600+HP EV Muscle Car Conversion

Categories: Battery Cable & Pyro Fuse, DIY Auto Tips, REBUILT - Car Features, Videos

As car enthusiasts, the MyAirbags team gets excited when we see projects like Kevin Erickson’s 1972 Plymouth Satellite EV muscle car conversion. Since we rebuild safety parts for crashed Teslas and most other vehicle makes, we are always on the lookout for interesting rebuild stories. This Tesla Model S merged with a classic Mopar is a great example. We/re impressed with the builder’s ingenuity and the car’s sub-3-second 0 to 60 times. Plus a ’72 Satellite is much better looking than a new Tesla. We wish all EVs looked this good. The conversion requires more than a few brain cells, but the process seems to be fairly straightforward.

Ironic gas-crunch-era car gets merged with a Tesla into an EV muscle car.
Plymouth’s B-Body Satellites have always been great-looking cars, but we are partial to the 3rd gen cars from 1971 to 1974. So many of these cars went to the crusher during the gas shortages of 1973 and 1979. It took forever to find a gas crunch photo with a Plymouth Satellite (top right). We love the irony of merging a gas-crunch-era car with a Tesla into an EV muscle car.

Merge Your Favorite Classic Muscle Car With A Wrecked Tesla

A 1972 Plymouth Satellite drivetrain consists of a front-mounted engine and transmission, driveshaft, and live rear axle. Imagine replacing all of that with twin rear-mounted electric motors that fit between the rear wheels. The entire EV powertrain is incredibly compact. Before embarking on a similar EV muscle car conversion, there is one critical dimension to consider. Will the motors and Tesla Model S suspension fit between the rear wheels? To answer that question, compare the rear track width of a Tesla Model S to your donor vehicle. This ensures that the Tesla’s rear-mounted motor and suspension cradle fits in place of the original rear axle. In the case of Kevin’s full-size 1972 Plymouth Satellite, the original rear track width is surprisingly narrower than a Tesla Model S — 62″ vs 66.5″ respectively. To make everything fit, Kevin sourced high-offset rear wheels. Welding and fabrication were required to adapt the Tesla Model S rear cradle to the Mopar’s ancient rear frame rails. The bottom line, if you can fit a Tesla Model S rear cradle, the rest of the project will go smoothly. Measure twice, cut once, as they say.

To accommodate a complete Tesla Model S Dual motor cradle with suspension, CV axles, and disc brakes, Kevin Erickson designed, fabricated, and welded one-off steel brackets to the Satellite’s 50-year-old frame rails. Custom “cantilever” shocks and springs address packaging challenges.

But Where Do The Battery Packs Get Mounted?

There’s an old joke: “Where does an elephant sit?” Punchline: “Wherever it wants to..” Like an elephant, EV battery packs are very large and exceedingly heavy. Luckily, old muscle cars are known for having capacious engine bays and voluminous trunks. With the original engine and gas tank deleted, space opened up for the Tesla Model S-style batteries. Kevin’s Satellite features a 100KW battery that has been split up such that 60% of the modules live under the hood. The remaining cells are mounted in the trunk. Despite weighing 1000 pounds, the car’s weight balance is better with the EV batteries than with the original IC powertrain. At 45% front / 55% rear — very similar to a Ferrari 360 Modena. Splitting up the modules also greatly simplifies the conversion process as compared to Tesla’s floor-mounted design.

Some awesome companies have started up to sell you every conversion component and system. Companies like Stealth E.V. understand that you will have lots of questions and are happy to provide guidance and package components in stages. Some subsystems include battery management, battery packs, drive management, charging, cooling, and wiring. Additional fabrication is required for building a battery mounting box with cooling support. You can also watch Kevin Erickson’s EV muscle car conversion series on YouTube by clicking the link below. We particularly enjoyed his Parts Cost video which breaks down the part numbers and sources. We also provide a link to Kevin’s parts list spreadsheet below. The total cost for the conversion excluding the cost of the vehicle is $50,600 Here’s a comprehensive and inspiring parts list video.

Though some of the content is now three years old, Kevin’s 20-part build series is still 100% relevant — especially since the project was well ahead of its time. There are other EV muscle car builds, but this project shows it all — including challenges and troubleshooting.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

At MyAirbags – UpFix we strongly believe in the concept of recycling as well as rebuilding vehicles that are worth saving. In the case of “Electrollyte”, Kevin Erickson’s 72 Plymouth Satellite, only Tesla Model S electric motors and cradle were salvaged, for the most part. Regardless, the spirit and DNA of a Tesla Model S live on. ..and they endure in a chassis that is lucky to have survived the 70s gas shortages and into a new century. If this is the future of “recycling”, count us in.


Photos and videos by Kevin Erickson and Holley