Tricked Out 144V: Electric Chevy S10 Project

You know how in high school there were cliques? You had the bad boys, the nerds, the cheerleaders, the homely-but-sweet girls…so on and so forth. This S10 strikes me as sort of that kid everyone liked, because they were a little bit of everything. It’s got batteries – smart! It has a tricked-out bed – bad ass! It wears a two-tone paint job – unique! Yes, this S10 would have been labeled “Most Well Liked” in senior superlatives, even if it’s not the most appealing thing in vehicle form. Find this electric S10 here on eBay with a $3K opening bid.

It amazes me how far electric vehicles have come considering the sheer volume of batteries required in more primitive examples. If it were me, and I was converting my gasoline-powered S10 to run on electricity, I’d have taken one look at the battery order and said, “No thanks.” But the seller says the next owner will have to do exactly that, as all of the batteries (24!) have been removed. It will “run on 12,” which I’m not sure really matters that much if it can’t reach highway speeds with any less than the full two bakers’ dozens.

At first I really did think this was a mini-truck with the sweet flip-up bed (and the batteries were an after-thought), but I think the custom touch was more a matter of sheer necessity than any effort to channel West Coast Customs in this particular build. Still, I dig it, and if it were mine, I would absolutely tweak everything else to look like an S10 with hydraulics from the bad side of South Central, complete with gold Daytons and an interior covered in red velvet.

Without the batteries, I guess this is just an ordinary S10, albeit a rust-free example. However, there’s more chatter these days that when our autonomous vehicle overlords arrive, the only way our vintage cars are surviving is if they’re converted to battery power. So perhaps this S10 could be a test bed for a vintage vehicle that won’t be banned from roadways when the internal combustion engine is declared illegal (oh, they’ll do it, mark my words). Would you put the batteries back in or drop in a SBC?


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  1. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Nice find, Jeff!

  2. Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

    Love it!!!! Nice write up, Jeff!

  3. Rube Goldberg Member

    That’s a lot of battery posts to clean. Same old thing, nice try, but until we get rid of the “dozens of batteries”, just a swing and a miss.

  4. Dave Wright

    I owned a very similar S10 that I sold many years ago. Mine was a factory built version by a coalition of GM and US Electricar. I bought it from a small Santa Maria Ca. Collage that had picked it up from the USN. The maintenance guys were terrified to touch it after seeing all those batteries making high voltage. I sold it to a young electrical engineer from Sacramento for a good profit. Few got out to the public, most went back to GM and were destroyed. U S Electricar also made electric powered mail vehicles. There conversions were very cleanly done. I have an electric converted VW pickup right now that I need to sell, it was converted by a company in Seattle, has batteries in the bed. It was driven many years daily by the last owner until he retired and the batteries needed maintenance. It is interesting as it retains the original manual transmission with an electric meter adapted to it.

    • Brad

      Hey Dave… what are you asking for your VW pickup?

    • Bob

      Dave, what’s the range of the VW pickup? Around 25?

      At one time I was looking for an EV truck like this. I could use it around town for maintaining rentals. In those days I was doing a weekly bike ride about 20-25 miles from here and I thought I could drive it there, plug it in while on a 2 hour bike ride and then drive it home.

      The range of those conversions was usually about 25 miles. But would it really make my 25 mile trip? And it would probably take 10-12 hours or more to recharge.

      2 years ago I bought a Leaf that had come off of a lease and it meets my needs perfectly.

  5. Phil

    I’m being picky but a bakers dozen is 13 so if it took “2 full bakers dozen” to run this it would be 26 not 24… other than that GREAT write up and I LOVE this site !!!

  6. Steve

    Wow replacing those batteries will jolt you back to reality. Better wait for a sale at Pep boys.

  7. Royal Ricci

    This would make an excellent platform for which to build a modern EV using CALB or even better a custom designed Tesla Battery pack from a wrecked Tesla.

    Anyone who would build an EV with Lead Acid Batteries is crazy.

    Ideally, before GM released the EV1 they put that drivetrain in some of their white pickups as a test bed and most went off to the US Military namely the Air Force where they were used on large bases. These trucks escaped being scrapped and were sold off at auction. Sometimes you will see them on ebay.

  8. chad

    OK, three grand for a car and 3 gran to put in the batteries?

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