After the last battery cell was connected and the controller was programmed, I could barely contain my excitement as I lowered the car from the four jack stands where the car has been perched for the last year. My dad was visiting from out of town and I was proud to show him firsthand the project I’ve been talking about for more than a decade. I backed out of the driveway with anticipation. The first thing I noticed was the 8 kHz hum of the controller. The squeal is audible in my video of the first drive and quickly becomes fatiguing. I put the transmission into 1st gear and pressed the accelerator and the car moved forward. The response to the throttle was rather weak, but with the controller set to limit the motor to 100 Volts and 400 amps, there was only 53 horsepower on tap, a mere 25% of what will be available when the motor limits are increased to 170 volts and 1000 amps. The motor brushes need a chance to seat properly before handling more power. But I was moving under electric power and the vibration free propulsion of the electric motor was fantastic. The clutch worked, the transmission was fine, there was no smoke from the batteries, even the homemade tachometer was driving the stock gauge in the dash, and a sense of relief that there were no major problems was replaced with satisfied pride that the car was finally in motion. A dream was finally becoming reality.
In the front, the car is sitting about an inch lower with the extra weight of the batteries. The tires rub the fenders when I go over any bumps in the road. The solution will be to install stiffer torsion springs in the suspension.
The controller has a quiet mode that uses a higher frequency to pulse power to the motor. Luckily quiet mode is appropriately named, and now the hum of the controller is not detectable.
I noticed that after a few short drives that the motor gets hot – about 130 degrees F (55 deg C). I think this could be a reliability issue over time, so I will be ordering a blower to force air through the motor and reduce the temperature rise.
There is still a lot to be done to finish the car, but driving the car for the first time under electric power is a huge thrill and motivator to keep going.