Shadetree Mechanic Tesla-Swaps a 1994 Acura NSX
This Tesla-swapped NSX is going to hurt some feelings.
The original Acura NSX is one of the most iconic cars of all time. Its sleek design, full aluminum construction, and price similar to a Corvette ZR1 of the same time period made it an attainable supercar for the masses. In fact, it was even the benchmark for the iconic McLaren F1.
Car culture is changing, though. Some gas-powered supercars of yesteryear can be out-accelerated by a brand new Toyota nowadays, and battery-powered monsters are taking the drag strip by storm. This is why when veteran EV enthusiast Rich Beniot from Rich Rebuilds heard that someone was converting a classic Acura NSX to electric drive, he had to see it for himself.
That's when he met Jeff, an all-around car guy who always wanted an NSX. After justifying purchasing one amidst his other projects (LS1 Miata, Volvo Amazon, 1965 Thunderbird, and a Saab Sonet), he became interested in performing his own EV swap. He had already helped his friend convert an old Nash Metropolitan to battery power, so why not try it on an NSX?
Fortunately, Jeff was able to source a 1994 Acura NSX with 229,000 miles that someone had already dropped a turbocharged K-series into. This meant he could skip the sacrilegious task of removing the factory 3.0-liter V6 himself. Jeff reportedly told the seller that he planned to convert the car to battery power, so the former owner pulled the combustion motor and manual transmission out of the car before handing it over to him.
With an empty engine compartment, Jeff immediately got to work mounting a large drive unit sourced from a Tesla Model S. The electric motor was mounted backward (the differential facing the front) for clearance purposes, which allowed him to keep the factory suspension intact. Getting the motor to run in reverse at full speed was easy with Open Inverter, but he still had to make one other modification for it to fit: a notched subframe. The rest of the hardware was fairly simple. In fact, the factory NSX axles were almost a perfect fit for the Tesla motor. The splines and diameter were perfect, though he did have to trim them just a tad given the Tesla's wider track width.
To keep the engine bay from being cluttered, Jeff decided to mount the battery in the way-back trunk. And speaking of the original battery, it was sourced from a 2006 Toyota Prius Hybrid, meaning a whopping 1.6 kWh of juice. (That was temporary so the car could move under its own power.) A few weeks after the filming, however, a new 16-kWh pack pulled from a Chrysler Pacifica had already been installed. Jeff plans to eventually use the 24-kWh pack from a Nissan Leaf to power the car, complete with a 10-kW Tesla Charger and a DC-to-DC converter from a Chevy Volt.
While the project isn't finished yet, it's still quite impressive that Jeff is likely one of the first to carry out the conversion on such a coveted classic. It's also kind of surprising how "easy" it seems to convert an NSX to electric drive.
According to the video, Jeff plans on using the car as a daily driver rather than a hoon-mobile. And even though the NSX won't be making all kinds of cool noises, it'll still be a fantastically unique ride.
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