The Lancia Montecarlo web registry www.lanciabetamontecarlo.nl
listing had no photos and little information, but I knew these cars and became
immediately excited. Not only had I fallen in love with these cars years before,
my friend Anthony Rossano has one in great condition. He also has a beautiful
Ferrari 308 GT4 that sings through itís tuned exhaust. Ironically, we had
talked about his desire to electrify his Scorp when the engine crapped out. I
could wait to tell him about my find. The ad was placed by a gentleman named
Steven Yoast in California. We exchanged many emails and he sent some photos of
the car. It looked fairly rough but I was more excited than ever. When we
finally got together on the phone, we had a great chat about the Scorpion, EVs
in general and our common interest in alternative transportation. He admitted
that he really didnít want to sell the Lancia, but itís range was too
limited for his commute and he wanted to find someone who could give it a good
home. I assured him that I could do exactly that, but would still have to figure
out how to pay for and transport the car to Seattle. So I found my dream EV, but
still didnít know how I could afford to buy it and pay the small fortune it
would cost to transport it. Then life payed back some of the karmic credit I had
established. At the SIFF premiere of Who killed the Electric Car, I happened to
stand in line with and sit next to many of the SEVA members. After the film they
were all joining director Chris Paine, Chelsea Sexton and Wally Rippel for
drinks and invited me to follow along. I got to buy Chris a drink and
congratulated him on his incredibly informative and motivational film. I asked
how he manage to get all of the incredible EV1 footage if the cars were all
gone. He said he said he borrowed Peter Hortonís for the final week he had it
before turning it in. While sitting at the bar, I struck up a conversation with
another EVer. That person turned out to be Roderick Wilde, who is a legend in
the EV community. He is the proprietor behind EVParts.com and the mad genius
builder behind the insanely powerful drag-van Gone Postal. He was suggesting
ways I could get into EVs and I told him all about the Scorpion. When I told him
it was in California and I had no way to transport it, the stars aligned. He and
another EV legend, Don ĒFather TimeĒ Crabtree, were organizing a trip to
Cali to show Gone Postal at the official premiere of Who killed the Electric
Car. On their way back they were going to have half of a two-car trailer empty.
So we struck a deal to help them mitigate their fuel cost and I soon had two of
the most-expert opinions in the EV community picking-up and transporting the
Lancia. Iím eternally grateful for the generosity these guys shared. The
fabric of life has an amazing weave. When Father Time made it back to Seattle
with the car, he picked an ironically suitable location to drop the car, the 76
gas station just down from my house. After thanking him (not nearly enough) for
his efforts, I stopped in the gas station just long enough to top-off the air in
the tire. With my wife and daughter follow in the Subaru behind, I drove the
topless Scorpion home through Seattleís beautiful Interlaken Park. This was
the first time I had ever driven an EV and Iím sure my wife could see my EV
grin wrapping around the back-side of my head.
Steve was actually
the second owner of the EV, having bought it from the estate of itís creator,
a man named Karl Morin. When he bought it, he had limited info about the pack
life, the conversion or any other vehicle history. Just a small cardboard box
with the relevant paperwork. There were no formal plans or schematics in there,
but several hand written notes laid out different parts and pricing scenarios.
Karl was mindful of keeping the weight distribution as close to stock as
possible. 18 of the carís 24 batteries are packed tightly behind the seats
(and the firewall), keeping the weight low and centered to the car. The
remaining 6 are in the front compartment with the 12v system battery. The
batteries are Hawker 12v Sealed Lead Acid and weigh about 20lbs apiece making
the pack weigh-in at approximately 500lbs. The batteries are run in a series of
parallel pairs to give a system total of 144v. Each pair has a WildeEvolution
resistor and pair of light-gauge wires running off towards the dash and ending
in a long terminal block. From this terminal block you can check the level at
each pair, which has come in very handy for identifying the weak cells in the
pack. The pack runs to a 500amp Curtis 1231C controller mounted on a heat sink
above the motor. If youíre familiar with these controllers, youíll know
about the high pitch whine they emit when you first step on the accelerator. It has something to do with a frequency shift that protects
the motor at low voltage. It definitely draws the attention nearby pedestrians.
A discussion of this noise on the EV maillist suggested the control
causes the motor to make this noise. Wherever it comes from, I donít think my
dog Oliver is fond of it. The motor is a Kostov 14404, which I believe is a
10.7Ē series-wound 30hp motor. There is a receipt in the box dated 1997 for
this item, but he rest of the EV components were purchased in the fall of í98.
There is also vehicle registration in í99 recognizing the vehicles conversion
to electric, so it was about a two year project I would guess. The earliest
ownership record was to Karl in Jan í85 as a renewal. I have no idea if he was
the original owner of the car, but he obviously enjoyed it for years as a gasser
and wanted to keep it alive after itís combustion days were through, much like
my friend Anthony. Well, enough with the words already. You can get a better
idea of what this Lancia Scorpion Elettrico is about by checking out the photos
and the journal. Please be sure to leave comments or mail me directly with any
questions or suggestions you might have, especially if you have past knowledge
of this car or the man who created it.
Shot the same day as
the exterior photos, hereís a quick look under the hood. I kept getting
distracted by people asking questions about the Lancia and itís conversion, so
this set is incomplete. It does show the EV system state when I received the
car, but doesnít show much detail of the battery pack. You can barely glimpse
a few of the 18 batteries crammed in behind the seats and it completely lacks
photos of the six batteries (plus 1 aux 12v) mounted in the front storage.
Iíll try to get a more comprehensive set up soon.
The stock 5 speed w/
the Kostov DC motor mounted via custom adapter plate. Above are a few of the
Hawker SLA batteries. They are really crammed in.
Kostov motor below w/
Curtis 1231c controller mounted to heat-sink above. Top right corner is a vacuum
pump for the brake assist (currently disconnected).
The main contactor is
mounted just in front of the controller. To the right is the vacuum chamber for
the brake assist.
A shot under the controller shows more of the inaccessible battery pack. Top-left is the throttle potentiometer. Bottom is the DC motor.