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Conversion With a Weight Problem

by Sam Greenfield
(Charlotte, NC)

Fat Car in a Sydney Art Museum

Fat Car in a Sydney Art Museum

I am looking to convert a Saturn with 144 volts, 28hp motor, to achieve about 72 miles at 60 mph. In my quest to get the range and speed I require, I have tried to keep curb weight down as much as possible.

That has made it hard to impossible to not exceed gross weight. Is it forbidden to exceed gross weight?
Bigger costs more and I am trying to build the best for less.
Also, has anyone used a dragster transmission and reversing motor?

Hi, Sam!
It's forbidden to exceed gross weight, yeah.

Generally speaking, the car's brakes and suspension are not capable of handling more than the listed weight. But many people run into exactly the same problem you have, which is that you need more battery than your car can hold. Which is to say, gross weight often does get exceeded by electric car converters.

(Lithium batteries: good.)

The thing is, a heavy car doesn't look any different on the outside (the fat Porsche in the picture notwithstanding!), so people are tempted to ignore gross weight and just carry on loading her up with lead batteries.

Hopefully you won't be tempted. Here's why: When you inadvertently back into the neighbor's Denali and cause $15,000 worth of damage to the left front fender...

...your insurance company will pretend they don't know you (they certainly didn't insure a car that exceeded gross weight limits!), and those formerly nice neighbors will sue the pants (the house, and the kids' college fund) off you.

As to the dragster transmission - I couldn't say. I think it's more common to just dispense with the transmission altogether and go with direct drive if not using the original transmission for whatever reason.

Good luck!


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