Danger High Voltage! 1988 Subaru DL EV


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Just when you think you’ve seen it all from ol’ Scotty G, along comes a 1988 Subaru DL EV! This former tech-school student project is on eBay in Greesboro, North Carolina with a current (ah hem) bid price of just over $750 and there are just two days left on the auction so you won’t have too much time to warn your spouse that her/his new car will soon be arriving!


Wait, wait! I mean, weight, weight! Those are only a portion of the eighteen 6-volt batteries powering this blue beauty to the tune of a twenty-mile range. A 20-MILE RANGE?! THAT’S IT?! Yes, sadly, this car will have a very, very limited appeal unless a person lives within 3-4-5 miles of their workplace. I wouldn’t trust any EV with only a 20-mile range for anything past a 5 to 7-mile distance each way, and even that would be a nail-biter on the drive home. The batteries weigh about 1,100 pounds, but of course there is no gas engine, gas tank, gas, etc., so the net weight gain is probably around 600-700 pounds, still not an insignificant amount of weight by any means.


In keeping with the preferred trend of not providing enough photos, there is only one (!!) exterior photo of this car! No lie. But, from that opening photo things look fantastic. If this is an original North Carolina car hopefully it’s as rust-free as it appears to be from that lonesome photo. The interior looks equally great to me. I can’t tell if the steering wheel is gray and was changed out or if it’s just faded, or maybe the photos just are off a bit? Or, maybe Subaru DLs with a blue interior came with a gray steering wheel? And you thought world peace was a tough nut to crack! This car has electric windows (ha, electric windows!) (crickets) which I always love to see in a vehicle that you wouldn’t normally expect to see them in, like an older Subaru. The back seat looks great, too. But, only one exterior photo?!


Here is where Subaru’s EA-82 1.8L boxer-four cylinder regular-ol’-gas-powered engine would have been. This car was built at a local community college and it looks like they did a great job on it. It almost has a see-throughautorama sort of feel to it, like it was meant to be a show vehicle and to not hide all of the work that went into it. The seller says that it’ll cruise at 70 mph on the freeway but I wouldn’t do that for more than a dozen miles as it’ll eat through your 20-mile range like Orson Welles at a buffet line.


Here’s another view of the educational see-through design here. Very cool, this would be a fun vehicle to own. It really looks great under that hood, at least as far as a “homemade” EV goes. There’s no question that a qualified instructor was involved with this build and from looking at the quality of the work I wouldn’t be afraid to own and drive this car one bit. Or, at least until I got to mile 19, then I’d be looking for an outlet! A 110-volt onboard charger is included and this car is powered by a “Raptor 600 controller with a advanced DC 9″ motor.” The seller also says that it has “a dc to dc converter, inertia switch for crash protection, as well as a manual disconnect on the dash.” It would cost around $1,400 to put new batteries in this car but the seller says that the range and performance could be improved with new batteries.

I know that most people would wonder why anyone in their right mind would spend $1,400 on batteries when that would buy over 600 gallons of gas at the current national average price per gallon?! That would be about 18,000 miles worth of driving for a car like this. Is it worth it? Probably not if you look at things in black and white, but if you look at them in paisley with a touch of Janis-Joplin-like psychedelic hues like I do, this car makes total sense! And that from a guy who drives 40,000+ miles a year, obviously not in a battery-powered vehicle, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t still love them for poking around town with. Cars like this obviously aren’t for everyone, and if you’re a person with just one vehicle this probably won’t be it. But, for any EV fans out there, this would be an inexpensive, fun car to add to the collection.

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Jamie Palmer Jamie PalmerStaff

    Hmmm. It would only take about 4 charges to get it to my house….

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    • Scotty GilbertsonAuthor

      Ha! But, it’s going to my house!

      Like 0
      • Jamie Palmer Jamie PalmerStaff

        Not if I outbid you! 😏

        Like 0
      • Scotty GilbertsonAuthor

        If you do, I publicly challenge you to drive it to our house, 20 miles at a time.. (hee hee)..

        Like 0
      • Jamie Palmer Jamie PalmerStaff

        Talking to the better half now. I’m serious.

        Like 0
  2. Fred W.

    Mount a coupla’ Harbor Freight solar cells on top to keep that baby chargin’. Now you are gold, at least when the sun is out.

    Like 0

    Excercise in futility?

    Like 0
  4. HoA Howard AMember
  5. Royal Ricci

    This would make a great candidate for an upgrade to a newer more efficient motor, controller and charger. With a Lithium battery pack from either Telsa or other vendors, this vehicles could see a rage of anywhere from 80 to 150 miles depending on the size of the battery pack.

    These modifications would run approximately 20K and in the end you would have a very boxy un-sexy sedan that would still turn heads when people learned of its EV status.

    Like 0
  6. HoA Howard AMember

    I hope I didn’t offend anyone with my Simpsons take on the electric car. The batteries are, and always have been, the Achilles Heel of the electric car. I won’t get excited about any vehicle that has 42 conventional batteries making up the floor to make it go. Until they come up with a device the size of a pack of hotdogs,,,,not sure hotdogs are coming up, and maybe they already have that, but is being held back, I just don’t think electric cars are viable, at least not like this. Maybe in a more personalized transport, like a one person deal, electrics will work but to try and adapt a sedan, even a small one like this, is a waste of time. And advocates of electric cars show these electric charging places, all lined up, like you’re the only one that be there, do you know how many charging places you’d need, if we all drove electric cars? There’s no way. As long as there’s gas at the pump,( in case you missed the Simpsons sarcasm, “The Gas Producers of America” present the wimpy electric car) we won’t see any electric cars, ones that work anyway, and don’t cost 1/2 a million bucks, either.

    Like 0
  7. Cleric

    The car runs on coal.

    Like 0
    • Scotty GilbertsonAuthor

      Our electricity comes from solar, so not everyone is burning coal.

      Like 0
    • Jamie Palmer Jamie PalmerStaff

      Nuclear here, and I’m high bidder at the moment. Although probably not for long.

      Like 0
  8. Car Guy

    I could barely tell it’s an “Electric Car”……..

    Like 0
  9. Scotty GilbertsonAuthor

    Shoot, I can’t believe that I typed 1.6L! You are correct, Shane. It was originally going to be a 2.0L but Subaru dumbed it down a bit for production.

    Like 0
  10. Jim Benjaminson

    Some years back an electric group displayed a Chevy S10 electric powered pickup at the North Dakota State Fair in Minot. They’d hired a young kid to hand out pamphlets and extol the virtues of the all-electric car. It had 58 lead-acid batteries mounted under the truck bed plus the normal under hood battery to power the radio. This nice young man was telling me how “green” the pickup was, pollution free, etc. I hated to burst his bubble but I asked him about the 58 batteries and what kind of pollution they would add to the planet when they had to be replaced. Then came the questions I asked him about range (i.e. milesage) and how do you charge these 58 + 1 batteries. Oh, you just plug it in was his reply. Then came the question – and where does that electricity come from in the first place – or do the mining operations at the Falkirk Mine north of Minot and the Coal Creek generating plant have anything to do with the source of electricity….and how “green” are they. By the time I was done with the young lad, his concept of the all electric S10 had changed considerably. Best part of the story – after all that, he let me take it for a test drive!

    Like 0
    • Royal Ricci

      Electric cars have come a long long way from the days of lead acid batteries. Lithium batteries are recyclable and will provide years of constant use unless you abuse them. Elon Musk has done much to propagate the concept of electric cars becoming a reality. I know several Tesla owners who love them as much as their families.

      Other groups that have shown that EV’s are a reality include Jack Rickard of EVTV.me fame, EV West and Zelectric Bug.

      Like 0
  11. Jack

    More exterior photos have been added.
    @Fred. W I like the solar panel idea.
    I would add a hydrogen powered generator for some extra miles

    Like 0
  12. Scotty GilbertsonAuthor

    Auction update: this wacky Subaru sold for $2,358.33 to some tall, skinny guy who shall remain nameless..

    Like 1
  13. Royal Ricci

    A great platform especially if it has A/C and AWD for a modernized conversion to current EV technology.

    Like 0

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