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There’s a GM EV1 Shell for Sale in Desperate Need of an Absurd Drivetrain Swap

LS? 4BT? Tesla? Four flat-fours tied together to make one giant flat-16? The possibilities are endless!

Part of one of the rarest cars on earth—a General Motors EV1—can finally be yours after years of secret seclusion. 

Most of GM’s 1,117 groundbreaking EV1s were crushed after their trial-run lease was up, save for a handful. Fewer than 20 of the cars went to schools and museums, and only a few owners on top of that were able to hoard theirs away from the crusher. 


Now you, private citizen, finally have the chance to own a large chunk of unobtanium—an EV1 shell listed on GovDeals that was formerly part of a car belonging to the University of Cincinnati. Like many university EV1s, it was disassembled to study. This one just happened to stay that way. 

This shell lacks all of its body panels, although there are parts of the car’s iconic interior included to get you started, as the listing notes: 

There is no VIN, frame, doors, trunk lid, hood or much of an interior.

There is a dash piece and at least some of the console. As pictured, the sides of the body shell have been removed at some point. There are some parts of the wiring harness and the main digital dash display.     

Most of all, it’s BYO-Drivetrain, so let’s have fun. 

“But why would you ruin such a classic?” you may ask. Well, there isn’t much classic left to ruin and besides, you won’t be able to return this car to the road without a VIN.

This stripped-bare EV1 shell is like finding a BMW Isetta that’s been half-eaten by a swamp. If intact, that car would be a rare and valuable weirdo! Yet a chunk-o-car can be missing so many parts that it would never stand a chance of being rightfully restored. That’s your free pass to build the wildest, dumbest car you can possibly imagine. 


Best of all, having a running EV1 would be the ultimate unique ride given that GM disabled the control units of the EV1s it donated to institutions. Because that drivetrain would be impossible to find anyway, it’s up to you to decide this shell’s fate. 

LS swaps are beloved because they just work, and Hellcat swaps are certainly en vogue right now, but those don’t seem weird enough for one of the rarest oddball cars in existence. Why would an EV1 shell be for sale if the fine folks at the University of Cincinnati didn’t want someone to stuff a faster modern EV drivetrain in it? Or a V12? Shoehorn in that Toyota GT1 prototype engine that’s for sale if you’ve got the cash. 

Others on The Drive’s staff recommended a full Grave Digger-style monster truck conversion, a Honda VFR V-4 motorcycle engine with independent throttle bodies, or a Ferrari F136 V8 like the one used in the California T. All of these are great ideas.

What would you stuff into this shell, and how would you finish it out? Personally, I like the idea of remaking its very Saturn-like body panels for a stock appearance but keeping the EV1 stripped-down inside for track use. Figure out how optimize the weight balance from the front to the back using a mishmash of present-day EV parts and go have fun with it. 

No matter how you put this EV1 shell to use, you’re guaranteed to have the only car like it when you’re done. 


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