Jerry Dhillon’s Electric 1602 Conversion (as seen on Vintage Voltage TV)

As seen at the London Classic Car Show in June 2021 and featured on TV.

The BMW 1602 was purchased August 2017 from Ireland and shipped to the UK. It had been imported from the UK to Ireland from the previous seller. There were 11 previous owners as I recall. It was red originally and the idea was to convert to electric as well as restoring it to its former glory. The idea was to make it an electric ‘restomod’ homage to the 02 turbo.

It had a little rust in the driver’s side foot well probably from having had something spilled from the inside as there was no obvious place it could have originated from. There was also some in the boot under the spare wheel, the bottom of the door skins and the underside of the bonnet. The bonnet was eventually replaced for one that was it better condition. One of the first things to do therefore was to strip it back and have it sandblasted to discover the extent of the work needed to rectify the areas.

All the major structural areas were intact. The donor vehicle chosen was a 02 as the engine or model variant wasn’t of interest as it was going to be electrified. The engine was removed along with the exhaust system and the fuel tank.

The 02 turbo arches were to be fitted but on reflection they looked a bit industrial being bolted on. The ethos was to restore it sympathetically as to looking new if it was being built today. Hence some of the choices made when it was put back together again. The arches are from an Mk I Golf GTI which were welded on. This work was completed by Hockley motorsports. With all the welding work complete, the specification of the electrification began with Electric Classic Cars.

It was decided in order to keep a 50/50 weight balance there would be a battery box in the front and one installed in the boot between the bulkheads. It was supplied with 40KWh LG Chem batteries which give a real world range of 150 miles. The motor is a Hypergain 9 developing 120 bhp/88KW/235 Nm. This may not sound like much however it has instant 173 ft/lbs of torque available, which is close to what the turbo produced back it the day.

It is driven using the same gear ratios of the 4 speed manual. Generally around city/ town driving it is driven in 2nd gear as an automatic which is good for until 60 mph. On the motorway it’s a bit easier in 3rd or ideally 4th. It can be driven as a manual if desired, which the clutch change essentially being a switch as there is not biting point to contend with.  It has a switch whereby it has 30% regen braking when coming off the accelerator, thereby almost allowing one pedal driving around town. If it is switched off then no “engine braking” occurs or the sport mode as I call it. It is never driven off in first gear as the torque would be too much for the clutch over prolonged use.

With the dry fitting complete of the electrical upgrade work the shell was painted Porsche/Vw Oak green. The MkII Golf GTI colour was always one I liked, and had thought of going Polaris silver. The green won out in the end, besides the car was going “green” so it had to be that! A front spoiler / air dam was fitted to help give it a bit more presence. The rubber protection seals along the sides were deleted.

Below; clever use of the original fuller cap as the new charge socket

With the paint work complete it next went to the interior refurb. I luckily managed to get hold of the recaros from an e21, which were trimmed in red leather, with the back seats and the middle of the door cards from front to back to make it look integrated as a factory fit. The infotainment system idea was inspired by the clarion build project.  A double din unit with hands free, apple car play, and a reversing camera was fitted to bring it up to modern standards and comforts. It has speakers in the front doors and rear door cards, and recently added a small subwoofer under the rear seat. New headlining, carpets were needed. Led mood lightning was placed in the foot wells and when opening the doors and boot. The spare wheel has gone which is used as a storage area for the charging cables. As another little touch the door are now centrally locked with an alarm system. It has front and rear heated seats. It has a heating system which is essentially a fan heater which sucks a lot more charge than heating the seats.

The final fit a finish saw the electrification go in. At this stage various upgrades were needed to deal with the enhanced performance and weight. The car originally would have weighed 940kg. It has had the exhaust, engine, fuel tank, and radiator deleted which would have amounted to in the region of 221kg. Also remember the additional weight of the fuel and fluids used. The additional weight with the batteries and motor are 345kg. So approximately the overall weight has increased slightly to 1064kg. The 02 turbo weighs in at 1080kg. An ultimately it is a homage to that, and the performance is similar.

It is essentially a nut and bolt restoration from the ground up with uprated suspension and brakes. With new suspension, bushings, uprated disc drakes upfront, drum brakes at the rear as this is assisted with the motor or engine braking. It has Eibach performance springs and Bilstein comfort shocks, and boxed in rear trailing arms which helps give it a nice stance. Uprated 19mm anti roll bar on the front. The wheels are 15×7 BBS replicas which are period correct, the tyres being Goodyear 195/50. This produces 6.6mm arch gap reduction with similar diameter and circumference to the original 13 inch wheels with the tyres it came with. As a safety measure rear inertia seat belts have been fitted.

The chrome work around the car was replaced and the bumpers had the over riders and rubber bits removed before being re chromed. Due to the front arches they needed to be fitted. Overall the objective to give it that blade look whilst still giving some protection. The front headlights have been upgraded to use led bulbs. One small touch was to put on the badges from a BMW CSi on the c pillar. With the colour combination and the chrome work it just seems to pops, especially in the sunlight.

The car was finally completed in summer 2020.

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