There’s an Electric Motor Hidden Inside This 85-Year-Old Truck’s Small-Block V8

The rat rod now packs instant power without giving up its old-school style.

byJesus Garcia|
Electric Vehicles photo


Just a few months back, we ran a story on Webb Motorworks and the crew's "small-block" electric crate motor project. The idea was to hollow out a Chevy V8 and place an electric motor, with all of its hardware, inside. You get the look of a V8 with the instant performance and unmatched efficiency of an EV. Since then, the family-owned 1936 Hayes truck has been fully converted into a battery-powered hot rod—not that you could tell by looking at it.

The small-block electric crate motor prototype cleverly hides the fan on top, inside the air cleaner. It features dual motor controllers that are water-cooled, and there's an alternator lookalike that's used to provide power steering. The 96-volt battery system is hidden under the wooden bed of the truck and, as an aesthetic touch, the bed is also carrying a fake gasoline barrel and a hollowed-out V12 engine.

Previously Webb had a gasoline engine at the back of the truck, and it was originally intended to run a generator that charges the onboard batteries. He seems to have done away with that, though, and we can't blame 'em. It would've added to the rat rod aesthetic, but it sorta defeats the purpose of an EV.

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The goal is to turn these small-block electric crate motors into kits for people looking to swap their V8s for a "V-E," so to speak. The fan can even be moved to the bottom so owners can keep the look of a two-barrel carb setup.

In the video, Chris Webb takes the Hayes EV out for a spin to test how the old truck moves. For a former cement hauler, the Hayes is pretty light on its feet thanks to instant torque. The only sounds you hear are the tires rolling on gravel and the shake, rattle, and roll of an all-metal cab. 

Webb plans on creating both Ford small-block and Chrysler Hemi versions of these electric crate motors. He even goes as far as saying he'll never go back to gasoline hot rods—a bold claim, to be sure.

Now, converting old-school rides into new-age, battery-electric runabouts isn't for everyone—I'm a bit skeptical myself. But I completely understand why some people would go that route. It's exciting to see an innovative project like Webb's take off, nevertheless, and if it means keeping classic cars and trucks on the road, more power to 'em.

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