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Dead Batteries: Electric Mazda RX7 and Subaru 600


Do you ever wonder what it must feel like to start a significant project – like converting a gasoline car to batteries – and then abandon it in the woods? I have a difficult enough time finishing long-term projects that if I did bring one across the finish line, I’d sure as heck not let it rot. Then again, if said project wasn’t an enjoyable experience, maybe I’d chuck the thing outdoors to forget about it. There’s a pair of intriguing electric vehicles up for grabs from the same seller, including a 1983 Mazda RX7 here on eBay and an unusual Subaru 600 van, also here on eBay. Both appear to be long-idled projects in need of lots of love.

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The Mazda up top was apparently running and driving up to speeds of 70 m.p.h. before a controller failed, rendering it useless. Unlike a hybrid, these early conversions apparently can’t fall back onto their conventional fuel-burning systems to gain momentum, so they can quickly become paperweights. The seller includes an invoice with the conversion parts needed for the undertaking, and it appears quite lengthy and expensive. The Subaru 600 pictured here apparently drove off the car transporter to its current location before becoming inop and needing new batteries.

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What a mess of wires and mice damage. To begin this project, you are either a bored electrical engineer or determined to drive an electric sports car. Whatever your motivations, the RX7’s electric air-cooled motor will need rejuvenation, and it might be an even bigger challenge due to being somewhat of a custom conversion by a previous owner. Where do you begin to figure this out? The seller offers up that design notes and component logs will be included, but it still seems like a long way back to road worthiness to me.

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Wow – just how does this little van even accelerate with an entire floor of batteries to cart around? I can’t even imagine how to begin you’d get started on this project without a blueprint to work from of its original design. This Subaru is clearly from the pioneering days of electric cars with that many batteries crammed into a tiny, low-powered vehicle. According to the seller, these vans were used by the government and the U.S. Postal Service, which definitely adds to its novelty and perhaps even worthiness of being rescued and restored as an artifact of electric car construction. Which of these two oddballs would you take on as a project?


  1. Dolphin Member

    I get the appeal of electric cars. I once rented a hybrid for a week and actually enjoyed it—the silence, the smoothness, going all over the place mostly on electric and occasionally sipping gas as backup.

    But converting vehicles like these to electric—the short range, the big weight, all that electricity to charge them?

    You would have to live in sunshine a lot and have a big solar grid or be willing to pay up for lots of electricity, do mostly short jaunts…….not too appealing.

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  2. JohninCM

    “Wow – just how does this little van even accelerate with an entire floor of batteries to cart around?”

    Another question might be how does it stop?

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  3. MikeG

    The most ironic places to own an electric car: Kentucky, West Virginia, Wyoming, Missouri, Ohio, Indiana, and Utah. Up to 70% coal powered! Your Tesla might as well have a giant smoke stack on top of it….choooooo choooooooo….. chug chug chugga chug.

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    • Dolphin Member

      GREAT point, and one that’s hardly ever asked.

      Too bad they use mostly coal, because some of those states have lots of sunshine, but I guess not too many solar panels.

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  4. Horse Radish

    Europe wants to be all electric cars by 2030.

    Where do they think the power out of the electric plug is coming from ?

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  5. Scotty Staff

    An Electra Van is towards the top of my master, oddball vehicle list, nice find! It looks like it’s in good condition from the few photos that they provided. But, sitting outside like that isn’t good for any vehicle. Mice have already wreaked havoc with the RX7, I’m guessing they’ve made a few homes in the Electra Van, too. I hate mice..


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