QotW: What JNC would be best for an EV conversion?

There was much internet debate about whether an R32 Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R would be an appropriate car for Nissan to convert into an EV. Meanwhile, Toyota’s already done so with a classic AE86. It’s a trend that will only grow as the industry shifts towards electrification, and there are plenty of icons that would make good candidates.

What JNC would be best for an EV conversion?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “Which car has the best (or worst) seats?“.

We weren’t specific that last week’s question had to hail from Japan, and we got a wide range of responses. Classics like the Datsun 240Z and SA22C Mazda RX-7 got votes for as good seats from Jim Daniels and Dutch 1960 respectively. Non-JNC nominations included the modern buckets of the Scion iM from Lee L. and the plush cushions of the 1958 Dodge Regent and Plymouth Fury 4-door hardtops from エーイダン.

Oddly, Land Ark noted that the fourth-gen Subaru Legacy GT had both the best and the worst seats. Taylor C. was right on with the Prelude Si, as 90s Hondas could do no wrong in the ergonomics department. Aftermarket-wise, speedie cast a vote for any Recaro, while Taylor had had high praise for the Bride Brix 1.

In the end Chris A. won the week with his ode to the Saab Sonnet III:

It’s gotta be the Saab Sonett 3! Not for the comfort, but for the sheer fact that they’re so groovy, literally! As far as I’ve seen, the only corduroy seats to ever come from the factory, with a nice lumbar support pillow on a strap for peak Swedish design and comfort. They could sell them at Ikea tomorrow with an unpronounceable name and hipsters in Brooklyn would be going as nuts for them as I do.

Omedetou, your comment has earned you a set of decals from the JNC Shop!

JNC Decal smash

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13 Responses to QotW: What JNC would be best for an EV conversion?

  1. streetspirit says:

    Kei classics are pretty close to the new electric citroen ami in dimensions already so why not go all the way?

    But i guess the best answer is not even a JNC but JNM, electrifying old mopeds and light motorcycles would be very impactfull from an environmentalist perspective as 2-stroke engines are pretty dirty things.

    that being said i’d be all aboard on a fuji cabin hot hot rod EV build!

    • Steve says:

      I really like the electric bike aspect of your reply. Those Chinese knock offs posted a few weeks back are very interesting for only two grand for sure.

      My favorite car would be something like the Datsun F-10. Total junk when they were new, (I worked as a wrench in a Datsun dealer) and worthless now, they also have a nice solar bubble in the back for solar panel excitement.

      Besides, they look a lot like a Porsche 924 to the general public who could be duped into buying one.

  2. Fred Langille says:

    I think the Nissan S-Cargo, out of the kei cars … including it’s cousins Figaro, Pao and BE-1 … would be an excellent electric conversion. The flat floor lends itself to perfect battery placement and … what’s even better is the possible usage of that loooong top as a solar cell as well. Especially if the top has the sunroof like my S-Cargo does. Charging up at the old gas flap (which opens with a key, by the way) and, having the solar cell(s) augment it. The van was designed for city usage and hauling cargo. To convert one to electric power that includes having a “frunk” with 2-4 motors at each wheel well, it seems not only a viable but, possible conversion. Tell me where I can get the solar cells for the top, replacing my leaky sunroof and the motors and, I’m in!

  3. dankan says:

    While some of the kei cars and small bikes are excellent ideas, I think the ideal candidate is one that would have been electric at the time if it had been possible. Go for broke and build an electric LS400. Dual motors, torque for days to help with the glide, and silence so complete it could let you hear the bubbles pop in the champagne waterfall on the hood. Heck, add modern lighting and apple carplay, and you might as well just start selling it, it’d stomp a model S in curb appeal.

  4. speedie says:

    Here are my Honda recommendations:

    – First generation Honda City, which since it would have limited space for a battery pack, would come with an electric Motocompo in the boot as a “range extender”.
    – 84-91 Civic “Wagovan/Shuttle” – It even looked like it could have been electric when new.
    – Element – Not quite at JNC status but getting close. It would absolutely be electric if made today. The Drive even makes a case for it: https://www.thedrive.com/news/its-time-to-bring-the-honda-element-back-as-an-ev

  5. jim simpson says:

    Honestly until battery technology and the means of charging them up are improved I don’t see a rosy future for electric cars…As the fad continues the demand on the grid will increase and create a whole new series of issues, if we are so concerned about emissions why are we not going after ships which are the dirtiest machines on the planet. Don’t get me wrong I think ships are neat but the emissions are horrific.

    • speedie says:

      The EPA has actually set emission standards for marine vessels that apply when they are in US territorial waters. There are no standards for international waters. It should also be pointed out that there were over 1 “billion” cars registered worldwide in 2022 while there are less than 200K active merchant vessels.

  6. Alan says:

    Anything that starts with a VQ and a loud exhaust.

  7. 555jay says:

    I’ll nominate a duo: Subaru Alcyone/XT/Vortex and its successor Subaru SVX.

    Both were “too ahead of their time” back in their respective days, loaded with “quirky” features that were novel until they were broken and too expensive to get fixed. But nostalgia comes back around and I’d love to see them all spruced up with modern tech.

    The consensus seems to be that the weak point of the SVX was the 4-spd AT, and while the 6MT swaps are also very cool, maybe twin-motor direct drive would let it achieve its full Grand Touring dreams. The time you save high-speed cruising on the motorway still gets burned explaining the weird windows.

    But my personal heavy 80’s nostalgia would love to see the Alcyone’s remarkable (again, at least for it’s time) aerodynamics coupled with modern hi-tech EV drive. I think we could go ahead and call the ‘back seat’ a mulligan and use that space for the batteries, but keep all/most the other 80s trappings like the amber digital dash and the SEGA-style shifter. Too rad!

    • speedie says:

      Good pick. I’m surprised no one has done it yet. That made me remember I saw an RX-8 conversion at a cars and coffee last year that was built by a startup run by some MIT grads. They chose it as a test mule for the drivetrain they were developing. They particularly liked its light and rigid chassis. It showed some great promise.

  8. f31roger says:

    While I am close to finishing up my RB25det powered M30, I definitely would make the EV swap if it becomes readily available.

    I love the styling of my car and I know 80s/90s cars aren’t as aerodynamic and will probably have a lot of drag, it’s all good. Plus having my old cars converted to EV will definitely keep the CARB, smog and EPA BS away.

  9. crank_case says:

    I don’t get why there’s so much focus on converting ICE classics to EV while early electric vehicles are getting neglected and falling by the wayside?

    Why not take an early EV and upgrade with modern battery tech?

    The Mitsubishi i-Miev for example, was sold here in Europe, both as a Mitsubishi and rebadged as a Citroen or Peugeot.

    It was a really quirky looking design (and fits Kei regs too), but is sort of one of the last EVs before the present era when Teslas and later spec Nissan Leafs made EVs a genuine mainstream proposition and not just second car for short trips only material.

    Not that many were sold originally and with only about 70-80 miles of range tops, they’re mostly unwanted used, so will dissappear.

    Upgrade the battery, tweak the management, maybe add CCS if you’re ambitious.

    There’s a few others – Toyota did a Rav4 EV in California I think, there was the Honda Mini EV based on the Today I think, There was an electric version of the Daihatsu HiJet offered by Piaggio and sold as the Porter Electric, all begging for a second lease of life.

    Why mangle todays ICE nostalgics when there’s a host of future nostalgic EVs in danger of going extinct completely?

    Why mangle todays nostalgics w

    Swap in some new batter

  10. Mark F Newton-John says:

    Datsun F-10. Nuff said.

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