June 5th, 2011 - Completely Humbled

Wow! I am completely humbled. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would be selected as a finalist. Thank you Jack and Brian for organizing everything! Thank you Recharge Car! I will do my best to do you proud.

(Above is a picture of my 1973 Porsche 914 - or as it is known in my household "The Green Car".)

My Porsche 914 project has taken off. Funny, when I purchased the Porsche 914 on E-bay, the plan was to repower it, so I didn’t even ask if the internal combustion engine ran. Didn’t care. But, just like the VW in Woody Allen’s Sleeper movie, the sucker started right up and ran very strong, which made the car just plain fun to drive. So I have to admit, I did enjoy driving it, which reduced the motivation to get going on the EV conversion.

Well, the 914 was promised an electric drive train and I think after playing around for over a year on its ICE motor, it, the car, NOT ME, decided it was time to get moving on the electric drive.

On one of the first warm days of spring this year, I uncovered the Porsche and took it out for a spin. The gas tank was empty so I took it to the local convenience store / gas station and filled it up. When I got back in the car, it smelled of petroleum, but I thought, this is a gas station and the gas tank on this car is under the hood, and practically in the driver’s lap. So, sure, I just filled the tank and it smells like gas, of course… no problem.

I started the car and drove out of the gas station, and sitting at the road entrance waiting for traffic I noticed smoke out the back window. I don’t know why, but I pulled out on the street. Twenty feet later the engine died and burst into flames.

Let’s put it this way: You know your car is seriously on fire when you run across the street and into the convenience store and the clerk meets you at the door and hands over a fire extinguisher with not a syllable of speech being exchanged. So I ran back across the street and, luckily, put the now-raging fire out. Yes, it seems 38-year-old fuel lines tend to dry rot over long cold winters.

(Really too bad, because I had hoped to sell this engine, which did run very strong. Be lucky to give it away.)

(Damage to engine lid.)

Luckily the fuel line failed within a quick jog to a fire extinguisher because, literally, this thing was quickly turning into a complete Carbeque. The local Volunteer Fire department, State Police and many friends stopped by to see me while I waited for the AAA tow truck. But the story gets better, much better, from here. I had the burnt hulk towed home, damage limited to the top of the motor, distributor, air filter – everything on top of the motor essentially -- plus melted rain guard and engine lid. At home I moved my daily driver, an old Toyota wagon, to the other side of the drive so the roll-back tow truck could deposit the smoldering, stinking 914 in the garage. Not more than an hour later, my wife started out to her monthly book club meeting, which rotates between members’ houses. This meeting was at a house she’d never been to, so of course she was checking her directions on her smart phone as she gunned it out of the garage with her Honda CRV. WHHHAAAAAM ! The back of her CRV hit my Toyota and... well, every car we own as a family was wrecked in the time frame of 120 minutes. But, wait, the story gets even better.

(Damage to my daily driver.) First off, Lori comes back into the house, sheepishly, some minutes after leaving for her book club and informs me that “You are having a bad car day!” Then she tells me that it is “partially my fault” because “no one ever parks there.” (Of course, no one ever burns up their classic Porsche on a regular basis, either.) Anyway, other husbands have told me that I should consider myself lucky that she didn’t say that it was “completely my fault.” The next day, I take the smashed-in Toyota station wagon to the market and in the parking lot, it dies, dead as a door nail. No lights, nothing. The battery is located directly behind where Lori smashed into the car. Soooo , I call AAA again, and low and behold, the exact same tow truck driver shows up to tow my second car so the hood can be pried open and the battery re-connected. Since then, many parts for the 914 “range monger” have been ordered and many have been delivered, including 60, 200 AMP HR GBS batteries. (I think they will all fit). I am working on many, many concepts and projects regarding my future in EVs. Much more to come.