DIY EV Project Number 2

I’ve enjoyed the DIY EV project so much that I’ve gone and bought another car. In fact, another Z3. The plan is to keep two cars, one for summer, one for winter. One can be in the garage (when I finally get one) getting tweaks and upgrades while the other does driving duties.

The first one will continue down the path of becoming a soft top Z300S with the Tribute Automotive kit (again, waiting on a garage or other space to do this work). The second will get the hard top GT kit.

I’ve been keeping an eye on the Z3 market and watching their prices climb steadily. Given that I’m going to be hacking the guts out of this thing, I really didn’t want to spend thousands on a pristine example. Or worse, spend thousands on a clunker because prices had soared. Plus, though it was frustrating at the time, I actually quite enjoyed the restorative welding on the first project. And I think I would enjoy it even more if I had time and space in which to do it properly.

Impulse purchase

So, when another Z3 came up at around the £600 mark, I jumped on it. This one looked to be in much better condition, was much closer, and had some of the bits I really wanted, like a full leather interior.

Right now this car is sat in a storage yard, waiting for me to find a workshop to begin the strip down. Like last time, I will sell on the ICE (this time a 2.0 straight six) and related parts. But unlike last time, with this one I plan to do a complete strip down to the shell, reconditioning everything as I build it back up. I’ll probably still take it to MOT as a Z3 before doing the body swap, just for ease of registration/tax purposes. But then it can get the full retro treatment.

First assessment

The car has a few problems. It failed its MOT on corrosion, a broken spring, and emissions.

The emissions problem comes from a misfire. The last owner said something about a suspected head gasket failure but I can’t see any evidence of that. Not sure what the cause of the misfire is and I probably won’t bother to diagnose it this time. Just put it up for sale and let someone else have a play.

The throttle pedal is a little sticky but that’s not an issue since I’ll be replacing it with a digital one. Likewise I’m not worried about the broken spring since I would likely be uprating the whole setup anyway.

Corrosion is the bigger issue but I confess, though the pictures look bad, I’m struggling to see the structural issues. Most of this looks pretty cosmetic to me at the moment, though I may change my mind once I get in there with a screwdriver and a wire brush. Plenty of time to address that when it all gets stripped down though.


Right now I’m mostly focused on finishing the first project so this one won’t get any real attention until I have the time and – my endless quest – the space. But when I do, I’m going to be chasing more power than the first one has – even with its incoming upgrade.

My ideal would be one of the various CVT gearboxes that the OpenInverter community has been playing with that are effectively large electric motors. Maybe the Lexus GS450h or IS300h units, combined with a matching inverter and the Zombieverter board for control. This will leave loads of room in the engine bay for batteries and ancillaries, since it will replace the gearbox and leave the space where the combustion engine was completely free.

Which leads to the second ambition for this project: range. I want to put at least 24Kwh in this vehicle, maybe more. Plus fast charging, so that it can do long journeys. After all, it’s going to be a grand tourer.

Watch this space for updates.

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