At this stage of the build Mr. Krauth is not really thinking much about vehicle registration or insurance, but Mr. Krauth has had experience with insuring electric cars before,

My insurance company was a little reluctant to insure the Saturn because it was such a departure from the regular car. At first they were not going to be willing to do it. They asked if I was a mechanic and I said no I am not a mechanic, I don’t work on cars normally. But, I said my background is in electrical, my background is in electrical engineering. They (the insurance company) said alright than you know what you’re doing, went up hill with it and they said yes we will insure you because I had enough technical background.

The ’65 Cobra is not Mr. Krauth‘s first electric car build. Wayne Krauth did not start out as a car guy or even an electric car guy but he did thrive on challenges. Mr. Krauth built his first electric car, a Saturn, in 2008 when gas hit $4.00 a gallon across the U.S. he explained,

In 2008 when the gas prices hit four bucks, I see what’s going on around me. There is really no compelling reason to make it $4.00 it’s just oil companies getting richer. I just didn’t want to spend all my hard earned money shelling it to them like we all do. So I decided I was going to buy electric but there was nothing around. It had to be reasonably priced, go high way speed, and have the range to get me to work and back. In 2008 you could not get them. I couldn’t find what I wanted so I said I’m going to make one.

Mr. Krauth found web forums and did his homework before embarking on a gas to electric conversion. Mr. Krauth wanted to buy American and chose a Saturn because it has a record of being reliable and easy to fix. Fortunately, Mr. Krauth soon found a Saturn with a blown engine just 5 miles from his house and bought it for $900. The Saturn took 8 months to convert.

Everything I didn’t need went. I used a 9 inch Advanced DC motor. At the time lithium prices were very high so I chose to go with lead because it was cheaper to get into it. At that point it was weight vs. range and I did not want to exceed the cars original gross vehicle weight, I wanted to keep it below that with me in it.

Mr. Krauth chose 15 8 volt Trojan batteries, making a 128 volts and a range of about 40 miles. Mr. Krauth’s commute to work was 38 miles and he made the trip in his converted 100% electric Saturn on a charge for two years.

Looking at gas vs. electricity Mr. Krauth said,

I knew it would be cheaper for electricity but in never really sunk in home much. It worked out to be about $4.00 a week for electricity and at the time with gas being about $4 bucks you would have ended up paying $60 a week for gas. All of a sudden you realize 40 miles round trip is 90% of your driving. It got to the point where I jumped into my Ford 500 and the battery was dead because I had not used it for so long — I had been just using the Saturn.

After two years Mr. Krauth felt it was time to upgrade to a more substantial car than the Saturn. Mr. Krauth sold the Saturn for just about what the costs of his conversion were.  More details on Mr. Krauth’s Saturn can be found here.

The “more substantial car” turned out to be the ’65 Cobra. The Factory Five kit was barebones when Mr. Krauth  ordered it meaning many of the shocks, paneling, and mounts for electrical components Mr. Krauth built from scratch. The car’s dashboard is also built from scratch and because there is no transmission, a GPS devise is used to clock the speed on the speedometer. The tachometer is all wired up along with the lights and even a CD player and radio just for fun.

This is an electric car which means it runs almost silently right? Not on your life. Mr. Krauth has hooked up a USB circuit sound board to play whatever sound files he wants through a speaker system mounted behind the dash.

In part putting sounds in there is just to have some fun with it, but it is safety. When I had the Saturn it was totally silent and a couple of times I wound up scaring people.

The car has a custom drive shaft that meets racing standards and can handle the amount of power Mr. Krauth plans the car to have. As Mr. Krauth put it;

I am building this thing into a racer. With electrics it’s all torque, any gas V8 cannot make as much torque as this engine can. I don’t know what I’m going to get yet but I am expecting a minimum of 600 to 700 foot pounds of torque.

Right now Mr. Krauth uses a 72 volt battery charger to charge his current test battery packs.  However, with the lithium batteries are in place a high end battery charging system will need to be added.

My plan is to put in a two phase 30 amp outlet to my garage to feed the car. And that with the pack that I am putting in will fill it in maybe about five hours.

Being a self described tinker, Mr. Krauth made his own 12 volt car battery out of lithium. This little battery will power a conventional car with no problems, it is light weight, and half the size of a regular car battery.

A project like this does not come cheap, but Mr. Krauth was kind enough to share his expenditures,

So far I’m in the low 30s, upon completion, well north of 50. The lithium is going to cost me. The ones I’m looking at are 50 to 130C discharge rate. So huge, huge, discharge out of them. I would like to make this an 80 to 100 mile car and be able to do 0 to 60 in less than three seconds with it. At that, the pack is going to be 15 maybe 19.

And yes by 15 and 19 Mr. Krauth is talking in the thousands.

Being one of the few electric vehicle drivers, and builders, in the State of Maine Mr. Krauth has had some great opportunities to share is knowledge and experience working with electric vehicles. Mr. Krauth has taught a class on at home/ backyard vehicle conversion and even was part of a research study and conference conducted by the city of Portland Maine concerning the placement of public electric vehicle chargers in the city. Even with all the experience Mr. Krauth says,

I’m flying by the seat of my pants trying to design things here.  There is a lot that I don’t know.

Mr. Krauth is indeed an inspiration backyard electric vehicle builders everywhere, and a terrific example of a person with no auto mechanical background seeing the atrocities committed by the big oil companies and acting to remove himself from their grip.

In his efforts to share his experiences and knowledge, Mr. Krauth shared some advice to people who are looking to take the plunge into building an electric vehicle or a conversion job – do your homework using great forums like evalbum.com, diyelectriccar.com, and evdl.org. Additionally, Mr. Krauth said,

Converting a car from gas to electric is not simple, but it is not overly complex either. Don’t be overwhelmed by the thought of doing the whole thing, instead, break it down into smaller areas that are easily achievable, and work through it one step at time. For example,  a thought might be ‘there is so much custom wiring to do’, instead think about ‘how do I wire a set of batteries together’, then once you have an plan, think about how you would connect the motor controller to the batteries with an inline fuse. Next, how to wire the controller to the motor, etc.    Think through (and work through) one small area at a time and it is much more manageable.

Additional information on Mr. Krauth’s  electric ’65 Cobra can be found here and one Mr. Krauth’s other hobby, astronomy, can be seen here.

Image Source: Andrew Meggison

Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. Being an Eagle Scout, Andrew has a passion for all things environmental. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMeggison