’72 Brit Taxi Wins EV Conversion Contest

The electric vehicle (EV) revolution is taking place as much in the home garages of tinkerers, wrench twisters and mad experimenters as it is in the labs of universities, auto manufactures and government agencies. Electric Vehicle TV, a web-based show catering to custom electric car builders and conversions, set out to recognize these latter-day Henry Fords, Karl Benzes and Rudolph Diesels by creating the $20,000 Build Your Own Dream Car electric car components contest that was held at the Electric Vehicle Conversion Convention held in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, September 21 – 25, 2011.

After sifting through 955 entries, ten finalists competed for the $20,000 component package including a NetGain Technologies Warp9 motor, an EVnetics Soliton1 controller, fifty 180 amp-hour CALB lithium-ion batteries, a Masterflux electric air conditioning kit and a Rechargecar Warp speed sensor. Entrants were tasked with describing what they would do with the components and what about themselves would lead judges to believe they would be both timely and successful.

austin EV

image via Brandon Hollinger

The winner, chosen after three months of internet balloting, was Brandon Hollinger, a musician from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, who proposed converting a 3,400 lb., seven-seat 1972 Austin FX4 British taxi. Hollinger bought the taxi, which he describes as having “fatal engine and transmission flaws” locally for what he says was a “very agreeable price”.  Hollinger hopes to use the taxi to start a local shuttle/taxi service and to promote EVs in Lancaster’s historical district.

Hollinger’s most notable of his four previous EV conversions was in 2009 when he switched his 1970 SAAB 96 into an gorgeous EV with a classy vintage look. That conversion project went on to win numerous EV conversion awards.  “I feel extremely humbled and honored to have won the batteries and conversion components, especially coming from a non-technical background,” Hollinger said,  “because we are all similarly eager to share the ‘EV message,’ the other finalists felt more like family than opponents.”

Steve Duda lives in West Seattle, WA with three dogs and a lot of outdoor gear. A part-time fly fishing fishing guide and full-time writer, Steve’s work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Seattle Weekly, American Angler, Fly Fish Journal, The Drake, Democracy Now! and many others.