Ferrari by charging it on my solar panels at home."
The Electric Ferrari will be running in this year's ReFuel Electric Car Races on May 22, 2016 at Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, CA.