The Decision to Go Electric

Toward the end of 2013, still not having done anything to the car, I had a meeting downtown and rode with a friend to get there in his new Tesla model S. It was my first time in an electric car and I was really impressed with everything about it as a car, but more impressed in learning about the technology itself. In the back of my mind I was wondering if going electric would be an option for the Sterling and started researching it when I got home.

Turns out a lot of people had converted old Volkswagens into EV’s, but the average range was usually around 40 miles. I didn’t want to be so limited, so I spent the next four months researching all of the different types of conversions, battery technology, and finally it all made sense; For about $11,000 I could have a fully electric drivetrain powered by Lithium batteries, with a top speed of about 90 mph, 0-60 in 3.5 seconds, and a range of around 100 miles on a charge. With renewed interest in finishing this project, I placed the order and started sanding the body down while I waited. Since I had to spend so much on the EV hardware, I figured I could drill out the cracks and start filling them in and get some of the prep work done so the shop wouldn’t have as much to do.

It was then that I finally found my silver lining… When I started sanding, the colors changed. Under the gray primer was a coat of blue paint. Then another coat of primer. Then a coat of red paint, followed by another primer, and then finally I reached the red gelcoat it left the factory with.

The gelcoat was virtually flawless.

I was shocked… the cracks weren’t in the fiberglass at all. They were all in the paint, and all of those layers of paint and primer made them look deeper than they were. Someone early on hadn’t prepped the car properly and instead of sanding it off and re-doing it properly, they just put down a new filler primer barrier and painted over it. Eventually those flaws re-appeared, and over the years and owners they just kept filling and repainting, never solving the root of the problem.

I stopped sanding and called a local blast shop to set up an appointment to have the whole car media blasted and taken back to the gel coat. My initial reaction was more or less “Wow, that looks like crap!” – not the blast job, that came out great, it was just another realization that I jumped into this without really thinking it through. But what’s done is done, and now I can head back to the body shop so we can figure out how to build up from there. The photos below were taken the day I picked it up from the blast shop.

Welcome! You’ve come across one of the log entries for my Sterling EV project, a kit car restoration/electric vehicle conversion. Feel free to leave a comment below or click the button to the right to see what’s new.

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